When questioning the
usefulness of manifestos as a tool for architects, we must first define one. A manifesto
can be defined as a written statement of the beliefs, aims, and policies of an
organization, especially a political party[1].
An architectural manifesto, on the other hand, can be much harder to categorise
and place. As Charles Jencks argues in the introduction to his ‘Theories and
Manifestos of Contemporary Architecture’, the Ten Commandments were the original
architectural manifesto, or at the least they set an outline based on their tone
and form. Taking the teleological argument, God is the architect of each and every
thing, with architects playing God when making both subjective decisions, and when
adopting one theory over another.


More recent manifestos of the
20th century have ranged heavily on both form and tone. ‘Complexity
and Contradiction in Architecture’ by Robert Venturi works as a form of anti-manifesto
manifesto and even subtitles itself as ‘A Gentle Manifesto[2]’.
It can be placed against Antonio Sant’Elia’s ‘Manifesto of Futurist
Architecture’ that is far more forceful in its views and tries to be far more
persuasive, using much wilder rhetoric. These vary in tone whilst both vary
heavily in form to Bernard Tschumi’s ‘Advertisements for Architecture[i]’ –
often not accepted as a manifesto – that take the form of graphic posters
showing quotes and famous buildings.

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[1] Cambridge English Dictionary

[2] Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in
Archictecture, Pg 40.

i. Tschumi’s ‘Advertisements for Architecture’




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