We're talking about This was Tomorrow – a fantastical, sort of torrid, analogue struggle with ideas of the future.
– Robert Mull
They are drawings that are needed in a kind of environment around the project, around architectural thinking.
– Jan de Vylder
The exhibition presented a survey of architectural representations produced by many hands but within a precisely selected time-frame. At its heart is the story of a twenty five year experiment in formal invention, initiated by the late works of Le Corbusier and brought to a close by Rossi’s reclamation of the inherited grammar of the European City. Borrowed from the seminal exhibition staged at London’s Whitechapel Gallery in 1956 – but with a significant change of tense – its title emphatically announces its theme as one of lost innocence.
The exhibition forms part of Drawing Matter's broader enquiry into the theme of Reinventions in architecture. It is based on the proposition that changes in architectural thinking are gestated through drawing, certainly in the work of the European and American architects shown here. The period 1953–1978 describes the era of experiment that followed post-war reconstruction. It was characterised by feelings of optimism and dread, coloured by events such as the new Cold War, the race to the moon, the promise of new technologies, fermenting political and cultural revolutions. Looking at these drawings today, from our digitally enhanced perspective, it is interesting to observe how intimate the relations are between the drawings and the ideas they incite.
This Was Tomorrow: Reinventing Architecture 1953–1978 was shown at the Swiss Architecture Museum, Basel, from March to May 2016. Works were selected from the Drawing Matter collection and curated by Markus Lähteenmäki, Manuel Montenegro and Nicholas Olsberg. Associated events included a gallery discussion on the drawings which prompted contributions by Robert Mull, Hugh Strange, Jan de Vylder, Inge Vinck, Eva Branscombe, Tuomast Tolvonen, Renato Rizzi, Helen Mallinson, the exhibition curators and others.