Designing the Modern Interior. From the Victorians to Today pages:119-130
Walter Benjamin argued that modernism in architecture was about the creation of anonymous settings for anonymous inhabitants. According to him the new architecture of modernism was to accommodate transparency, porosity and smoothness, it was to liberate men’s dwelling from the stiffling confines of the bourgeois interiors in order to open it up for waves of light, air and energy. Thus the new architecture would prefigure a classless society to come. In the history of modernist architecture, Hannes Meyer’s Coop-Zimmer goes a long way in materializing the conditions that Benjamin celebrated. It can be seen as the ultimate example of an anonymous architecture that is inapt to preserve traces, and that welcomes each new inhabitant on an equal basis. In as far as modernism lived up to Benjamin’s revolutionary appeal, it did indeed provide neutral dwelling environments that intended to stimulate an egalitarian outlook and that treated each individual as basically the same. In the end, however, practices of inhabitation often proved to mitigate this ideologically charged anonymity.