The architecture of dishonesty

Television routinely fails to show us the truth about modernism.
Peter Franklin

June 1, 2006 06:07 PM

Walk down the average city street and you'll get an eyeful of modernist
architecture. Nothing remarkable about that. But switch on the TV these
days and you'll probably get the same. Show after show devoted to the
stuff. Is it one hundred years since the first Arndale Centre? Something
like that, anyway. And, yes, I am largely ignorant on the subject and,
thus, by the rules of contemporary cultural discourse, disqualified from
having an opinion. Still, I've got a few hundred words to knock out, so
here goes ...
Modernism's apologists have been doing their best to fill our screens
with other examples. Foremost among them is Dan Cruikshank, with his
Marvels of the Modern Age, just finished on BBC2. Alain de Botton took
his philosophical slant on the subject for The Architecture of
Happiness. And then there's the thoroughly admirable Kevin McLeod on
Grand Designs - the upmarket end of Channel 4's property porn franchise.

In its own way, each programme shows us the best that modernism has to
offer. And that's precisely the problem,