French Encounters with the American Counterculture 1960-1980: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

French Encounters with the American Counterculture 1960-1980

1st Edition

By Caroline Maniaque-Benton


248 pages

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Hardback: 9781409423867
pub: 2011-11-28
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French-American interrelationships in the areas of design and creative thinking have been under-acknowledged. It is normally asserted that French architects looked to North America for technical lessons in the development of modern architecture in the 1960s but that the French cultural environment was generally hostile to American ideas. This book includes interviews with French architects who visited the United States in the 1960s-1970s and then assumed influential positions in the press and education in France. Some of these architects found in non-mainstream America and its radical groups of architectural drop-outs a liberating force, free of the taint of American capitalism and the high-investment technology. Often living in alternative student communities, they saw highly innovative, low-cost technical and structural systems placed in the service of collective forms of living which represented a critique not only of professional architectural practice but also of bourgeois forms of living. Many of them also studied in American schools of architecture and came in contact with an intellectual and interdisciplinary style of architectural education unavailable in France at that time.


'A marvelous cross-cultural trip, Caroline Maniaque-Benton's new book authoritatively traces the quixotic excursions of the American counterculture into "alternative architecture" from the transatlantic perspective of France. Based on interviews with many of the protagonists and vividly illustrated, the author explores the juncture of do-it-yourself aesthetics, radical politics, and ecological consciousness. The book is all the more timely at a moment when the nascent environmentalism of the 1960s is coming to full fruition around the world.' Joan Ockman, Columbia University, USA 'The book also constitutes a remarkable visual document, as Maniaque-Benton has managed to gather photos from personal albums, as well as bits of ephemera the survival of which is nothing short of miraculous. Covers and illustrations from obscure journals such as La face cachée du soleil, and Icosa are beautifully reproduced in French Encounters… Maniaque-Benton convincingly sets up the encounter between French and American experimental architecture as a prelude to the contemporary scene, offering much historical and ideological material on which to meditate in assessing the mandate of 'sustainable design'.' H-France 'Maniaque-Benton’s careful primary research (she visited many iconic sites and interviewed key American protagonists, such as Steve Baer), her command of the most current cultural and architectural scholarship on the counterculture and her lively prose combine to make this book a significant contribution to the scholarship of American counterculture and alternative architecture. The numerous accompanying images are superb, and include travel photographs imbued with a wonderful immediacy and energy, beautifully reproduced magazine covers, and views of exhibition displays.' Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction; Framing the debates around technology; Discovering the alternative scene: from Sausolito to Drop City; Documenting the architectural counterculture; Exhibiting vernacular structures and marginal architecture in France; Publication networks in the United States: from the Whole Earth catalog to Shelter; Counter culture à la française: self-build, publishing, teaching and research {XE 'culture alternative'}; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Caroline Maniaque-Benton is associate professor at the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture Paris-Malaquais where she teaches the history of architecture. She received her doctoral degree from University Paris-VIII. She is the author of Le Corbusier and the Maisons Jaoul (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009). She has received a Fulbright Scholarship and a Fellowship of the Canadian Centre for Architecture.

About the Series

Ashgate Studies in Architecture

Ashgate Studies in Architecture
The discipline of Architecture is undergoing subtle transformation as design awareness permeates our visually dominated culture. Technological change, the search for sustainability and debates around the value of place and meaning of the architectural gesture are aspects which will affect the cities we inhabit. This series seeks to address such topics, both theoretically and in practice, through the publication of high quality original research, written and visual. Topics to be covered include the following: Architectural history and theory and their relationship to the development of the discipline, building conservation, heritage and creative adaptation. The formal and aesthetic values of architectural design, the diversity of its expression of identity, and its representation in other media. The impact of technological innovation on the materialisation of architecture and the questions surrounding environmental sustainability, experimentation and visionary design The social and psychological context of architectural production, its relationship to occupants, clients and to other creative and professional disciplines, and the political situation in which it is commissioned. Proposals will be welcomed which explore or connect aspects of these themes. Subjects which deal with individual architects, with specific buildings or building types, and the critical interpretation of historical and contemporary architecture from a theoretical or philosophical perspective are particularly encouraged. Architecture's embodiment of technical, social, and aesthetic aspects will also be emphasised.

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