Neo-futurism is a late 20th to early 21st century movement in the arts, design, and architecture. It could be seen as a departure from the attitude of post-modernism and represents an idealistic belief in a better future and “a need to periodize the modern rapport with the technological”.
This avant-garde movement is a futuristic rethinking of the aesthetic and functionality of rapidly growing cities. The industrialization that began worldwide following the end of the Second World War gave wind to new streams of thought in life, art and architecture, leading to post-modernism, neo-modernism and then neo-futurism.
In the Western countries, futurist architecture evolved into Art Deco, the Googie movement and high-tech architecture, and finally into neo-futurism.
Pioneered in the late 1960s and early 70s by American architects Buckminster Fuller and John C. Portman, Jr.; Finnish-American architect and industrial designer Eero Saarinen, Archigram, a British avant-garde architectural group (Peter Cook, Warren Chalk, Ron Herron, Dennis Crompton, Michael Webb and David Greene) based at the Architectural Association, London; American avant-garde architectural group ArchiGO, centered around the Illinois Institute of Technology; Danish architect Henning Larsen; Czech architect Jan Kaplický; Italian light sculptor Marco Lodola; American concept artist Syd Mead; American theatre screenwriter Greg Allen and Russian poets Andrei Voznesensky, Serge Segay and Rea Nikonova.
Although it was never built, the Fun Palace (1961) interpreted by architect Cedric Price as a “giant neo-futurist machine” influenced other architects, notably Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, whose Pompidou Centre extended many of Price’s ideas.
Neo-futurism was relaunched in 2007 after the dissemination of “The Neo-Futuristic City Manifesto” included in the candidature presented to the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) and written by innovation designer Vito Di Bari, a former executive director at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to outline his vision for the city of Milan at the time of the Universal Expo 2015. Di Bari defined his neo-futuristic vision as the “cross-pollination of art, cutting edge technologies and ethical values combined to create a pervasively higher quality of life”; he referenced the Fourth Pillar of Sustainable Development Theory and reported that the name had been inspired by the United Nations report Our Common Future.
Jean-Louis Cohen has defined neo-futurism as “a corollary to technology, being the structures built today byproducts of new materials to create previously impossible forms.” Etan J. Ilfeld wrote that in the contemporary neo-futurist aesthetics “the machine becomes an integral element of the creative process itself, and generates the emergence of artistic modes that would have been impossible prior to computer technology.” Reyner Banham’s definition of “une architecture autre” is a call for an architecture that technologically overcomes all previous architectures but possessing an expressive form, as Banham stated about neo-futuristic “Archigram’s Plug-in Computerized City, form does not have to follow function into oblivion.”
The relaunch of neo-futurism in the 21st century has been creatively inspired by the Iraqi-British Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid, Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and by Vito DiBari.
Neo-futurist architects, designers and artists are French architect Denis Laming (fr); American artists Josh Hadar, Erin Sparler, Marlow Rodale, Studio-X Lawrie Masson; Panayiotis Terzis, and Miguel Ovalle; urban-noise artist Joseph Young; French designer Patrick Jouin British artist Olivia Peake; Japanese designer Yuima Nakazato, Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, Italian artist Luca Bestetti and Greek artist Charis Tsevis. Neo-futurism has absorbed some of the high-tech architecture’s themes and ideas, incorporating elements of high-tech industry and technology іnto building design: technology and context is the focus of some architects of this movement such as Buckminster Fuller, Norman Foster, Kenzo Tange, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Frei Otto, and Santiago Calatrava.
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