Justus Dahinden

Architect (1925)

In the 1950s, the Zurich-based Swiss architect Justus Dahinden became involved in a critique of functionalism, exploring the paths of an architecture linking up with the spiritual and social essence of man. A contemporary of Archigram and the Japanese Metabolists, in his projects Dahinden summarized the futurological dream of a period, developing the most advanced technologies at the service of well-being and communications. His different “hill city” and “leisure city” projects thus offered a model of city-planning entirely dedicated to the mobility of people. The public place was organized like an “open and available” structure, dedicated to the organization of cultural and festive events. The lightweight structures of oriental nomadism here overlapped with Western pop imagery, and autonomous dwelling cells, completely prefabricated, were added to the macrostructure using a crane. Dahinden’s numerous utopian projects invariably helped his quest for pragmatic and constructible solutions, as is illustrated by the many buildings which he built throughout his career, both in Switzerland and abroad, in particular the TRIGON series of housing units produced in 1975. Dahinden was also an important figure in the international architectural debate, with a busy career as a critic in the 1960s and a role in the GIAP founded by Michel Ragon in 1965. His book Urban Structures for the Future (1972), one of the first to encompass the most forward-looking projects of the day in terms of urbanism and habitat, would help to unify a whole generation of architects under the avant-garde banner.

Aurélien Vernant

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