Old yet new. Some architectures, and their intrinsic cultural significance, have a way of being both old and new at the same time. I like to consider the constellation of architectures produced under the modernist paradigm within this group. The modern movement of the twentieth century was so avant-garde in its spirit and ideology that even today, many decades later, its presence in the built environment still influences contemporary design.
Today, decades later and as modernist architecture gets older, this heritage from our recent past faces many challenges such as inappropriate management and deterioration, demolition, and lack of legal protection. Furthermore, in the Global South these challenges are sometimes also joined by other systemic challenges, such as insufficient economic resources, proper expertise, and the lack of public recognition. These challenges cause that, despite the preservation efforts of local communities and professional, many significant modernist sites still seem to remain in the margins of the dominant historical narrative of the twentieth century and end up being demolished. Sometimes these demolitions are even surrounded by controversy, as happened with the famous Hall of Nations in New Delhi, India, that was torn down overnight in April 2017.
It is within this context that my presentation will focus on the World Monuments Fund’s recent work towards preserving modernist architecture in some countries of the Global South and raising awareness about its enormous significance in the global history of architecture.
Learn more about the Future of Design lecture series.
Introduction and Moderation
Francesca Romana Forlini
Visiting Assistant Professor, New York Tech School of Architecture and Design
Associate Professor, New York Tech School of Architecture and Design
Javier Ors Ausín
Architect and Program Manager at World Monuments Fund
Javier Ors Ausín is an architect from Spain and Program Manager at World Monuments Fund (WMF), where he oversees three thematic programs that focus on Modernism, Jewish Heritage, and Crisis Response. Since Javier joined WMF, he has managed a diverse portfolio of projects in different countries around the world, including India, Canada, Uzbekistan, Albania, and Burkina Faso.
Javier has presented his field work and research at various forums, including the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Royal Geographical Society, the Society of Architectural Historians, and various ICOMOS symposiums, and has been a guest critic in many universities, including the University of Toronto, Columbia University, and Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, among others. Javier holds Bachelor of Building Engineering and a Master in Architecture from the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in Spain, and a Master in Design Studies in Critical Conservation from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.