Adrian Forty – Concrete and Culture – Part 3

Lecture date: 2012-01-30

Architecture and Education Series organised by Mark Cousins

Almost three tons of concrete are produced every year for each man, woman and child on the planet. It is now second only to water in terms of human consumption. Yet how has the astonishing take-up of this new medium within little over a century been accommodated into our mental universe? While it has transformed the lives of many people, in Western countries it has been widely vilified, blamed for making everywhere look the same, and for erasing nature. Architects and engineers, although they have primary responsibility for ‘interpreting’ concrete, are not the only people to employ the medium, and many other occupations – politicians, artists, writers, filmmakers, churchmen – have made use of concrete for purposes of their own. The results are often contentious, and draw attention to some of the contradictions in how we think about our physical surroundings.

Adrian Forty is Professor of Architectural History at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. His book Words and Buildings, a Vocabulary of Modern Architecture (2000) will be reissued by Thames and Hudson in early 2012, and his new book Concrete and Culture is forthcoming from Reaktion in April. Co-authored publications include The Art of Forgetting (1999) and Brazil’s Modern Architecture (2004). He is currently President of the European Architectural History Network.

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