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Modern Movement theorist Norberg-Schulz dies in Oslo

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Norwegian architectural theorist, historian and teacher Christian Norberg- Schulz has died in Oslo at the age of 74. His demise severs another link with the pioneers of the Modern Movement.

Norberg-Schulz trained as an architect at the Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule, in Zurich, graduating in 1949. At the ETH he came under the influence of the famous Swiss art historian Sigfried Giedion, CIAM's spokesperson on Modern Architecture, and a teacher who ledNorberg-Schulz into a lifelong interest in art history and spatial perception.

After Switzerland he moved on to the Harvard Graduate School to study under Walter Gropius. He also studied for a time at the IIT with Mies van der Rohe and soon after returning to Europe moved to Rome where he continued art history studies (he was to become one of the principal modern scholars concerned with the Italian Baroque) and worked with Pier Luigi Nervi. In 1953 he married his beloved Anna-Maria de Dominicus, an Italian.

Following this period of extensive study and travelling he returned to Norway, where he worked in partnership as an architect with the Modernist Arne Korsmo and where he remained - making regular visits to Italy and overseas lecture tours - until his death. Norberg-Schulz had a lifelong commitment to the explanation of the tenets of Modern Architecture and the examination of its spatial expressiveness through its phenomenological, Gestalt and cognitive qualities.

His most famous book, Intentions in Architecture (Oslo/London 1963) was concerned with this analysis and - certainly for my generation - became a kind of cult text in the search for meanings in architecture, whether linguistic, psychological or form-orientated. Its subsequent publication by MIT in a popular edition reinforced his international reputation. It was followed by three other major publications: Existence, Space and Architecture (1971); Meaning in Western Architecture (1974-5) and Genius Loci (1980), the latter a fine study dedicated to an examination of space in an urban context, as well as the books on Italian architecture Baroque Architecture (1971) and Late Baroque and Rococo Architecture (1972).

He received many honours and awards during his lifetime, including an Honorary FRIBA, an AIA Honor Award, 1983, election as a member of the Accademia Fiorentina, a Gold medallist of the Academie d'Architecture as well as honorary degrees from Hanover and Aberdeen Universities.

Towards the end of his life, Norberg-Schulz moved back to a deep study of the fundamental principles and ideas behind Modern Architecture and their theoretical underpinnings. Indeed, the result of this work led to Norberg-Schulz's most recent English language publication, Principles of Modern Architecture (2000) which was published in London by Dr Andreas Papadakis only a week or so ago.

Although published posthumously, this book provides a most suitable epitaph for a distinguished architectural theorist whose mission was to make the art of architecture both felt and understood universally. I cannot think of a better tribute for such an intense and far-seeing scholar-architect.

Dennis Sharp

The Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has opened the Rural and Business Development Institute in County Tipperary, which was designed by BDP's Belfast office and Cork-based practice Kelly Barry O'Brien Whelan Architects.The £6 million campus consists of a series of buildings housing classrooms, engineering science laboratories and libraries. Set in an 8.1ha site in the town of Thurles, the institute is intended as a centre of excellence for rural development in Ireland. The design aims to maximise the use of natural ventilation and natural light. The project was funded by the Irish government's department of education and science and caters for 500 full-time students.

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