The Poetics of a Wall Projection
one that is complementary to ‘an’. For just as important as order itself is the possibility of a non-totalising order, limited in scope to what is structurally necessary or meaningful, and the possibility of incorporating diverse ordering systems within a single work. Regarding the first point, Rudolf Arnheim’s study on order offers the following observation, which also resonates with the fundamental ambiguity of the term: ‘an unchecked tendency towards mere orderliness leads to the impoverishment and eventually to the ultimate degradation of the structure, no longer clearly distinguishable from chaos, which is the absence of order’.36 We have already noted this phenomenon – as one potential outcome of the conflict between the ordering force of an abstract concept and the intractable resistance and concreteness of architectural syntax. A rigorous imposition of order during the process of design will result either in a muddling of the syntax or in an utterly trivial scheme. (We will return later to the cause of this dilemma.) The latter point – the simultaneous existence of multiple orders as the alternative to ‘an’ order – is no less problematic. Multiple orders may enhance the unfolding of layered meanings in the reception of a work. But if they are not produced in a sufficiently coordinated way, the result may simply be disorder. According to Arnheim, disorder is ‘not the absence of order but the collision of unrelated individual orders’. If individual orders touch or overlap without due preparation, then discrepancies, strains and cracks will emerge between the individual systems. In the Wittgenstein House, each of the main rooms on the ground floor has its own order. The collision of the floor patterns demonstrates quite vividly the incompatibility of these individual orders (Fig. 9). In this instance, the ordering systems are of the same kind, but ‘disorder’ can also result when different types of ordering systems smash into each other. And so we come back to the WP. As we have shown, the wall projection can be seen as the product of an attempted remediation – of an effort to ‘bring order’
POETICS AND ARCHITECTURE
to a situation. This situation however is nothing less than the collision of two fundamentally different orders. In general terms, one of these orders can be described as the order of the syntax, the other as the order of the concept. The first order lies in the nature of things, the second springs from the individual’s will-to-order. As such we are dealing with a conflict between the given and the imagined and, to some extent, between the natural and the artificial. In more concrete terms, we are dealing with the order of the plan and the order of the facade. The ‘givens’ of the syntax are evident in the plan, but not in the facade, which actually conceals them, inviting in an independent order. And this order infiltrates the interior through the window. The clash with the first order results in a disorder of the interior window wall – in the undesired asymmetry of its surface. By shortening the window wall to the length required for symmetry, the WP eliminates this disorder but at the same time generates a new disorder in the plan. The WP cannot be incorporated into the overall order of the room by adding (for example) a corresponding wall fragment on the opposing wall, which would combine with it to form a niche. Nothing can be done because of the corner position of the doorway, which is determined by the overall layout of the building. Transforming disorder into order, the WP produces more disorder. To resolve this new disorder, the plan of the room would have to be reordered, which in turn would require a reordering of the plan of the entire house, a chain reaction whose ultimate outcome will remain forever unknown, for the process was nipped in the bud – with the insertion of the WP. This aesthetically unsatisfying condition has the attributes of a dynamic process; there can be no talk here of a ‘static beauty‘. To address this very condition, its history as well as its hypothetical future, our poetics must adopt the term ‘order’ – that concise yet vague aesthetic intention. (If aesthetics is to be identified with
Published on May 18, 2011
Published on May 18, 2011
Originally published in German in 1985 as Die Poetik eines Mauervorsprung, Jan Turnovsky's The Poetics of a Wall Projection is ostensibly a...