An Analysis of How to Criticize and Evaluate Aavant-Garde Architectural works

Document Type : Research Article




One of the most important issues of our age is to find a way to keep up with the uncontrollable pace of the time. The works of avant-garde architecture which are in turn the product of rapid development of contexts, needs and spatial-temporal circumstances of each era can be considered as a turning point in the historical evolution of architecture and style transfer. The progress of contemporary art and architecture history is greatly indebted to the avant-gardism. Thus, it is of utmost importance to criticize and evaluate these works compared to the ones following society’s conventional mainstream. One can say that in many cases, the criticism and evaluation of these works has been faced with a lot of disputes and challenges. So, we begin the study with the following questions: "what are the requirements for a correct criticism of avant-garde architecture works?" and "how do the two elements of time and place affect the criticism of avant-garde works?"
The present study is an applied research in nature performed using interpretive-analytical methods which tries to analyze and explore how to criticize and evaluate the avant-garde architecture works based on theories of "language games", "cultural semiotics", "post-structuralist semiotics" and "critique as a behavior" which make up our theoretical framework. Then, as an historical evidence, examples of avant-garde works critiques throughout the history of architecture will be addressed which could confirm that the answers given to the questions raised are correct.                 
The findings suggest that criticism and evaluation of avant-garde works is characterized by qualities including "relativity", being "time-bound" or even "place-bound", that is, the outcomes of reviewing such works are highly dependent on time and place. In order to offer an impartial criticism, the proportionality between avant-garde architecture work and how to read it seem desirable which should be taken into account by architecture critics. In the end, we came to the conclusion that if the purpose of architectural criticism is to make changes and pave the way for a move forward in the history of architecture, predetermined criteria won’t be an efficient and fair choice to assess the avant-garde works. When building avant-garde works, therefore, outcomes obtained from criticism of the project based on approaches with definite rules and standards such as positivistic and strcturalist critique cannot be accepted.


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