The Revolutionary Mind of Walter Gropius: Architectural Utopias for the Machine Age


The founders of Modern architecture believed that they were creating a new tradition, instead of just another addition to the continuous flow of architectural history. This belief was largely based on their reaction toward the advent of industrial production, which seemed to demand a completely new conception of the role of the architect. This essay aims at discussing this new tradition through the analysis of the Bauhaus manifestos written by Walter Gropius in 1919 and 1926, highlighting, in both texts, the traces of what Brazilian philosopher Olavo de Carvalho calls “the revolutionary mentality.” This mentality encompasses not only the conception of an ideal, utopian future but also the perception of the present and the evaluation of the past. The study of this mind-set, which forged Modern architecture, can help us reevaluate the role of Utopias in architectural theory and practice, going beyond the superficial stigmas of rigidity, “inhumane” rationalism, or even totalitarianism that usually guide the critique of Modern architectural Utopias.