Manfredo Tafuri was an Italian architect, theoretician and academic that lived between 1935 and 1994. Manfredo Tafuri also was critic and architecture historian like Bruno Zevi and Siegfried Giedion.
In 1960, he graduated from University of Rome La Sapienza. As a student, he joined a protest against to curriculum changes such as urban planning and architectural history. After he got his degree, he becomes a teaching assistant under Saul Greco, Adalberto Libera, Ludovico Quaroni. In his assisting period, he influenced by these professors in terms of urbanism, architecture, and technical information.
Between 1960 and 1970, he was started to interest in architectural history and theories. In addition, at the same time, he was also interested in Marxist theories produced by Walter Benjamin, Georg Lukacs, and Theodor Adorno. Marxism was a socio-economic approach which analysed class distinction, it’s relation and societal conflicts in society. According to Ideology, social running exists under the capitalist forces unless the concept of social class discrimination disappears.
Tafuri published his first book ” Theories and History of Architecture” in 1968. In this book, Tafuri pointed out predicted “crisis” of modern theory and also he was questioning the modernism ideas as a unity. After one year letter, he wrote his essay for Marxist journal “Contropiano” which was called “Toward a Critique of Architectural Ideology”. Manfredo Tafuri’s this essay- “Per Una critica dell’ideologia architettonica”- was translated by Stephen Sartarelli for “ Architecture Theory since 1968” edited by K. Micheal Hays.
In this essay, he explains several claims regarding the death of architecture, otherwise, to architecture’s utopian or avant-garde (artists, writers etc.) ideologies by the force of capitalist powers. According to Hays (Hays K. M., Architecture Theory since 1968.) before examining Tafuri’s studies, first, his contention which includes both nihilistic and liberating should understand because these two perspectives of him seen in his opinion which he discharged architects to create a better world under the capitalist culture.
Firstly, Tafuri suggested that it could not be a coincidence that a lot of architectural debating and cultural theories for re-examination to sources of modern art. By returning the source, in spite of the conflict between bourgeois ( in Marxist theory, owner of property with the other words person belong to owning class in capitalism)ideologies and savant, begins to approach to all ideas of modern architecture as a combination of developments. In the light of this approach, he considers architecture ideologies, as guidelines for the city.

Tafuri started his essay with examining enlightenment, and the urban design theories of Laugier In Observations sur l’architecture (Laugier, The Hague, 1765), Laugier theorized a city design which initiates Enlightenment architecture theory. He wants to reduce the city to a natural phenomenon and to enlarge urban fabric different from all pioneer urban organizations. Laugier writes in his book “Observations”, “anyone who knows how to design a park well, will draw up a plan according to which a city must be built in relation to its area and situation. There must be squares, intersections, streets. There must be regularity and whimsy, relationships and oppositions, chance elements that lend variety to the tableau, precise order in the details and confusion, chaos and tumult in the whole.” (1). According to Tafuri, Laugier’s words are only representing the existence of the 18th-century city. Even in the first half of enlightenment, the anti-perspective character of urban spaces with the other words natural order of environment, overshadowed impressive Baroque character. At the same times, city’s anti-organic stereotype characteristic order is understood. The reason of its nature, landscape intended to preserve its condition. By accepting this concept in 18th-century architects and painter show a naturalistic attitude. In city planning, they tended to organized city plan with the same level of fragmentation of nature and urban. Laugier like all English enlightenment theorists, they embrace the natural characteristic of urban language. Regarding Tafuri’s thoughts, no matter Laugier’s “city as forest” idea was the naturalistic approach to city planning but, indeed, it did not go beyond work as a model of Patte’s plan of Paris in 1756 which occurred by variation of oriented spaces in a framework.
To sum up, Tafuri critiqued enlightenment architects to act with their political approach to architecture moreover, to create a general solution for order and problems of cities. According to Tafuri’s approach, nobody was unable to exceed to lost their architecture values while trying the find general solution for cities such as Le Corbusier and his design Ville Radieuse( The Radiant City).

A possible as understood from analysis of 18th-century architecture’s problem is the traditional concept of form. Designing a form for the city is a critical issue which has lots of inputs such as social, political or traditional. In that times, as ı explained before, architects have a political side, in the light of their perspective they were producing a various solution for urban design so, their creation of an ideal form or zoning can be considered as reflecting a class ideology or creating a utopia. For example, as Tafuri examine Tony Garniers’s “industrial city” (1939) in this part of his essay and he criticized the utopian form of living. Related with Garnier’s socialist approach,Garnier separated residential areas and industrial areas by zoning which work as a boundary. Separating areas regarding its function is also considered as a class discrimination according to Tafuri’s Marxist approach.

