Modernist versus Postmodernist Body

21 – “The Building in Pain: The Body and Architecture in Post-Modern Culture” – Anthony Vidler

The body and Architecture are more familiar to us. However, we would be so surprised with the comparability of the two total different entities after reading this essay. The author discussed the development of architectural theories about the body in relation to the several periods of Architecture history with unanticipated examples.

There are three stages in the transformation of bodily projection: “the building as body; the building epitomizing bodily states or, more importantly, states of mind based on bodily sensation; the environment as a whole endowed with bodily, or at least organic, characteristics” (Pg.3). Vidler cites some examples to illustrate those three stages. From the Greek canons of bodily mathematics, the comparison between the wombs with dwelling places to the instances of contemporary architecture, the author expatiates how architecture and the city model on the part or whole human body.

The human body provided a proportional model for architecture and the cities. In the beginning, the human body directly provided the qualities, shape and the dimensions for the architectural design. The classical building showed the perfect instances. During the modern period, the building would not be simply represented the body but was compared as the physical and mental states of the body. The further discussion is about the health or sick building and cities which contrast the body with disease.

We experience and imitate our body to improve our environment and buildings. The building needs to be maintained as important as we check our body frequently. The design is just the beginning of the whole life of buildings. We need to think about how to make the building survive in a long period.


  1. How does architecture change when the bodily projection form is stable in a long period?
  2. Does the mental projection have more pronounced effect on the evolving architecture than the physical projection of the human’s body at the present time?



20 – “The Medical Body in Modern Architecture” – Beatiz Colomina

This unusual topic gives us a very interesting process of exploring the relationship of the perception of human health and theories of modern architecture.

Colomina used the example quoted by Robert Musil – “Modern man is born in hospital and dies in hospital – hence he should also live in a place like a hospital” (Pg. 230) to bring forward the argument what is the form between the human’s health and the architecture. Author used the Mies van der Tohes’ work to exhibit that the view of that era – The buildings are as a medical equipment for protecting and enhancing the human’s body and the health of body becomes a new form of social ideology.

Le Corbusier’s famous book, Towards a New Architecture, introduced the important aspects of modern building to confront unhealthy interior environment – sufficient sunlight, pilotis, stilt-like elements which lifted homes off of the humid, unhygienic ground, which values the importance of leaving away the diseases. 

The health became a central contributing factor to bond the body, the military, industry, and politics. For example, “Health becomes a new form of religion” (Pg. 231). Colomina mentioned that architects repeatedly compare disease to concern for social order.

This article presents the key clue that architecture is driven by health. However, with the development of society, the theory of architecture also should be changed, and the new form of architecture with its occupants will suit the new health problems.


  1. The author used the tuberculosis to illustrate the development of theory of architecture. Does the disease regard as the medical technology more than the building features?
  2. What would the building be like if the disease is pathless with the high technology appeared?

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