Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Architectural Consequences of Lafayette and de Tocqueville

Caroline Maniaque - Benton's French Encounters with the American Counterculture 1960-1980 is the latest book to be published in the Ashgate Studies in Architecture series edited by Eamonn Canniffe

French-American interrelationships in the areas of design and creative thinking have been under acknowledged. It is normally asserted that French architects looked to North America for technical lessons in the development of modern architecture in the 1960s but that the French cultural environment was generally hostile to American ideas. Including interviews with French architects who visited the States in the 1960s and then assumed influential positions in the press and education in France, this book shows how they actually found in the American counterculture and its radical groups of architectural dropouts a liberating force, free both of the taint of American capitalism and of high investment technology. Often living in alternative student communities, they saw highly innovative low cost technical and structural systems placed in the service of collective forms of living which represented a critique not only of professional architectural practice but also of bourgeois forms of living. Many of them also studied in American schools of architecture and came in contact with an intellectual and interdisciplinary style of architectural education unavailable in France at that time.

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