Léon Krier in Poundbury, Dorchester, UK, 2016
|Awards||Driehaus Architecture Prize 2003|
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Léon Krier (born 7 April 1946) is a Luxembourgish architect, architectural theorist and urban planner, the first and most prominent critic of architectural Modernism and advocate of New Traditional Architecture and New Urbanism. Krier combines an international architecture & planning practice with writing and teaching. He is the younger brother of architect Rob Krier.
Krier abandoned his architectural studies at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, in 1968, after only one year, to work in the office of architect James Stirling in London, UK. After four years working for Stirling, interrupted by a two years association with Josef Paul Kleihues in Berlin, Krier spent 20 years in England practicing and teaching at the Architectural Association and Royal College of Art. In this period, Krier's statement: “I am an architect, because I don’t build”, became a famous expression of his uncompromising anti-modernist attitude. From the late 1970s onwards he has been one of the most influential modern traditional architects and planners. He is one of the first and most prominent critics of architectural modernism, mainly of its functional zoning and the ensuing suburbanism, campaigning for the reconstruction of the traditional European city model and its growth based on the polycentric city model.
He is best known for his Masterplan and ongoing development of Poundbury, an urban extension to Dorchester, UK for the Duchy of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales and his Masterplan for Paseo Cayalá, an extension of four new urban quarters for Guatemala City. Between 1976 and 2016 Krier was visiting professor at the Universities of Princeton, Yale, Virginia, Cornell and Notre Dame. In 1987-90 Krier was the first director of the SOMAI, the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Architectural Institute, in Chicago. Since 1990, Krier has been industrial designer for Valli e Valli - Assa Abloy and Giorgetti, an Italian furniture company. In 2003 Krier became the inaugural Driehaus Architecture Prize laureate.
Krier acts as architectural consultant on his urban planning projects but only designs buildings of his personal choice. Amongst his best known realizations are the temporary façade at the 1980 Venice Biennale; the Krier house in the resort village of Seaside, Florida, USA (where he also advised on the masterplan); the São Miguel Odrinhas Archaeological Museum of Sintra, Portugal; the Windsor Village Hall in Florida; the Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center, the University of Miami School of Architecture in Miami, Florida; and the new Neighbourhood Center Città Nuova in Alessandria, Italy.
Though Krier is well known for his defense of classical architecture and the reconstruction of traditional “European city” models, close scrutiny of his work in fact shows a shift from an early Modernist rationalist approach (project for University of Bielefeld, 1968) towards a vernacular and classical approach both formally and technologically. The project that marked a major turning point in his campaigning attitude towards the reconstruction of the traditional European city was his scheme (unrealized) for the 'reconstruction' of his home city of Luxembourg (1978), in response to the modernist redevelopment of the city. He later master planned Luxembourg's new Cité Judiciaire that was to be architecturally designed by his brother (1990-2008).
In 1990, of the nine experts invited he was the only one to support the Dresden citizens initiative to reconstruct the historic Dresden Frauenkirche and the Historische Neumarkt area and, in 2007, the Frankfurt Altstadt Forum, citizen initiative which succeeded in reconstructing the historic "Hühnermarkt" area against strong professional and political opposition.
Krier has applied his theories in large-scale, detailed plans for numerous cities in the Western world like the unrealized schemes Kingston upon Hull (1977), Rome (1977), Luxembourg (1978) most comprehensive masterplan focusing on sprawl repair and town center repair, West Berlin (1977–83), Bremen (1978-1980), Stockholm (1981), Poing Nord, Munich (1983), a masterplan for the completion till the year 2000 of Washington D.C. (1984) commissioned by the M.O.M.A of New York; Atlantis, an ideal classical town for intellectuals and artists, Tenerife (1987); also in projects for new towns commissioned by developers, like Area Fiat, Novoli, Italy, (1993) and Corbeanca Romania (2007), and by public administrations like the redevelopment of Tor Bella Monaca, a degraded suburb of Rome, (2010) and a long term redevelopment policy plan of the municipal area of Cattolica, Rimini, Italy (2017) and those of High Malton Masterplan for the Fitzwilliam Estate, Yorkshire, U.K. (2014) and the redevelopment of the demised Fawley Waterside Power Station, Southampton, U.K. (2017) in the permitting stage; then in built developments like Knokke, Heulebrug Belgium (1998) near completion after Krier’s plan but without his direction; and in his masterplan for Newquay growth area (2002-2006), Cornwall, UK, after his resignation continued by Adam Associates. And the ones he is currently implementing for Poundbury Dorset, U.K. (1988 onwards); Paseo Cayalá, Guatemala City (2003 onwards); and El Socorro, two new urban quarters for Guatemala City (2018 onwards) and a new town, Herencia de Allende, near San Miguel de Allende, México (2018 onwards).
The size of the city
Krier agreed with the viewpoint of the late Heinrich Tessenow that there is a strict relationship between the economic and cultural wealth of a city, on the one hand, and the limitation of its population on the other. But this is not a matter of mere hypothesis, he argues, but historical fact. The measurements and geometric organization of a city and of its quarters are not the result of mere chance or accident or simply of economic necessity, but rather represents a civilizing order which is not only aesthetic and technical but also legislative and ethical.
