Frampton, Kenneth Brian

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Frampton, Kenneth Brian (1930– ). English-born Modernist architectural critic and historian, for many years based in the USA. In numerous publications he attempted to put modern architecture into broader contexts: they included Modern Architecture: A Critical History (1980, 1985—which tended to emphasize ideology at the expense of other matters), contributions to Modern Architecture and the Critical Present (1982), Studies in Tectonic Culture (1995), and Labour, Work, and Architecture (2002). He adopted Critical Regionalism in the 1980s as an antidote to global uniformity and mediocrity in design, and cited the work of Aalto and Utzon as successful examples where local and general influences were synthesized. Nevertheless, he opposed any return to vernacular architecture or any whiff of Historicism, and proposed ‘autochthonous elements with paradigms drawn from alien sources’, which, when one thinks about it, is what Modernists have been busy doing for some fifty years, giving the genius loci not much chance of survival. Frampton's writings often seem to hold that the totatalitarian Le Corbusier's architecture was somehow ‘humanist’ (as he described the competition project for the League of Nations, Geneva (1937) ), yet they also point out that Kahn's work at Dacca and Le Corbusier's at Chandigarh both ignored the technological facts of their locations, being designed for ‘automobiles … where many, as yet, still lack a bicycle’. Therein might appear to lie a contradiction.


Anno Domini, xxxviii (1968), 134–6;
Frampton (1980, 1982, 1995, 2002)