The Ur-Forms of Modernism. On 19th Century Hospitalized and Hygienic Dimensions of Architecture





Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing


During the 19th century, a shift in the meaning of the notion of type took place, accompanied by the idea of an explicit inscription of habits and needs in space. A new correlation between the architectural type and the habitual was established. If only tentatively, esthetics and planning could now be harmoniously reunited through the introduction of new habits in order to generate a collective way of living. As a result, the object of architecture became to moralize and to reform. The “dream” of this period was that of a purely technological solution for civil building and housing. It would further expand into the vision of the exact partitioning of living space, and of the invention of perfect machines for healing, controlling, and living. In fact, two genealogies began to merge: total sanitariness, which led to the exact quantification of fluids piped into buildings; and total technology, which aimed, through the use of new materials, at the precise programing and optimization of space. Underlying the thousands of proposals in the 19th century, the idea of the circulation of goods and people was crucial, and dependent on the imperatives of mobility and decentralization. Traces of such “dream architecture” remained in the form of the features that would become an intrinsic part of 20th century, modern architecture.

How to Cite

Teyssot, G. (2021). The Ur-Forms of Modernism. On 19th Century Hospitalized and Hygienic Dimensions of Architecture. Docomomo Journal, (62), 18–27.






Author Biography

Georges Teyssot, Université Laval

Georges Teyssot is Professor at Laval University’s School of Architecture, Quebec City (QC, CA). He is the author of many books, including Die Krankheit des Domizils (1989), The History of Garden Design (1991, 2000), The American Lawn (1999), and Da teoria de arquitetura: doze ensaios (2010). He has written the introduction to the volume of Diller + Scofidio, Flesh: Architectural Probes (1995, 2011). He was the curator with Diller + Scofidio of an exhibition on The American Lawn at the CCA in 1998. More recently, he has published a volume entitled: A Topology of Everyday Constellations, (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2013), of which he has edited the French version: Une topologie du quotidien, (Lausanne, CH: PPUR, Presses polytechniques et universitaires romandes, 2016).