London: Bloomsbury, 2020
ISBN 978 1350098718, 304pp, [pounds sterling]76.50
As its name suggests, the project of modernism was grounded on assumptions about the nature of modernity. This was to be a modern architecture for a modern age: an age of science, of technology, of steel and plate glass. Hence its appeal to such a variety of people who wanted to be--or, at least seen to be--modern, whether scientists or politicians, Fascists or Communists, democrat or technocrat, or something else besides.
Hence, too, the attraction of modernism for the churches and other faith groups. Seeking to keep up to date and to demonstrate their relevance to the modern world, Church leaders came to embrace modern architecture. In the shape of figures like Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, Alvar Aalto and Oscar Niemeyer, some congregations commissioned the biggest names in the business. From the suburbs of the USA to the new towns of England; from the rebuilt cities of central Europe to the favelas of Brazil and the shanty towns of Asia: smaller, lower-key, less famous, but no less determinedly modern churches sprang up everywhere in the 1950s and 1960s.
Yet there was always a tension...