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Festvortrag Theodor-Fischer-Preis 2018 // Iain Boyd Whyte: Wit's it caw'd? Cumbernauld! Scotland’s Model New Town



von 18:30 bis 19:30


Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Vortragsraum 242, II. OG, Katharina-von-Bora-Straße 10, 80333 München

Termin übernehmen

Aus Anlass der Vergabe des Theodor-Fischer-Preises 2018 an Dr. Elena Chestnova für ihre Dissertation „History in Things. Gottfried Semper and Popularization of the Arts in London 1850-55".

In its prime, Cumbernauld New Town in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, was one of most celebrated examples of 1960s urbanism.  Unlike its English predecessors—such as Stevenage and Harlow—which sought to recreate the green arcadia of the garden suburb, Cumbernauld was explicitly modernist in its ambitions.  Set on a hill site—not an obvious choice in the context of the Scottish weather—Cumbernauld’s designers sought to create a compact, powerfully three-dimensional city centre surrounded by neighbourhood units.  The goal was to make a town in which the incoming population, drawn from Glasgow tenement housing, would feel at home.  As the Architects’ Journal reported in January 1968: “The unique idea of the centre was to place, within one single, complicated structure, all the major social, commercial and shopping functions of the town.”  This futuristic city centre straddles an urban motorway, which is linked to a formally composed network of distributor and feeder roads.  Such was the initial impact of Cumbernauld that in 1967 it attracted some 10,000 official visitors from sixty countries and won the prestigious R. S. Reynolds Award for Community Architecture of the American Institute of Architects in competition with Vällingby (Stockholm) and Tapiola (Espoo, Finland).  As the AAI jury noted, “The Town Centre and the roadway system, the heart and circulation system of Cumbernauld, bring together the urban environment and the automobile into a powerful resolution.”  Sadly, the dreams of the city of the future were short-lived, and Cumbernauld was already in decline by the mid-1970s.  This lecture will trace the rise and fall of a brave but doomed utopia.

Prof. Dr. Iain Boyd Whyte, Edinburgh
Iain Boyd Whyte is Professor of Architectural History at the University of Edinburgh.  He has written extensively on architectural modernism in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, and on post-1945 urbanism.  His books include Bruno Taut and the Architecture of Activism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982; paperback 2010); The Crystal Chain Letters: Architectural Fantasies by Bruno Taut and his Circle (Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, 1985); Hendrik Petrus Berlage on Style 1886-1909 (Santa Monica: Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1996); and Modernity and the Spirit of the City (London: Routledge, 2003). Among his more recent publications are The Man-Made Future: Planning, Education, and Design in Mid-20th Century Britain (London: Routledge, 2006); Beyond the Finite: The Sublime in Art and Science (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, co-edited with Roald Hoffmann, Professor Emeritus of Humane Letters at Cornell University and Nobel Prize laureate for Chemistry in 1981); and Metropolis Berlin: 1880-1940 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012).

Beyond architecture, he has written on aesthetics, twentieth-century German art, and Anglo-German literary relations.  Active over many years as a translator, he launched the e-journal Art in Translation (London: Routledge) in 2009.  A former fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung and a Getty Scholar, he was co-curator of the Council of Europe exhibition Art and Power, shown in London, Barcelona and Berlin in 1996/97. He has served as a Trustee of the National Galleries of Scotland, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and a former chair of RIHA, the International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art.  In 2015-2016 he was Samuel H. Kress Professor at the Centre for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.