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Architects Journal review of Nationalism and Architecture edited by Raymond Quek, Darren Deane and Sarah Butler

Posted by Fiona Dunford, Marketing Executive

An entertaining review of the book Nationalism and Architecture appeared in a recent edition of the Architects Journal written by James Pallister.

From the review:

Back in the pre-unification Germany of 1850, King Maximillian of Bavaria initiated a competition to invent a new architectural style to be used at an institution of higher learning.

Quek writes in his introduction that the demand for a new style to be invented ab initio alarmed the Germanic art intellectuals. It did, however, illustrate the paradoxical challenge of nationalistic architecture: overtly expressing something which is latently manifest.

The editors contend that, unlike regionalism, nationalism is under-represented in academic literature and that most is gained by looking at case studies from across the globe.

Hence the essays include case studies on Lewis Mumford’s quest for a Jewish architecture, the impact of post-war church architecture on Irish immigrant identity, Louis Kahn’s American institutions and Alvar Aalto’s Finland.

Murray Edelman characterises architectural nationalism as the ‘relocation from the here and now to the remote past or anticipated future’. Different attitudes to national architecture can be expressed in buildings of the same era, and Quek gives the example of the Palace of Westminster and Buckingham Palace, both built in the 19th century.

Westminster, in high Gothic Revival, associated the ‘ascendant middle classes [and] their modern, democratic society’ with a medievalist past, while the stolid Neoclassicism of Buckingham Palace and its tripartite symmetry articulated British unity under monarchy, and its association with European royalty and classical architecture.

With the Scottish referendum looming and our relationship with Europe under closer examination, we may soon see yet more debates on nationalism and architecture.

Read the full review

Nationalism and ArchitectureNationalism and Architecture is edited by Raymond Quek, Bond University, Institute of Sustainable Development and Architecture, Australia, Darren Deane, Manchester School of Architecture, UK and Sarah Butler, The New School for Design, New York, USA

More books in the Ashgate studies in Architecture  series