Textos en inglés Javier Seguí
1.Remembering Computer Art (1970)............................................................................................................ 3 2.Pamphlet sent to the confrontation that, with the subject “the rational and the irrational issues in today’s visual investigation” took place in Zagreb (June 1973)...................................................................................3 3.Reflexions on formative art (June 1973)...................................................................................................... 4 4.Works of art do not say a thing.................................................................................................................... 5 5.Are manifestoes still possible? (02-09-97)................................................................................................... 8 6.Epistemological foundation in teaching architecture .................................................................................10 7.Theoretical consideration concerning architectural design and its basic teaching.....................................13 8.Envelopes (17-11-2005)............................................................................................................................ 27 9.The reflex of mobility in Architecture. (2nd version) (oct 1998)..................................................................35 10.Building, architecture, the teaching of architecture, modelling and drawing (08-03-07)...........................48 11.Darkness and light (about Turrell)........................................................................................................... 53 12.Notes about Drawing Imagery................................................................................................................. 60 13.Optimization of practice (25-10-07).......................................................................................................... 73 14.The Scope of Design & Drawing in the Renewal of the Architect’s Training............................................89
Remembering Computer Art (1970)
We began in 1968. We were attracted by situacionism but we were fascinated by the algorithmic structure that activated computers. We were interested in the procedures that could produce improbable configurations, after accepting that graphic figuration could be understood as a game of a group of restrictions on a formed system strictly defined. Paintings as omissions are as alterations of a general law. Some of us explored this scope while our partners degraded previous images (as the works in Searle) or draw figures with various positions or invented transformative functions that were stopped fortuitously (Serendipity). The use of computer reinforced the instructive sense of our work and made us understand that all graphic-plastic art was a procedure, better or worse ordered, fulfilled with intrigue that was after partly erased. It is following imprecise lines or unexpected impulses. We chased both active moments in the same instructive process. A germ, a law, an intrigated model that could be dandified into the black. An interrogated that is filled with units that, in growing, deformed until the whole plan densities. And, in the middle of this process, an intervention that empties part of the wrap (fortuitously or with a geometric shape) and stops the growing process of units. This way of acting (formative art) was linked with the proposals of active vacation of space (Oteiza, 1957) and with the understanding of the work as the evolution display of figural (formativity de Pareyson, 1960) Looking back, that adventure we had between 1968 and 1974 may not took us to any spectacular revelation, but showed us that the artist gets fully involved with his own work in a process only partially planned that leads to a scope of infinite scores of adding and suppress, tidy and alter, that only culminates leaving the work to restart a new experience that gets closer to the uncaused, to the arbitrary, to the vacuity opened to any action. My least work, titled “In interrupted draw”, consists of 20.000 pictures done without planning, laying in wait of the movements that the body itself articulates according to its changing state. The group of this work is a universe of formations, a cosmos of figurate institutions that today press me as forces that mark my destiny of marginal artist.
2. Pamphlet sent to the confrontation that, with the subject “the rational and the irrational issues in today’s visual investigation” took place in Zagreb (June 1973)
The demotion and alienation of the art. One big problem of the current world is the demotion reached with progressive artificiation. Biological, noetic and of sensitive demotion, obvious to the extreme in art and consumption. The Artists research and procedure without any convictions if, in other periods, art has had at least the value of reactive or of space shock proposal, today is only an exercise of psychic and intellectual survival. Art is still a good indicator for studying social dynamics, but its production is a disoriented effort of keeping a productive and social status that is being lost. Aesthetes speculate reviving ontology’s with no reality. Critics compare cultural echoes with the fashion of intellectual pride of each country or region. Researchers sell themselves to production, leaving the elaboration of knowledge’s, which they use (if they have reached something) as promotional levers. Artists, vibrating at the sound of their isolation, make things, offending or serving; in the whole process they are the least guiltiness of demotion; the pure accidents subjugated to a liberty each day more controlated and hesitant. 3
However, people speak about investigation, it seems important, even a liberating light is percepted among the tangle of attempts at random that are set about. A lot more important than if creativity is rationalizable or if irrational can be treated is seeing if we can rebuild the thought, stop the demotion condensing it in a glorious total end to humanity. * The rational and the irrational issues are complementary opposites in Aristotle logic. They can also be successive stages in dialectic logic. … Or are they states with no content of different level under a psychoanalytic logic. But what will they be in a systemic logic not done yet? And what does this has to do with the art of consumption? The art pretends to identify itself with the thought in a new manipulability and in general usable object… Somebody said in the Aesthetic Congress in Bucharest (August, 1972) that the new age will be aesthetic… and this premonition is absurd unless people think of a new objective and participative existence of thought. Or the art as a pragmatic identity disappearing in social or will only have meaning when social is thought too. “Rational and irrational in today’s visual investigation” seems an absurd title to an important debate, especially inside the critic formalization of dialectic materialism is missing. It rather seems an epigraph of commitment in a positivist atmosphere, quiet and lined up alien to de direction of culture in general. * Nostradamus seems to have predicted the disappearance of the illusion of human equality for the next century. However, today we tremble with totalistarist horror before the only thing we are capable of conceiving as inequality: oppression, racism… Before genetic control we avoid the subject and, in art, we omit it and, however, people fight to get its objective consecution. Do we know what are we playing for? The rational and the irrational issues in today’s visual investigation is the irrational of men converted in a slogan of a socio-political attitude demoted and determinate. We already know for sure the infinite of graphic possibilities and speaking about their rational or irrational dynamic is, nowadays a mere evasive entertainment if we don’t try the human reconversion that has to begin closing traditional culture in a revolutionary and manipulated object, from which art, ideology and politics are marginal manifestations of an evolution, still poor, but very dangerous. Ana Buenaventura & Javier Seguí
Reflexions on formative art (June 1973)
The considerations about art are something very different from the artist working point of view. Constructivism, art with computer, conceptual art and formative art are designations of conditions that are accepted as a frame of formal expression compromised and, although they mean peculiar ways of making, they can’t even touch the drama of creation and social gratification. To the one who creates graphic works, the consideration of his artistic way represents a determinate tragedy that takes him to the scepticism and, consequently, to nihilism and to scientific study, completely alien to the pantheism of personal agreement. The reflexive ways of making fixed orientations to the way of making, and it differs from the aim of art as formal expression to thought process. Art, from a formal synthetic experience becomes a 4
formed artificial reality. Many of us have lived this drama and, if we continue in it consciously despite of the psychic risk of dissolution that it represents is because all current culture feeds with the same contradiction and the same discouragement is produced, in waiting of a new synthesis, of that historical conclusion of the differential scopes of thought/action. Constructive art in the first third of the century represented the discovery of elementarism in flat fields of forces that semantize the figures drawn in the picture. The artist then discovered the game of perceptive structure, the reactive force of meditation without shapes and the euphoric renaissance next to the disappointment and the death of art. The method was the research of formative reason of expression, reducing to minimal the personal repertoire of available shapes. Computer Art limited to positivist restricted field of computers, with its mystiphication and assured success without risks. The artist discovered a new and unsuspected extension of constructive way together with an experimentation of fortuity combinations (Serendipity) to turn then in combinatory confirmation where every constructivism is logically explainable as a peculiar selection in the general organizative combinatory. Here, discovered the dynamic game, the contribution consisted of proposing elements and physic fields of (variation) in the limits of a machine. Disappointment ended the offensive function of art in a very short time. Conceptual art was a new constructive precision in representative field of concept, in the scope of categorical mathematics, where pure formality losses its expressivity if it is not as a schematic representation of world in involved thought. The artist discovers a semantic an intentional new field where he can morbidly repeat every previous experience, but not sceptically in the cruellest despair. Formative art as the last step consistent (desperately consistent) of constructivism is a substitute of dialectic formalization, where art is reserved as a stimulus of thought. An open, circular, accumulative logic that handles a formal support of semantization for a participative person. Art, this way, is a personal experimentation, with no social echoed, that can only be saved participating in the common work of succumbing or of selling of the budgets that grip us. Even though a new mystic elitism is feared, the formative art (art?) is the cultural expression of anticulture.
Works of art do not say a thing
In the teaching and criticism of plastic art and architecture, it is widespread practice to refer to works by attributing to them meanings and values which, depending on the degree to which they are stressed by teachers and critics, are shown as essential latent structures in the works as a whole. Similarly, when the author of a drawing or a project presents his work, he usually concentrates on describing it and backs it up afterwards, as opposed to discussing the stages of execution or assessing its cultural scope. He goes on to explain his professional aspirations, his beliefs and his desires as meanings embedded in the transcendental significance of his work. The wish to present works of art in this way is commendable but it is highly doubtful whether it is coherent either with the nature of the work itself or with the mode of communication through which works of art interact socially and culturally (anthropologically). To discuss this point, one might turn to the classics of post and neo-Kantian modern philosophy, vitalists and dialectic materialists, as it seems to be a conventional matter of ontology and aesthetics. However, in this paper, we wish to approach the discussion as a question linked to 5
communication. From this standpoint, any work, be it considered as a language game, a semiotic pattern of conventional signs or a mere objectival obstacle to behaviour and perception, is first and foremost something which takes on a meaning when it is used and signifies in so far as its use is taken up (verbalised) in social, communicable discourse (Baudrillard,J., "La génesis ideológica de las necesidades", Anagrama, Barcelona, 1976; Sánchez Pérez,F., "La liturgia del espacio", Nerea, Madrid, 1990). Plastic works are scopes of usage, as are projects and indeed, as is architecture. If we refer back to the theories of phenomenological action and reflections related to poietic and technical activity, then the execution of any work is accountable only on the grounds of the mobilisation and release of a huge quantum of galvanising energy. This comes in the form of a desire for recognition, non-conformity, the handling of feelings, productive imagination, instrumental skill, provisional criteria, trends, active organisation, responsibility and risk. The author, any author, lives through all this at one and the same time as a committed stand against the concept of the collective and as a constituent part of his identity and destiny. The process of this release which, in Todorov's discourse, is tolerable only if it leads to recognition by others, gives rise inevitably to the rebalancing need for its integration in a hand-made discourse so as to justify it and complete the unavoidable, disquieting arbitrariness of any act. To quote Arendt: "Without words, action beclouds the actor and the actor, he who performs the acts, only appears possible inasmuch as he is, at the same time, the one who does and the one who says with words that he is the actor, announcing what he has done and what he is trying to do". Another observation which bolsters the post-factum explicatory overplus is the following, taken likewise from Arendt. "The processes of action are not only indispensable but also irreversible. There exists no author or maker able to undo or destroy what is done. In the face of what is irreversibly done, the only redemption lies in the power of others to forgive and in that of actors to make promises". The two processes run through the discourse made by the actor as to his actions, building into it the effort made in terms of energy consumed and his self-justification. To be done, the work requires a specific quantum of energy. It is always clothed in an explicatory, justificatory discourse and it is this that endows the actor with an entity as a subject who feels, strives, submits himself to self-discipline and tells the tale of his doings and his risk. However, once the work is completed, it turns away from its creator to take its place in the world of objects (of objectivisation) and remain at the disposal of anyone who chooses or needs to use it. Among the users may be found producers of similar works and, as such, they are able to understand it, from within the realm of their activity, as a language game. Then again, there may be users who are not themselves producers and, as such, understand it as a system of signs, some coded better than others, or as a mere obstacle (enigma or drawback) to their own occupations or curiosity. Ultimately, we may say that an executed work does not say a thing. It is mute. Nonetheless, it occupies a place within a context, in accordance with which it sees itself as a potential decipherable text inasmuch as it facilitates or puts up resistance to the projections of entity and meaning which the users are capable of engineering as they stand before it in their respective situational circumstances. * Like everything else that surrounds us, pictures (drawings), do not say a thing. They merely respond, or reflect, or interact with the observer's conceivable uneasiness which is mirrored in his gaze and which they, the pictures, are able to assimilate. Things signify in accordance with their use and a picture (a drawing) allows of only one: that of letting itself be sailed, inhabited or caressed through the meaningful resonance occurring when the user projects upon it the feelings and explanations harboured and adjusted by his gaze. Though aware of this mechanism, the painter (the drawer, the sketcher) cannot control it and thus proposes refuges (worlds) which are more or less safe and comforting, for the purpose of housing and puzzling over the tentative projections to be made inevitably by social observers. (J.Seguí, "Catálogo de la exposición de pinturas de Uriel S.). * Architectural projects also signify in accordance with their use, which is similarly that of allowing themselves to be penetrated, with the resultant range of resonances and silences depending on the projections that the user, his attention guided by his experience, his culture and his interest, engineers on their web of signs. * The same thing happens with executed architecture; it is just that, in this case, it is always presented 6
as a context, as an inevitable, hindering framework where everyday affairs, the things that must be done to survive, must be sheltered, if such is not already the case. This peculiar feature of constructed architecture sets it irretrievably beyond the reach of anyone lacking the ability to produce it himself. This person is reduced to becoming a compulsory user, someone for whom the consolidated construction takes on the entity of a harsh, costly and unavoidable background, which provides or precludes the general comfort and ritual convenience of individual and social activities parcelled out into buildings all over the city. For ordinary users, those who are mere consumers of the building, constructed architecture becomes invisible as it melts into an unbroken line of expanses and enclosures set out in areas which are better or worse for their features and communications, more or less representative and costly; into more or less pleasant buildings which function for better or for worse, requiring more or less maintenance and permitting or preventing a better or worse conquest of obstacles. The purpose is to distribute in and among these places the goods and chattels which make ritual activities easier and complete the social image with which to receive one's visitors in the search for recognition. * Seen from this angle, works may have a meaning only when they are interrogated, by projecting onto them tentative hypotheses about categorised sets of meanings drawn from experience and upheld in the innermost halls of knowledgeableness shared by all cultures. Indeed they do have meaning, in so far as some of these categories can be attributed interpretationally to the object in question and accordingly may be built into a tentative, explicatory discourse on their entity and genesis. Naturally, the understanding of the object (its exegesis of meaning) will differ greatly for a person who is able to live the object as a language game. In this case, the projectable categories can go much further than ordinary classificatory conventions (clichĂŠs) such as convenience, representative recognition, kudos, style and taste. They may go so far as to reach the processes of anticipation and production which, of necessity, have had to prop the production of the object. * The verbal expression of things is a legitimate, widely used metaphorical figure. It does not, however, serve as an ontological principle on which to base their entity. Just as a child bumps into a table and thinks that it is the table that has hit him, it is usual to come across metaphors announcing that "night is threatening", or "dusk is whispering"; along with statements, somewhere between the metaphor and the description, saying, for instance, that "the slaves of Michelangelo quiver inside the blocks of Carrara", or that "Leonardo's Adoration of Kings reflects the torment of the impossibility of its integration as a picture", or that "Saint Sophia expresses the luminous balance of her constructed geometry". Metaphors are figures or patterns of knowledge and are valid as projections which, in resounding as descriptions of the feeling expressed, are clues for the understanding of objects. Nonetheless, they should never be attributed to things as component parts of their entity as they depend strictly on the projective and suggestive ability of the subject expressing them in a given communicative context. With constructivism, naturalistic mimesis, the long-standing principle of metaphysical realism, according to which nature shows man her rules and properties, turns into a descriptive invention, incited by the adaptive, transforming action (for the sake of doing, in Arendt's discourse) which leaves intact what is not transformed yet fails to cover entirely that which is transformed: the products of the action always prove inferior to the intentions devised prior to the doing and superior to their expected scope and are open to any interpretation. In other words, they are open to any discourse which, in a suggestive manner, descriptively incorporates the projections which the interpreter's ingenuity tries out as explanations in each case. The main mission of interpretations concerning things seems to be commotion and provocation with regard to others. Only when, because of their reciprocal interpretative spontaneity, they move the other to decisions of action (adaptive or transforming), built into his previously operational social interests, are they efficient.
