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Mediterranean Crossroads

Marseille and Modern Architecture

2011
Author:

Sheila Crane

Mediterranean Crossroads

Examining Marseille as a significant center for the evolution of architectural and urban modernism

Drawing together a cast of architects, photographers, and cultural theorists, Mediterranean Crossroads examines how mythic ideas about Marseille helped shape its urban landscape. By exploring how architects and planners negotiated highly localized pressures, evolving imperial visions, and transnational aspirations at the borders of Europe and the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean Crossroads brings to life a lost chapter in the history of modern architecture.

In Mediterranean Crossroads, Sheila Crane offers a freshly inventive form of narrative about modern architecture and planning, one that reveals the intertwining of regional and national politics, imperialist/colonialist imaginaries, and popular images of the city.

Nancy Stieber, author of Housing Design and Society in Amsterdam: Reconfiguring Urban Order and Identity, 1900-1920

In the first decades of the twentieth century, Marseille was a booming Mediterranean port. Positioned at the very edge of France, the city functioned as a critical fulcrum between the metropolitan center and its overseas empire. A notoriously dangerous and cosmopolitan city, Marseille became the focus of the extraordinary energies of some of the most remarkable architects and theorists of urban modernity.

Drawing together a cast of both world-renowned and less familiar architects, photographers, and cultural theorists, including Le Corbusier, Sigfried Giedion, Walter Benjamin, and László Moholy-Nagy, Mediterranean Crossroads examines how mythic ideas about Marseille helped to shape its urban landscape. Tracing successive planning proposals in tandem with shifting representations of the city in photographs, film, guidebooks, and postcards, Sheila Crane reconstructs the history and politics of architecture in Marseille from the 1920s through the years of rebuilding after World War II.

By exploring how architects and planners negotiated highly localized pressures, evolving imperial visions, and transnational aspirations at the borders of Europe and the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean Crossroads brings to life a lost chapter in the history of modern architecture.

Awards

2013 recipient of the Spiro Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians

Mediterranean Crossroads

Sheila Crane is assistant professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia.

Mediterranean Crossroads

In Mediterranean Crossroads, Sheila Crane offers a freshly inventive form of narrative about modern architecture and planning, one that reveals the intertwining of regional and national politics, imperialist/colonialist imaginaries, and popular images of the city.

Nancy Stieber, author of Housing Design and Society in Amsterdam: Reconfiguring Urban Order and Identity, 1900-1920

Sheila Crane’s book masterfully weaves together episodes that have put Marseille in the center of a series of extraordinary developments for 20th century art, architecture and urban design. Mediterranean Crossroads unweaves a tangled web of representations, policies, and designs, that were to this day excised from the main narrative of modern architectural history.

Jean-Louis Cohen, Institute of Fine Art/New York University

Mediterranean Crossroads

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Marseille’s Absent Presence in Modern Architecture
1. The View from the Bridge: Photography, Planning, and Urban Physiognomy
2. The City in the World: Marseille’s Mediterraneanisms
3. Urban Gynecology and Engineered Destruction: Spatial Politics in the City at War
4. Spectacles of Ruin: From a New Monumentality to Urban Purification
5. Imperial Façades: Postwar Rebuilding and the Battle for the Old Port
6. Excavating Past and Present: Recovering the Ancient Port of Massalia
Conclusion: Afterimages of Marseille
Notes
Bibliography
Index