Cruz Garcia and Nathalie Frankowski deconstruct Modernism in "Narrative Architecture," their latest book.

In these uncertain and gloomy times, it is nice to have voices in architecture that are both forward-looking and filled with humor. If you are looking for such an entertaining (and somewhat acerbic) distraction, I recommend Narrative Architecture: A Kynical Manifesto (NAI010 Publishers), by the architects Cruz Garcia and Nathalie Frankowski.1

Garcia and Frankowski’s model is not Vitruvius or even Le Corbusier, but rather the Greek philosopher Diogenes. He went looking for honest men with a lantern he kept lit in broad daylight, slept in a wine jug, tried to live like a dog (attempting to bite his critics and defecating in public), and mocked all authority, from civic leaders to Plato. Based on their understanding of Diogenes’ thought and life, Garcia and Frankowski propose an architecture “that bites the Mask of Ideology away (like the Diogenescan Dog) and laughs at the sight of the unveiled allegorical face of a deadly serious (and at times immovable) discipline.” Their biggest enemy is not any particular style or kind of architecture, but a discipline that makes absurd claims


  • 1. Leavened with Photoshop drawings that combine the romance of mythological landscape painters such as Le Lorrain and Poussin with the reality-bending visions of the Modernist masters from Le Corbusier to Rem Koolhaas, Hon. FAIA, this book professes to be a manifesto, but one that does not take itself so seriously. Or so the authors claim, although their Marxist-tinged language reveals a more trenchant critique.