chapter  4
32 Pages

Questioning Modernity: Western or Vernacular?

The modernist program cherished deeply universalizing aspirations for architecture worldwide, for the "universal laws" of economy and technology were supposed to apply everywhere. The modernist movement acquired the label "International Style" in 1932 to highlight what was believed to be the most prevalent feature of this architecture its unboundedness by place and culture. Modernist architecture indeed spread to become the dominant professional paradigm under very different institutional, political, and economic conditions, in liberal democracies of postwar Western Europe and the United States just as well as in Latin America or state socialist Central and Eastern Europe. In everyday practice, however, International Style was still confronted with the need to accommodate national, regional, and local idiosyncrasies (Khan 1998) In some places the local taming of International Style proceeded rather smoothly; Finnish modernists or Japanese metabolists indeed came to be widely acclaimed for their skillful blending of international influences and locally rooted traditions (Quantrill

1995; Stewart 1987; Umbach and H uppauf 2005) But in other places, such as Hungary, the process of local adaptation proved to be a much more controversial undertaking due to the tangled and highly politicized cultural and historical connotations architectural modernism came to be infused with during the twentieth century.