For the past month I’ve been reviewing the book Architecture and Disjunction. It is a compilation of essays written by Bernard Tschumi from 1975 to 1990, and explores the architect’s eagerness to define “space”, and the contradictions and dualities that thinking about said definition creates. (Specially the paradox between built and ideal architecture that I mention often in older posts.) This week, an essay called “Spaces and Events caught my attention.
My Father was a lawyer. Nevertheless, he communicated me, his architect son, every small but interesting thoughts on space. I, however, never paid real attention to said ideas; Not to explore them, at least. I remember once he told me about a door-less house he had imagined: “I have always thought about a door-less house; One where you could find privacy without closing a door and find family without opening one”. Impossible, I thought right away. “How could I go to the Bathroom?”, was the first naïve question that eliminated the possibility of such a home from my mind. I was a first-year student, and I couldn’t be thinking about such nonsense.
Is there a way to satisfy different needs with a single architectural approach?
Some time ago I had the opportunity to present an entry for a 5-home design contest. The task consisted in designing the group of single-family houses, according to specific necessities and users. A common approach would be to plan each project separately. Another, thinking about each house as a unique element of a whole that has aesthetic language as a connecting theme. These lead to the question: Is there a step further? Is there a way to satisfy different needs with a single architectural approach? The formal solution to the problem was the creation of a basic module that contained all “rigid” program of a house: kitchen, bathroom, stairs. The result was a rigid, but compact package; Something like an architectonic swiss army knife.
Part 3: Both-And and Crossprogramming
An architectonic element is often interpreted as an absolute in a universe of dualities, or even multiplicities. “Either-or” is chosen instead of “both-and”. For example, a space can be considered as an outside or inside space, but never both. For Robert Venturi, “An architecture which includes varying levels of meaning breeds ambiguity and tension.” (Venturi, Robert 1966, p.23) In consequence, space can have various interpretations, which change depending on the observer. “At one moment one meaning can be perceived as dominant; at another moment a different meaning seems paramount.” (Venturi, Robert 1966, p.32)