Ordinariness and Light: Urban Theories, 1952-1960 and Their Application in a Building Project, 1963-1970

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9780262190824: Ordinariness and Light: Urban Theories, 1952-1960 and Their Application in a Building Project, 1963-1970
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Until recently the ideas of Alison and Peter Smithson have been known mainly to those professionally involved in architecture and urban design. This is so because they have presented their ideas usually in project form, accompanied by elliptical texts designed to prevent the building up of rigid thought patterns in the minds of those studying them.

Ordinariness and Light, by contrast, is an extended exploration of their theories and work over the past seventeen years, in which not only their aesthetic but also their political and emotional concerns are made plain. The book brings together a previously unpublished long text of 1952-53, "Urban Re-identification," and a sequence of later essays and statements. All this material has been revised for the present volume, and provided with a linking commentary.

The general theme is "the invention of an architecture structured by notions of association." The authors argue that the form of the city and the town must correspond to the human needs of the present; looser knit than in the past, even the quite recent past; more open and changing. And for city and town to correspond to this pattern of society there must be better systems of physical communication, and new form-concepts through which society can recognize and realize its new self.

The arguments, examples, and illustrations in the book show how a very small shift in our way of looking at the ordinary things that go to make up cities and towns could restore to them their rich classic connotations. Houses would once more feel like places of adventure, as well as security; roads would be made to give a sense of cohesion and connection, as well as of release. For the Smithsons, to sense an "ordering" in things is to feel liberated and free to use them. Ordinariness and Light will enable all who are exercised about the deterioration of urban life to share their dream of cities that can breathe. It may help, perhaps, to generate in society at large that kind of committed participation that their notion of "ordering" implies.

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9780571087884: Ordinariness and Light: Urban Theories 1952-1960 and their Application in a Building Project 1963-1970

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ISBN 10:  0571087884 ISBN 13:  9780571087884
Publisher: Faber and Faber, 1970
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