Renaat Braem, Lijnstad, block of flats, 1934, © Archives d'Architecture Moderne, Brussels.

Craig Hodgetts, Ecotopia, View of San Francisco bay with solar power stations, 1982, © Hodgetts + Fung, Culver City, California, USA.

Tony Garnier, Une Cité industrielle, Paris 1917, © Architekturmuseum der TU München.

Historic Architecture Manifestos on the Changing of Society

Bruno Taut, Alpine Architektur, Das Baugebiet, plate 17, Hagen 1919, © Architekturmuseum der TU München.

Victor Theodor Slama, poster with advertisement for the building policy of the Vienna Social Democrats, 1927, © Wienbibliothek im Rathaus, Plakatsammlung, P 441.


Pinakothek der Moderne
Architektur Museum
Technische Universitat München
Arcisstrasse 21
+ 49 (0)89 23805
L'Architecture Engagé
Manifestos on Changing Society

June 14-September 2, 2012

That artists and writers champion improvements in political, economic and social matters in their works is inherent to the history of art and literature. The idea that this should have a direct effect on society had already been declared an aim in the Age of Enlightenment; the term "littérature engagée," however, being first coined by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1947. Sartre’s demand on literature to make the reader grasp individual freedom as a duty to change the social condition, has subsequently been fiercely debated and criticised. The term, however, remained — as did its pendant "l’art engagé" — for all those works “whose express aim is to exert a political and social influence and which are to contribute to the process of social change as a sign of freedom.” Three elements characterise dedicated literature and art: an enlightened, ethically driven stance, an emancipatory utopia, and the notion that the work could have an influence both within a worldly context and on its recipients.

In the exhibition and accompanying publication, the term applied to architecture — "l’architecture engagée" — is to be understood precisely in this respect. Architectural projects and concepts will be presented in seven sections, in which the social and economic-political commitment to change the social condition shown by architects and theoreticians such as Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, Ebenezer Howard, Bruno Taut, Frank Lloyd Wright, Frei Otto and Yona Friedman, as well as the attempts to raise a new type of person in communal housing and linear cities, will be shown with appropriate examples. The exhibition could also provide an impetus to more thought being given to the potential and problems linked with socio-political initiatives as well as the present lack of such concepts.

A publication from Detail Verlag with 19 contributions will accompany the exhibition. 35,00€ for the museum edition and 49,00€ for the booktrade edition.


Franz Heinrich Ziegenhagen, Verhältnislehre, Hamburg 1792, Die Kolonie, engraving by Daniel Chodowiecki.

Jirí Kroha, The sociological fragment of living, the human being and his dwelling I, plate 6, 1930-1933, © Muzeum mesta Brünn.