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WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF ARCHITECTURE
This is a question that permeates our minds since we leave the formalism and started to think the architecture into a social, cultural and historical context.
In the beginning of the 20th Century, an avant-guard stream inspired in a search for a new society showed a politic and social critic through the artistic experimentalism and formal innovation. The constructivism started a communication process through the exploration of geometry to present ideology and aesthetics in a new common basis able to establish a new architectural language based on objective, rationalist principles exemplified by engineering structures, breaking with the current structure adopted in the traditional architecture presented by the Renascence and the Classical style. At that moment, the purpose of architecture was clearly defined as a tool to serve society in a search for a new political structure; and, the compaction of forms and dynamic of objects and empty space created unit in the design that put in evidence the tensions and ambiguities of the period and made impossible to read the meaning of a composition by individually elements. Malevich show this concept in his composations [image 1] and also, Melnikov used the same principle to project and purpose the USSR Pavillion [image 2] where each piece of architecture has no meaning by itself, but in group with the other elements, has a purpose.
Defined as ‘poets in steel and glass’ by Le Corbusier, the constructivists found, in the abstraction and new configuration of the simple geometry, a way to destabilize poetically the order of the structure that mimetizes the social sphere experienced. Therefore, when deconstructivism was presented at the ‘Deconstructivists Architects’ exposition on MOMA in 1988; Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley, curators of the event, put in evidence the parallel existent between this new movement and the formal basis of constructivism.
AND WHAT IS DECONSTRUCTION
The term deconstruction first appears in a text by Edmund Husser (The Origen of Gemetry, 1962, pg. 4) as decomposition, dismantling of the elements of writing in order to discover parts of a text that are disguised. From the term, the concept of deconstruction is elaborated by Jacques Derrida, the philosopher who says that words do not have the ability to express everything you want to express by them, so that words and concepts do not communicate what they promise and thus are capable of being modified in thought. Therefore, what we see, hear and say just might be in fact an immutable fact, if we accept to deconstruct, to find the essence, take the ambiguous and awaken the senses. In simple words, Jacques Derrida says that everything that is presented to the human mind can be changed and modified by the experiences that the person has in life and the only way to make this person understand exactly what you want to say through what you presented, is by the deconstruction, showing all the relevant ' key faces' that the mind can not see. Would be like to say that to feel what a text, a work of art, or in this case, what architecture really want to convey to you, it is necessary that the excesses were removed and the key elements cause a disturbance, perturbation or inconvenience. In architecture, not only based on the philosophy of Derrida, the parallel found between constructivism and the new current concerns not only in the essential use of pure geometric forms, to the dismantling, deconstruction, transformation, use of elaborate plans, the poetic overprint in a diagonal of rectangular and trapezoidal shapes; but mostly the nature of the architectural object.
Deconstruction is that which is necessary to structure but evades structural analysis (and analysis is invariably structural). It is the breakdown of structure that is the very possibility of structure. â€œ (Wigley, 1997, p.29)
If constructivism mimetizes the lived social experiences, would it be possible to say that deconstruction mimetizes a virtual reality comprised by the not logical, by breaking the hierarchy defined in constructivism and thus, deconstructivism applies perfectly to the aesthetic created because, although taking, appropriating the constructivist concepts, they are completely bypass the established initial purpose and although exploited by deconstructivist, the way was shown by constructivist.
The question is that were the Russians who discovered the geometrical configurations that can be used to destabilize the structure." (Wigley, 1997)
Peter Eisenman was involved with deconstructivism since its conception, recognizing the fundamental connection between philosophy and architecture in relation to ideological structuring. In his work with Jacques Derrida, The Chora (L) Works (1985 - 1997) for the Parc de la Villette in Paris [image 3], he establishes the search for the materialization of this connection in a creative activity: the deconstruction of architecture.
3 Quoting Derrida (1985), Eisenman said ( Architecture and Deconstructionism, 2012) that “architecture is a locus of the metaphysics of presence”. Then providing a more tangible explanation, he explained that Deconstructivist architecture seeks to remove all rules and systems from architecture, stripping it of all the codified methods of the past in a game between presence and absence, ideology and aesthetics providing a physical and spatial experience . It is possible to affirm that deconstructivism and constructivism have been concerned with the tectonics of making an abstract assemblage and, in this process, as said by Medina, Esteban in ‘Forma y composición en la Arquitectura deconstructivista’ (2003), the fragmentation, superposition, torsion, twinning, fold and crosslinking of the geometry can be defined as common points. Also, both adopted structuralism as the starting point to compose and decompose the forms in a way that is impossible to understand the piece of architecture in the individual parts, but only in a context of unit. Each piece of the architectonic composition has a different function and a limit, this pieces has properties to be deformed inside of a system and never individually. But the understanding of that only can be made in cooperation with the other elements, like music and each note: you can recognize each note, but individually they can not transmit an idea, they only makes sense in a context, a composition. This principles can be seen in the Houses I to XI by Peter Eisenman and, the Guardíola House, that was developed by the deconstruction of a Cube and the interposition of plans in the shape of a ‘L’ and clearly has a similarity with the composition by Federovich Krinsky.
