Cities in Flux: Bergson, Gaudí, Loos

The European Legacy 16 (7):919 - 936 (2011)
Abstract
Philosophical theories that take analysis as their methodological centerpiece compare objects and events by setting them in individual relations to one another. For Bergson, this privileging of discontinuity, which requires picking the processes of change apart, is driven by the adaptive needs of our species but does not probe into the essence of reality. For him, the ontological point of departure is not a series of discrete states or events, but rather the temporal continuity in which they flow: a qualitative multiplicity he refers to as durée. In this article, I will examine the echoes of Bergson's theory of durée in two inaugural figures of architectural modernism: the Catalan Antoni Gaudí and the Austrian Adolf Loos. The deep consonance between Gaudí and Loos, all the more surprising given their antithetical aesthetics, offers a view of architecture as the framing of an unbounded flux. This is what I have called the durational life of their respective cities, captured in a state of permanent self-transformation
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