Starting with the 19’s, the form should consider as a creation of the logic of the subjective reactions with an objective unity of production. Dialectic explanation of individualism shows itself as Cubism, Futurism, Dada, De Stijl, from an avant-garde perspective with following each other with different expressions. As it seen in Braque’s and Picasso’s paintings, Cubism is a way of creating a universal language with form. From Manfredo’s perspective, De Stijl has become a control of production and design, however, the nihilistic approach of Dada become a restriction of its expressionist design. No matter the aim of these movements were unity and constructive, most of them get within the chaos( as avant-garde perspective city created by a combination of “order and chaos(as value))of the city. At he same times, De Stijl and Bauhaus become universal. Furthermore, with Manfredo. defines Bauhaus as “the decantation of chamber”(2) with the other word expression of architecture and ideologies in reality.Manfredo’s attitude towards architectural movements is questing bourgeois art with the individual and Marxist perspective. While Tafuri examines architecture and art culture in the beginning of the 19’s, his aim was reaching the result which was the evaluation of aesthetic by experiences.

As in the given example of a city as an organism by Hilberseimer in Entfaltung einer Planungsidee, modern cities in itself a social urban machines. As in organism example shape of an organism with the other word from or spaces of the city affects its structure and organizations. Thus, architects identify the city with their structure and organization.As a shape of machine, city produced by production and consumption. In a brief of this part, the city started to consider as the combination of the cells of an organism within the open plan.

Le Corbusier pronounced that “architects as an organizer not the designer of objects”(2). In addition, he realized the effects of individualism, finance of human, civilization on an urban mechanism. While arranging the organic forms of the city, he also considers the dynamic functions and its interoperation or use. Tafuri approach to Le Corbusier’s city plans as they were no utopian, he considers that they were realistic experiments which could not understand the crisis of modern architecture and under the capatialist environment( that existing these days environment according to Tafuri’s opinions). He also states Le Corbusier gain a challenging role in architecture world while experimenting on his hypotheses about the city and its function form structure with the combination the economic and technological reality.

Tafuri was also criticized, retardation of urban and architectural ideology. One of the reasons of this retardation is 1930’ economical situation, the other one is considered as starting with Musollini’s and spread trough Europe ideology of fascism.According to Tafuri, explains architecture circle in 1930, Architects started to afraid of showing their ideological approach in the terms of political circumstances. Then they started to focus on technology and the waste spaces on the daily life cycle. Although there is no direct connection with politic and architecture, politic and architecture always have interaction. After Tafuri analysis the ideology behind city plans and order he reaches the solution as modern architecture plot of its road with rationality and progressing. In the mid of 19’s this approach of architecture creates a barrier for architects. As it reported in the essay, failure of modernism is not occurred by “weariness” or “dissipation”, because of the positive aims for the benefit of a bourgeois. Tafuri finalized his word by pointed out architecture can only develop itself with critique and self-realization. An only future class circumstances will determine the how architecture would be and which side( avant-garde or rearguard) architects choose.

To sum up, Tafuri defines modernism period as a part of an evaluation of the avant-garde’s utopian perspective which can identify as an idealization of capitalism. He examines the architectural form and plan, failures and crisis of modernism under that ideology. This process of examination reveals the development of urban organization with its component In addition, by critiquing the crisis of architecture facilitates to sense the process of modernism.


1) M. A. Laugier, Observations sur l’architecture. (The Hague, 1765), pp. 312–313.

2) Tafuri M. (1969) Per una critica del’ideologia architettonica. Contropiano: Materiali marxisti, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 31-79. Tafuri M. (1998) Toward a Critique of Architectural Ideology. In Hays K. M. (ed.) Architecture Theory since 1968. Cambridge, Mass. and London: The MIT Press, pp. 6-35. Translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli, pp.21.

3) Susan Silbey, “Ideology” at Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology.

4) Honour, H., & Fleming, J. (2009). A world history of art / A History. London: Laurence King Pub.

5) Vance, Mary A. Manfredo Tafuri: A Bibliography. Monticello, IL: Vance Bibliographies, 1983.

6) Hilberseimer, Ludwig. Entfaltung einer Planungsidee. Padua: Marsilio, 1967, p. 10.

7) Corbusier, Le. The Radiant City; Elements of a Doctrine of Urbanism to Be Used as the Basis of Our Machine-age Civilization. New York: Orion, 1967.

8) Manfredo Tafuri, Architecture and Utopia, Design and Capitalist Development. (The Laterza, Roma-Bari, 1973); MIT Press, Cambridge (Mass.) In 1976.


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