Publication

  • X-Ray Architecture
    Beatriz Colomina
    Author
    Lars Müller Publishers, 2017
  • GRANTEE
    Beatriz Colomina
    GRANT YEAR
    2016

Children during a heliotherapy session, 1937.

Modern architecture, launched by an international group of avant-garde architects in the 1920s, has usually been understood in terms of functional efficiency, new technologies of construction, and the machine aesthetic. In contrast, X-Ray Architecture proposes that the architecture of the early twentieth century was shaped by the dominant medical obsession of its time: tuberculosis and its primary diagnostic tool, the X-ray. If architectural discourse has from its beginning associated building and body, the body that it describes is the medical body, reconstructed by each new theory of health. Avant-garde architects of the early decades of the twentieth century presented thus their new architecture as a health inducing instrument, or a kind of medical equipment for protecting and enhancing the body, specifically designed to resist and even cure the deadly disease that was ravaging cities all over the globe. This publication will re-examine the way illness and a new kind of vision inverted the normal understanding of modern architecture.

Beatriz Colomina is professor of architecture and founding director of the Program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University. Her books include Manifesto Architecture: The Ghost of Mies (Sternberg Press, 2014), Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196x-197x (2010), Domesticity at War (2007), Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media (1994) and Sexuality and Space (1992). She is the curator, with a team of Princeton PhD students, of the exhibitions Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196x-197x, which opened in New York in 2006 and has travelled to eleven cities around the world, Playboy Architecture, 1953-79, which opened in Maastricht in 2012 and was in Frankfurt in 2014, and Radical Pedagogies: Architectural Education in a Time of Disciplinary Instability (2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale and 14th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice). Recently she was appointed codirector, with Mark Wigley, of the 2016 Istanbul Design Biennial.