Radical Functionalism : A Social Architecture for Mexico book cover
1st Edition

Radical Functionalism
A Social Architecture for Mexico

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after December 28, 2021
ISBN 9781032003542
December 28, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
232 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Radical Functionalism: A Social Architecture for Mexico provides a complex and nuanced understanding of the functionalist architecture developed in Mexico during the 1930s. It carefully re-reads the central texts and projects of its main advocates to show how their theories responded to the socially and culturally charged Mexican context. These, such as architects Juan Legarreta, Juan O’Gorman, the Union of Socialist Architects, and Manuel Amábilis, were part of broader explorations to develop a modern, national architecture intended to address the needs of the Mexican working classes.

Through their refunctioning of functionalism, these radical thinkers showed how architecture could stand at the precipice of Mexico's impending modernization and respond to its impending changes. The book examines their engagement and negotiation with foreign influences, issues of gender and class, and the separation between art and architecture. Functionalist practices are presented as contradictory and experimental, as challenging the role of architecture in the transformation of society, and as intimately linked to art and local culture in the development of new forms of architecture for Mexico, including the "vernacularization" of functionalism itself.

Uniquely including translations of two manifesto-like texts by O’Gorman expressing the polemical nature of their investigations, Radical Functionalism: A Social Architecture for Mexico will be a useful reference for scholars, researchers and students interested in the history of architectural movements.

Table of Contents


List of Figures

Illustration Credits


Introduction: Polemical Functionalism: Functional Art or Artistic Building

Chapter 1: Building Revolution: Mexican Architecture in the First Part of the 20th Century

Chapter 2: Functionalism and Social Progress

Chapter 3: Alter(n)ative Functionalism

Chapter 4: Radical Functionalism

Chapter 5: Between Art and Technology

Chapter 6: Place, History, and (Local) Culture

Chapter 7: Representation and Reception

Chapter 8: The City in the Functionalist Imagination

Epilogue: Organic Functionalism


Juan O’Gorman, "‘Artistic’ Art and Useful Art" (1934)

Juan O’Gorman, "Presentation for the Sociedad de Arquitectos Mexicanos" (1933)


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Luis E. Carranza is Professor of Architecture at Roger Williams University and Adjunct Associate Professor at the GSAPP at Columbia University. He obtained his B.Arch. at the University of Southern California and PhD in Architectural History and Theory from Harvard University. His research and publications are centered on how social movements and their theoretical ideals manifest themselves through modern art and architecture in Latin America and Mexico in particular. His publications include Architecture as Revolution: Episodes in the History of Modern Mexico (2010), Modern Architecture in Latin America: Art, Technology, Utopia (with Fernando Lara, 2015), and Experiments in (Radical) Functionalism (2020).