This innovative edited collection, derived from a conference held at the Welsh School of Architecture, charts the rise, fall and possible futures of the word primitive.
The word primitive is fundamental to the discipline of architecture in the west, providing a convenient starting point for the myth of architecture’s origins. Since the almost legendary 1970s conference on the Primitive, with the advent of post-modernism and, in particular, post-colonialism, the word has fallen from favor in many disciplines. Despite this, architects continue to use the word to mythologize and reify the practice of simplicity.
Primitive includes contributions from some of today’s leading architectural commentators including Dalibor Vesely, Adrian Forty, David Leatherbarrow, Richard Weston and Richard Coyne. Structured around five sections, Negotiating Origins; Urban Myths; Questioning Colonial Constructs; Making Marks; and Primitive Futures, the essays highlight the problematic nature of ideas of the primitive, engage with contemporary debate in the field of post colonialism and respond to a burgeoning interest in the non-expert architecture.
This now controversial subject remains, for better or worse, intrinsic to the very structure of Modernism and deeply embedded in architectural theory. Considering a broad range of approaches, this book provides a rounded past, present and future of the word primitive in the architectural sphere.
The book’s contents are as follows:
Jo Odgers, Flora Samuel and Adam Sharr
Part 1: Original matters
- Primitive: the word and concept
Part 2: Negotiating origins
- The primitive as modern problem: invention and crisis
- Origins redefined: a tale of pigs and primitive huts
- The primitive hut: fantasies of survival in an all-white world
- Gottfried Semper’s primitive hut: duration, construction and self-creation
- Mineral matters: formation and transformation
Part 3: Questioning colonial constructs
- Post-colonizing the primitive
Felipe Hernández and Lea Knudsen Allen
- Notes for an alternative history of the primitive hut
- Reinventing ‘primitiveness’: Henri Lacoste and the Belgian Congo Pavilion at the 1931 Colonial Exposition in Paris
- The radicalization of the primitive in Brazilian modernism
- The need to be critical
Part 4: Urban myths
- Practically primitive
- Giants and columns
- The emblematic city: John Wood and the refounding of Bath
- Alvar Aalto and the primitive suburb
- Metaphorical Manhattan – paradise lost
Part 5: Making marks
- The perception of self-negation in the space of emptiness: the primitive in Tadao Ando’s architecture
- The ‘primitive’ surface: carving, modelling, marking and transformation
- The modern-day primitive hut? ‘Self-building’ with Jung, Aalto and Le Corbusier
Flora Samuel and Sarah Menin
- The wisdom of the sands
Part 6: Primitive futures?
- Digital commerce and the primitive roots of architectural consumption
- The primitive and the everyday: Sergison Bates, Lefebvre and the guilt of architectural expertise
- Heart of darkness: air of comfort
- Primitive: from which construction begins
- United cultures of Britain
C. J. Lim