Are manifestoes still possible? (02-09-97)
Contents - Hard and Soft. The New York meeting. - The continuity of the meetings. - The purpose of manifestoes. - The loneliness of the capitalist. Neoliberal boredom. - Proposals. * In the last fortnight of February 1997, an interdisciplinary encounter (architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry and dance) took place in New York, attended by about 30 specialists including myself. With the title of "Hard and Soft", the event was organised by Ana MarĂa de Torres, with the backing and cooperation of the Eighth Floor Gallery. The idea behind the title seemed to be a wish to reflect the crossroads at which the arts now find themselves. The encounter, which was held separately from the academic, institutional and corporate circuits to which many of us attending belonged, turned out to be vague, exquisite, formal, a kind of party where participants had the chance to meet one another and show everybody else the works by which they justified their survival. There was no confrontation, as if the participants knew beforehand that marginal disagreements prove unproductive; nor was there any mobilisation, as if everybody had accepted that things are as they should be or that there is no point in gathering together to upset them. Perhaps, in view of the circumstances surrounding the event and the status of some of the participants, the chances of any such mobilisation were remote. This, however, may not be said of the spirit or the willingness of the more restless participants, whence there came a constant hint for the need to discuss and unify positions so as to reach some kind of forceful statement. As the meeting came to an end, its relevance and possible continuity were still in the air, waiting for time to provide arguments for forgetting or rethinking the initiative. * My text is a contribution to the defence of continuing with these meetings. First of all, I shall branch off briefly to bring into the picture the tradition of manifestoes, together with their feasibility and meaning at the present time. I shall then explain the finer points of my stand. * Manifestoes are texts in which a public declaration of doctrines or intentions of general interest is made (Dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language). The nineteenth and twentieth centuries have witnessed a profusion of political and artistic manifestoes whose purpose was, in the name of social change, to disseminate critical and programmatic standpoints in opposition to the state of affairs. For Ulrich (Ulrich, Conrad. "Programas y manifiestos de la arquitectura del siglo XX". Barcelona, 1973), artistic manifestoes follow in the footsteps of those of a political nature and are born of various intentions, such as protest, insurrection, a declaration of revolution and provocation, along with more or less explicit commitments depending on the different programmatic (methodical) contents contained in them. In so far as manifestoes propose social changes, they assume the character of projects: they are prepared with the intention of expressing in reasonable terms the concern which constitutes their foundation and are distributed with the intention of spurring and mobilising others to join them in the achievement of their aims. In Spanish, the term "manifesto" is also used to refer to the customs document on which the origin and destination of the goods crossing a border are declared. * Manifestoes fuel the desire for social change, for harsh criticism of inequality, the longing for freedom, the need for noncompliance and transformation, attaining an optimum level of efficiency with the surge of criticism of industrial society. After this, the progressive post-industrial and postrevolutionary march towards the democratisation and globalisation of the market economy lessens the interest of "manifestations", which cease to be concerned with declarations of a generic nature to restrict themselves to playing the role of differentiating declarations: concise, easily identifiable 8
statements used on the markets of ideologies and consumer products as "publicity messages". This transformation constitutes the subject matter of the greater part of sociopolitical and economic analyses which nowadays are the reference point of all diagnoses of the present time. The manifesto has become a means of identifying a product, a clarification of positions when faced with a hurdle or a detectable need, a declaration of intentions with which to overcome a hurdle; in a word, an identifiable business project. * In a recent article, Gunter Grass (Grass, Gunter. "The loneliness of the capitalist". El PaĂs, 8.3.97) speaks of the politicoeconomic position of Germany at the time, although his observation is applicable to everywhere else. He describes the situation as follows: "I imagine capitalism as somebody who has been left in the lurch by destiny; a middle-aged gentleman, correctly dressed. Capitalism is seated; no, he is stuck to a stool. It is true that he is still feared and, it seems to me, hated, but nobody is willing to oppose him any more. Whatever he says, even the most inane nonsense, such as, for instance, his standard formula "everything is regulated by the market", becomes everyone's bible (...). A poor man, I say to myself, although I do not feel sorry for him, and I start to exploit him literarily. As a character in a novel, he is of no use. He lacks a conflictive, contradictory environment. He is too unequivocal". If we take this generic, non-contradictory situation as a starting point, what is the point of art and what might be the point of making manifestoes? Following Gunter Grass's metaphorical approach, we imagine the artist, also seated on a stool, showing things to the capitalist, taking scrupulous care that he is not offended (outraged) or made to feel uncomfortable by them, as it is upon this artifice that his stool hinges. The artist, amid other artists, knows that his survival depends on his docility and shrewdness in appearing more at ease and reasonable in the eyes of capital than his colleagues. He has to adapt but, at the same time, he must leave a distinguishing mark. He must find stimulation so as to be novel but he must conceal his rage in the search for novelties. In such a setting, he cannot make manifest the inner motives which trigger off his productive acts as they might seem to go against the evidence of capital. In the end, he identifies with the justificatory manifestations which he draws up for each occasion so as to win the trust of the bored consumer. He thus works his rage out of himself as he pours his energy into the efficiency of his systematised seduction strategy, i.e., marketing. In his article, Gunter Grass goes on to imagine the capitalist as the leading actor in a Beckettstyle play with just one actor and one act. In his irresoluteness, he feels nostalgia for an enemy, for some opposing social force to serve as a stimulus, and desperation sets in when he is unable to find anything at all to stir him. A similar thing happens to our artist as he recalls the times when art was a reference point and an incentive in the struggle against powerful enemies. These, the artist tried to outrage by presenting himself as an agent capable of mobilising susceptible social changes against certain situations to the benefit of others. Of course, our artist has always depended on powerful people to survive but perhaps, in previous times, neither the stools were so unequivocal nor those seated upon them were so bored. * Although the outlook for art is so devastating, one can still catch a glimpse of scopes where the manifesto seems possible. I speak now of the manifesto as a declaration when one wishes to cross borders. To approach this possibility, it is indispensable to understand art, not as occupational therapy or as a technique of consolation or the attainment of prestige, but as a set of disciplines geared towards the discovery and development of human organisational and significative capacities through configurative expression. Looking at art from this angle, we shall interpret the practice of any form of expressive manifestation as part of a wealth of stimulation systems, procedures for action and forms of signification-valuation, in constant progress towards extreme, borderline productions. As in science, these foreshadow the borders endowing the various specialities with a disciplinary meaning and mark out the stumbling blocks (eventualities) to be overcome. It is not easy to take up a position at borders. They are arid, unhospitable places and, in appearance, cannot be passed. Only at borders, however, is it possible to sense the company of others and be outside the scope of the system, with a feeling of indifference towards the tyranny of consumption. The exercise of taking up a position at the border is tough and exhausting. In the first place, 9
one has to conquer the place and, once freed of justificatory discourse, make tentative efforts at lucid noncompliance which might result in utter failure. The good thing about borders is that they arouse the cooperation of the borderers, changing justificatory habits for open, purposeful attitudes. * It is my belief that the New York meetings could make sense and therefore, be continued if they were to be organised like at-the-border seminars, like collective exercises in quest of the confines of the disciplines chosen. I am also of the understanding that, to prevent the subjects to be dealt with at the border from melting away into generalities, they should be specified and organised in such a way that each encounter produces a manifestation to disseminate the work done. Border subjects can only be generic, open, placeless issues, whilst being clearly outlined and responding to general interests. I understand these exercises as being the only ones through which to discourage the defensive formality of the participants, if their freedom is respected to use the results after mobilisation, in the sense that it be in the interests of each one on the consumer scenario. * I propose an encounter in the near future for the purpose of pinpointing (indicating) highcommitment border subjects and efficient work-group methods and, if the event is productive, to deal fearlessly with the different subjects selected, one after the other. I believe that maximum efficiency would be achieved for the meetings by putting the subjects to a number of specialists willing to explore the confines of their disciplines. The people involved would be informed in advance to enable the meetings to cover the display and discussion of the various works and, if possible, a mobilising contribution on the part of all participants. Each meeting should produce a conclusion, a border declaration about the subject matter in question. Were this proposal to go ahead, at least there can be no doubt as to the encounters proving exciting, even if spectacular results are not obtained every time.
Epistemological foundation in teaching architecture
EAAE Workshop 31. Reflections following the Monte Verita (Ascona) discussion.
The Monte Verita discussion has led to the deployment of a limited but significant mosaic of preoccupations with regard to the present state of understandig in architecture and in the university preparation of architects. Although there are other compromised postures, those presented are sufficiently concise to base the following considerations on: 1.- In the discussion, the different AEEA-EAAE member countries were not equally represented, nor was threre any obvious presence of "fashionable" professionals or the usual architecture critics. this evidence brings us to see that, although the restlessness with regard to the direction architecture is taking and its theoretical foundations may be a generalizable phenomenon, this is not the case for its acceptation as much as for its application with meaning, that is, as a job which is worth doing with significant expectations of transformation. This panorama could be due to the differnt cultural and social situations in which the architect's job is done around the world, which leads to environments where restlessness becomes no more than a mere recurring agitation that only announces an inevitable productive readjustment (there are places and groups where a awareness of crisis does not exist), compared with others, where up-to-date restlessness is experienced as a challenge for survival which leads one to consider necessary the foundation of a new professional characterization for the architect, which is competitive (useful and operative in a multi-cultural and open society), with theoretical bases and universal methods. 10
2.- All the communications presented, as is natural, enounce the difficulty involved in the epistemological foundation of the knowledge and skills called upon in the exercise of the architect's profession, in continuity with the gnosological studies and methodological essays that proliferated in the sixties, and they unanimously converge in underlining the inconvenience this difficulty represents when structuring good university teaching. Each communication, however, is articulated, isolating and emphasizing different critical considerations that outline an open list of unproductive conceptualizations and promising themes which try to indicate, in each case, lines of questioning and reflection that could be advantageous. As a result of my own experience, I consider isolation and a strict charaterization of these considerations more important than trying to artificilly force architectural knowledge (syncretic and poietic) within any modelization with a calculable structure1. 3.- Among the considerations put forward, I believe it is interesting to point out: -Those that verify the conceptualizing and systematizing weakness of the series of architectural treaties which can only be understood nowadays as a collection, within an historical framework, of reflections and discussions on criterium with regard to specific topics, specific exemplifications and ideal proposals, and it can not be sustained that the historical development of the treaties has meant any qualitative improvement in the theoretical foundations of architecture. This verification considers separating the established series of treaties from epistemological studies, until their observations and content, duely interpreted, can be integrated into some feasible gnosological conceptualization. Or put another way, the series of treaties must be understood, rather than as a theoretical reference, as an accumulation of descriptions, notional demarcations and declarations, awaiting an efficient thorization to categorize them." (2). Those that verify the difficulty of accomodating the professional teaching of architecture, historically dealt with in arts Academies and Polytechnics, in the present university structure, which seems to demand a conceptual coherence and a methodological strictness that are far from the gnosological heterogeneity of the disciplinary domains that appear vital in order to train architects. One makes an effort to deal with this difficulty, impulsively trying to reduce the traditional disciplinary fields (poietical, social and technical) to the folmalized structure of the sciences 111(3). Also verified is the difficulty reprsented by the use of the term architecture which, in its generic extent, refers to the whole of the construction, above and beyond any productive or stylistic specificity of the buildings. This circumstance stresses the need to reconsider the environment of architectural reflection from broader anthropological and ethnographical perspectivesiv.(4). The step to the foreground of construction in the understanding of architechture makes it inevitable to reconsider the nature and statute of architectural technology as a base and productive and economic co-condition of any appliance. besides, the progressive and unstoppable commercialization of components and constructive systems indicates the need for a rethinking of the understanding and conceptual consideration of these products, in such a way that they can be classified in operative frameworks to allow for suitable university learning of building along the lines of agile and rational management of the products offered on the market.v (5). -Another point of interest, which is linked and leads to the same previously mentioned preoccupations, but formulated through more generic reasoning, refers to the verification of the difficulty to articulate descriptive systems which can correctly and autonomously narrate the architectural production of buildings (the promotion, design, construction and use of these). This difficulty is verified aside from any need for formalization, rules or critique, and refers to the question of the possibility of "demarcation of a specific disciplinary environment" for architecture. In general, this consideration has led and leads us to seek and rehearse aprioristic narrative models inspired on analogous formulations brought from other disciplines. The recurring difficulty of these efforts is that they are not generally accompanied by the pertinent phenomenological contrast in order to rigorously establish the starting out analogiesvi. (6). -Finally, another environment of restlessness, or preoccupation, perhaps the most important, is articulated around the difficulty to theorize the practice of projecting, involved in the cultural lack of 11
conceptualizations and general references for categorizing and describing the complex operations involved in the configuration of constructible environments for social use. This vacuum is seen in the difficulty to relate projects, or to try to connect, within configurative, practical skills, the scientific, technical and humanistic (social) discourse of the disciplines architechture is framed in, or in trying to rationally order the learning of projective competence. It is presently an unsurmountable difficulty due to the fact that projective culture is very weak and is based on the evocative (symbolic) justification of architectural forms, without including any reference to the configurative operations involved in the critical discoursevii. (7). * It would seem a general desire of architectural specialists, for architecture, as a configurative skill with regard to socially utilizable environments, traditionally framed within a multiplicity of knowledge related to a whole range of circumstances and conditions which allow for the production, maintenance and use of the buildings, to continue being a syncretic, dialogic, multi-disciplinary and poietic activity, although we all find that this desire is faced with the difficulty establish recognizable, architectural competence in order to manage, with "disciplinary" and "professional" solvency, the architectural situations emerging in society. This is the most urgent challenge in the areas where university teaching prepares people for professional exercise, and it is a challenge which provokes preoccupation, in that the gnosological difficulties detected in theoretical reflection are easily eluded in the productive environments, the analysis of situations, on one hand, and the tentative search for proposals and the establishing of criteria, on the other, becoming fragmented in an interdisciplinary sense, in order to reach definitive solutions through the juxtaposition of configurations, whether well or badly systematized, due to dialogic decisions which are submitted to pragmatic principles of feasibility, without referentiation to any type of coherent theory. If architecture can be applied without the need to resort to more than archtectural efficiency and, in some cases, to formal rhetoric, articulated in the prestige of certain appearances or authors, then the urgency of theorization becomes relativized until it is reduced to a mere intellectual and educational preoccupation, although, on the gnosological level, the lack of thorization is seen as a sustained failure with regard to the understanding of an historical practice which has always given efficient answers to complex situations, although it has never been accurately known (with suitable conceptual scaffolding) how the knowledge involved has been and is habitually systhesized. I believe that the syncretic experience acumulated in architectural production, although it may lead to a growing dissatisfaction, allows one to deal, without anxiety, with the permanent challenge of the theorization of architecture, which must be seen as a sustained effort to continue the search for analogies between architectural practice and the well founded environments of learning, and to continue going deeper into the description and conceptualization of the nature of architectual products and of the activities and production processes, without restriction or prejudice, guided by the honesty of the search, the clarity of the facts and the freshness (sharpness) of the descriptions to be implemented. viii. (8). We are witnessing the end of superstructured systems, and the appearance of new paradigms can be foreseen which, although they may be incomplete or mutually incoherent, make up environments of a multi-disciplinary resonance which seem to point towards a more generic and more promising gnosology. * Since the studies we carried out in the Madrid School of Architecture, we have proposed, without fear of continued work on hard thorizations, the following environments of reflection: 1.- We find it promising and provocative to resort to Hermeneutical philosophy as an open framework in which to create a stimulating discourse on architecture, its production and its experimentation, although we believe that, in order to activate this approach, it is vital to go deeper into the phenomenological and procedural understanding of its genesis and social use.The Hermeneutical philosophies and the theories of interpretation and communication can be used nowadays as powerful references for marking out the boundries of architecture and its practice, although its gnosological dynamics do not allow for hard formalizations.ix.(9). 12
2.- Within the framework of the previously mentioned Hermeneutical interest, we believe that it is viltal to make an effort to understand architecture, related to construction, from the point of view of its founding anthropological nature, as a referential context and artificial technical framework of all socialized human activity. This field of study opens up research in various complementary directions. On one hand, towards the history of construction technique and productive organization and, on the other, towards the history of the categorization of the constructed amplitude, which should be understood as the empirical sediment of specific configurations for enclosing ritualized activities. This configurational perspective cannot be disconnected from the parallel consideration of social organization, this being its origen and its justification. We should finally carry out a rigorous study on the reinforcing or inhibiting influence of the environmental characteristics of space compared to individual and social activities, in order to understand constructed architecture as a social product to be used passively, as a framework or context for ritualized behviourx. (10). 3.- It also seems vital, within the Hermeneutical interest, to describe and conceptualize the processes of architectural projects, framing them within the theories of action, in order to render discreet and categorizethe causes, the plans for the search, the images, the schemes of action, the operations of tentative configuration and the forming of attentional criteria, which are used in the complex task of configurating unrealities. This study, which has met with many methodological and descriptive obstacles, is of great priority today if we are to articulate learning within the perspective of any efficient theorization.xi. (11). 4.- Lastly, as the previous fields of study are clarified, it will be possible to enter into the distinction between the semiotic dimension of architecture, articulted around its strict social use, and its dimension of "play on language", only possible within the professional work of the projectist, in permanent competition with other professionals, and within the didactic workshop, where the students find themselves in permanent dialogue with each other and with their teachers.xii. (12).
