Reyner Banham

IT REMAINS A REMARKABLE FACT that the academic history of modern architecture was launched by someone who obsessed about the tail fins on automobiles, the fur lining of Jane Fonda’s spacecraft in Barbarella, the paintwork on ice-cream vans, and the plastic knobs on transistor radios. After decades of self-congratulatory writing by an army of promoters about the supposedly functional mode of building, Peter Reyner Banham rode in on a fold-up bicycle to demystify modern architecture. It had apparently only pretended to be modern, frivolously flirting with the new technologies that should have revolutionized it to the core.

It is hard to think of a figure who did more to reshape the architectural discourse of the second half of the last century than Banham, the author of an astonishing array of seminal books and more than 750 articles, as well as a frequent contributor to television and radio

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