Urban design is a diffuse and abstract term. It means different things to
different people. For those not directly involved in its practice or aware of
its effects on their daily lives, it may not mean much, if anything at all. I first
heard the term in architecture school, but I didn’t really think much about
what it might mean until my schoolmate Jonathan Barnett started using it
to describe his aspiration to put together with some of his colleagues a
design capability in the New York City government.
Given these ideological premises it is no surprise that the avant-garde film-
makers mentioned above were deeply involved in establishing a modernist
tradition of advertisement that relied on purely or at least heavily abstracted
patterns. From the early 1910s the German film producer Julius Pinschewer
sought to establish new forms of expression in advertisement and succeeded
in collaborating with some of the most innovative film technicians and film-
This collection of essays seeks to explore the vernacular dialogues and contested identities that shaped a complex cultural and architectural phenomenon like Mediterranean modernism. The authors bring to light the debt twentiethcentury modernist architects owe to the vernacular building traditions of the Mediterranean region, a geographical area that touches three continents – Europe, Africa and Asia. This book is subdivided into two sections of essays by an international group of scholars who adopt a number of different methodological perspectives.