Theoretical consideration concerning architectural design and its basic teaching
INTRODUCTION I agree with all those who may think that, at this late point in time, it is rather foolish or even inappropriate trying to build a theory about the task of designing architecture, after the disturbing void caused in the seventies by the methodological studies inherited from rationalist and constructivist systematizations and the logical processing models of "cybernetics". Perhaps the very idea of theorizing the architectural project, or architecture itself, will be in vain, as no theory has ever been put forward according to the philosophical requirements of such a concept, although as Kruft (1) says, history is plagued by treatises and essays that may well be classified, at least, as theoretical reflections prompted by new behavioral or technical needs, and of course by idealistic, stylistic and ideological reasons in the midst of different cultures. * Nevertheless, as Kruft (2) also points out, it is impossible to think that architecture can be practised without certain convictions of a theoretical nature operating as terms of reference for the actors. 13
It is particularly absurd to think that the didactical activity can be taught without strong beliefs and theoretically supported conjectures. Maybe it is inappropriate pretending to develop a theory of the project, but it is inconceivable that a pedagogy of the project can be maintained without a firm theoretical counterpart which allows regulation and evaluation of the intensity and relevance of the teaching process. * Surely all teachers of design use theoretically supported convictions as references although in general these reflections are seldom made explicit, perhaps because of the lack of an adequate climate in the present university culture. In spite of all this, a number of recent studies have come to light which refer in some way to the theoretical reflection of architecture and the social and formal design activity. * The personal uneasiness that underlines these reflections is both professional and pedagogical, is based on experience, and is supported by a growing attention to the imaginary dynamics which today can be recognized as the instigating drive of any active process. Does it not seem acceptable that the crisis of proposals we are suffering from, is first of all a crisis of the imagination related to such circumstances as the personal and collective destiny, togetherness, and everyday reality? Is it not exciting to look at the crisis of modern architecture as a crisis of the images that impelled it? * The great discovery related to teaching of the architectural project has been verifying that without clear images to act as references and stimulants, it is impossible to stir up the wish to consciously transform the environment. Hence the need to reflect on the task of designing, placing the emphasis on the nature of the images involved in this proceeding. The aptness of these reflections will depend on their provocative capacity regarding the didactics of design and historical research. THEORETICAL REFLECTION -Theory is reasoned reflection derived from a comprehended experience. -Theory generalizes experience until it detaches itself and creates a new autonomous plan of concepts and arguments. -Theory and experience become parallel worlds connected by the weight and entity of certain concepts which permit the transition from one to the other. Only thus, from the relative autonomies of each world, can they mutually modify one another. -The worlds of theoretical reflection and experience cannot coincide bi-univocally; between them there are gaps of reciprocation or conflicts which are the incentive to modify the theory and to adjust the experience indefinitely. -Theory becomes the condition which enables the thought of the entity, referred to by both 14
experience and theory. -A basic theoretical reflection of the architectural task is the theoretical reflection of the project. -The theory of architecture must draw on the whole experience of architecture, which, naturally, must include the experience of designing. ARCHITECTURE-CONSTRUCTION-PROJECT -To build is the act of making buildings. A building is a technical artifact which supports or shelters human activity, whether individual or social. -A building is a constructed physical shell which determines or preserves voids, arranging them as molds in which it is possible to behave in a vital way. -A building is an ethical enclosure. * -Construction is the arrangement, disposition and union of certain elements according to the laws of stability, in order to express all variety of intentions. -Building construction is the act of constructing buildings. * -Architecture is the art, expertise or ability to conceive, design and construct buildings. -Architecture is a productive way of acting which elaborates images (models) of buildings, together with the criteria and guidelines for their construction, and furthermore, guiding and controlling the management and industrial processes producing a building as a utilizable object installed in the environment. -Architecture identifies itself with the objects it produces, which become the evident result of the architectural activity. -Buildings are architecture because they summarize and supplant the architectural activity, which is the unavoidable process of their production. -Buildings as autonomous objects are the basis for the understanding of architecture from a social, historical and productive perspective. -Constructed objects are conceived according to the customs, symbols and techniques of a certain time, to the extent that they shelter the human activity, located in a place at that time. -Every constructed object (or building) is of service to the degree in which it allows certain uses to be accommodated in it; it gives satisfaction to the degree in which it allows the projection of certain identities; and it is significant to the degree in which the mind is able, by interpretation, to understand its genesis and intention in relation to other buildings or forms of architecture. -Within the field of architectural activity, the project relates to and covers the phases of conception, creation and definition of the type of building to be constructed. -The project is, therefore, the main phase of the architectural work. It is the result of the professional task assumed by the architect. 15
DESIGNING -To design in architecture is the act of conceiving, which defines and summarizes a constructable model as a support and shelter for the human activity within the natural and social environment. -To design in architecture is to conceive of artifacts, which are to regulate and screen the contemplation of the environment and the vital behavior, which they are meant to shelter. -In the project, in any work of design, there is an intention to modify (alter) an existing situation. -The human being projects to the extent that he exists and exists to the extent that he projects (Heidegger). (3) -Designing is the way to plan the satisfaction of a desire (Portoghesi). (4) -Projecting is to weave a tenuous and clear web in order to clarify the mist of destiny (Argan). (5) -One never designs for, but in opposition to something or someone. Above all one designs in opposition to the resignation of the unforeseeable (Argan). (6) -One always designs in opposition to something so that it changes. The methodology of designing always has an ideological intention. One does not plan the victory, but the behavior that one intends to maintain in the fight (Argan). (7) -Projecting is the deliberate planning of the historical existence in opposition to something in order to change it. -Designing is, above all, deciding that one wants to change the environment. -Designing in architecture is to decide that one wants to change the artificial environment in a sense tinged with desire and reinforced by a certain social vision of the future. -The raw material of designing are the images which arouse the will to modify the environment in some way. * THE IMAGES -The attitude needed to design is the predisposition to act while thinking of the future. -The attitudes are operative when they arouse the will and the discipline to act. But for this arousement to take place it needs the collaboration of the images. -Images are persistencies of movement and feeling (Aristotle). (8) -Images have a dynamic (operative) component and another which is affectively sensible (Chateau). (9) -Mental images are molds of the imagination (Bergson). (10) -The significance associated to images is attached to their schematic (dynamic) components which are directed towards the objects (Bergson). (11) -Operations (actions) give birth to images and images need operations to progress (Chateau). (12) 16
-An image is, strictly speaking, a spatial representation, a guide or mold of the representation (Ferrater Mora). (13) -Images are experienced like memories of representative fragments associated within various dynamic and affective schemes (Ferrater Mora). (14) -Images are reactions to every state of the soul in response to the influence of things on the ego (Malebrache). (15) -An image oscillates at its birth between the possibility of a fantastic illusion and the deliberate construction of the symbol (Malrieu). (16). -An image always arises from an attitude of expectation, from the unfolding process preceding the action (Malrieu). (17) -The vital function of images is to arouse action. Images serve to trigger a reaction. -Once they have appeared, the images become diluted in the vital stream (fantasy) if they are not used for knowledge or action (if they do not manage to leave a trace of their vitality). -Every activity, therefore, is only made possible by an accompanying imaginary mode. In it's turn, every activity, in contrast to the images that make it possible, reinforces and modulates these images, specifying them according to their operative effectiveness. -All the activities induced by imagination generate intervening media which allow manipulation of the configuration of the experienced images and the acquisition of new images from the imaginary fantasy, between imagination and adaptation. The drawing is a particularly important medium, acting as a bridge. -We call â€˜active imageâ€™ the one that, already reinforced by an expressive medium, can be put to immediate active use. -As architecture is engaged in the production of artifacts to support and shelter human activity, the basic references of architectural images are those of constructed buildings, of the processes and forms of construction, of the created atmospheres inside and outside the natural and artificial environment, and of the understanding of the social rules of behavior, amongst the utensils and installations that support the behavioral activities. -The basic references of architecture produce imaginary potentialities which can be described as environmental, behavioral and social fantasies. -Architectural fantasies can be placed in imaginative systems which structure the existential personality. -From the point of view of their sensible side the basic references of architectural instances can be classified as visual, reflexive-verbal and contemplative. -The architectural visual instances, which are direct imaginary stimuli, can originate from the memory of a figure or situation (or things or environments), from the direct perception of printed representations and from manual production (graphic or plastic). -Visual instances are the most productive as they are directly manipulated by the drawing, which is the best medium to catch, condense and organize images and standards of action. -Reflexive-verbal architectural instances originate from intercommunication and reading. Although these instances can directly evoke images by themselves, when attached to social knowledge, they play the preponderant role in intellectually enlisting the images sparked off by the visual instances, besides anecdotically, critically, symbolically and conceptually accompanying and 17
establishing them. -Contemplative instances, which are profound stimuli, originate from fantasy and dreaming. These instances, especially full of affection, act as reinforcements as much for the visual instances as for the reflexive-verbal ones. Actually they could be treated as the indistinguishable sensible component of the images sparked off by any kind of instance. If they are distinguished here, it is to understand that with professional training they become phenomenologically specific. -From the kind of imaginary instances described above, we can state that architectural images are persistencies or representational schemes linked to the basic architectural references according to their modality. THE DRAWING -To draw is to mark the traces of the movement of the hands and body on a support. -A drawing is the result of an active process of movement, guided and controlled by visual thought. -A drawing is always the result of a process which is guided directly by interior images transmuted into active impulses of movement. -Yet in the case of copying, the initiative of the act of drawing never comes from the object, but from the immediate and active interior image, obtained through the simultaneous perception of the object and the graphic trace of the reproductive operation. -By its own nature, the drawing is linked as much to the representative figuration, as to the active (motive) schemes of drawing, described in the nature of the images. -Because of its nature, the drawing is the ultimate linking medium between the mental images and the graphical drawn objectivity. -It especially is the specific medium to manipulate and process visual images, or rather, visual components of any kind of imagination, including architectural imagination. -That the drawing plays this primordial role in the arts and crafts, has been repeatedly emphasized since the Renaissance. -The instrumental mediation of the drawing between architectural imagination and architecture remains firmly grounded from the moment that the conventional rules, which make the drawing represent definite objects, are established. -A drawing acts as the basic medium of the project because, on one hand, it shares the nature of the shaped mental images and, at the same time, it is capable of representing the formal material characteristics of the objects. -A drawing is an instrumental medium which modulates the images while externalizing them, and allows new images to enter the generic imaginary stream, to the extent that it is actively linked to the characteristics of the images. -Drawing is capable of establishing itself as a graphic language with specific codes of representation, to the extent that it is capable of representing formal and material characteristics of the objects. -The nature of a drawing, therefore, links images to objects, playing the role of the ultimate design medium. UNSPECIFIED DRAWING - ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING 18
-Drawing is founded on the organisation of traces of movement marked on a physical support. -Graphic configuration is the distribution and organisation of prints on a support, in relation to the characteristics of the support and the kind of gesture and figuration of the imprints. -Based on the nature of the graphic configuration, the graphic language establishes itself according to the multiplicity of meanings which can be, naturally or artificially, assigned to the processes leading to the various configurations and to the configurations themselves. -Throughout history, groups of formed conventions have been found which enable the graphic language to be used as a system in which it is possible to represent the formality of natural beings. -More specifically there are systems of conventions which are concrete and restrictive enough to enable a univocal representation of the technical formality of the artificial objects. -On the other hand, graphic language with weak systems of conventions is open to more diverse meanings. In this case the graphic language approaches and participates in the dynamic, affective and design characteristics of the most vague mental images. -There is a unspecified use of graphic language as an open language, and another technical use as a highly codified language. -Between these two extremes, graphic language allows any kind of linguistic (representative) use. -From the point of view of the cognoscitive intention of the use of graphic language, three attitudes can be distinguished. One which is exploratory and active. Another which is reproductive, descriptive and contemplative, and the last one being interpretative and actively explanatory. -These attitudes colour the imaginary competence of graphic language. -Consequently, drawing can be described as the technical mediation between the imagination and the contemplation/action. * -When graphic configuration is given an architectural meaning, we talk of architectural graphic language or the architectural drawing. -As graphic language rests on the configuration of traces of movement, the architectural drawing always allows itself to be used or understood, at the same time, in the conventional sense or representation and in the non-specific sense of evocations, giving rise to multiple possible meanings. -During the last few years it has become standard to distinguish two kinds of architectural drawings paying attention to the design intentions and to the use of conventions. -On the one hand there is the drawing which represents the architectural object. -On the other hand there is the conceptual drawing which is the generic way in which drawing is used to create and give concrete expression to a project. -There is an initial preparatory or exercise drawing previous to the design process itself: a) A mnemotechnical drawing fixing impressions or compilating sensations or formal memories. It is a drawing of representative expression or of testing the representations. b) -
Drawing of present configurations in search of formal references. This is a drawing of direct 19
representation guided by the aim to search for formal relations. c) A drawing of estrangement. This is a drawing guided by the intention to search for imaginary analogies in expressive and interpretative modalities. d) A fantastic or experimental drawing in search of imaginary references. This drawing is always interpretative and sparked off by ambiguous images. e) An analytical exercise drawing, guided by visual memory or by the need to contrast formal assumptions. It is representative-interpretative. -There is an active drawing that can be integrated into the design process of which it forms an operative part. a) An exploratory drawing concerning figure. In search of general images or deliberate impressions. b) A determinative exploratory drawing based on the anticipation of moving dynamics. It configurates the plan. c) A static situational drawing that tries to determine the mechanical and visual statics. It is a drawing that configurates the section. d) A formal compiling drawing that tries to synthesize the object being conceived. It is a drawing that configurates the general views. e) -
A drawing of verification. It configurates the visual perspective.
f) A communicative drawing which is the representation of the object in the various stages of the determination of the architectural object being elaborated. DESIGNING ARCHITECTURE -Designing architecture is to determine buildings to protect and shelter specific human activities in the environment. -Designing architecture, then, implies: -An architectural interpretation of the explicit requirements of the people who are to carry out activities in the building. (These requirements are functional, representative and economical). -To intentionally weigh the obstructive and symbolical impact in the environment (social and formal). -To define the construction of the artifact. -Designing architecture is the above mentioned in the area of the aggressive attitude of anticipating a future in opposition to something of the present. It is to react with imagination in the significant field of architecture. -There are never strict requirements, nor univocal references, nor strictly codified meanings for the architectural project. -The proposal or commission of the project always contains a certain degree of ambiguity or a lack or foresight equivalent to the degree in that the social circumstances in which the promoters find themselves, cannot be predicted. -Regarding the requirements that enter the commission of the project, designing is a kind of 20
knowledge by way of the determination of the building. From this point of view, to design is to look for hypotheses capable of organizing the requirements conceived as data in order to aggressively conceive constructed objects. -Designing is never the condensation of an analysis of the data. The data by themselves do not generate intentions to design nor vital images. -The architectural project is never the solution to a problem, because the requirements stemming from the commission are thematic, ideologic and historic. -The project is achieved when, testing various imaginative and operative hypotheses capable of an interpretative response to the requirements and initial circumstances, a coherent imaginary vision is obtained from the group of responses resulting from the various tested hypotheses. -The architectural project is always the answer to the conceptual field that ends up being defined in proportion as formed solutions that answer the initial requirements are found. The imaginary and significant clarity of the conceptual field where the architectural project is meaningful (this is also referred to as the architectural space) depends on the imaginary and significant radicalism of the alternative configurations found as possible answers to the requirements and initial conditions. -The architectural project is more than a simple answer to a number of building requirements. It is exactly this addition that detaches itself from the critical reaction generated by a multiplicity of possible responses. * DESIGN OPERATIONS -There is no architectural project without the design process. -The design process in architecture consists basically of generating architectural images, explaining them materially, placing them in harmony, modifying and summarizing them until the objectivity of a constructive model is reached, in relation to the meaning that the process itself reveals at every step. -The architectural images can only be made explicit through specific techniques which, furthermore, must be capable of modulating the imagination. -As mentioned before, the ultimate technique to make images explicit and to modulate them, is drawing, although there may be others (modelling...) which are all subsidiary to drawing. -Given that drawing is the ideal technique of architectural design, the design process can be described as a graphic process guided by instances, reasons, meanings and considerations of architectural value. -Basic design operations are those which consist of a graphical interpretation of images and architectural conditions, linked to specific instances and requirements. -The act of designing implies the ability to graphically interpret every imaginary instance and requirement, in a way that it relates to the others in order to prove its concordance or discordance. -The design process, based on the design operations, consists of the successive modificative testing of the design graphics until a configuration in tune with the meanings derived from the undertaken actions, is reached. -It is not possible to codify the design operations in a univocal manner, as the drawing holds a polysemic capacity very superior to the one the other languages may have. -As far as the design operations refer to the architectural images and its impetuses; to the 21
requirements with their possible significations; to the drawing with its capacity to evoke and modulate the configuration and the imagination; to the modifying attitudes involved in designing, they are commonly described in different linguistic codes, sometimes surprising or confusing. -At any rate, we call â€˜formal determinantsâ€™ those graphic configurations that, resulting from design operations, have the capacity to be interpreted as architectural schemes that can be measured and used like (total or partial) configurations of the object which is to be determined. * THE FORMAL ARCHITECTURAL DETERMINANTS -Formal architectural determinants are graphics that respond to the architectural imaginary instances which have reached the degree of representative schemes of the materiality of the possible building and which, consequently, can be measured and used as, total or partial, configurated projections of the possible solutions of the object to be designed. -The formal architectural determinants, already being representative schemes, share the evoking and defining capacity of the graphical form which, in both cases, supports their entity. -This is to say that the formal determinants base their character and capacity to conform on the graphical quality of their drawing and, consequently, on the strength with which the imaginary references that motivated them are manifested in the drawing. -In the end, the productivity of the formal determinants is a direct function of the operative and aggressive experience of the designer, which determines the meaning of the graphical schemes. -From the operative classification made of the architectural drawing follows the appointment of the different kinds of formal determinants empirically found in our observations of design processes. These are: 1Global forms of volumetry, situated in or related to their environment, directly representable in any graphical system. 2Dynamic organisational forms, global or partial, represented as distribution schemes or organisational orders in plan or section. 3Constructive structural organisational forms, global and partial, represented in geometrical schemes in plan and/or section. 4Static relational organisational forms represented as schemes of materialized elements in plan or section. 5Specific partial forms, related to parts that have to be included in the whole, represented in homologous systems with those of the other impetuses. 6Partial forms creating specific constructive elements or details which are intended to be included in the sought answer. 7Specific partial forms, related to parts which have to be included in the whole, represented in homologous systems with those of other impetuses. 8Forms of appearance of materials and constructive systems represented by textural and luminous symbols. -Every formal determinant, conceived as representation or symbol, has a specific capacity to condense architectural meanings. 22
-These meanings, associated with the formal determinants, according to their imaginary nature and their iconic entity, determine the argumented support used by any formal determinant to interact with the others in the dialogue of design. DESIGN PROCESSES A design process is conceived as the organized concatenation of design operations that lead to the attainment of building solutions and, therefore, to the project. -Design processes can be described and simulated from the observation of the graphical-critical behavior of the professionals. It is also possible to appeal to the reports and explicit illustrations in various writings. -Depending on the initial elements, the description of the process may be very diverse. -Observing the design components from the notion of the formal determinants as an isolated elaboration in the design process, the following description of this process can be made. -Keeping the previous refinement in mind, the design processes can be generally described as circular processes in which, from one or more formal determinants, others are developed, and compared to eachother, in such a way that in these dynamics some are used as references or contexts, others as contents or structures (which include adapting them to the previous ones), and others as valid forms which determine the process or indicate the adjustments which have to be made to the determinants or to the global process. -Throughout the processes, these operations are being opposed and superposed, forcing, if need be, the correction of the determinants and the partial processes, in a way that the end of the process reaches a coherent global meaning for the obtained product. When the determinants or the process are corrected, the meanings are also adjusted. -The previous description of the process is clear. An answer by means of a design is obtained when the formal determinants that enter the operation have reached such a representative development that the superposition of some forms with others is possible without ambiguities or significant displacements of the symbolic contents, which every determinant conveys, being produced. -From the examination of a multiplicity of processes, while keeping the foresaid point of view in mind, it is possible to state that: the most dramatic but, at the same time, the most productive processes are those starting from determinants which are radical, independent, and, often contradictory to each other. It also happens that the most linear processes are those which start from one single determinant, or from various ones that belong to the same imaginary and graphical family. -It can be stated that the use of determinants in the processes varies with the experience of the architects. It is also clear that the hierarchy made of them forms the basis of the professional styles. CONSTRUCTION AND ITS ARCHITECTURAL MEANING -Construction is conceived as the arrangement and disposition to which the component elements, already stated by agreement, are submitted, used to express all variety of intentions. -Building construction therefore has to be conceived as the arrangement and disposition to which the constructive elements and systems are adapted used to constitute a dwelling. -Construction implies, then, the existence of material elements and the possession of means to manipulate, to transform and to link them together (juxtaposition and anchorage) allowing the connection and co-ordination of the elements to form groups that fulfil the building requirements. 23
-To construct means to accumulate, to pile, to manufacture, to erect. To arrange the existing elements or to join them according to the rules of construction (stability and isolation of the environment). -Construction is, therefore, a productive technology capable of making buildings. Nowadays it is a complex technology inscribed in the field of industry in any location. -Nevertheless, construction as far as it refers to the building of existential dwellings, has an anthropological dimension that links it to the social uses of peoples, until it is incorporated in the common sense of the collective experience. -In this sense, some writers present construction as a basic technique that, when linked to dwelling, turns into the foundation of the ethical experience of existence. -From this point of view, to build would mean to construct dwellings in the environment, that is, to use construction to erect shelters destined to envelop moral habits. -Dwelling is, in any case, the end that presides all construction... To construct is not a means of dwelling... To construct is, in itself, to dwell... We do not dwell because we have built but we build and have built because we dwell... To construct is to compel dwelling. To realize the Being of the building is to build places by means of the aggregation of its spaces... Dwelling is the fundamental act of being... (Heidegger) (18) -This point of departure reveals the nature of construction, identified by the common sense to order materials for the essential project which is dwelling. -It has been possible to design without bearing construction as the technique of building in mind, although the advent of iron and concrete enables us to imagine any project with a certain working distance. -Insisting on the previous approach, it can be stated that construction is the basic imaginary reference of building (Construction conceived as a means to group and bind natural materials for an inhabitable end). -From this point of view it also remains clear that there must be a primary, elemental, reasonable and empirical level to be able to undertake the construction, apart from the economical depuration of the calculation. * PRODUCTIVE IMAGES -We used the term ‘formal determinants’ for certain graphics that originate from already architecturally coloured determinants, and that have reached the degree of global or partial representations related to the requirements or circumstances of the project. However, it happens that, occasionally, some of the determinants, materialized by the way they are represented, can be understood or meaningful in different ways compared to those in which they have been produced. -We call ‘productive images’ those which, by their impelling nature are capable of motivating the imaginary dynamics of design in a figurative and operative way. -The architectural productivity of images may depend on their own character but, in general, it depends on the emotional proximity and the significant potentiality that the impelling image has for every subject according to its individual position facing the project. -In this context, productive images are the catalyzers of the technique of a designer to stimulate him/herself. These images configurate the framework of the architectural tendencies, sensibility and 24
reactivity of every professional in every vital period.
