Regionalism and the Functional Tradition in Danish Modern Architecture

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This paper discusses the discourse on regionalism and “the functional tradition” in relation to Danish modern architecture. The concept of the functional tradition was proposed by the architect Kay Fisker (1893-1965) in his 1950 essay “Den funktionelle tradition: Indtryk af amerikansk arkitektur” (The Functional Tradition: Impressions of American Architecture) and repeated in Danish discourse on modern architecture ever since. Through his writings, Fisker reaffirmed a national narrative of Danish architecture as being peripheral in the light of contemporary trends and ideas yet shaped by a pragmatic crypto-functionalism, nested in a local building culture and hence seldomly resulting in ground-breaking works yet continuously contributing to a national building stock of relatively high quality even if formally leaning towards more or less anonymous expressions. In his own built projects, which counts numerous housing blocks in Copenhagen, healthcare and educational institutions such as Aarhus University, Fisker, one of the key protagonists of Danish twentieth-century architecture, strived for a balance between what he termed “Internationalism” and “National Romanticism” (1960), relying on local building materials and construction techniques such as brickwork and pitched roofs. Hence, the discourse as set forth in 1950 supports Fisker’s own production both pre- and prospectively. Curiously, Fisker would coin his concept of “the functional tradition” through an analysis of contemporary American architecture. He thus suggested an alternative story of what modern architecture was, could, and not least ought to be (his discourse being highly normative and driven by causal argumentation and biological metaphors i.e. architectural history performing through “evolution”). According to Fisker, traditionalism is a sort of contextualism which again can be viewed as a universal principle, bringing him close to much later ideas of critical regionalism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRegionalism, Nationalism & Modern Architecture : Proceedings
EditorsJorge Cunha Pimentel, Alexandra Trevisan, Alexandra Cardoso
Number of pages12
Place of PublicationPorto
PublisherCEAA Centro de Estudos Arnaldo Araújo
Publication date2018
Pages412-423
ISBN (Electronic)978-972-8784-82-9
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventRegionalism, Nationalism and Modern Architecture - CEAA Centro de Estudos Arnaldo Araújo, Porto, Portugal
Duration: 25 Oct 201827 Oct 2018
https://regnatmm.weebly.com/

Conference

ConferenceRegionalism, Nationalism and Modern Architecture
LocationCEAA Centro de Estudos Arnaldo Araújo
CountryPortugal
CityPorto
Period25/10/201827/10/2018
Internet address

Keywords

  • Regionalism
  • Modernism
  • Denmark
  • Kay Fisker
  • Functional Tradition

Artistic research

  • No

Cite this

Søberg, M. (2018). Regionalism and the Functional Tradition in Danish Modern Architecture. In J. C. Pimentel, A. Trevisan, & A. Cardoso (Eds.), Regionalism, Nationalism & Modern Architecture: Proceedings (pp. 412-423). Porto: CEAA Centro de Estudos Arnaldo Araújo.
Søberg, Martin. / Regionalism and the Functional Tradition in Danish Modern Architecture. Regionalism, Nationalism & Modern Architecture: Proceedings. editor / Jorge Cunha Pimentel ; Alexandra Trevisan ; Alexandra Cardoso. Porto : CEAA Centro de Estudos Arnaldo Araújo, 2018. pp. 412-423
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abstract = "This paper discusses the discourse on regionalism and “the functional tradition” in relation to Danish modern architecture. The concept of the functional tradition was proposed by the architect Kay Fisker (1893-1965) in his 1950 essay “Den funktionelle tradition: Indtryk af amerikansk arkitektur” (The Functional Tradition: Impressions of American Architecture) and repeated in Danish discourse on modern architecture ever since. Through his writings, Fisker reaffirmed a national narrative of Danish architecture as being peripheral in the light of contemporary trends and ideas yet shaped by a pragmatic crypto-functionalism, nested in a local building culture and hence seldomly resulting in ground-breaking works yet continuously contributing to a national building stock of relatively high quality even if formally leaning towards more or less anonymous expressions. In his own built projects, which counts numerous housing blocks in Copenhagen, healthcare and educational institutions such as Aarhus University, Fisker, one of the key protagonists of Danish twentieth-century architecture, strived for a balance between what he termed “Internationalism” and “National Romanticism” (1960), relying on local building materials and construction techniques such as brickwork and pitched roofs. Hence, the discourse as set forth in 1950 supports Fisker’s own production both pre- and prospectively. Curiously, Fisker would coin his concept of “the functional tradition” through an analysis of contemporary American architecture. He thus suggested an alternative story of what modern architecture was, could, and not least ought to be (his discourse being highly normative and driven by causal argumentation and biological metaphors i.e. architectural history performing through “evolution”). According to Fisker, traditionalism is a sort of contextualism which again can be viewed as a universal principle, bringing him close to much later ideas of critical regionalism.",
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Søberg, M 2018, Regionalism and the Functional Tradition in Danish Modern Architecture. in JC Pimentel, A Trevisan & A Cardoso (eds), Regionalism, Nationalism & Modern Architecture: Proceedings. CEAA Centro de Estudos Arnaldo Araújo, Porto, pp. 412-423, Regionalism, Nationalism and Modern Architecture, Porto, Portugal, 25/10/2018.

Regionalism and the Functional Tradition in Danish Modern Architecture. / Søberg, Martin.

Regionalism, Nationalism & Modern Architecture: Proceedings. ed. / Jorge Cunha Pimentel; Alexandra Trevisan; Alexandra Cardoso. Porto : CEAA Centro de Estudos Arnaldo Araújo, 2018. p. 412-423.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

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AB - This paper discusses the discourse on regionalism and “the functional tradition” in relation to Danish modern architecture. The concept of the functional tradition was proposed by the architect Kay Fisker (1893-1965) in his 1950 essay “Den funktionelle tradition: Indtryk af amerikansk arkitektur” (The Functional Tradition: Impressions of American Architecture) and repeated in Danish discourse on modern architecture ever since. Through his writings, Fisker reaffirmed a national narrative of Danish architecture as being peripheral in the light of contemporary trends and ideas yet shaped by a pragmatic crypto-functionalism, nested in a local building culture and hence seldomly resulting in ground-breaking works yet continuously contributing to a national building stock of relatively high quality even if formally leaning towards more or less anonymous expressions. In his own built projects, which counts numerous housing blocks in Copenhagen, healthcare and educational institutions such as Aarhus University, Fisker, one of the key protagonists of Danish twentieth-century architecture, strived for a balance between what he termed “Internationalism” and “National Romanticism” (1960), relying on local building materials and construction techniques such as brickwork and pitched roofs. Hence, the discourse as set forth in 1950 supports Fisker’s own production both pre- and prospectively. Curiously, Fisker would coin his concept of “the functional tradition” through an analysis of contemporary American architecture. He thus suggested an alternative story of what modern architecture was, could, and not least ought to be (his discourse being highly normative and driven by causal argumentation and biological metaphors i.e. architectural history performing through “evolution”). According to Fisker, traditionalism is a sort of contextualism which again can be viewed as a universal principle, bringing him close to much later ideas of critical regionalism.

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Søberg M. Regionalism and the Functional Tradition in Danish Modern Architecture. In Pimentel JC, Trevisan A, Cardoso A, editors, Regionalism, Nationalism & Modern Architecture: Proceedings. Porto: CEAA Centro de Estudos Arnaldo Araújo. 2018. p. 412-423