5 In a short annalysis, is possible to see the deconstruction in the orthogonal plan of a cube in both projects. Federovich rebuild the cube in modules and in 1975 Eisenman keep deconstructing the same cube for the House X in United States and after cut a plane he keeps the decomposition in smaller pieces than the original in a way to adapt the house to the topography.
6. Guardiola House. The decomposition of a cube in plans in the shape of a â€˜Lâ€™ that are constructed again in order to be adapted to the topography.
Notwithstanding, the influences of the Russian constructivism in the spacial deconstruction process can be seen in the architecture of important contemporary icons like Zaha Hadid, Coop Himmelblau, Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind and Rem Koolhaas and the reactions evoked by this architecture can be explained by the philosophy behind the process. The architecture was â€˜bornâ€™ inside logical patterns, rational, geometric and based primarily in the coordinated and orthogonal axes of the Cartesian plane (x,y,z). Almost 350 years later, It is still rare to walk around the city and find a building that does not bear this orthogonality referenced in Enlightenment projects. The descriptive geometry, using the Cartesian plane [image 7] and the Mongian trihedral [image 8], made possible the industrialization of construction and consequently the contemporary buildings became 'predictable'. If designed within the overall geometrical orthogonal planes; the cubes, cylinders, pyramids and solids become common as structural figures of thought and design practice.
8 However, man is not a purely rational being and is often taken completely by emotions, so to disrupt the orthogonal planes, playing with shapes and create a perceptual instability caused by the dialectic between solids and voids, presence and absence, the deconstructivist dealt with human emotion and, as Derrida said, It causes restlessness necessary for questioning and understanding of the work presented , even in a paradoxical way.
By using this perception of the reality and geometry to deal with the human emotion, Zaha Hadid explored the interruption, transformation and deconstruction of the orthogonal planes in her projects [image 10]. Also Daniel Libeskind used the deconstruction of the Mongian trihedral at The Wohl Centre Project in Israel, 2005 and at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, 1999. [image 9]
10 The subversion of values presented in the controlled chaos causes the questioning regarding the shape and spatial function and so, even if using elementary geometry, causes different reactions when dealing with an abstract perception of what can be understood as a structural harmony . Is not anymore an architecture for the society and their political transformations, but an architecture for the human perception in the real space.
LIST OF IMAGES
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.
Suprematism (Supremus No. 58) by Malevich, Kasimir, 1916. URSS Pavillion by Melnikov, Konstantin, 1925. Paris International Exposition. Parc de la Villete, Paris. Deconstruction diagram from Chora (I) Works by Eisenman, Peter. Structural deconstruction in Experimental Methodology by Fedorovich Krinsky. Structural deconstruction in and House X by Peter Eisenman. Image by Ferreira, Bruna. Diagrams of deconstruction: Guardiola House by Peter Eisenman. The Cartesian Plane and its representation in the Mondrian Composition. The Mongian trihedral and Van Doesburg’s illustration for the House Schröeder, 1924. Daniel Liebeskind deconstruction of the David’s Star and Mongian trihedral at The Wohl Centre Project in Israel, 2005 and at the Jewish Museum in Berlin, 1999. 10. Zaha Hadid’s deconstruction of the Cartesian Plane at IBA Housing in Berlin, 1987-94.
DERRIDA, Jacques & EISENMAN, Peter (1997). Chora l Works. Monacelli Press. ISBN 1-885254-40-7. MEDINA, Vicente Esteban (2003) Forma y composición en la Arquitectura deconstructivista (Chapter 3). Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Madrid Intellectual Registration Nº 16/2005/3967. Link to download the pdf: http://oa.upm.es/481/ RICKEY, George (1995). Constructivism: Origins and Evolution. George Braziller; Revised edition. ISBN 0-8076-1381-9 VENTURI, Robert. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. New Tork: Museum of Modern Art, 1966. ZYGAS, Kestutis Paul (1981). Forms Follows Form. UMI Research Press. ISBN 0-8357-1177-3