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Norberg-Schulz, Christian

Norberg-Schulz, Christian (1926–2000). Norwegian architect, theorist, and historian. Influenced by Giedion, Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe, he was a convinced Modernist, believing that it was the only valid currency of C20, so his contribution to the history of Baroque and Rococo architecture and his concerns with the genius loci are all the more remarkable. In 1952, under Giedion's influence, he founded (with Korsmo, Fehn, and others) PAGON (Progressive Architects Group Oslo Norway) in order to provide an independent Norwegian delegation to CIAM, and, with Korsmo, designed three glass-and-steel houses (1953–5) on a hill near Oslo, in which the rigid grid and the architectural treatment were clearly influenced by the work of Eames and Mies van der Rohe. He edited (1963–78) the architectural journal Byggekunst, and (also in the 1960s) began his long career teaching at Oslo School of Architecture following the publication of his influential Intentions in Architecture (1963), a book in which he investigated the theory of organization of space and built form, and emphasized the importance of visual perception, influenced by Gestalt psychology and by the works of Paul Frankl (1879–1962), August Schmarsow (1853–1936), and Heinrich Wölfflin (1864–1945). He developed a method of phenomenological analysis of cities which he described in Genius Loci (1979 and 1980). Curiously, in Norberg-Schulz's Modern Norwegian Architecture (1986) and in numerous papers, he wrote about the architecture of his native land, emphasizing the values of traditional construction, the use of local materials, and the virtues of vernacular architecture, which would seem to be at odds with his espousal of CIAM and the Modern Movement cult. Influenced by Jencks's The Language of Post-Modern Architecture (1977), Norberg-Schulz embraced ‘PoMo’ with some enthusiasm, perceiving in it new possibilities for expression, but in the 1990s, stung by his growing isolation, he pronounced that PoMo had ‘dissolved into superficial playfulness’, and he returned to a major study of the theoretical bases of Modernism in his Principles of Modern Architecture, published just before his death.

Bibliography

Norberg-Schulz (1963, 1968, 1971, 1980, 1980a, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1986a, 1986b, 1986c, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2000a);
Norberg-Schulz & and Postiglione (1997)

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