LIMIT IMAGES AND SITUATIONS -The determinants are representative images, which can be processed... in relation to the architectural project that one seeks to determine. -In any case, the graphic formal determinants are elaborated images with architectural sense, that is, full of architectural meanings. -Depending on the graphical method that is employed, the determinants have different degrees of productivity during the process and of active imaginary mobility. -In general, the professional practice specializes the determinants until it groups them into families that express concrete architectural meanings, that obtain special denominations which are more or less spread throughout the craft of design. -When this special significance is obtained, it happens that the determinants filled with the most differential architectural contents (like symbols of concrete contents and intentions facing architecture), are differentiated as relatively independent operators in the design process. -This differential specialization, together with the imaginary nature of their graphic representation, make the determinants generate their own field of variability of configuration, linked to notions and concepts of the architectural culture. -Limit images are the extreme configurations that the determinants can reach, in any case, within their field of variability. -The limit images, by themselves, or operatively tinged with others, have the capacity to generate radical design proposals, and even opposite ones, as soon as they take confronting impelling images as their point of departure. -Limit situations are the fields of architectural signification that are reached after the attainment of one or more radical design solutions.
THE DANCE OF DEATH -Architecture is the socio-cultural and historical field in which building is framed. -Building is the productive field in which buildings, which are constructed shells that preserve voids destined for social use, are made. -Projects are the formal conjectures for the concrete conception of buildings in the field of architecture. -The project is the way to organize and determine the requirements and conditions of the building decisions in an architectural way. -The questions related to building are never strictly determined since the requirements manifested in the decision to build have an infinite amount of possible resolutions of a programmatic, functional, constructive and symbolic nature. -The building determinants, even when being existentially specific, are always ambiguous, imprecise and contradictory to a certain extent. 25
-The role of the project in this unavoidable panorama, is to clarify, specify and co-ordinate the imprecision of the requirements and conditions of the building decision, in a response with architectural sense. -To design is, as already stated, to anticipate organisational social situations that enable the exact determination of organisations which give an answer to the requirements and conditions, satisfying fantastic desires and generic symbols. -In this way, each concept will spark off an imaginary and operative process that occasionally will determine a configurated solution. -Each solved design process will produce an architectural conjecture, according to the significant coherence of the process that leads to the concretion of a model of the artifact. -When facing a building decision it is possible to find various answers or conjectures using different conceptual attitudes as starting points. -Only after analysing the configuration and symbolic concretion of the possible responses of a building decision, does it become possible to control the architectural scope of a project. -One always designs with passion and in opposition to something. But while we explore and calibrate the test of the design and the level and scope of the struggle undertaken in the project, the movements of the soul and the hand are themselves a ritual dance, ruled and measured by the intellect. -The dance of death is a symbol of designing and its metaphor... because designing, as a belligerent and compromising anticipation, has no other horizon or limit but the fantasy of death. -Every conjecture solved by means of design is a possible death, a differential death. -All together, the different design solutions make up the significant architectural space of a project. The limit solutions are the extreme positions of the dance, which prepares the moment and the field in which existence results in a profile. -The limit situations of design are the resonators which make a virtual space in every project where the project acquires its architectural meaning. -The conceptual drawing, which accompanies and summarizes the images and operations of design, is also a ritual dance ruled by the tragedy of the desire to reach the limit which is the desire to attain a form. -Drawing, in this sense, is identical to designing, and means taming images and fantasies of exaltation and defeat, of agitation and extreme quietness.
THE PROJECT WITHOUT DRAWING -There are great architects who have defended the project without drawing. Others, when explaining some of their projects, have omitted the references to the conceptual drawing (e.g. Loos, Wrigth, Sota etc.). However, no great architect has ceased to clarify that to design one goes through a mental process in which an advanced model of the work is made. -Maybe the evidence of an architectural thought without graphical conjectural intervals has to be accepted, which would be like a thought of definite shaped images, where the design operations are visualized without the need for exteriorizations of proof and control. But it is hard to accept that this thought can start spontaneously, without referring to an ample 26
experience of fixing and memorizing previous design operations linked to experienced and realized constructions.
* NOTAS BIBLIOGRAFICAS (1) H.W. Kruft, Storia delle teorie architettoniche. (2) H.W. Kruft, op. cit. (3) M. Heidegger, El ser y el tiempo. (4) P. Portoghesi, El terrotorio de la Arquitectura. (5) G.C. Argan, Proyecto y destino. (6) G.C. Argan, op. cit. (7) G.C. Argan, op. cit. (8) Aristotle, "De anima". Obras completas. (9) J. Chateau, Les sources de l'imaginaire. (10) H. Bergson, obras escogidas. (11) H. Bergson, La evolución creadora. (12) J. Chateau, op. cit. (13) F. Ferrater Mora, Diccionario de Filosofía. (14) J. Ferrater Mora, op. cit. (15) N. Malebrache, citado por L. Bridet, La theorie de la counartance dans la philosophie de Malebrache. (16) P. Malrieu, La construction de l'imaginaire. (17) P. Malrieu, op. cit. (18) M. Heidegger, op. cit.
I. Architectural envelopes Architecture and music produce enveloping, surrounding works and artworks that cannot be taken in at a glance. Furthermore, architectural works are silent and invisible while they are being used. To experience architecture means to feel surrounded by a fixed environment which does not hinder performance. This environment is both natural and man-made environment, it is the world itself, it is the wide outside where we walk and move, act and are quiet. In short, the place where one is himself as opposed to the rest. Given this evidence, we would like to embark on a multiple reflection about the architecture’s enveloping quality. This could be interesting to take a new approach to our understanding of architecture, drawing and architectural design. Also, it could be useful for teaching drawing in the first stages of architectural studies. II. The enveloping quality We are entities immersed in an environment, in some kind of surrounding totality. We stir within various envelopes, where we become performing entities which strive toward pleasure and away from pain.
We are surrounded by smells, silences, light and twilight, heat and air, as well as by words, stories, and habits. We are surrounded by settled things, buildings, towns, nature and the sky. We are surrounded by the others, as well as by beliefs, culture, politics, production and so forth. We are surrounded by memories, affections, duties, fears, and death. We are surrounded by all the things we struggle with and talk about. Whenever we can perceive that we are, i.e. that we stir, and we feel, we think, we suffer and we want, we are already inside some totality which makes this perception possible. The human being is an entity immersed in an environment, although he also contains an enclosed interior. This draws sustenance from the pressure of the outer shell and its correlate of passions. Even fantasies happen within dreams. These are produced in the inside and generate their own envelope, which demarcates its own limiting boundary within the confines of the first inside. This discourse arose from a collective reflection after some works had been commented, such as “Theory of World Views” (Wilhelm Dilthey) and “Eupalinos or The Architect” (Paul Valery). Here you will find close references to other authors, such as Jose Ricardo Morales (“Architectonics. The Concept and Meaning of Architecture”), Angel Gabilondo (“Suddenly, Another View bursts in”), Eugenio Trias (“Limits of the World”), Jose Luis Pardo (“Forms of Exteriority”) and a more distant relation to Arthur Schopenhauer, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein and others. We are envelopes. We are enclosures emerging from our own experience. Our shells provide a line of demarcation that shows the existence of the inside and the outside. We are surrounds, edges, framings, figures, limits. We are the limit at the borderline, we delimit, we figure, we enclose. The world is outside, but also inside, since the interior gets the reflections and restlessness of dealing with the outer world. Margarita de Luxan in “Architecture in Science-Fiction Literature” mentions a fantasy tale of a disturbing world. Its inhabitants are beings similar to people who live inside a huge and hollow shell. Its shape is probably spherical, although the name of the tale is “Ring World”. The structure has a sun-like star at its center and a set of rectangular shapes revolves around this sun. Hitting sunrays warm up the shell surface while the squares randomly cast shadows on it. In this cosmos, the residents continually move through, following the compulsive impulse of keeping as far as possible from the awful heat and light radiation. They walk right next to the shell because a strong centrifugal force pulls them against its skin. The residents appalled at the nature of their world desperately attempt to escape. They follow the alternate strips of shadow cast by the squares and they push on the shell’s surface with their bodies to make it burst. There is a physical highlight in this structure with a mysterious mountain facing the inner sun and involving a common challenge : climbing up its slopes means to get closer to the heat/light source and to bear the constant increase of the scorching temperature. Life in this cosmos is miserable and restless, obsessive and hectic. Nonetheless, someone full of passionate restlessness brings his/her sacrifice to the extreme from time to time and makes the ascent of the mountain. The aim is to find its open top and to dive through, flinging out to deep space, i.e. the unknown outside of the withstanding shell. This 1970’s tale shows and is based on a powerful image (a paradigm). Such image has been a reference in the history of thought when reflecting on the nature of human existence in the multiple situations where it has become apparent. A container, any container is an envelope which encloses and sets apart, an envelope which houses something and makes pressure on it. It can fill up and empty out due to something wrong in its entity as a shell. Shells let certain flows pass through or exchange with the outside. J. L. Pardo uses the image of the Danaides’ leaky vessel in his book “Forms of Exteriority”. This 28
myth was transmitted to Plato from the Orphic and Pythagorean tradition. Danaides were the 50 daughters of Danaus. They had to marry 50 cousins whom, at their father’s command, they murdered on their wedding night. Then, they were condemned to pour water into a leaky vessel or barrel which could never be filled up because water spilled out inexorably. The vessel with perforations that may be sealed is a strong metaphor of the body containing the soul. The body separates its content from the surrounding space, i.e., the outer world. Nevertheless, this can also be contained by some other indefinite container that only lets deduce its enveloping character at first. The leaky vessel is the forgetting soul, while its interior is the memory produced by soul. The vessel itself, i.e. the body, is the agent of oblivion, the memory spilling outside. We do not forget because we have a body : we have a body because we forget (J. L. Pardo). Time goes by in two different ways : either it withdraws into the body and forms the soul, or it unfolds outside and becomes spaciousness. This approach leads to the dipole analogy explaining interiority and exteriority. Interiority is memory, compressed time, stored sound and past experiences, reverberations constituting the human being. Exteriority stands for the rest, the unattainable things, the space, the world, the works, all that cannot be memorized. The body – the spilled memory – is settled between the inside and the outside. It is a lively and disturbing limit. As the leaky vessel, it acts as a separating filter, but also as an interface, since it mediates between its content and what the vessel begins and shapes outside, i.e. exteriority. The shell pores act as links. The afferent links, such as senses – sensitivity – and body states, conduct the outside inward. The efferent links conduct outward and pour the inside outward. These outlets are pure movements of the shell, actions which change the environment and integrate into it. Traditionally, the spilling outlets are speech, sight and body’s dynamicity, intensified by hand movements. The intake and release of air, heat, food and secretions are flows essential for the survival of the folded biological shell, but they do not reach the inside as container of memory, soul, consciousness and the being. The body is a fabric folded into itself. The intake and excretion of nutrients take place in cavities protected among its folds. These exchanges keep the fabric – the body – lively. Proxemics explores humankind’s perception and use of space. According to this field of study, living bodies move in radical exteriority. They develop activity patterns based on their sensations and perceptions to thrive, i.e. to survive, to adapt to the culture and to transform it. Edward T. Hall points out that man has established boundaries to mobility/perception. They are subtle spheres of different size for each culture. This size allows individuals to react or to adapt their sensomotoric functions to critical situations in relationships. Animal behavior is the same but lacks cultural rules. The spheres can be understood as an extension of the biological body, but also as a gradation of virtual envelopes (bubbles). Different types of reactions trigger when other outer entities pass through their skins. Hall indicates three main bubbles with categorized sizes for both animals and men : flight reactions, social interactions and intimate relationships. Sensory and cenesthetic functions combine to produce different attentional models and their corresponding activity patterns. Distance receptors, such as the eyes, the ears and the nose, and escape patterns are involved in flight reactions. These happen when attention isolates a threat mechanism getting closer up to the bubble boundaries. The threshold can be different according to the threat significance and the efficiency of the available patterns of escape. Distance receptors and communication (expression) patterns, which are determined in each social environment, are involved in social interactions. Hall develops an interesting observation : 29
patterns and permissible proximity to one another are very different in each culture. Passing through the skin of the social bullet produces worry and even distancing (escape). Immediate receptors (sense of touch, skin, mucous membranes) and patterns of physical (erotic/sexual) contact are involved in intimate interactions. Hall points out that the size of proxemic bullets changes according to the degree of sensory stimulation that, obviously, influence the possible movement patterns. For instance, the surrounding environment can be perceived as tougher owing to lack or excess of sound, heat and light. Proxemic research is based on the argument that live beings move and need to move. Their movement is only possible in the outer space, i.e. the spaciousness allocated by perception among objects and entities (radical exteriority). Movement is based on processes of survival and adaptation filtered by cultures: compelling needs, deliberate actions, defensive behaviors and so forth. In the case of human beings, language, i.e. narrativity is especially important, since it is the external/internalized tool to articulate perception and to shape thought. Hence, it determines the different enveloping worlds. To talk (to tell) is a way of spilling outside that happens when the barrel has reached maturity. Without speech, there would be no interiority or it would be impossible to give evidence of it. The metaphor of the barrel is useful when interiority is already made up, but it does not explain how the temporary container has been formed. Stories, i.e. socialized narrativity, are previous to any potential “barrel” for both popular and cognitive psychologies (Jerome S. Bruner). The speech is the first envelope of the restless body, the worldly space allowing and mediating such restlessness. Initially, the barrel – the body – moves irreparably exposed to exteriority and receives feedback in form of kinesthesis, active patterns and articulated sounds. These will be organized in consciousness, i.e. the inner speech resulting in “I say what I do”. For cognitive psychology, the first exteriority for cognitive psychology is culture, existing previously and superimposed on world objects and entities. It shapes the human life and mind, founds perception and gives meaning to actions and their underlying intentional systems. Culture is all that man does when converting his activity into physical and theoretical objects. Results are incorporated into previous systems, passed on from ancestors to descendants. They give meaning to communication and experience, to life with and among the others. It is very difficult to reflect on the formation of the barrel. It is usually easier to consider it already formed and working at full capacity. Then, interiority is full up with stories, habits, experiences, selves and meanings, and can be sealed with the guarantee that it will become memory or better, a memory source. The sealing must be only partial, though, since if afferences and efferences were completely sealed, the barrel would disappear. Interiority is a constituent feature of the barrel, its reverberation chamber. Bringing up within society is an interactive training and interiority is its remaining part. Sensory impressions (images), kinesthesis (activity patterns), and heard/told words and stories produce an intense accumulation of signs and substrates. These simply settle down and involve in virtual dynamics which lead to imprecise monologues and simulate arguments linked with the images and resounding patterns. The limiting boundary of such hotbed is consciousness, i.e. the inner sphere. This stifles some contents whereas structures another ones around a narrative root, the subject of the story (the subject as “self” – Paul Ricoeur, “History and Narrativity” –). Consciousness can channel reactions to improve self-expression and adaptation, to get new substrates, and to reshape its own contents once and again (reflective self-consciousness). The sphere of consciousness spilling out and collecting the feedback of this spillage gives 30
