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Title: Airs of Modernity 1881-1914
Authors: Ramirez, Enrique Gualberto
Advisors: Eigen, Edward A.
Contributors: Architecture Department
Keywords: 19th century
Subjects: Architecture
History of science
Art history
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation considers the burgeoning aeronautical culture in France between the Franco- Prussian War and the First World War as the setting for a conceptualization of air as a modernizing phenomenon. Changes from aerostatic to aerodynamic flight during this time--that is, the shift from lighter-than-air flight via balloons to heavier-than-air flight with airplanes in nineteenth-century France--resulted in a rethinking of the envelope of air that moved through buildings and surrounded cities as something that was not exactly air, into something that was more than just air. Air fragmented into several modernities: It was recast as ground and treated like its own legal domain; It was an abstraction made material due to experiments in laboratories and the development of advanced representation and measurement techniques; Air even occupied its own separate historical domain--these developments all came about due to the collision, so to speak, of aeronautics and architecture. And yet architecture was the very device, the instrumentality that made the cultural ramifications of this collision apparent. Different modes of representation will be analyzed for their role in using architecture to communicate aspects of these aerial modernities. <italic>L'empire de l'air</italic> (1881), by the French ornithologist and artist Louis Pierre Mouillard (1834-1897) features drawings of large birds of prey to introduce the idea of air as a supporting and dynamic substrate. The conception of air as a "column" of geometricized space from two legal treatises by the French jurist Paul Fauchille (1858-1926) considers the relationships between building envelopes on aerial sovereignty. Photographs of smoked air flowing over solid objects by √Čtienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904) show how an architectural apparatus--a sealed, wood-framed wind tunnel with a glazed wall--can be used to turn moving air from something that was "optically empty" to a discernible, tangible phenomenon. Finally, the idea of a wind tunnel as an architectural object reaches its fullest expression in Gustave Eiffel's (1832-1923) aeronautical experiments. His wind tunnels at Champ-de-Mars and Auteuil are analyzed as architectural machines for the recording of pressurized streamlines on solid objects. In short, Eiffel's wind tunnels will be understood as part of a larger entanglement between architecture and human flight via the convention of line drawing. This dissertation will conclude with an examination of architectural drawings by Adolphe Augustin Rey (1864-1934). Though Rey's name is not associated with advances in French aeronautics, his drawings for a worker housing competition sponsored by the Fondation Rothschild nevertheless stand for an important proposition underlying this dissertation. Rey's plans and elevations for the Rothschild housing scheme suggest a new kind of relation between architecture and its surrounding air. Here, architectural drawings help elucidate how air has become a historical and material condition coextensive with architecture.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Architecture

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