“Suffused in Light: Light Space in Modernist Architecture.”

Tanja Poppelreuter

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    Light was an essential component in modernist architecture of the 1920s. It was enabled by large windows, enhanced by white walls, and complemented by unornamented interiors.Sunlit interiors had been demanded because of the belief that they would prevent infectious diseases from spreading, but they also were invested with the hope of transforming the inhabitant. Dwellers would no longer be able to ‘hide’ but instead exposed and coerced towards a ‘better’ life. Adolf Behne in particular explained how limp, lazy and disinterested inhabitants were to become alert, light, and gentle beings with heightened morals and consciousness.This notion was based on the ‘life reform movements’ that had gained popularity since 1890. Physical health, youth, an enlightened spirit and the belief that a new era was about to begin, for which light became a metaphor, were programmatic for many of these movements. The modernist wish for ‘light’ architecture that would transform the inhabitant gives not only insights to what was aimed for, but also to what was feared: dark spaces that presumably would house an inhabitant opposite to the one who was sought. That light spaces in modernity might not so much be spaces for the renewal of man, but rather expressions of the urge to execute power and control, has already been part of Michel Foucault’s deliberations. Anthony Vidler furthermore sees the dark always persistent within the light, but dark spaces were nevertheless obliterated wherever possible in the search for self-control and re-invention. The worship of light therefore seems to hint towards a repression of anxieties caused by the political and social climate of the time.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
    PublisherArt Association of Australia and New Zealand
    Number of pages19
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 4 Dec 2010
    EventTradition and Transformation - Adelaide, Australia
    Duration: 4 Dec 2010 → …


    ConferenceTradition and Transformation
    Period4/12/10 → …
    Internet address


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