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An Overview of Futuristic Architecture

Introduction

Futurism is one of the most important art movements of the 20th century because it left an important impact on various aspects of art, including architecture, sculpture, painting and music. It was characterized by an emphasis on speed, noise, application of technology and machines, cities and obsession with new things as well as complete disposal of the past. It expressed the need for break from tradition, giving way to modernism in all aspects of art. Although the impact of futurism was lesser in architecture than in other fields of art, it left significant effects that are worth discussion. In fact, futuristic architecture is one of the most debatable artistic movements in the 20th century, especially due to the emergence of mega structures in Europe and Asia. The purpose of this paper is to analyze futuristic architecture in terms of its evolution, philosophy and state of rationalism associated with it. Arguably, futuristic architecture is irrational, despite the various scholarly work that have attempted to display it as rational.

Emergence and evolution of futuristic architecture

Futurism architecture is part of futurism movement of arts that began with the publication of Futurist Manifesto on February 20th, 1909, in France. The author, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, produced the first manifesto of the movement, which appeared on the front page of the French newspaper Le Figaro, the largest circulation of its time in France. This manifesto signaled the desire to employ modern and popular aspects of life in arts, including the love for noise, machines, technologies and break of the past aspects of life. Immediately after the publication of the manifesto, Marinetti’s ideas obtained significant support from a number of renowned artists, including Gino Severini, Umbeto Boccioni, Carlo Carra and Giacomo Balla. Noteworthy, most of the support came from Italy as suggested by these individuals. In fact, although the manifesto was published in France, futuristic movement was more popular in Italy than any other country. The artists believed that they could use the movement to translate art into modern and figurative by exploring movement and space. Beginning in Milan, the movement quickly spread throughout various Italian cities, including Turin, Naples and Rome. Marinetti played a significant role in promoting the movement throughout Europe and Asia. Unlike pointillism and impressionism, futurism was not identified with any distinctive style in the beginning. Rather, futurist artists worked in an electric fashion by borrowing a number of artistic ideas from modernistic ideas and styles such as Post-impressionism, including divisionism as well as symbolism. However, in 1911, futurism emerged as a distinct style, which was highly influenced by cubism. In particular, the futurist artists were fascinated by new and emerging technologies such as new visual technology and chrono-photography, which later gave way for animation and cinematography.

In architecture, futurism was significant in Italy and other parts of Europe before spreading to Asia. It was particularly characterized by a distinctive plunge towards modernism as well as rationalism. For instance, futuristic architects emphasized on the use of advanced materials for building. Futuristic architects in places like Italy and Russia disagreed with the tendency towards earlier styles such as Roman imperialism and classical aestheticism. Between 1920s and 1950s, several structures were built under this style, most of which were public buildings such as railway stations, post offices and resorts. For instance, Angiolo Mazzoni, one of the most popular futuristic architects, is credited with designing and building of Trento’s Railway Station.

Apart from Angiolo Mazzoni, a number of other architects supported the ideas of Marinetti and inserted them into architecture. For instance, Antonio Sant’Elia is considered the primary figure behind the futuristic movement of architecture. Born in 1888 in Italy, Sant’Elia trained and qualified as a builder before moving to Milan for work and further education. Initially, he was part of the new generation of builders who emphasized on Italian Secessionism movement. However, he became a futuristic artist after interacting with several advocates for the new style. In 1914, he wrote the manifesto of futuristic architecture based on the previous document he had written in the ‘Messaggio’ magazine.

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