martes, 1 de abril de 2008


The movement known as Rationalism gathered the most important personalities of 20th century’s architecture. Their work and their theory are individual but they have in common the simplicity of the forms because each form belongs to a function.

They use highly industrialised materials, especially concrete. It is a cheap material, easy to adapt, incombustible, non-corrosive and that offers the possibility of building the skeleton, leaving the plan free. In addition to this, it permits the pre-manufacture in series. It can be combined with other materials such as still, glass or brick.

The wall is not a support any longer, and it is reduced to a light skin for closing, with a huge number of windows that allow light and air entering inside the building. The supports are pillars with different sections, made of still and concrete. The covers, in general, are lintels standing on the support and forming with them the skeleton, giving to the construction a light and non-weighty aspect of great constructive audacity.

The decorative elements disappear in favour of the straight and nude form. There is a worry about proportion, simplicity and asymmetry. The internal space is based of the free plan with interior walls that curve and move freely, adapting to the different functions. In the exterior the projecting, the free low level and the terrace in horizontal define the new image.

There is a great interest about urbanism because they aim at accommodating people to the new leaving standards and organise their groups, proposing new formulas as the garden-city o the industrial city. The most representative buildings are social houses, skyscrapers, industrial buildings, administrative constructions, theatres, concert halls and stadiums.

There are close links between Rationalism and other Art movements such as the Bauhaus. This link can be seen in Mies van der Rohe, linked to the German movement and one of the best representatives of Rational architecture. His work was revolutionary from the very beginning, when he started designing an office building in Berlin (1919). After that he designed houses and in 1929 he built the German Pavilion for Barcelona’s Universal Exhibition. In this building he demonstrated the right use of modern materials, with clear volumes and the wall as a curtain instead of the traditional wall. He emigrated to the US where he built numerous skyscrapers that look to be enormous glass boxes, in which it can be seen the devotion of the architect for the purity of the forms.

Le Corbusier was born in Switzerland even if a majority of his work was developed in France. He learnt the use of concrete and soon he began with the series production. He also designed cities for a concrete number of inhabitants (about three million). In 1926 he made one of his most representative works Ville Savoye, that consists of a concrete structure of Mediterranean inspiration in which his five points of architecture appear: use of “pilotis”, a kind of pillar to sustain the structure and separate it from the floor, not cutting the space; free façade; garden-terrace, thanks to the flat roofs; multiplication of windows: continuous windows with metallic sticks; free plan because now it is not the support of the wall. He theorised but it was not an utopian because his projects were realised, as in the case of the Unité d´Habitation at Marseille, where he built houses for working class families.

At the end of his career he modified his Rationalism and was closer to the Organicism as in the case of one of his master works: Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp.

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