In the year 2007 the magazine Icon, to celebrate his number 50, entrusts 50 manifests to some other artists, designers, town planners and architects between whom we can mention to Rem Koolhaas, Greg Lynn, Zaha Hadid or Steven Holl. His publishing house, which was beginning with the judgment: “The age of the manifest has ended”, it ended up by claiming the need of these radical, violent writings and that always look for the break with the previous thing, to finish with the apathy and the relativism that they reign in our beginning of century.
One year later, Patrick Schumacher presents in the club Dark Side of London his Manifest Parametricista. Independently of his content, the utilization of the word “manifiest” there is no doubt that turned it, of beginning, into anything already polemic.
Though, a priori, the idea of a manifest in the full 21st century sounds untimely, the truth is that, if we attend to the books on manifests that Conrad Ulrich, Charles Jencks and Karl Kropf have written, these have not stopped producing to him throughout the whole last century, with the only interruption that they supposed both world wars, specially the second one. It is more, as we were approaching to the current century, his number was multiplying.
Neither the successive crises economic seem to have concerned his free development. Nevertheless, if we attend to his subject matter and I am used yes we can see that a great evolution exists.
At the beginning of the 20th century there were fewer manifests, but they were much more radical. The format had taken of the politics which big manifests, for example, the famous manifest of the communist party, they were going to obtain a real revolution after which, really, there would change the political and social system of the USSR. It is the epoch of the forefronts, movements that also try to break with everything previous and that they see in the manifest an excellent ally. In architecture, besides the manifests of the forefronts [De Stijl, Futurist, Positivist or Suprematista] there happen the manifests and architectural programs destined to find the “architectural language”, the architecture that is capable of reflecting the economic, political and social changes of this century.
About the 20s of this century this new architecture seems to have been in the modern movement and the manifests and architectural theories are homogenized and, for a few years, the international style seems to be the only topic that occupies them. But, after Europa’s reconstruction, which took place on having finished the second world war and in that the principal ideas put into practice of this one movement, the manifests it centres then on the critique of the cities that have been constructed.
This critique is going to express according to very different ideas, though four big thematic groups might be distinguished: the postmodern critique very influenced by the philosophy and that starts treating again the already forgotten questions of style, the traditionalists, who propose a return to the traditional city, the revisers of the modern movement, who seek to improve this one and who have derived in two fundamental trends: those who look for a more human city [there they would enter topics of regionalismos, accessibility, kind or infancy] and those who look for a more poetical city and they will influence to the theories fenomenológicas and, finally, inside the principal trends we all might emphasize those, that, immediately after the crisis of the oil of 1973, they begin to treat questions of sustainability, architecture veráncula and ecology and that they will derive in the paradigm called of the thermodynamic thing.
Nevertheless, theories apart, which turns out to be more showy of the manifests of the last half of last century is that already they are not these radical personal positionings [or of a group] that were calling to a revolution against the existing reality. Rather they are small pieces of a puzzle, of something like manifest collage that, more that to break with the previous thing, thinks to change it a bit, reflecting a certain conformity with the existing situation.
Beatriz Villanueva Cajide. Arquitecta and Master in Architectural Advanced Projects (ETSAM). Co-founder of bRijUNi architects and police station of the days ” At the edge of the critique ” organized by the European University of Madrid in april-May, 2013.
Beatriz Villanueva es Arquitecta, Master en Gestión de Espacios Virtuales, Master en Proyectos Arquitectónicos Avanzados y PhD (ABD) con su tesis “Arquitectura y Compromiso. Actualización y revisión crítica de los manifiestos de arquitectura”, dentro del grupo ARKRIT de teoría y crítica (ETSAM).
Francisco J. Casas es Arquitecto, Master en Análisis, Teoría e Historia de la Arquitectura y PhD (ABD) con su tesis “Fundamentos Historiográficos, Teóricos y Críticos de los años 50” dentro del Departamento de Composición Arquitectónica (ETSAM).