Red House To Ronchamp: Part 3 (1920 - 1960)
Edward Cullinan (Cullinan Studio)


Fiat Car, 1921

©Edward Cullinan

My third talk will describe some buildings of the decade 1920 to 1930, and reach towards 1960. As a start here is a 1921, V12 Fiat, made in Fiat's own reinforced concrete factory of 1912 in Turin, the one with the test track on the roof which so thrilled the early modern architects and was to be illustrated in Le Corbusier's "Vers Une Architecture" of 1921. We have to imagine this posh, elegant and sophisticated limousine, designed for the wealthy and the select few, rushing round that inclined test track on the roof - all terrifically modern in the exciting and the industrial sense. And the architects and their houses that we are going to see will be partly inspired by that very notion of modern-ness itself.


Van Nelle Factory, Holland, 1927, Brinkman & Van Der Vlugt

©R Vickery

And to follow the Fiat and the Fiat factory I will take, as we usually do first, the developing tradition of elegant industrialised architecture which we find fully fledged and fully developed already and most elegantly in Brinkman and Van der Vlugt's and Ernst Mai's Van Nelle factory in Holland of 1927. Le Corbusier said of this factory, "The sheer fa├žades of the building, bright glass and grey metal, rise up against the sky. The serenity of the place is total." To describe to you the air of confidence and belief in progress that lead to such work, I will read to you a poem written by the Italian Futurists, Marinetti and Sant'Elia in 1910. "We will sing of the stirring of great crowds - workers, pleasure seekers, rioters and the confused sea of colour and sand - as revolution sweeps through the modern metropolis. We will sing of the midnight fervour of arsenals and shipyards, blazing with electric moons; insatiable stations swallowing the smoking serpents of their trains; factories hung from the clouds by the twisted threads of their smoke; bridges, flashing like knives in the sun; giant gymnasts that leap over rivers; adventurous steamers that scent the horizon; deep-chested locomotives that paw the ground with their wheels like stallions harnessed with steel tubing; the easy flight of aircraft, their propellers beating the wind like banners with a sound like the applause of a might crowd". Thus Marinetti and Sant' Elia in 1910.

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