Last Updated on June 12, 2020 by Kingston Society

How the rectangle killed architecture – the dead hand of the Modernists

Tony Lancaster will give us new and interesting insights into how architecture can be rescued form itself.

If physics is the  language of the universe, then geometry is its grammar. Architectural grammar has changed from a vision of utopia to recidivist teddy boy kicking sand in the face of humanity.


Some generations ago, the Modernists devised a novel, fresh, matter-of-fact, elementarist kind of architectural aesthetic, until then largely missing among the established tradition-based visual signs of prestige, status and wealth. Developed in the 1920s, and largely based on the achievements of post-cubist abstract painters and sculptors, the new idiom for quite some time enriched the aesthetic alternatives open to consumers  when diverse non-modernist stylistic competence still reigned supreme.

Today, and for decades Modernism  completely dominating design education: the erstwhile liberator has turned into a new autocrat. The problem is that perpetuating the Modernist aesthetic monopoly keeps impoverishing the aesthetic that could have been available at the architects hand. This in consequence impoverishes our aesthetic environment. The minimalist idiom itself, although refined and sophisticated seems to most people in the final evidence of the buildings it produces to result in banal, identikit and dehumanising architecture.

Join us for a whizz through a hundred years of architecture and a plea for a return to beauty as a prime directive of the built environment.

Coming to our public meetings

Unless otherwise noted, all our meetings are held in the Judge Lecture Theatre, Tiffin School, Kingston upon Thames KT2 6RL. Click here to see a map of the area.

Access is from the London Road entrance where there is free parking available, subject to other events happening at the school. There are bus stops outside and opposite the school entrance, and the main bus and railway stations are within short walking distance. The Judge Lecture Theatre is accessed through the main doors next to the new circular school cafeteria. It is on the ground floor and we believe you will find it accessible.

Meetings begin promptly at 7:30pm. Doors are open at 7:00.

Free admission for members of the Society. Members of the public are very welcome to attend and are asked to pay £2 toward our costs, alternatively they can join the Society on the night for just £10.

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