Krier claims, that “the whole of Paris is a pre-industrial city which still works, because it is so adaptable, something the creations of the 20th century will never be. A city like Milton Keynes cannot survive an economic crisis, or any other kind of crisis, because it is planned as a mathematically determined social and economic project. If that model collapses, the city will collapse with it.” Thus Krier argues not merely against the contemporary modernist city (he in fact argues that places like Los Angeles, U.S., are not cities), but against a gigantism tendency in urban growth, evident in the exploding scale of urban networks and buildings in European cities throughout the 19th century which was a result of the concentration of economic, political and cultural power. In response to this, Krier proposed the reconstruction of the European city, based on polycentric settlement models which are dictated not by machine scale but by human scale both horizontally and vertically, of self-sufficient mixed use quarters not exceeding 33 HA/80 acres (able to be crossed in 10 minutes walk) of building heights of 3-5 floors or 100 steps (able to be walked up comfortably) and which are limited not by mere administrative borders but by walkable, ridable, drivable boulevards, tracks, park ways. Cities then grow by the multiplication of independent urban quarters, not by horizontal or vertical over-extensions of established urban cores.
On the development of the city
Krier has written a number of essays − many first published in the journal Architectural Design, often in his own handwriting in the form of series of didactic annotated diagrams − against modernist town planning and its principle of dividing up the city into a system of single use zones (housing, shopping, industry, leisure, etc.), as well as the resultant suburbia, commuting, etc. Indeed, Krier sees the modern planner as a tyrannical figure that imposes detrimental megastructural scale more dictated by ideology than necessity.
Krier summons up the concept of urban in his essential 1983 diagram of a truly urban town= RES PUBLICA+RES PRIVATE, where he conceives the basic urban fabric, made of private buildings and uses, as an object of vernacular local design and the exceptional public and institutional buildings as objects of classical architecture and located in privileged sites, on squares and in the focus of major vistas.
On architecture and the city
The principle behind Krier’s writings has been to explain the rational foundations of architecture and the city, stating that “In the language of symbols, there can exist no misunderstanding”. That is to say, for Krier, buildings have a rational order and type: a house, a palace, a temple, a campanile, a church; but also a roof, a column, a window, etc., what he terms “nameable objects”. As projects get bigger, he goes on to argue, the buildings should not get bigger, but divide up; thus, for instance, in his unrealized scheme for a school in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (1978), France, the school became a “city in miniature”.
Krier proposes functional programs greatly varied within each block and plot. For him the building’s design should always be typologically or tectonically justified and the variety of building types and volumes should reflect this functional variety in an evident and natural way; in short all gratuitous uniformity or gratuitous variety should be avoided designing neighboring building lots of dimensional, functional and thus formal variety and in such a way as to generate networks of public spaces consisting of public streets, squares, avenues, boulevards, parks. For Krier it is essential to compose at once the harmony of the urban blocks and of the inseparable public spaces generated between them.
In searching for such a typological architecture, Krier’s work has been termed “an architecture without a style”. However, it has also been pointed out that the appearance of his architecture is very much like Roman architecture, which he then places in all his projects, be it central London, Stockholm, Tenerife or Florida.”
A selection of manifesto texts by Krier
Many of these are available online 
- The idea of reconstruction
- Critique of zoning
- Town and country
- Critique of the megastructural city
- Critique of industrialization
- Urban components
- The city within the city – Les Quartiers
- The size of a city
- Critique of Modernisms
- Organic versus mechanical composition
- Names and nicknames
- Building and architecture
- The reconstruction of the European city
- What is an urban quartier? Form and legislation
- James Stirling: buildings & projects 1950-1974, Stuttgart, Gerd Hatje, 1975
- Rational Architecture Rationelle, Bruxelles, AAM Editions, 1978.
- Léon Krier. Houses, Palaces, Cities. Edited by Demetri Porphyrios, Architectural Design, 54 7/8, 1984.
- Léon Krier Drawings 1967-1980, Bruxelles, AAM Editions, 1981.
- Albert Speer, Architecture 1932-1942, Bruxelles, AAM Editions, 1985. New York, Monacelli Press, 2013.
- Léon Krier: Architecture & Urban Design 1967-1992, London, Academy Editions, 1992.
- Architecture: Choice or Fate, London, Andreas Papadakis Publishers, 1998.
- Get Your House Right, Architectural Elements to Use & Avoid, New York, Sterling Publishing, 2007
- The Architectural Tuning of Settlements, London, The Prince’s Foundation, 2008
- Drawings for Architecture, Cambridge (Massachusetts), MIT Press, 2009.
- The Architecture of Community, Washington DC, Island Press, 2009.
- Léon Krier: selected publications available online .
- Ian Latham, "Léon Krier. A Profile....", Architectural Design, vol. 57, no 1/2, 1987, p.37
- "Designers". Valli e Valli. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
- "Products". Giorgetti Milano. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
- "Léon Krier Architect and Urban Planner". Retrieved 21 January 2016.
- "Leon Krier". Driehaus Prize 2003. NDSA. Archived from the original on 6 March 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- W. Semes, Steven. "A New Sensibility". Traditional Building Portfolio. Traditional Building and Period Homes. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
- School of Architecture, Miami University. "The Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center". Retrieved 15 July 2018.
- "InternationalArchitect". umemagazine. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
- "Cité Judiciaire à Luxembourg 1995". robkrier.de. Rob Krier. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
- "Altstadt Forum Frankfurt". Altstadt Forum Frankfurt. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
- Mollura, Domenico (17 May 2017). "Cattolica, il masterplan targato Krier nel nome del decoro urbano". Il giornale dell'Architettura. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
- comunedicattolica (2017). Presentazione Masterplan - Snaporaz - 7 Aprile.
- Hellen, Nicholas (26 March 2017). "First smart town to end grind of daily commute". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
- Leon Krier, “Urban Components”, Architectural Design, vol. 54, no 7/8, 1984, p.43
- Leon Krier; 'Houses, Palaces, Cities', Architectural Design, London, 54, 7/8, 1984.
- Charles Jencks, “Post-Modernism and Eclectic Continuity”, Architectural Design, vol. 57, no 1/2, 1987, 25
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