Book Review: Making Dystopia — The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism, by James Stevens Curl, Oxford University Press. 2018.

Nikos A. Salingaros



This is a review of the scholarly book “Making Dystopia — The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism”, by Professor James Stevens Curl. The book is severely critical of the Modernist movement in architecture, holding it responsible for the loss of historical, traditional, and vernacular building cultures. It goes further to associate the loss of other valuable aspects of culture with the erasing influence of modernist thought. The obvious transformation of the built environment influenced people subconsciously away from older compassionate, humane design practices, and towards a cold, inhuman industrialism. Today’s unsustainable Industrial-Modernism is not the inevitable consequence of a natural process of architectural evolution, while the Bauhaus was not an enlightened architecture school. Professor Stevens Curl’s work is an invaluable resource for academia, the public, and professional practitioners. It could help to trigger a massive re-orientation of the building industry, helped by forward-thinking legislators. An enlightened and interested public has to come to grips with what happened, and try and fix it for a better society in the future.    

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Curl, J. S. (2018). Making Dystopia — The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism: Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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