meaning both to the everyday outer world and to its narration. This is the reality principle for psychoanalysis. It is also a part of the inside which articulates and interacts with the everyday outer world through the body envelope. Finally, it is a sphere limiting another boundary within the inside, the place where the stifled contents are hidden. These only come up to the surface under special conditions of the whole. According to this conception, the barrel never fills up. Its interior is fragmented in levels of depth (interiority). It is never still but constantly filling, heaping up and compiling contents. Its outlets (pores) cannot externalize all what has been internalized. Ascetic experiences show the ability of the inside to become a void. There, the inner part becomes depth surrounded by ecstatic passion, where the temporary contents of memory dissolve into some kind of “shining and timeless sphericity”. The self-reflection consciousness has a narrative pole : the subject. As Eugenio Trias points out, the method path is stated around this pole when consciousness folds and becomes aware of its generic and indefinite expression. Such a soft expression needs the strain of a peculiar speech on what has been said. Then, new second- and third-level languages and other substrates conform the philosophical “method”. This avoids any first speech, which only will have a meaning later as a degradation of the third-level speech. The “method” is a process aware of its selfreflection. From its shaping entity, it seeks the limits of its expression and the limits of the understandable and implicational meaning of its outer experience. Ego, Cogito, Sum (I – self –, I think, I am). Ego is the subject of consciousness. Cogito is the speech about what is said. Sum is the implicational meaning of what ego says. This process is another envelope, since it demarcates another limit : whatever can be said about the speech with a meaning, i.e. the world limits. All that cannot be understandably said with a meaning stays beyond its confines. Philosophy is the set of arguments resulting from this activity. The method path seeks the limits of the conscious speech as ability to understand and propose, plowing through its models and conditions. Both consciousness and philosophical reflection are inner envelopes. Yet, their nature is different, since self-reflection takes place within the sphere of the consciousness becoming aware of its speech. The simple image of the container is then dismantled. Nonetheless, philosophical reflection can be understood as a special organization of consciousness. When consciousness reverberates, it transforms its original state while preserving a throbbing, tense and self-sufficient hollow within its inside. We have imagined the original container as a physical boundary. Sometimes, that hollow can push and squash the conscious contents against it. This nth-level hollowness expands and appears when the barrel has been sealed, providing that the sealing silences the inner speech. Therefore, the barrel is shaped by exterior pressure. This models the active spontaneity of the biological shell and contributes to create a throbbing, incessant and self-limiting inside. Another reflected envelopes are shaped, even remote and abyssal regions leading to an empty core where everything is dissolved. The biological shell stirs up spontaneously and its inside emerges as spilling passion. Then, different and spaced spheres are formed outside. The consciousness perceives them as outer regions which are demarcated by subtle envelopes. Such envelopes are reflections of both the shell and the divisions created by the inner speech. Envelopes are reverberations of the barrel’s interiority in the radical and spaced exteriority. As reflected and imaginary bubbles, they enclose different spheres of activity/perception related to specific states of the inside. Hence, envelopes are fictions of the inside expanding out, but also stabilized attempts of internalization. The exterior envelopes correspond to the outlines traced by interiority in the surroundings of the biological container. When this stirs, its inside fills up and its content spills out. The biological container performs generic actions and movements, such as looking, speaking and 31
handling. These are evidences of the restless shell. Interiority spills out and creates exteriority, i.e. envelopes, space, beginning and oblivion, the world itself. The wailing exteriority and the effects and reactions produced by the shell’s restlessness enter through the sensitive hands of the container, listening, sight, smell and cenesthesis. Echoes, images and engrams are organized narratively and form sequences, memory, and time. III. Movement Movement is the key feature of organic life. It is the patterned deformation of organisms and allows them to perform active conducts with view to survival. Movement is the essential property of organisms as existing entities. It is the only thing that living matter can do. Also, living organisms are what they are just because they move. What does not exist cannot move anything nor move itself. To move is to exist and to live. The nature of organic matter involves the change of shape, which is an indefinite conversion of its physical entity, i.e. its body. In the metaphor of the barrel, the limiting boundary, i.e. the shell generates the outside and differentiates it from the inside. The shell constantly alters its shape – it contorts – to keep vitality. The body’s movement is autopoiesis (“self-making”) producing imagery, setting up practice and activating interconnected brain activity. These elements and language mediation make experience, i.e. perception possible between virtuality (the inner world) and reality (the outer world). The importance of movement should be emphasized. The human body is an entity which only moves. While it goes to another place and changes the surrounding elements, it stimulates the brain activity. This develops and turns socialized men into the only beings using intelligent strategies to communicate and solve problems (Frank R. Wilson, “The Hand. How its use shapes the brain, language, and human culture”). As far as our metaphor is concerned, the leaky vessel – the body – acts as a limiting shell. Its spontaneous movement converges on efferent links, such as moving, handling, looking and speaking. Through them, the body creates its movement sphere in the outside, as well as the conditions to convert the reverberations – reflections – of its activity into inner elements. IV. The enveloping quality of plastic arts The body is the boundary between interiority and exteriority. However, it is a restless, lively and disturbing boundary. Its memory and its listening spill out in movements. Speaking, seeing, dancing and moving hands are the boundary movements which draw interiority and produce enveloping quality, hollowness, space, beginning, oblivion, the world. Words emit sounds which draw feelings and trigger reactions. Looks separate things from bodies, space out, keep away and warn. Hands generate spheres for spontaneity and produce spaciousness. Words create the envelope of language, the reverberating and musical space. Eyes create the envelope of distance, difference, arrangement of objects (light and darkness). Hands create the envelope of place, the virtual body. Speech, looks and gestures result in habits (habitat). These envelope the body in form of medium/space/place, first idleness, environment for care. Collective restlessness – where movement reverberates – appears later. It is a productive, social, political, collective and preexisting world. Ritualized restlessness in this world produces generic 32
envelopes, i.e. radical exteriority : music, plastic arts, architecture, cities. To listen means to fill the soul container or to let it be passed through. To see is to refuse, to emit light, to separate, to shape the unattainable or unachievable things. To move is to be enveloped, to generate the first envelope, to begin space. To draw means to record the figures of body and hand movements. A drawing is an enveloping world concentrated in a frame or setting. Hence, to understand a drawing means to let it expand and pull the body inside. To draw is to produce the exterior proximity. Sculpture can be understood as the convex concentration of concave hand actions. It is concentrated space enveloping working materials. Near external regions are difficult to see; they are too close so as to be noticed as unattainable and remote places. Drawings and scale models show concepts. They are active models of objects and routes. Architecture is the envelope par excellence. It is absolute exteriority, a world further than action but closer than the rest of worlds. Architecture refers to reverberation of limits. It is another body, the envelope of a collective – or better, social – soul. This is always invisible as enveloping body or hollowness. To look at architectural works means to withdraw and to get out of them. Architectural design is shaped in the short distance, i.e. the hands’ physical space. When the design becomes a building, architecture gets into an unattainable world. Architectural interiors, as any other interior, are unattainable and unimaginable. They are memory, invisible and crystallized time, echoing hollowness, as the interiors of an outer stone envelope – a motionless, or better, quiet body –. Furthermore, the inner light produced by passionate restlessness is offset by exterior light, where architectural and any other artwork shine and sparkle, appearing as arranged obstacles in exteriority. An envelope is the reverberation of a restless body with an inside. This element of philosophical reflection becomes an unavoidable fact. To be “well” enveloped, i.e. to be enveloped by peace or passion involves the correspondence between the externalizing restlessness of the soul/body and the echoes (not the view) of the envelope. “Singing” architectural works – as Eupalinos, the architect of Paul Valery’s dialogue, mentioned – are works that do not need to be seen any more because their reverberation is enough to enclose the observer inside. V. Précis
Speaking, looking and moving are features or functions of the same active system : the human body/being. In man, everything is movement-based interaction.
Movement is one specialization of basic restlessness. This is autopoietic, self-shaping and self-regulating. Pure movement is enactively controlled by neuronal mass in constant activity.
Movement is the rhythmic change of body parts. It is structured in different and interactive specific functions, such as going to another place, making gestures, handling, speaking and looking. Besides, there are automatic bodily functions and sequences, such as breathing, eating, drinking and eliminating waste products, reproductive functions – sexual intercourse – and purely hedonistic functions.
To move, to handle, to talk and to look mean to manage the surrounding spaciousness. They also mean to react to the natural and social environment in form of adaptation and transformation with specific goals. These form part of the global aim of preserving human race. 33
To move means to settle spaciousness. To handle means to change the immediate environment through hands. To speak is to flood the close environment with articulated sounds. To look is to scan both close and further environment in search of signifying configurations.
Meaning is born in communicative cultures as a feedback from things and from the others. This is provided after the output of modifying or adaptative actions, such as gestures, words, patterns and models.
Reality is the dialogically stabilized feedback of meanings.
Art materializes this feedback in form of sound envelopes. The projection of new meanings over them produces new feedbacks.
The enveloping quality is the capability of the natural, social and artistic environment to reflect meanings.
Movement produces virtual shells which concentrate in signs. These shells get enveloping quality when the movement is ritualized.
A picture has enveloping quality. This concentrates and materializes in a spatial dance determined by a kind of ritualized restlessness.
A sculpture has enveloping quality as well. It is an enveloping space generated by the sculptor’s movements that concentrate around the work.
Music and words flood as sounds. They are pure enveloping quality, as a place’s void which is felt as a place.
VI. Bibliographic references Bourdieu, Pierre. “La distinción. Criterios y bases sociales del gusto” (“Distinction. A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste”). Editorial Taurus, Madrid, 1988. Bruner, Jerome S. “Actos de significado. Más allá de la revolución cognitiva” (“Acts of meaning. Four Lectures on Mind and Culture”). Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 2002. De Luxán, Margarita. “La arquitectura en la literatura de ciencia ficción” (“Architecture in ScienceFiction Literature”) – unpublished PhD thesis defended at the UPM’s School of Architecture –. Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid – ETSAM –, Madrid, 1985. Dilthey, Wilhelm. “Teoría de las concepciones del mundo” (“Theory of World Views”). Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1988. Gabilondo, Ángel. “De repente, la irrupción de otro ver” (“Suddenly, Another View bursts in”) – unpublished lecture –. ETSAM, Madrid, 2002. Hall, Edward T. “La dimensión oculta” (“The Hidden Dimension”). Siglo XXI Editores, México, Ciudad de México, 1983. Heidegger, Martin. “Construir, habitar, pensar” (“Building, Dwelling, Thinking”). “Conferencias y artículos” (“Basic Writings”), p. 127-142. Ediciones del Serbal, Barcelona, 1994. Husserl, Edmund. “Investigaciones lógicas” (“Logical Investigations”). Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1985. Lledó, Emilio. “El epicureísmo” (“Epicurism”). Montesinos Editor, S.A., Barcelona, 1984. Mann, Thomas. “Viaje por mar con Don Quijote” (“Voyage with Don Quixote”). RqueR Editorial, Barcelona, 2005. 34
Morales, José Ricardo. “Arquitectónica. Sobre la idea y el sentido de la arquitectura” (“Architectonics. The Concept and Meaning of Architecture”). Biblioteca Nueva, Madrid, 1999. Moretti, Franco. “Atlas de la novela europea, 1800-1900” (“Atlas of the European Novel 18001900”). Trama Editorial, Madrid, 2005. Pardo, José Luis. “Las formas de la exterioridad” (“Forms of Exteriority”). Editorial Pre-Textos, Valencia, 1992. Ricoeur, Paul. “Historia y narratividad” (“History and Narrativity”). Ediciones Paidós, Barcelona, 1999. Schopenhauer, Arthur. “El mundo como voluntad y representación” (“The World as Will and Representation”). Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE) / Círculo de Lectores, Madrid, 2004. Seguí de la Riva, Javier. “Dibujo, Análisis e Ideación II. Curso 2002-2003. Memoria pedagógica” (“Architectural Drafting, Analysis and Ideation II. 2002/03 Annual Report”). Departamento de Ideación Gráfica Arquitectónica (DIGA) / Department of Graphic Ideation of Architecture. ETSAM, Madrid, 2003. Steiner, George. “La idea de Europa” (“The Idea of Europe”). Ediciones Siruela, Madrid, 2005. Steiner, George. “Lenguaje y silencio. Ensayos sobre la literatura, el lenguaje y lo inhumano” (“Language and Silence : Essays on Language, Literature, and the Inhuman”). Editorial Gedisa, Barcelona, 1982. Trías, Eugenio. “Lógica del Límite” (“Logic of the Limit”). Editorial Círculo de Lectores, S.A., Barcelona, 2003. Trías, Eugenio. “Los límites del mundo” (“Limits of the World”). Ediciones Destino, Barcelona, 2000. Valéry, Paul. “Eupalinos o el Arquitecto” (“Eupalinos or The Architect”). Colegio Oficial de Aparejadores y Arquitectos Técnicos de la Región de Murcia (COAATMU) / Professional Association of Technical Architects of Murcia, Murcia, 1982. Varela, Francisco J. “Conocer. Las ciencias cognitivas. Tendencias y perspectivas. Cartografía de las ideas actuales” (“Knowledge. Cognitive Sciences. Approaches and Trends. Mapping Current Concepts”). Editorial Gedisa, Barcelona, 1998. Wilson, Frank R. “La mano. De cómo su uso configura el cerebro, el lenguaje y la cultura humana” (“The Hand. How its use shapes the brain, language, and human culture”). Tusquets Editores, S.A., Barcelona, 2002. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”. Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1987. This document has been translated from a Spanish version. Translation : María J. Uzquiano and Emilia Pallado.
The reflex of mobility in Architecture. (2nd version) (oct 1998)
Digital edition of the Doctorate Studies in Architecture and Urbanism – Politechnical University of Madrid / University of Veracruz alapa, Veracruz (Mexico). October 1998. Introduction All the changes in our culture are organized through differentiation and verbal agreement, 35
sometimes conceptualization, of events and situations that are subsequently recognized and considered as stable and well-balanced domains in the terms defining their entity, so that any attempts to ponder on the imbalanced experiential processes shrouding any occurrence are hardly deemed extraordinary. In that sense, we understand experience as change, as transformation, whereas objectification means stoppage, artificial deadlock with the aim of discretizing and fixing such modification, simultaneously inducing the existential consciousness as a development heading for termination –death and the end of history-, even though the termination remains undefined in a constant commitment –the human race’s preservation through evolution-. The starting point of this essay is the continuously dynamic and ineffable change of “all”, considered as the atmosphere where culture, hence reflection, appears. From this perspective, singularity lies not specifically in the perception of dynamicity inherent to any production process, but above all in the recognition of crystallizations which, emerging from evanescent and imbalanced developments, give rise to still, dissected, finished and balanced products. Reflections Reflejar (to reflect) in Spanish means to make light, heat, sound or some elastic body move back or change direction when its movements collide with a smooth surface. It also means to show or make something clear and to express through something different. For its part, the substantive reflejo (reflection) indicates that something has been reflected (that is to say, has changed its trajectory or has revealed itself); both distinct senses differentiate reflection as open manifestation and spontaneous reactive result. In physiology, the name is applied to the involuntary – unconscious- response resulting from a stimulus. Time and movement Tiempo (time) is defined as the duration of things subject to change. Time is also each of the successive parts into which the execution of an action is divided –Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy of Language / Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (DRAE)-. Time (temporality) represents a central notion in the history of philosophy, which in turn plays a decisive role in metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, psychology and physics, which origins could perhaps be found in Aristotle’s reference to time as mobile image of eternity, resulting from his observation that time and movement are perceived jointly. Apart from the concept’s historical vicissitudes, we are rather interested in the perceptive identification between time and movement, course and change, which leads us to consider the fourth dimension as dynamicity, as movement, and as transformation. “Time is the criterion (the measure) of motion according to «before» and «after».” (Aristotle, “Physics”, Book IV, Part 2. “Complete works of Aristotle”, Spanish edition: “Aristóteles. Obras Completas”, Editorial Aguilar, Madrid, 1970). Reflection of mobility in architecture The analysis of mobility reflected in and by architecture entails mainly deliberating on the way movement is included and developed in projects and buildings, so as the manifestation of dynamicity handled in both architectural design and work can be examined subsequently. Regarding this matter, we understand dynamicity, on the one hand, as physical mobility of paraphernalia, users and construction processes, and on the other, as variability of configurative possibilities, as far as these attentional components are imagined, conjectured and attempted in project designing. 36
Any possibility of systematization is relinquished from the start, therefore the line of argument of this essay will be developed through successive thematic condensations, as an ensemble of thoughts that, by way of different reflections, will try to mark the evanescent contour of its scope. The plastic arts and mobility The use and expression of movement in plastic arts constitute a classic topic in art history and they are essential for the investigation of modal differentiation in various branches. Gotthold E. Lessing in “Laokoon” (“Laokoon: oder über die Grenzen der Malerei und Poesie”, Spanish edition: “Laocoonte”, traducción de Luis Casanovas, Sempere y Cía., Valencia, 1910) embarks on comparing painting and sculpture with literature and notices that the difference between both forms of expression is that plastic modalities can only represent an instant of a dynamic course of action in which the characters are immersed… “In the ever-changing nature, the painter cannot catch more than a unique instant; what is more, he can only catch a unique point of view” … “knowing that only the instant and point of view which leave the field clear for imagination are fecund.” (sic, op. cit., p. 30). However, he points out that literature lacks such restriction, because it can develop the successive vicissitudes and circumstances of any story in a linear and unlimited mode: “There is no reason compelling the poet to concentrate his/her picture on only one moment. He/she is at complete liberty to go back until the origin of actions described and to bring them to conclusion through all possible modifications, which would mean a totally different and finished work in each case for the painter. For the poet, this means only one stroke which, bound by the previous one and smoothed out by the following, loses its own value and reaches the best effect as a whole. ” (sic, op. cit., Chapter III, Paragraph 30). He also remarks that literature cannot refer to the illusory power of visual images although “the sphere of poetry is broader since it opens an infinite field to our imagination by means of its immaterial (not visual) images, which may subsist next to each other in greater number and variety without mutual degradation, as it would happen with the objects themselves or their signs (conventional images) in the narrow limits of space and time (in a picture or sculptural group).” – sic, op. cit., p. 69-. “Laokoon”, written in 1766, undertakes such comparison only from a representation point of view (mimesis), that is to say, from conventionalized description of socially well-known events, but it could be generalized to any other plastic expressive modality, since it shows the clues to understanding the imaginary and operative linguistic nature of stillness arts (architecture, sculpture and painting) opposite to movement arts (music, dance and literature) –Eugenio Trías, “Logic of the Limit” / “Lógica del Límite”, Ediciones Destino, Barcelona, 1991-; previously, Étienne Souriau had already differentiated between view and hearing arts in his book “The Correspondence of the Arts” / “La Correspondance des Arts”. We know nowadays that artworks are generated from attempts promoted by vague prompt images, which configuration is reached after successive approaches, as far as the work´s own active development determines progressively its concretion together with its artistic sense, experiential meaning and appraisal. We know likewise that spatial plastic languages (related to stillness or view arts) are structured by superimposition, in the same operating framework –material support- of tentative trying, made up of successive essays and corrections subjected to diverse impulses and attentional controls, until they become dense works, which final appearance dissimulates the temporal thickness involved in their genesis. Whereas temporal plastic languages (related to movement and hearing) are organized through the consecutive linear display of tentative episodes, linked together “by words, silences, revelations and details, resulting in a narrative scheme imposed on the reader, where all possible conceptual reservations for his/her part before the fact or story told are abolished.” (Mario Vargas Llosa, “Letters to a Young Novelist”, Spanish edition: “Cartas a un joven novelista”, 37
