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Alison & Peter Smithson: The Art of Inhabitation

17 December 2011 – 25 March 2012
'Alison & Peter Smithson, The Art of Inhabitation’ shows the work of the English architecture couple Alison (1928-1993) and Peter (1923-2003), being among the most prominent and controversial architects of the twentieth century.

The exhibition shows the Smithsons’ ideas on private housing: a place the inhabitants should be able to appropriate. The spaces within the house should accommodate to individual changes and patterns of use. Original drawings, numerous photographs and purpose-built scale models will show various projects as well as the collages Alison Smithson made as anthropological forms studies. ‘The Art of Inhabitation’ is the first result of the long-term cooperation between Delft University of Technology and NAiM/Bureau Europa and is compiled by Max Risselada, professor emeritus of the faculty of Architecture of the Delft University of Technology.

During their whole lives, the Smithsons formed the centre of discussions on the role of modern architecture in contemporary society. They were among the founding members of Team 10, a group of European architects of influence during the Sixties and Seventies, who primarily focused their polemics and designs on the upcoming consumer society and the role of town planning. They were critical of the established modernism of the Fifties when form followed function. With this they laid the foundation of Brutalism (architecture of large geometrical buildings in raw concrete). They were also involved in The Independent Group, an intellectual discussion group that valued the beauty of everyday aesthetics. The Pop Art movement of the Sixties came out of this group.

The numerous books and essays of the Smithsons have remained of current interest to this very day. They use the world of architecture and building practice as a reason to think about the architect’s actual assignment. In their opinion architecture cannot be dissociated from moral attitude and design is not its sole focus.

Photography: Johannes Schwartz

Graphic design: Experimental Jetset

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