AutoModernism: the Mechanical Bride of Modern Movement Design

By Rhodri Windsor Liscombe.

Published by The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: October 22, 2015 $US5.00

DOI: 10.18848/2325-1662/CGP/49720

This article reconsiders the stimulus exerted by automobile design, manufacture, aesthetic and marketing upon the development of the modern movement in architecture across North America. The overall time-frame is the post-1945 decades and more particularly the 1950s. The article argues that the automobile became a core mechanism in the popularization of modernist architecture, planning and design; and conversely also to their growing critique from the early 1960s. The automobile enabled the tremendous expansion of suburban lifestyle and thereby the equally tremendous, often negative reconfiguration of North American urbanism and environment. It became the most significant expression of design aesthetic in usual culture. It operated as object of both desire and utility while becoming essential to the lifestyle of average citizens as to be taken for granted. Automobile manufacture and design principles, especially ergonomic, and application of new materials and colors influenced modernist architecture. Both used promotional media, although this alliance revealed divergence between objectives and actual application. Adopting a broad perspective on the traffic between automobile and architectural design practice and reception, this article identifies a phenomenon defined as AutoModernism.

Keywords: Modernism, Architecture, Design, Automobile, Aesthetic, Urbanism, Media, Cultural History

The International Journal of Architectonic, Spatial, and Environmental Design, Volume 9, Issue 4, December, 2015, pp.1-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: October 22, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 594.816KB)).

Dr. Rhodri Windsor Liscombe

Professor, Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada