Victor Gruen: the environmental Heart
Victor Gruen is the pioneer of the regional shopping centre, he is the “Mall Maker”, which, is also the title of a book by M. Jeffrey Hartwick about this Austrian-born architect. Well known for his first commercial projects, which have been copied and analysed worldwide, mostly negatively influencing the structure of cities and societies, Gruen had focused his attention on the importance of the environmental crisis in his both theoretical writings and projects as early as the 1960s. How can Gruen be personified as both the “Mall Maker” and the “Architect of the Environment’? In the early 1970s Gruen presented Die Charta von Wien, as an attempt to readapt the CIAM`s Charte d`Athenes to the contemporary conditions, with a brand new emphasis on the ecological environment as well. This paper will deal mainly with these contradictions and synergies between “consumeristic” architecture and its role in the city in relation to the environmental issues posed by its inventor. The complexity of the connections between consumerism and ecology and the references to CIAM and Gruen, appear to be important themes for a discussion on public space and our contemporary urban condition.
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