Mass Identity Architecture
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This new edition further explores the connection between the cultural analysis provided by the contemporary philosopher Jean Baudrillard and the new 'star' of global culture - architecture.

In a world in which images have become a substitute for reality - i.e. simulacra capable of both stimulating and satisfying collective needs - the question arises as to whether architecture could be seen as a 'super-fetish', capable of both mirroring and shaping western society's culture and identity.

The aim of this book is thus to provide new methodologies and to suggest new meanings for the comprehension and development of contemporary architecture. In Baudrillard's terms, architecture could be seen as the supreme medium of contemporary visual culture, especially in its potential to influence the individual's perception of reality as a component of the mass-media system. This kind of cultural analysis of the built environment and its effect on everyday life is still a relatively new phenomenon - both in the fields of critical theory and even more so in mainstream architectural criticism.

This book, which forms a significant resource on the work of an immensely important writer, should appeal to a wide range of readers. Through highly evocative writing, it provides a theoretical, illuminating pathway for everyone who, either directly or indirectly, is involved or interested in architecture, urbanism and related subjects.


FRANCESCO PROTO, architect, is currently teaching at the postgraduate School of Critical Theory and the School of the Built Environment at the University of Nottingham, UK.


Foreword: Consuming Signs.


Introduction: Philosophy as a Commodity: Mode d’Emploi.


The Aesthetics and the Machine.


Cheese-(beau)burger Post-orgasmic chill Pop-nography.

The Prozac effect Disneyland: one-way ticket The emperor’s new clothes.

Chapter One: Absolute Architecture.

The Singular Objects of Architecture.

Radicality Singular objects in architecture Illusion. Virtuality. Reality.

A destabilized area Concept. Irresolution. Vertigo Values of functionalism.

New York or Utopia Architecture: between nostalgia and anticipation.

(Always) seduction. Provocation. Secrets The aesthetics of modernity.

A heroic architectural act? Art, architecture and postmodernity.

Visual disappointment. Intellectual disappointment The aesthetics.

of disappearance.

Chapter Two: Cool Cities.


Salt Lake City New York Santa Barbara Venice and Porterville Disneyland.

The Bonaventure Hotel The realized utopia.

Cool Memories I (1980–85).

Urbino. Gubbio. Mantua Trieste Palermo Pompeii Montreal Tower blocks.

Vélizy Vélizy 2 Versailles. St Peter The Pompidou Centre Urban monsters.

Paris Berlin Rome in December Night on the cities Dunkirk Ideal City.

Fifth Avenue Suburban comfort.

Cool Memories II (1987–90).

American towns Rio Buenos Aires Puerto Stroessner Sites of fascination.

Venice (California) Los Angeles Marilyn’s grave Salt Lake City. Las Vegas.

Disneyworld Beyond Las Vegas Venice (California). New York. Lisbon.

Shop windows Shop windows 2 Arche de la Défense Coupole São Paulo.


Cool Memories III (1992–95).

Venice Puerto Vallarta Bern. Zurich Brasilia Brasilia’s satellites.

Free zones’ farce American campuses Pointe du Raz Copacabana.

Montreal. Rio Pompeii Luxembourg Gardens.

Cool Memories IV (1995–2002).

New York. Tierra del Fuego New York Naples Pompeii Disney Company.

Future Cities St Petersburg Bogotá Buenos Aires Palacio Itamarati.

California Villa Palagonia (Palermo) Villa Palagonia II.

Chapter Three: The Indifference of Space.

Le Parc de la Villette.

Urbanism and architecture.

Chapter Four: The Code and the Eye.


Hyperreal and imaginary [Disneyland] The stucco angel [Baroque Architecture].

The tactile and the digital [World Trade Center].

Trompe l’Oeil or enchanted simulation [Duke of Urbino’s and Federico.

da Montefeltro’s studiolos].

Ecstasy and inertia [Pompeii].

Chapter Five: The Rise of the Object: the End of Culture.

The Formal Liturgy of the Object The consumer society Profusion and display The drugstore Parly 2 Hypermarket and Hypercommodity Absolute Advertising, Ground Zero Advertising Mass (Sociology of) Mass languages A structure of modernity An operational language Beyond truth and falsehood The internal logic of this neo-language.

Chapter Six: The Ideology of Technique.

Technique as social practice The organization, as myth, of technique Conclusion: ‘technique totally in the service of everyday life?’ Ephemeral and Durable The irony of Technology The Beaubourg Effect: Implosion or Deterrence?

Chapter Seven: The Aesthetic Suicide.

Questions of Strategy Truth or Radicality: The Future of Architecture.

The Homeopathic Disappearance of Architecture: an interview with Jean Baudrillard.

Aesthetics and design The lost language of seduction Success in architecture Duchamp in architecture The object as a sign Space as a thought.

Baudrillard, Perspective and the Void of Architecture.

Rex Butler and Keith Broadfoot.

Essential Bibliography.

Further Reading.