Remapping Modernity

Material Considerations of Three Canonical Works

New Modes of Architectural Representation for a Changing Climate
Fall 2020

The Barcelona Pavilion (International Style, International Problems)

Unité d’Habitation (The Concrete is Dirty but at least the Coral is Bleached)

The Glass House (Steel and Glass is Cool, Or is it Hot?)

This series of representational explorations attempts to catalyze a critical conversation surrounding the latent agency of architectural image making in relation to climate awareness, drawing attention to the disconnect between material and aesthetic tropes of the modern era and the declaration of collective action to reverse architecture’s complicity in climate change. 

The project features three canonical works of Modernism (the Barcelona Pavilion, Unité d’Habitation, and the Glass House), all selected for their unique embodiment of materiality as symbols of modernity’s optimism and efficiency.  This default mode of material mapping is still perpetuated throughout the discipline when it comes to the production of architectural images.  However, when analyzed through the lens of climate metrics, these projects prove to be outdated and misaligned with architecture’s current understanding of material production and performance and their contribution to global warming.

Considerations of embodied carbon, life cycle analysis, and thermal resistance should be folded into standard notions of design representation, not strictly checked off as sidebar diagrams.  The effects of climate change on the environment at large should also play a role in representing near-future scenarios.  As a result, these images aim to push back on the institutional attachment to these projects and their implied material connotations.  By leveraging visual techniques that address visceral, temporal, thermal and ecological effects, these three images produce a point of departure from the burden of modernity and welcome new ways of representing the built environment through speculative and holistic considerations.