British magazine New Statesman recently published an article on the troubling links that tie Twitter accounts that cover traditional architecture to racist and xenophobic figures from across the web. As the article describes, some social media accounts that at first seem to simply celebrate historic structures have a tendency to veer into rhetoric that praises European culture over others and aggressively denies the impact of non-white or non-Christian people on Western design. One of the accounts profiled in the piece follows many ethnocentrist figures and has a followership that sharply denounces any attempts to include or even acknowledge global influences.
This is not the first time that neo-traditionalist architects have been tied to fascists. The accounts frequently post drawings from Leon Krier, the traditionalist architect who studies the work Albert Speer, the chief architect of the Nazi Regime. Philip Johnson was famously a Nazi sympathizer, despite being openly gay, something that would have gotten him sent to a concentration camp in Hitler’s Germany. Even Le Corbusier, that icon of modernism, apparently did not see much wrong with fascist regimes—they may have appealed to his desire for an authoritarian, top-down remake of society.
The accounts covered by the Statesman piece emphasize a division between historical and modern architecture, pitting the former against the latter to argue for the humanity and timelessness of the styles of yesteryear. This division is increasingly out of step with the contemporary architecture world where firms like Tod Williams Billie Tsien borrow from traditional compositions and materials to create innovative designs. Contemporary architecture critics get as riled up by decadent modernist design fails as they do by traditionalist debacles.
p sure this is a garage https://t.co/jPKMJrMfnz
— mcmansion hell (@mcmansionhell) August 16, 2018
Post-modernism is being preserved and lauded around the world, and modern and traditional designs are not stylistically at war anymore. Ultimately, it may be the conflict that these accounts are nostalgic for, not the architecture.