Editorial Ariel, Barcelona, 1997). If painting superimposes, literature deploys. Each stage of the former means a configurative succession matching at a formal level more and more precisely. Each stage of the latter means a discourse spreading beyond an initial core which ends up dissolving in the account. We can indeed state that the main function of painting has been –and it still is- to capture singular static situations, isolated from phenomenal reality undergoing constant change, through dynamics of painting –drawing-, pure movement over a supporting frame. The historical process of such undertaking has been marked out by the meeting of conventions able to symbolize the appearance of changeable things and the element of perhaps unwitting self-deception coming from our will to understand these conventions and singular circumstances, as a consequence of the clarified perception of the world which produces them. Nevertheless, it must be highlighted that, in accordance with Leonardo da Vinci and subsequently Medardo Rosso, there is a great difference between the representation of hard, edged and still objects, offering the chance of being touched and seen, and the construction of visuality applied to things which are not hard, are impossible to touch and are changeable because they hardly ever remain still or they are in perpetual movement. The limit of pictorial expression is the capture and configuration of objects impossible to be seen or even imagined (Javier Seguí de la Riva, “A drawing impossible to touch” / “El dibujo que no se puede tocar”, Expresión Gráfica Arquitectónica (EGA), No. 5, Pamplona, 1999). Drawing of things or scenes composed of still elements that can be touched and examined is the base for the strong conventions of visual perspective and descriptive geometry –which submits the representation to linear rules and strict proportions-; both have been understood as structural peculiarities of visual perception. As far as drawing of moving or diffuse things is concerned, it gives a start to the pictorial adventure of unavoidably choosing to repeat invented attempts with concatenated strokes that give rise to unusual configurations, which are successful when they awake our imagination (Lessing, op. cit., p. 70), regardless of their isomorphism with any other perceptive scheme. In his article entitled “Claris”, published in 1901, Rosso notes that nobody has been able to see the four legs of a horse in movement and, on his part, Jean Leymarie observes that nobody has been able to see the wind as Leonardo da Vinci or Rembrand have represented it (J. Seguí, op. cit.). It could be said that plastic arts evolution means the crossed history of two adventures: the invention of the eye and view, on the one hand, and the proposal of configurative condensations able to evoke the instant freezing of what is mobile and inconceivable, on the other. For centuries, the paradigm consisted of conjuring up frozen movement in conventional frames; nevertheless, from classical landscaping and Impressionism, passion increases and leads artists to embark on daring ventures like capturing water, light and other unique moments. Later on, they will try to invent representations for the alteration of things: the change of the observer’s position in Cubism, the pure design of mobile objects in Futurism and Radialism, until the search for mere dynamicity, the way Action Painting promotes. Plastic arts are the frozen reflection of witnessed dynamicity and reflect, by concealing, the actions of imagining and making through which they materialize. Mobility in architecture Trías presents architecture as a stillness art installed on the border since it gives figure, form and sense to the environment where events deploy meaningfully. It is an art of limits which develops in the limits. “Repose and movement constitute the physical, metaphysical and ontological fundamentals of what is usually called space and time. In stillness, space opens up like an instrument to give measure and size to apparent (occurring) things. Space for possible demonstration and renunciation. But the thing, within the constraining realm of its emergence, becomes apparent by 38
moving; and the time gives measure and size to that movement. Movement is withdrawn into space, like restricted to the boundary of pure possibility; space is assumed in movement, in some way cancelled out and preserved previous to its own and appropriate temporal or successive deployment” … “Architecture prepares the ground (any ground), straightens it up and provides it with solidity and strength as a place for stillness (at rest), releasing space as space (as spaciousness)” … “In Modernism’s architectural consciousness, architecture is the art of projecting space in space (in spaciousness) or determining it as space (formed, shaped space), rather than the art of building” … “From this conquest, space exposes what in this place at rest is prepared and provided: a scope of potential mobility and time consumption.” (Trías, op. cit., p. 102, 103). Architecture can be understood as an art which gives form to limits aimed at lodging and containing movements. “Architecture is putting in order. But what? Functions and objects. Occupying space with buildings and streets, creating containers (wrappers) to hold people and creating communications useful to carry them.” (Le Corbusier, “Talks with Students”, Spanish edition: “Mensaje a los Estudiantes de Arquitectura”, Ediciones Infinito, Buenos Aires, 1961). All historical definitions of architecture highlight the building aspects rather than its human and social sense –Vitruvius’ utilitas-, which is taken for granted in the majority of treatises, as a necessary but never sufficient condition for this art (see: “What’s Architecture?” / “¿Qué es arquitectura?”, different authors, Temas de Arquitectura y Urbanismo (TA), No. 201, 202 and 203, Madrid, 1976). Nonetheless, as Trías points out, from anthropology and modern architectural consciousness it is impossible to evade the fact that it is submitted to building and linked to symbolic and appearance-related norms, mainly directed to protect and surround human ritualized behaviors, to house events –providing with optimum spaciousness and environmental conditions-, dynamic series of everyday or institutional actions, previously anticipated. In this way, architecture becomes the limitation which prepares scopes in order to make movement and time consumption in them feasible (Trías, op. cit.). Any other erected material element will be an obstacle to the freedom of movements, but also a restriction determining tangentiality of potential mobility. A room will be an enclosure which preserves certain spaciousness, and it will be the condition of spaciousness ready for some events as well. In the first approach, architecture will reflect the possible dynamics in the provided rooms. In the second attempt, it will be understood as the reflection of social dynamics predicted for its relevance as architecture. We finally gain access to another level: designing architecture means, in addition, to serve the mobility of users and paraphernalia involved, so as the proposal and subsequent building would allow the development of situations justifying its realization within the commission’s social context. To design architecture is purely to delimit spaciousness preserved for certain movements, to fit situational changes in building scopes, to devise the changeable dynamicity of building’s appearance under the variations of natural environment –“the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light”, in Le Corbusier’s words-. Above all, project designing means to experience an unstoppable dance which finally produces envelope lines, configurations where such dance can flow freely and smoothly. Designing is founded on the dialogue between the drafted attempt and meaning projected over the sketch. This approximative and iterative procedure is based on the convenience of drawing and its capacity to bear meanings, facilitate simulations and promote modifications –other attempts-. This system allowing architects to work fluently is called “architectural space” by Philippe Boudon (“About Architectural Space: an Essay on Epistemology of Architecture” / “Sur l'espace architectural: essai d'épistémologie de l'architecture”, Éditions Dunod, Paris, 1971). Apparently, every graphic type or modality is not useful to every design operation. Once again, Leonardo’s contribution is definitive in this respect: when experimenting the imagined representation as a knowledge tool, he reveals that the use of projections (plans) is the most suitable way to distinguish mobility (as much in architecture as in anatomy or hydraulics), and the 39
use of cuts (sections) constitutes the strict means to understand the stable, relational and internal structure of things (either buildings or biological systems). He indicates likewise that bird’s-eye (axonometric) views are the best manner to depict any object as a whole and cut bird’s-eye views (axonometric drawings of sectioned objects) are the most convenient way to record the nature of an organ or a thing in full detail –he makes this observation with respect to certain anatomical drawings-. Lastly, he gives priority to visual perspective for describing and verifying the functioning of “sight” (Ludwig H. Heydenreich, “Leonardo da Vinci”. “Enciclopedia Universale dell’arte”, Vol. 8, Venice and Rome, 1958). Le Corbusier is more drastic when he says: “Everything is in the plan and section.” (Le Corbusier, op. cit.). In fact, plan drawings are the configurative modality permitting to think about dynamicity, “to see” the possible movements to which spaciousness is allocated. This is also the privileged tool for setting out and starting construction, the other dynamic process inherent to architecture (building production). Itineraries, actions and rituals are simulated by means of plans and the own purpose of the building may be justified or invalidated. “Shelters are made of customs, and customs cover all: words, jokes, gestures, actions” … “The physical objects and places –a piece of furniture, a bed, a room’s and a street’s corner- provide the scene, the location for customs, although it is the custom which protects it, and not the contrary.” (John Berger, “And our faces, my heart, brief as photos”, Spanish edition: “Y nuestros rostros, mi vida, breves como fotos”, Editorial Blume, Madrid, 1986). Project design is generally made from organizational types that link rooms together –spatial cells aimed at encapsulating standardized moral habits-. Dynamicity is evaded in the rooms in this course of action which, on the contrary, emphasizes the movements between them. “The quality of the internal circulation becomes the biological virtue of the work” … “Good architecture is «walked on» and «run across» both internally and externally. It is live architecture.” (Le Corbusier, op. cit.). In these processes, mobility is reduced to the consideration of certain exceptional dynamic moments, assuming that the rest of changes will be produced without a problem. However, it is also possible and advisable to use tentative trying in plan in order to include as many situational and active anticipations as possible in the work. José Antonio Corrales said once: “I dream of dealing with a project which would allow me to do nothing but draw the envelope –whatever it may be- corresponding to the string of activities and linked movements on which a house or any other building is based.” (included in Seguí de la Riva’s “Culture of the Architectural Project” / “La Cultura del Proyecto Arquitectónico”, Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid (ETSAM), Madrid, 1996). During the designing process, plans are the reflection of the social rituals’ dynamics assumed in them. Consequently, they will reflect the social dynamicity they potentially possess, together with the projective dynamicity which, like in case of a painting, is not but the thickness produced by the accumulation of attempts repeated in solving the problem. Section drawing is another design’s basic configurative modality, where it is possible to experiment the stability of building, but also the ecstasy, the future work’s potential of contemplation in stillness. Section expresses the scale, shows clearly the connections between the inside and the outside, and allows to foresee and deal with the feelings provoked by mere spaciousness. Each section is a plan of architectural experience. The environmental knowledge would result from consecutive succession of sections. Sections are the reflection of anticipated stillness in design and, consequently, reflect the criteria provided by the designer for the rests from continual mobility on which dwelling a building is based. Plan and section are complementary types of configurative experience, committed with the established utilitarian dynamicity and still moments of which living consists. There are no more graphic operating modalities useful to design apart from plan and section. Everything else is communicational consequence and complement. “Everything is in the plan and section. When you get through plans and sections to an entity which works, you must follow other 40
determinations. Façades will be beautiful if you have some ability to design” … “You will be a good architect when the façades are the expression of internal entity (its reflection).” –Le Corbusier, op. cit.-. The other graphic modalities are not “conception” tools, but instruments for the presentation and communication of an entity which only could be devised in plans and sections (Philippe Boudon, “The Scale of Scheme” / “L’Échelle du Schème”. “Images et imaginaires de l’architecture”, Éditions du Centre Georges Pompidou (CGP), Paris, 1974). The artistic dynamics Lessing used to consider artworks as mobilizers of some kind of imagination which should broaden or rebuild the represented events. Such presumption implies the communicative inexorability of any human production and funds the judging (aesthetic) nature of works of art. Anything realized with conventionalized signs reflects something, at least the conditions and vicissitudes of what is being related. At a later date, the fact that art expression is sometimes a determination inventing the reality, more than a description, and always the result of trials which solve the ultimate contents in their own configuration (Konrad Fiedler, “Writings on art”, Spanish edition: “Escritos sobre Arte”, Visor Libros, Madrid, 1991) is noticed. From then, the idea that artworks reflect above all their production process becomes gradually established: they state their authors’ executory dynamics, which may be understood as a frame of knowledge, beyond any narrative intention –the work is a proclamation rather than an account-. This stance justifies the development of an enormous variety of interpretative theories which at once become linked with hermeneutic philosophies, communication phenomenon and action analysis. “We know that the artist is the true and only author of his/her work. The identity between formed form (completed work) and forming form (planned and processed work) does not mean that one develops the other, but they cannot be differentiated. The artistic process may be interpreted as the progressive verification of this identity in the sense that it is only finished when the work becomes what it wanted. However, from the beginning, (the work) intends to be what has to result, if it results. The work to do is not but the work already done, if it is done when it is. This means that organic freedom of the critical process is the one which is projected in the intimacy of the own free artistic creation: the artist is determined by his/her work and he/she is doomed to failure if he/she does not obey its internal coherence.” (Luigi Pareyson, “Conversations on aesthetics”, Spanish edition: “Conversaciones de Estética”, Visor Libros, Madrid, 1988, p. 30). At present, we know that works reflect their executors’ operational and active dynamics; actually, they are a reflection superimposed on the narrative or useful peculiarities which works are required to let us see on account of their particular nature. “The artist proceeds by attempting, without knowledge of his/her final goal, but his/her attempts are not blind. They are directed by the same form that will arise from them through anticipation which, more than knowledge, is an activity carried out by the work itself even before existing, in the corrections and changes made by the artist. In this regard, the artistic process is as univocal as organic development, going from the seed to the ripe fruit; however, such univocity appears only post factum, when the artist is not a creator any more and he/she has become the spectator of his/her own work –after an eventful way of exposure to risk and failure until the last momentand he/she understands that it has been completed because he/she was able to find and follow the only manner in which it could be done.” (Pareyson, op. cit.). At first, architecture reflects both the mobility of actions and stillness anticipated in its limitative determination. But, on second look, it also reflects the assumptions, essays, rectifications and discoveries which constitute designing, showing itself as a static enigma of incessant dynamics of 41
actions, subsequent thoughts and successive corrections, leading to results that can be presented as achieved objectives. It is no easy to capture these reflections, since the practice of a critical and complex art called interpretation is required. “Interpretation is a specific frame of knowledge where, on the one hand, receptivity and activity are indispensable and, on the other, the cognoscible element is a form (a representation) and the cognoscente is a person. To interpret is to understand, to apprehend, to grasp, to penetrate.” (Pareyson, “Aesthetics: Theory of Formativity” / “Estetica: Teoria della Formatività”, Bompiani Editore, Milan, 1966). To interpret is to give reasons for the comprehension of a work as a consequence of its composition process (Seguí de la Riva, “Introduction to interpretation and analysis of the architectural form” / “Introducción a la interpretación y al análisis de la forma arquitectónica”. “La interpretación de la obra de arte”, Editorial Complutense, Madrid, 1996), which is done depending on the interpreter’s experience, venturing the possible stages and attempting explanatory performance dynamics able to provide information about it. Pareyson considers interpretation as the only way to understand, to assume the reflection of dynamicity involved in the work’s theme and execution: “Firstly, the work does not show beyond its interpretation; hence, both of them are identified in a sense and, at the same time, the work lives in its interpretation as its judge and its rule. The interpretation is not different from work, that is, it is neither a copy nor a reproduction intended to produce a substitute, nor an addition which the interpreter makes appear as something new and anecdotal. The interpretation of a work is the work itself, because the interpreter does not want to have a replica, but to grasp and to owe the work the way it is. The interpreter’s personality is not a distorting lens, but an organ to penetrate; in other words, the condition to identify the work with the interpretation which grasps it and makes it live as it wants to. Therefore, it refuses the hypothetical interpretations that in reality superimpose the person on the work without attaining it, without owing it.” (Pareyson, op. cit.). The aerial imagination There is no activity without prompt images playing the role of action promoters. However, imagination is not images, but their open and non-committal dynamics (imaginal thinking), their incessant mobility, on which all novelty is based. “An image that deserts its imaginary principle (dynamicity) and becomes fixed in one definitive form, takes on little by little all the characteristics of immediate perception” … “We could say that a stable and completely realized image clips the wings of the dreamy imagination which does not confine itself to any image and we could call imageless imagination” … “The imaginary exudes images, but appears as something which is always beyond.” (Gaston Bachelard, “Air and Dreams”, Spanish edition: “El aire y los sueños”, Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE), Mexico City, 1972). Even though Bachelard develops his phenomenological reflections having poetic work in mind, his discoveries can be extended to all artistic activity since, as we have observed, art making itself is an adventure founded on free mobility of creating, supported by imaginal thinking until the fixity corresponding to objectivity is reached. Bachelard separates aerial from figural and material imagination because he considers this vital modality a specific and privileged way of “seeing” and “living” to get the essence of dynamics. In his view, pure movement can only be found on the basis of active imagination, having the dreamlike aerial sense. And active imagination is only possible if we relinquish the representation forms after having overcome them as elementary stages of daily life. This idea is extreme. The imagination of movement is only possible after leaving the formal visual images behind. “The best way to relegate representations is erasure, so access can be given to an imagination which finds enjoyment in erasing, supporting itself without images.” (Bachelard, 42
