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What is Rationalism?
• Ration was what defined humans as a species and separated
us from animals.
• A building committed to a logical, mathematically ordered
• Rationalism as a movement implied the complete devotion to
logical, functional, and mathematically ordered architecture.
• Rationalism has often been proposed as a way to create an
environment perfect for rational beings.
• 20th century rationalism derived less from a special, unified
theoretical work than from a common belief that the most
varied problems posed by the real world could be resolved by
reason. In that respect it represented a reaction
to historicism and a contrast to Art
Nouveau and Expressionism.
- Neo rationalism
( late 20th century)
- Early 20th century rationalism
(early 20th century)
- Enlightenment rationalism
Early Rationalist Architecture
• The concept of rational architecture first emerged with the
ancient Greeks. rational architecture was defined by its
function as much as its form.
• Vitruvius, the first person to codify architecture into a
consistent discipline, formally
asserted that architectural
forms could be rationally
deduced. From there,
rationalism as a formal
Rationalism in the Enlightenment
• The Enlightenment was defined by the idea that nothing should
be trusted that could not be proven.
• Focused on simple geometric shapes like circles, squares, and
triangles, breaking complex forms into basic
units. This movement was largely a rejection of the extremely
fancy and ornate Baroque movement.
• All excess was stripped away,
revealing the structure in
terms of basic shapes,
elements, and materials.
Rationalism in the Early 20th Century
• The 19th century had seen the rise of several styles
defined by high amounts of decoration, and 20th
century architects began reconsidering the
aesthetic of a structure without ornamentation.
The building was the design, composed of basic
geometric shapes, functional space, and a logical
• Architects such as Henri Labrouste and Auguste
Perret incorporated the virtues of structural
rationalism throughout the 19th century in their
One of the first rationalist
buildings was the Palazzo
Gualino in Turin, built for
Riccardo Gualino by the
architects Gino Levi-
Montalcini and Giuseppe
• In the late 1960s, a new rationalist movement emerged in
architecture, claiming inspiration from both the
Enlightenment and early-20th-century rationalists.
• Rossi's great cemetery at Modena is
the movement's most celebrated
The Krier brothers Kleihues,
Reichlin and Reinhart, and
Ungers have been associated
• They are using industrialized materials, especially concrete.
Concrete advantages are:
- It’s a cheep material, easy to adapt, incombustible,
non-corrosive and that offers the possibility of
building the skeleton, leaving the plan free.
- It permits pre-manufacturing series.
- It can be combined with other materials
such as still, glass, brick.
• The wall is not a support any longer, and it is reduced to
a light skin for closing, with a huge number of windows
that allows light and air entering inside the building.
• The supports are pillars with different sections, made of
steel and concrete.
• The covers, in general, are lintels standing on the support
and forming with them the skeleton, giving to the
construction a light and non-weighty aspects of great
• The decorative elements disappear in favor of the
straight and nude form.
• There is a worry about proportion, simplicity and
• The internal sapce is based of the free plan with interior
walld that curve and move freely, adaptig to the different
• In the exterior the projecting, the free low level and the
terrace in horizontal desfine new image.
• There is a great interest about urbanism because they
aim at accommodating people to the new leaving
standards and organize their groups, proposing new
formulas as the garden city or industrial city.
• The representative buildings are
- social houses
- industrial buildings
- administrative constructions
- concert halls and stadiums.
Mies van der Rohe
• Mies van der Rohe,was linked to the
Bauhaus and is one of the best
representativas of Rational architecture.
• His work was revolutionary from the very beginning, when he
started designing an office building in Berlin (1919).
• After that he designed houses and in 1929 he built the
German Pavilion for Barcelona’s Universal Exhibition.
• In this building he demonstrated the
right use of modern materials, with
clear volumes and the wall as a
curtain instead of the traditional wall
• He emigrated to the US where he
built numerous skyscrapers that
look to be enormous glass boxes,
in which it can be seen the devotion
of the architect for the purity of
• The use of new materials is
essential for his work.
• The Seagram Building is one
of his most representative
• Le Corbusier was born in Switzerland
even if a majority of his work was
developed in France.
• He learnt the use of concrete and soon he began with the
• He also designed cities for a concrete
number of inhabitants
(about three million).
• In 1926 he made one of his most
representative works Ville Savoye,
that consists of a concrete
structure of Mediterranean
• In Ville Savoye he put into practice
his five poinys of architecture:
- Use of “pilotis”, a kind of pillar to sustain the structure
and separate it from the floor, not cutting the space,
- Free façade
- Garden terrace, thanks to flat roofs
- Multiplication of windows; continuous windows with
- Free plans because now it is not the support of wall
• He theorised but it was not an
utopian because his projects were
• One of his popular work was the
unite d habitation at marseile,
where he build houses for working
• In these buildings he applied some
of his architectonical points too
• At the end of his career he modified
his Rationalism and was closer to
the Organicism as in the case of one
of his master works: Notre Dame
du Haut at Ronchamp.
Other works are:
h in India
in New York