This essay examines the role of Marxist concepts in recent architectural theories of ecology using two architecture firms, Estudio Teddy Cruz and Sauerbruch Hutton (SH), as case studies. In their writings, Cruz and SH mobilize the critique of capital, a dialectical materialist understanding of history, and the Frankfurt School’s critique of functionalist culture for the theorization of sustainable design. Their work has two vital ramifications for current sustainability discourses in two different fields which this essay seeks to bridge. For Marxist theorists concerned about ecology but averse to Western Marxism because of its supposed idealism, Cruz and SH show anew the importance of aesthetic concerns to conceptions of the environment. For design scholars accustomed to thinking of Marxism as having been absorbed into broader debates about cultural studies, the architects’ theories have the potential to recentralize the left-wing inheritance through its adaptation to concerns of ecology. In addition, in the essay’s conclusion, I reflect briefly, as a suggestion for further research, on how Cruz’s and SH’s architectural practice and theories might productively be analyzed in light of the terms of the Adorno-Benjamin debate of the 1930s over the political status of the cultural products of capital. Can eighty-year old discussions of the potentially revolutionary and retrograde qualities of mass cultural objects be relevant to radical thought in the age of climate change.
Swope, C. (2021). Is green the new red? Marxism, ecology, and contemporary architectural theory. Humanities, 10(1), Article 45. http://doi.org/10.3390/h10010045
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