Panorama of London in the first decade of the 21st century: high-rise buildings in London, as in other metropolises in the same decade, represent an “upgrade”. These militantly high structures change the skyline, struggle for domination, are accompanied by an overweighting of symbolism and from London to Shanghai display how it is possible to ignore a context; they now communicate exclusively among themselves

Jaroslav Sládeček

Architecture: The Decades of the 1990s and the 2000s

The goal of the present study is the depiction, description and critical evaluation of developmental tendencies in the evolution of architecture in the previous two decades. Taking as its starting point the characterisation of the era as one of exceptionally late modernity, it stresses primarily the increased speed in technical development and the reflection of this phenomenon in culture and architecture – in which the authors take up the conclusions of the Czech architect, historian and architectural theorist Dalibor Veselý, primarily active in Britain. (Architecture in the Age of Divided Representation – the only such text linking approaches from architectural theory to those in philosophy, yet nonetheless a demanding, even hermetic text), or Georg Franck and Dorothea Franck (Architektonische Qualität. München, Editition Akzente, Hanser Verlag 2008), where the category of architectural quality is remarkably clarified, as well as the highly conceptual (yet accessible for the practicing architect) work of the Russian theorist I. A. Dobritsyna (Ot postmodernizma-k nelinějnoj architěkture: Architěktura v kontěkste sovremennoj filosofii i nauki. Moskva, Progress-Tradicija 2004) and other works. Viewed in a historical perspective: architecture was always an autonomous discipline, in which there persisted a balance between technology and culture: architecture never succumbed to the status of an offshoot of modern technology but preserved within itself what, in each culture, belonged to place and tradition. In culture, we have our existential connection to the “natural world”, culture thus balanced the pressure of the technical domination of the world through the ‘unifying role’ of architecture. The architect of the late Modern era, however, can no longer rely upon culture to balance the technical aspect with the absolute security that he or she had previously, for culture, to the late-Modern era, is no less suffused with the mindset of calculation…..

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