op. cit.). He also points out that dynamic world is placed before the represented one, which becomes opaque with no help of reverie. “If the world were not firstly my daydream, my being would stay within its representations, slave to its immediate sensations. Deprived of the holidays of aerial reverie, I could not become aware of its representations.” (Bachelard, op. cit.). At this point we should recall Jean Baudrillard. In his provocative –although apocalypticdiagnosis of social phenomena, he reminds us that the inexorable identification between iconic representation and reality, with no gap for daydream, provokes simulation, the reality’s defeat of visual clichés and visual understanding, which finally destroys the experience of illusion (the imaginary) itself, overwhelmed by the comprehension of such simulation as integral reality (Jean Baudrillard, “The Perfect Crime”, Spanish edition: “El crimen perfecto”, Editorial Anagrama, Barcelona, 1966). How then can be movement processed to design architecture? How can the dynamic reflections, transported and brought to light by architecture, be attained? Bachelard notes that the first stage to process movement must be the instantaneousness of its will, its function. “The dynamic imagination goes ahead of the material one. The imagined movement, delayed, creates the earthly (material) being.” (Bachelard, op. cit.). In order to find the works’ dynamic reflections, he makes the following indication: “Firstly, the reverie, the admiration. Later the contemplation, that strange power of human soul able to revive daydreams, to start again, to rebuild its imaginary dynamic life, in spite of the incidents of sensitive existence.” (Bachelard, op. cit.). Spacing Some time ago, Jacques Derrida commented in Madrid that the so-called deconstruction is an exercise of inventing interstices –open spaces between and with the sound and sense of wordsby playing with arguments (Jacques Derrida, “Conference in Madrid” / “Conferencia en Madrid”, ETSAM, Madrid, 1997). “To space is to clear the woodland. To space is to create free places. To space contributes the location prepared, each time, by dwelling. In spacing, an occurrence speaks and hides at the same time. How does spacing happen? Does it not mean to locate, with its double signification of allowing and placing? First of all, the act of locating gives something. It allows to have something available, which, among other things, permits the appearance of present objects that unavoidably accompany human living. Secondly, to locate provides things with the possibility of affiliating with their own place and, from there, with the rest of the things” … “In the place, the gathering of things in their environment, in the sense of being received by giving free space, is verified” ... “We must learn to accept that things are the places and they do not belong to a specific place. The mutual implication of art and space has to be considered by means of the experience of place and environment.” –environment means free area- (Martin Heidegger, “Art and Space”, Spanish edition: “El arte y el espacio”, Servicio Editorial de la Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Urribertsitarea (UPV/EHU), Bilbao, 1990). Leaving apart the interpretation of these annotations, we can bind Heidegger’s comments to two of the authors mentioned above. With respect to Trías, architecture could be once more considered a border art which “exposes what for that place at rest is prepared and provided” (Trías, op. cit.). Could we say that architecture gives space, that it gives place? As far as Bachelard is concerned, spaciousness (environment) is the pure experience of free mobility contributed by aerial imagination. Would it be impossible to understand the limited or unlimited spaciousness without the real and daydreamed experience of radical mobility? Reflections are here reflected and even if we cannot justifiably claim that these persons talk about the same subject, we keenly would like to point out the mutual resonance of their reasoning in the 43
scope of this essay. A dynamic understanding of architecture and design In his doctoral thesis recently defended in the ETSAM, Antonio Juárez associated G. Robert le Ricolais’ work with Louis I. Kahn’s –both collaborated at the University of Pennsylvania- in order to highlight, among other things, their shared dynamic vision of structures and architecture (Antonio Juárez, “Continuity and discontinuity in Louis I. Kahn. Material, structure, space” / “Continuidad y discontinuidad en Louis I. Kahn. Material, estructura, espacio”, ETSAM, Madrid, 1998). Maybe a poet and a philosopher cannot have the same awareness of dynamicity like an engineer or an architect, but there is no doubt that the abovementioned persons understood mobility as founder of the technical thought and design practice. Le Ricolais openly manifests such concerns when he writes : “Our search partly consists of finding a fluid concept for shape, frequently involved with time entailing movement which presents forms as they appear in living organisms” (Le Ricolais, “Robert le Ricolais, 1894-1977 - Visions and Paradox”, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1996). He expresses his views on dynamicity in the following words: “Things lie and their images, too” … “Old Rome square will not be our forum any more, but a certain kind of nervous system allowing people to get in touch with each other and to carry out their activities in the shortest and quickest way possible” … “At present, when our movements accelerate more than population growth, our future objectives perhaps will not be the buildings’ structures, but the circulations’ structures.” (Le Ricolais, op. cit.). Once stressed the importance of dynamicity in design, Le Ricolais presents his particular vision of dealing with it, proposing typology as the mobility’s understanding scope. “Everything is a mere question of arrangement: electrons in physics, words in poetry; wild energies about to disappear if the prearranged connections are broken, can be found everywhere” … “Arrangement is structure” … “The notion of structure invades everything. If you will pardon the pleonasm, the structure of structures is even more important than structure itself” … “The tempting side of topology consists of its generality and the spectacular erosion of the detail: the art of connections reaches not only the strengths acting over structures, but the structures themselves and those of circulations, which constitutes the essential problem of architecture and urban life.” (Le Ricolais, “Structural Research, 1931-71”, Zodiac, No. 22, Milan, 1971). He probably shared such convictions with Kahn since they may be particularly appreciated in the latter. With respect to the dynamic (Bachelard’s aerial) imagination, Kahn notes: “The necessity is something concrete, an every-day matter. But desire is something more, it is the forerunner of a new need. It is what it has not been said yet, what has not been done yet. What motivates.” (Louis I. Kahn, “Silence and Light”, Architecture and Urbanism (A+U), No. 3, Tokyo, 1973). Furthermore, Kahn assigns the dynamic nature not only to architecture and design, but also to construction: “There exists an order in construction which brings with it an order in time. They are closely bound to each other. The order of structure explains the presence of the crane. This machine can lift twenty-five tons, so it should appear among the specifications of actual buildings, although it does not. The architect says: it is interesting, they are using a tower crane in my building, I can move things more rapidly this way. However, he does not realize that the crane is the real designer, that it can put a twenty-five tons piece on a similar one and create an impressive joint between them. The joint is not a question of minor importance” … “For this reason, the idea that joints creation is the origin of ornament comes to mind again. What can be erected as an only thing expresses finally the way a piece joins together with another one.” (Kahn, op. cit.). Regarding the dynamic way in which Kahn understands architecture and design, Juárez points 44
out: “Le Ricolais’ view on topology, as arrangement of form and not the form itself, may be explained either as a conceptual and non-dimensional pattern for interpreting the institution´s spirit to which the building is destined, or as a flexible spatial organization containing the program and capable of adapting to the building’s specific conditions. Le Ricolais decodes in such a way Kahn’s concept of form, explaining that this possible configuration for the work is open to diverse concrete formalizations. Topology as science of connections seems to have a very clear reflection in Kahn’s diagrams.” (Juárez, op. cit.). Later on, he recalls the sentence: “Architecture comes from the making of the room” –“room” used to express Heidegger’s Raum concept, applied to what has been made a place, “something which has been cleared or freed and has a boundary”, so it allows movement and can be typologically described. This statement introduces Anne Tyng’s attempt to explain Kahn’s designing process for the Adler house, based on the previous definition of places composing the project: “Kahn’s designing is usually interpreted as attempts to synthesize contingency and order. The image of a game of dice reflects the meaning of this expression in a graphic way. The starting point of the designing process consists in random position of dice on the game board. Endless adjustments will try to rescue the pieces of their arbitrary formal contingency. A final situation related to necessity is searched for, as if the work created its own need of existence. The random position of dice thrown on the table is never sufficient. Interminable plays follow one another in a painful process, giving rise to a number of unpredictable random images. New adjustments will try to find an order again, a gradual integration, as if the order so frequently alluded to by Kahn required the existence of an unknown factor unavailable from the start. A secret presence of what cannot be foreseen.” (Juárez, op. cit.). Let us suppose now that dice are limited scopes of activity (rooms) to be attempted –typologically understood-, and that movements imply anticipations, as well as essays to arrange and formulate possible building systems, so as to reach an open design procedure, submitted to the making’s dynamics and arbitrated by the constant account of the movements and situations that architecture must cover. How are works reflected? From an anthropological and communicative point of view, any work, considered either a language game, or a configuration of conventional signs, or a mere objectual obstacle to behavior and perception, acquires full sense when used and has meaning as far as such usage is included (verbalized) in social and communicable discourse (Baudrillard, “The Ideological Genesis of Needs”, Spanish edition: “La génesis ideológica de las necesidades”, Editorial Anagrama, Barcelona, 1976; Francisco Sánchez Pérez, “The Liturgy of Space” / “La liturgia del espacio”, Editorial Nerea, Madrid, 1990). We should remember that explaining a usage equals interpreting. Drawings, like projects, are scopes of use. Architecture, too. If we look at action theories and phenomenological reflections bound to poetic and technical activity (Fiedler, Pareyson), the composition of any work can only be explained through the mobilization and waste of an enormous quantum of triggering energy in form of a wish to gain recognition, besides inconformity, management of feelings, dynamic imagination, instrumental skills, provisional criteria, trends, activity, responsibility and risk that any author experiences as a commitment facing the collectivity and, at the same time, as a constituent of his/her identity and destiny. This process of waste is only admissible if rewarded by the acknowledgement of the others and inevitably produces the rebalancing necessity of being integrated in an immediate discourse which justifies it and completes the disturbing arbitrariness inherent to any making. As Hannah Arendt says: “Without words, the action loses its actor and this one, the agent, only appears as possible as far as he/she is, at the same time, the one who acts and says with words that he/she is an actor, announcing what he/she has done and is trying to do.” (Hannah Arendt, “From history to action” / “De la historia a la acción”, Editorial Paidos, Barcelona, 1995). Another Arendt’s remark to reinforce this post-factum explanation is the following one: “Action processes are not only essential, but also irreversible. No author or maker can annul or destroy 45
what has been done. Before the things irreversibly done, the only redemption is founded in the others’ capacity to forgive and the actors’ faculty to make promises”. Both processes are articulated in the actor’s discourse regarding his/her actions, where his/her effort –in terms of consumed energy- and self-justification are incorporated. The completion of a work requires a specific quantum of energy and always refers to a justificatory and explanatory discourse which gives entity to the actor as a subject who feels, exerts himself or herself, has self-discipline and relates his/her task and assumed risks. Nevertheless, once the work is finished, it detaches itself from the agent and takes its own place in the objects’ (objectivations’) world, being at disposal of those who have the option or need to use it. The author’s justification is not relevant to the work any more. There may exist producers of similar works among users; from their range of activity, they can understand it as a language game. But there can also be non-producers who consider it a sign system –better or worse codified-, or a mere obstacle (enigma or problem) to their own curiosity or activities. At the extreme, we can say that a completed work does not express anything. It is mute. But it occupies a place in a context and, within this role, it proposes itself as a text that can be deciphered, since it facilitates or hinders the projections of entity and sense on the users’ part, according to their ability and circumstances. The entity projections which provoke resonance are the works’ reflections. “Paintings (drawings), like the rest of things around us, do not say anything. They only respond, reflect or interact with the observer’s uneasiness of mind which, coupled with his/her regard, they can hold. Things have meaning according to their use and a painting (a drawing) only admits one: to be sailed, inhabited or caressed through the resonance of meanings appearing when its user (the observer) projects from his/her regard feelings and explanations of it. The painter (the draftsman or draftswoman) knows this mechanism but he/she has no control of it. Consequently, he/she proposes shelters (worlds) more or less safe and comforting, directed to house and problematize the tentative projections that social observers will inevitably make.” (Seguí de la Riva, “Uriel Seguí - Paintings” / “Uriel Seguí - Pinturas”, Madrid, 1996). Architectural projects have a meaning arisen from their use as well, which is always to be penetrated reflecting diverse echoes or silences, following the projections articulated on its scheme by the user, attentionally guided by his/her experience, culture and interest. This happens with realized architecture too, although it is rather presented as a context, as an unavoidable hindering frame where everyday life, the routine things necessary to survive, has to or already is held. Such peculiarity of built works establishes a clear distinction between producers and users. People unable to product architecture are compulsorily reduced to recipients of a hard, costly and inevitable background, permitting or hindering the general comfort and ritual arrangement of the individual and social activities fitted into buildings throughout the city. For common users or consumers, realized architecture becomes invisible, merged into a continuum of spaciousness and enclosures distributed in areas better or worse characterized or communicated, more or less representative or expensive, in nicer or less nice buildings, working better or worse, requiring more or less maintenance and allowing or hindering a better or worse settlement of obstacles, so as the paraphernalia and other objects which make the ritual mobility easier and complete the social image intended for visitors –looking for their acknowledgement-, may be arranged in and among them. From this perspective, works can only reflect something when questioned, projecting and 46
attempting hypotheses of categorized ensembles of meanings, experiencially prepared and supported by the knowledge shared inside cultures; they do because some of these categories can be attributed interpretatively to the object in question, provided that they can be integrated in an essay of explicative discourse about its identity and genesis. Of course, the object’s comprehension (exegesis of its meaning) would be totally different for the person capable of living it as a language game, since projectable categories can extend much beyond than common classificatory conventions (clichés) –arrangement, representative recognition, prestige, style, taste-, as far as reaching the dynamic processes of anticipation and production that the work’s composition necessarily involved. Returning to Baudrillard, we should not be surprised at the understanding of architectural production as opaque objects, without reflections, as hermetic entities, fatal and inescapable forms of an existing social reality, regardless of any process or dynamicity. Only experts, authors or the curious can find in works the reflections of dynamicity which founds them. Final reflection May someone believe nowadays that it is possible to teach architectural design without trying to penetrate the dynamic bowels of its inhabitable essence, without bordering on the informal nature of aerial imagination and, perhaps, without paying attention nor discriminating the graphic modalities allowing to explore the movemental and, at the same time, stable and symbolic organization of architecture? This is the challenge for our schools of architecture. Bibliographic references Arendt, Hannah, “De la historia a la acción”, Editorial Paidos, Barcelona, 1995. Aristotle, “Aristóteles. Obras Completas”, Editorial Aguilar, Madrid, 1970. Bachelard, Gaston, “El aire y los sueños”, Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE), Mexico City, 1972. Baudrillard, Jean, “Cultura y simulacro”, Editorial Kayros, Barcelona, 1978. Baudrillard, Jean, “El crimen perfecto”, Editorial Anagrama, Barcelona, 1996. Baudrillard, Jean, “La génesis ideológica de las necesidades”, Editorial Anagrama, Barcelona, 1976. Berger, John, “Y nuestros rostros, mi vida, breves como fotos”, Editorial Blume, Madrid, 1986. Boudon, Philippe, “L’Échelle du Schème”. “Images et imaginaires de l’architecture”, Éditions du Centre Georges Pompidou (CGP), Paris, 1974. Boudon, Philippe, “Sur l'espace architectural: essai d'épistémologie de l'architecture”, Éditions Dunod, Paris, 1971. Derrida, Jacques, “Conferencia en Madrid” (unpublished), Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid (ETSAM), Madrid, 1997. Different authors, “¿Qué es arquitectura?”, Temas de Arquitectura y Urbanismo (TA) –magazine-, No. 201, 202 and 203, Madrid, 1976. Ferrater Mora, Josep, “Diccionario de Filosofía”, Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1995. Fiedler, Konrad, “Escritos sobre Arte”, Visor Libros, Madrid, 1991. Heidegger, Martin, “El arte y el espacio”, Servicio Editorial de la Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Urribertsitarea (UPV/EHU), Bilbao, 1990. Heydenreich, Ludwig H., “Leonardo da Vinci”. “Enciclopedia Universale dell’arte”, Vol. 8, Venice 47
and Rome, 1958. Juárez, Antonio “Continuidad y discontinuidad en Louis I. Kahn. Material, estructura, espacio” (unpublished PhD thesis), ETSAM, Madrid, 1998. Kahn, Louis I., “Silence and Light”, Architecture and Urbanism (A+U) –magazine-, No. 3, Tokyo, 1973. Le Corbusier, “Mensaje a los Estudiantes de Arquitectura”, Ediciones Infinito, Buenos Aires, 1961. Le Ricolais, “Structural Research, 1931-71”, Zodiac (magazine), No. 22, Milan, 1971. Le Ricolais, G. Robert, “Robert le Ricolais, 1894-1977 - Visions and Paradox” (exhibition catalogue), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1996. Lessing, Gotthold E., “Laocoonte”, traducción de “Laokoon: oder über die Grenzen der Malerei und Poesie” de Luis Casanovas. Sempere y Cía., Valencia, 1910. Pareyson, Luigi, “Conversaciones de Estética”, Visor Libros, Madrid, 1988. Pareyson, Luigi, “Estetica: Teoria della Formatività”, Bompiani Editore, Milano, 1966. Sánchez Pérez, Francisco, “La liturgia del espacio”, Editorial Nerea, Madrid, 1990. Seguí de la Riva, Javier, “El dibujo que no se puede tocar”, Expresión Gráfica Arquitectónica (EGA) –magazine-, No. 5, Pamplona, 1999. Seguí de la Riva, Javier, “Introducción a la interpretación y al análisis de la forma arquitectónica”. “La interpretación de la obra de arte”, Editorial Complutense, Madrid, 1996. Seguí de la Riva, Javier, “La Cultura del Proyecto Arquitectónico” (monograph), ETSAM, Madrid, 1986. Seguí de la Riva, Javier, “Uriel Seguí - Pinturas” (exhibition catalogue), Madrid, 1996. Trías, Eugenio, “Lógica del Límite”, Ediciones Destino, Barcelona, 1991. Vargas Llosa, Mario, “Cartas a un joven novelista”, Editorial Ariel, Barcelona, 1997.
This document has been translated from a Spanish version. Translation: María J. Uzquiano and Emilia Pallado.
Building, architecture, the teaching of architecture, modelling and drawing (08-03-07)
Building In this article, we shall take the term building to mean the industry which, based on construction, erects artefacts for habitation or similar uses by social groups. Building is a productive industry. A building is a product of that industry, an object created to accommodate human activity. To build is to construct edifices. And to build is to organize the act of residing, of inhabitancy, which is to remain in one place, and to care for it (1).
