What might we mean by monoculture? What is the impetus for ‘identitarian’ or nationalistic monoculture movements who do not see, or wish, their society to be pluralistic, not just in the context of Europe but globally? Might we locate positive or even emancipatory aspirations of monoculture? Might a culturally homogeneous society also be inclusive and transformational? What lies at the fringes of monoculture, and what does it not tolerate? What may be the position of the arts within the context of monocultural ideology? Or alternatively, how might the arts look under monocultural ideology when taken to its logical conclusion?


2020 monoculture photo m hka cc 27 mod2 image: (c) M HKA, Published by The Architectural Review
E. Maxwell Fry, "African Experiment - Building for an Educational Programme in the Gold Coast", 1953
Book , 24.8 x 30.5 cm
paper, ink

Two principal approaches towards modern architecture of the 1950s can be distinguished. The first can be described as a regionalist approach that focused on the climate and geography of a region, but paid little attention to cultural analysis or existing vernacular tradition. This can be illustrated by the various 'African experiments'— regionalist modernist projects of the leading British architects Maxwell Fry (1899-1987) and Jane Drew (1911-1996) in West African countries that were then part of the British Empire. In the 1950s the couple joined Le Corbusier to work on the creation of Chandigarh, the new capital of the divided Punjab in India. The modernist architecture of Chandigarh is widely regarded as one of the prominent experiments in urban planning and a symbolic statement of the radical break from tradition and colonial past of the newly independent India. Although the purity of the modernism was initially supposed to be protected “from whims of individuals” by the Edict of Chandigarh (as prescribed by Le Corbusier), the universal functionalism of modernist residential architecture has been challenged by various forms of ad hoc urbanism, inspired by local traditions of urban life.