A Magic-Real Gap in Architecture

Publications: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In 1925, German art critic Franz Roh formalized the notion of Magic Realism (magischer Realismus) as a celebration of everyday life. In Italian literature, the same notion was explored in the works of Massimo Bontempelli. But it was the architect Friedrich Kiesler who imported the notion into architecture, stating that ‘Magic Architecture ... holds the balance between the two extremes of man’, his ‘desire for the machine’ and technology on the one hand, his ‘denial of science’ on the other. This paper follows the development of the notion of Magic Realism throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, tracing its re-emergence in works as varied as those of Carlo Scarpa, Billie Tsien and Tod Williams.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number2.2016
Pages (from-to)59-68
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • magic realism
  • everyday life
  • invention
  • perception

Artistic research

  • No

Cite this