Architecture Architecture is the art of designing and managing the construction of buildings (2). 48
Architecture is skill, know-how; an activity that is inextricably linked to the planning and construction of buildings. Architecture, therefore, is present in buildings as a record of the design (anticipation) and construction processes. Architecture is the background of architectural (organizational) skills in the building. To refer to a building as architecture is a use of metonymy that names the process implied by the final product. In cultural tradition, distinction between “good” and “bad” (i.e. valuable and worthless) architecture still persists. Such discrimination amounts to distinguishing between works that bear or do not bear praiseworthy skills, which are “reflected” in their figurative – harmonic or proportional – features. The endeavor to show and characterize these features results in theoretical (aesthetic and artistic) exploration of historic buildings, which is always an ideologically limited exercise. At the present time, some people argue the presence of architecture in all that is built (3), while other people maintain that the only architecture is good architecture: architecture would only exist in buildings showing some distinctive features that must be preserved because they are highly valued in their respective cultures. * Architecture is a practice socially recognized. Hence, it is not only a skill, but also an undertaking, a concern and a wish to produce artefacts worthy of being acknowledged by the emissaries of “good” architecture. Nowadays, as N. Clear (4) remarks, “architecture is not the building, nor is it what architects do, but rather what makes us ask ourselves, what is architecture? Architecture is a place of exchange and experiments centered on buildings”. * Seeing or not seeing architecture At the heart of these commentaries, “seeing” architecture means appreciating buildings with awareness of the fact that they have been produced under the direction of a particular person, as a response to a demand, within a historical/industrial context. “Seeing” architecture means understanding each building as a material configuration with a deliberate shape. In other words, the building has been designed and built with architectural awareness under specific circumstances (5). * In the current globalized world, building is a multinational trade that provides objects which are manufactured with diverse components (many of them are patented) on the basis of a demand that quashes architectonic contents (the object’s “value”). Individual authorship in design and direction becomes impossible (perhaps this has always been the case), as well as in construction management. The indefinite progress of property development results in huge built-up urban areas around old towns with no more capacity (Koolhaas’ generic city). This makes architecture in general invisible, independent architecture –i.e. architecture as individual undertaking – unfeasible and destroys the criteria for training professionals who do not know what kind of polyphonic role they can play in the intertextual dynamics of globalized production. Nowadays anything goes, on condition that it can be fitted into the enormous exquisite corpse of our universalized mercantile civilization in constant expansion. We shall explain these points in different sections: 1. Architecture becomes invisible. We know that vision is a mental phenomenon that emerges from the collaboration of the whole body and the brain (6). Amongst other things, seeing depends on having experienced a variety of vital situations and on being in the habit of discriminating within diverse contexts, that is to say, on the basis of the use of reason, of having words at our disposition to describe what is distinguished in the looking. It is impossible to dissociate the object from its historically changing contextual background without an appropriate speech. But “seeing” an artefact is also having the feeling that it has been produced (built) in a 49
distinctive manner. When objects are “seen” as figures without production, their artistic (poetic) and technical qualities become invisible and meaningless. “Seeing” also means confronting what we are examining. As T. Mann says, all that envelops us, what surrounds us and does not allow confrontation becomes invisible and is unpleasant (7). This argument is developed by B. Zevi to claim that architecture is added to the threedimensional void that surrounds all life. From these points of view, architecture becomes invisible because it is not easy to develop the stories that make it singular and to appreciate the way it is has been produced. Furthermore, architecture envelops us or takes us by surprise, usually making confrontation impossible. 2. Architecture disintegrates. Architecture disintegrates due to its lack of significance on the property market as an added value to the built objects. If buildings were differentiated by their quality it would be shocking that such “quality” is not included in the price. However, the value of building units on the market does not depend at all on their quality (be it architectonic or technical), but on their location in concrete neighbourhoods which are differentiated by their inhabitants’ income. * The role of architects It is commonly said that, since the Renaissance, architecture as a production system is no longer the immediate concern of a creator controlling its conception and development. Today, architectural design is fulfilled in factories where different tasks are shared out and assigned to unconnected teams. The resulting pieces are then joined together in an apparent totality, previously defined by circumstances or the whim of an individual. The work is later carried out by another team of operators working for diverse industrial firms, which hierarchically get involved in construction and fit their products into the pre-existing framework with the only goal of making the final look of the building “not surprising”. With the exception of a few rare cases, architecture is a polyphonic industry shared out between tens or hundreds of co-creators that make decisions about small parts –or units – of the works produced. According to R. Koolhaas, there are 10 thousand unknown architectural firms throughout the world producing the vast bulk of buildings that provide architectural meaninglessness to the chaos of the generic city (8). Only some singular constructions, which are sometimes associated with disproportionate costs, stand out from the rest. These buildings are produced by certain firms that work as trademarks under the name of ”star” architects. Such exceptions feed morbid fascination of critics and the iconic (ideologized) references of schools of architecture around the world. * Teaching architecture Teaching is about making something visible, making the trainee used to dealing with a particular subject matter. Teaching architecture is making it visible, making the trainee accustomed to dealing with it (2). In the previous context, it is impossible to make architecture visible or to make students accustomed to its practice, as their role cannot be clearly defined. The training of professional architects runs against the impossibility of teaching students to be wage-earners or partial actors in a hypertextual ensemble process at the mercy of the changing nature of building trade. How teaching someone to be a part of a depersonalized collective production system? How teaching someone to be a co-creator of exquisite corpses? We only can teach architecture if teaching is set in the fiction of chimerical architecture. The only way to teach someone to see architecture is to assume that it is visible. Teaching can only be justified on the basis that the design process (i.e. the essay of alternative solutions) will replace construction. Furthermore, the capacity of the student to become exclusively responsible for the product and to oversee the building process without any lack of foresight is highlighted. Finally, it is assumed that he/she develops the indispensable genius for distinguishing between good and bad architecture. 50
Schools of architecture have held the status of university departments for a short time (approximately 30 years in Spain) and bear the difficulty of incorporating the teaching of architectural design based on fictitious –hypothetical and educative – references in a reflexive –theoretical and critical – corpus. Schools of architecture encourage students’ repetitive invention of building models. These are as varied as the number of imaginable situations linked with recognizable social activities which can be developed in specific geographic and historical sites, be they real or imaginary. * Besides, schools of architecture are atypical university centres, as they attempt to introduce artistic instruction, which is an activity based on speculation and tentative, into universal structures of scientific, technical and humanistic education. The development of artistic skills rather consists of trying utopian configurative proposals, regardless of the need of finding strict solutions coherent with well-formulated approaches. Although building is a traditional technique that fits with traditional patterns, architecture is still considered to be an art. This scope of knowledge, which usually represents 50% of the teaching hours in undergraduate curricula, is an atypical component of academic programs. * Anything goes in the endeavor to gain the architect’s degree. The programs completion is accompanied by ideological, formal, constructive, functional and adaptive proposals. Solutions to design problems are radicalized, related to buildings and shapes currently in fashion, and they are reinforced by the disseminated technological and economic training and discourses which are focused on the most traditional courses of curricula, that is to say, not on the activity developed in design studios. It would be positive that faculty members are aware that teaching is based on fictitious contents. Even though they are heterotopic and synchronic, they prove to be essential to point students in the right direction to design “good” buildings. Modelling It seems that architectural training, which implies teaching what architecture is and how buildings are produced, can only be based on placing the student in the position of generating (i.e. creating and representing) miniaturized worlds. These are referents replicable in the objective world by means of construction, therefore they allow for experimentation through speculations about interpretation and life, resulting in designs attractive for the academic reference group, i.e. the very work group in the design studio. In all these circumstances, teaching ends up lying in the mean/tool used to have “to hand” a miniaturized world allowing for the essay of alternative proposals linked to changing suppositions. Drawing, taking photographs, model making, computer modelling and morphing software are the means where the miniaturized virtual reality is manufactured (cognitive realism) (9). Following the attentional speculations, the successive configurative attempts determine the final designs that we call architectural projects. In the past, only drawing and scale modelling were considered appropriate as design tools, on the condition that each variety was used according to established guidelines allowing operation or attempts with specific architectonic meaning: the ground plan to try people’s mobility among building masses, the cross section to have a try at staticity, the elevation to essay the frontality of the building, and the scale model –like the bird’s-eye view – to roughly assess the whole as simplified volume. Nowadays, drawing and modelling with computer programs that create volume from the ground plan and sections must be included. Other tools are 3D modelling from geometric systems, scanning of all kinds of images and the use of morphing software as a starting point for design. The irruption of computer technology leads to the belief that drawing by hand will disappear in 51
professional practice. The new ways of re-creating a virtual, scaled-down version of the world are stimulated by the intertextual system of design production. This can now be undertaken from perspectives very different to those that used to be priority concerns when traditional graphic mediation was used. Today it is normal to design from the outside in, without the difficulties of a problematic functionality (containers, lofts, multifunctional public buildings, etc.), or on the basis of an empty interior configuration, whose size will be adjusted after trying the scale of elements that it should house. Since it can be ventured that function follows figurability (Ledoux), the arduous task of essaying and weighing up the spatial limits and the objects available for people to move around in plan, has been reduced to the design of fully-conventionalized living spaces arranged in appealing enclosures. Drawing Freehand drawing is the configurative capacity of vital manual skills and is associated with both dynamic imagination and operative comprehension (Sloterdijk’s chirotope, “the sphere of hands in movement”) (10). This kind of drawing continues to be a field of elaborate experimentation, where it is possible to discover the freedom of action, the astonishment produced by the configurative agreement and the architectonic nature of its peculiar shaping, achieved by tracing outlines. Through drawing, art-making can be easily linked to the conceptual phases of architectural design; the only condition is to impose on it the conventional meaningfulness leading to potential miniaturized architecture. In many schools of architecture, drawing by hand is not required because the use of computer programs is considered sufficient. However, it seems that the application of different tools to get miniaturized models leads us to so diverse and exclusive approaches to architectural design that some inherent aspects, considered indispensable to understand the nature of architecture so far, are prioritized or rejected. The tools and ways to get miniaturized models are, as drawing used to be (12), imaginary techniques that mediate the meaningful attempts and operations fulfilled through them. Each way is a means of understanding the potential design architectonically, an outlined approach to the object to be produced. The meaningfulness of this approach is limited by the operational capacity of each modality reductive of the world (10) (11). Drawing in the teaching of architecture The conceptual models that understand architectonic objects as visible things, immersed in conventional atmospheres and filled with arbitrary contents, match with the new tools. These are also efficient when architectonic objects are produced at large-scale for the consumption of the most disadvantaged social groups, whose members see them as temporary shelters that encourage their integration into the single-market society. Of course, such mediation is difficult when architectonic objects are understood as tactile/sound interiorities, whose layouts are suitable for staging peculiar situations in cozy surroundings (13). Some of us continue to defend the relevance of drawing in architects’ training. This is not against the important hypertextual and superficial role of computation to miniaturize the environment. We think that architectural training must encompass all ways to get to know architecture, be they past, future, fictitious or real ones. Above all, teaching of architecture must bring artistic experience closer to university, which is a free environment that encourages the dialogic understanding of democratic life (14).
Bibliographic references (1) Heidegger, M. “Construir, habitar-pensar”, en Conferencias and artículos. Serbal, Barcelona, 1994. (2) Seco, M., Andrés, O., Ramos, G. Diccionario del español actual. Aguilar, Madrid, 1999. (3) Seguí, J. “Qué es arquitectura” (en preparación). 52
(4) Borden, I. “Machines of possibility”. En: <http://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/architecture/events/lowe/Borden_Inaugural04.pdf>, Bartlett School of Architecture, Londres, 21-12- 2004. (5) Zevi, B. “Saber ver la arquitectura”. Poseidón, Barcelona, 1991. (6) A. Damascio. “El error de Descartes”. Barcelona, Editorial Crítica, 1994. (7) Mann, T. “Viaje por mar con Don Quijote”. RqueR Editorial, Barcelona, 2005. (8) Koolhaas, R. “La ciudad genérica”. GG, Barcelona, 1995. (9) J. Seguí. “El dibujo de lo que no se puede tocar”. Drawing Proyectar (1). Madrid, Instituto Juan de Herrera, 2003. (10) P. Sloterdijk. “Esferas III. Espumas. Esferología plural”. Madrid, Siruela, 2006. (11) Bachelard, G. “La miniatura”. En: La poética del espacio. FCE, México, 1975. (12) ARGAN G.C. “Proyecto y Destino”, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas, 1969. (13) J. Pallasmaa. “Los ojos de la piel. La arquitectura y los sentidos”. Barcelona, GG, 2006. (14) J. Derrida. “Universidad sin condición”. Madrid, Trotta, 2002.
Darkness and light (about Turrell)
1 During a memorable dinner many years ago, in the seventies, Palazuelo got Santiago Amón and myself to participate in a session of enchantment. It was spring and we were in a place situated on an upper floor in Calle Fernández de la Hoz (Madrid), with the windows open. He asked us to close our eyes and listen to the silence for a long time. It was surprising. The surroundings – the objects close to us – receded and the amplitude of the resonant emptiness of the city was revealed to us as an active envelope with perceptible dimensions (undefined but palpitating) which provided a perfect fit with the volumetric entity of our bodies. Ever since that event, every time I enter an unknown architectural environment, a building or public space, I spend a long time with my eyes shut, listening to and sensing the vibrant silence of configured amplitude. Like Italo Calvino’s strange king (“Un rey escucha”, in Bajo el sol jaguar. Barcelona 1989), seated ecstatically on his throne, not using his eyes (we do not know if he was blind) but sensing the palace around him as if it is his own extended body, which is incessantly sending him acoustic or cutaneous messages capable of informing him with scrupulous precision of the changing situation in his kingdom. In harmony with those experiences, it occurred to us then to use penumbra (darkness) as a special teaching situation to make the enveloping nature of architecture apparent, working with the resonance of the surroundings in places where either one does not wish to look at anything or else there is nothing to look at. This initiative gave rise to a way of teaching drawing which we called “figures of light”, and an understanding of the architectural derived from its most basic (environmental and dimensional) inner constituents which we called “architecture degree zero”. Amidst our efforts to make these didactic-theoretical bearings more precise we came across the work of James Turrell, who seemed to us very close to our permanent concerns and, what is more, paradigmatic. We became acquainted with Turrell at an exhibition in Madrid (“la Caixa”, November 1992). There we experienced various spaces and some of the Perceptual Cells, and we laid hands on a good catalogue full of information about the artist’s work. Since then we have not interrupted our search for references. We were fascinated by the Wedgeworks series and the Mendota Stoppages, which are very close to our experiences. Subsequently, in 2001, we were present at a session of the Meeting installation, part of the Skyspaces family, at PS1 in Queens. 53
Later, in Madrid, we talked to Turrell about Roden Crater via satellite (ARCO, Madrid, 2002). 2 The surprising Turrell of 1992 has now become an important referent for our didactic preoccupations with darkness and figures of light, and also, of course, for our theoretical concerns, which have to do with the search for the architectonic (referential) basis of architecture. For this exhibition presented by the IVAM we wish to offer our homage to the artist to celebrate the enormous, stimulating (stirring) influence that he exercises on our activity as teachers of architecture. And we shall do so in the form of short passages written in connection with various reflections in which we could not help recalling his work. 3 Turrell is an inventor of enclosures which are traps where light is caught in the heart of darkness or semi-darkness. He configures radical places in which, though there is nothing to do and little or nothing to look at, he brings about a situational (cognitive and perceptual) understanding in the observer which triggers an exceptional phenomenal-metaphoric activity within him. It would be idle to conjecture how Turrell may have begun his series of architectures for semidarkness, but once that process had begun, based on experimentation with the limits of visual perception, all his work strikes us as being an obsessive (recurrent) endeavour to radicalize the sensation of strangeness. Places resembling burrows, or rooms with chinks through which the light of the night penetrates. Closed chambers in semi-darkness, where the faint reflected light gives one the feeling that it is autonomous. And cells where the uniform atmosphere (dark or with a little brightness) brings about the invention of enveloping light (Ganzfeld fields). And in these settings the relaxed viewer, who loses his accustomed references and experiences the dissolution of their boundaries and the appearance of other significant dimensions. In a conversation with Alison Sarah Jacques (“Nunca no hay luz”, in the Fundación “la Caixa” catalogue, 1992), Turrell verbalizes the quintessence of his work, which we might sum up as follows: An isolation cell is horrible … At first you can see nothing … But there is never no light … In such a place the mind fabricates a larger space … In the darkness one learns to see where nothing can be seen … So that light is invented … Inventing light is leaping (flying) … And flying is pure joy … We cannot not see … In my work I try to find something similar to our state of mind when we look at fire … I do not want there to be focuses, or points, or anything to look at … The light in which we generally exist is brutal … In the darkness light has many nuances … There are lights that come from within … Light is at the centre of any spiritual discussion … The spiritual is a sharing of pleasure … The aim of my work is the perception of light (light that is not brutal). In another conversation, this time with Baldridge, he says: I seek the inner light that becomes apparent in meditation if you close or half-close your eyes for 10 minutes … The state is like the wordless thought that comes from looking in a fire … 4 In his installations Turrell reveals the limits of visual perception, which are the conditions that preserve and provide access to the most original experiences of subjectivity. According to Benson (The cultural psychology of self. Routledge, 2000), Turrell seeks to annul associative thinking by eliminating objects in a setting of semi-darkness. This circumstance counterbalances the viewer’s sense of location and makes him aware of his unusual experience, driving him to engage in an intense search for metaphoric meanings close to mystical experience. Benson argues that in his “penumbra traps” Turrell forces the dissolution of the referential boundaries of interiorityexteriority and the loss of the framework of localization which organizes subjectivity. The viewer, who has his own constitutive foundations (of significativity and relationality), is confronted with his surroundings in Turrell’s installations. Turrell creates architectures that display the most radical poietic architectonicity, for he succeeds in making figures of light take on objective form and in making the settings in which those figures appear become envelopment. Turrell is an architect of architectonicity and an artist of figures of light. 5 Poetic reflection speaks incessantly of the experience of darkness, of the ensuing night, and of a subsequent hushed dawn accompanied by luminescent figures which announce the world of blinding light (brutal light). For Blanchot (El espacio literario. Paidós, 2000), these are the 54
conceptive states or situations that are captured in the myth of Orpheus, whom he identifies with the experience of writing. Impelled by the absence of Eurydice (her disappearance), Orpheus descends into Hades in order to beseech the restoration to life of his beloved. Orpheus achieves his aim, for with his music he enchants the guardians of the shadows, who cannot deny him what he asks. They agree, however, on condition that Orpheus does not look back at his beloved until they have both reached the sunlight. But Orpheus, overcome by the palpitating darkness, turns his head and Eurydice vanishes. Blanchot identifies the space of literature (the space of mystical experience) with the gaze of Orpheus. A gaze which, being a solitary act, takes place in darkness and attains darkness, vanishing into absence. Then there is the beginning of the return of day, which demands and establishes form. Blanchot points out that work is unworking (désœuvrement), a vision of the invisible (of the gaze), endless absence. He indicates that blindness occupies the centre of the thinking of the one who works. 6 The Zohar was presented by Moisés de León in the 13th century as the work of Simeon ben Yohai. It was called “Que haya luz” (Let there be light) and was printed in Cremona in 1558. It is a prophetic, mystical book, incomprehensible from the standpoint of rationality. Its poetic (metaphoric) power is highly disturbing. We have read it as one would read an epic poem devoted to the Creation which repeats the mythicizing of all beginnings in many ways. The epic of light can be summed up as follows: The substance of the world is formed by a certain light, which is the creative power. Then there is a visible light, which was created by the primordial light (on the fourth day), and which gives rise to another light, which is dark and is the substance of all material existence. The light is Word (Logos) which comes into being, and Logos is light which causes a shaking and brings forth. The epic of light can be poeticized differently. The power (mysterious power) enveloped in the limitless, without forcing its emptiness, remained concealed until the power (of the traces) made a point shine forth … But beyond that point nothing is knowable, which is why it is called beginning (Reschit). In the beginning there was a splendour … The Most Mysterious One shook the emptiness and made the point quiver … From that beginning the disturbance created a palace for his glory … Once again there was enveloped splendour … The palace is called Elohim … * The splendour that is expressed, that decides to be splendour, generates an enveloping emanation which is that very decision made active and named. * The Power was empty and without form … It had been and it was now mud and waste … It became chaos once again, the dwelling of what was without form … A darkness which was a mighty fire covered the formless waste … And the spirit of Elohim Yajim floated like a wind on the face of the waste … And the wind differentiated a husk above the seething mass that was without form … The purified waste gave forth a great wind which formed the rocks … Then Bohu caused an earthquake … Afterwards, the darkness was filtered and it contained fire … There was also a voice … Tohu is a place without colour or form (empty force) … Bohu has only figure and form … Bohu is what comes out of Tohu … The darkness is a strongly coloured black fire … There is a red colour in visibility, a yellow colour in form, and a white colour which includes them all … The darkness is the strongest of the fires and the pillar of Tohu … Darkness is fire … But fire is not darkness … The Spirit is the voice that rests upon Bohu … The voice of the Lord that moves upon the waters … * “And God said let there be light”, and there was light … “And he said” is an expression which implies understanding … God said means that the original palace (Elohim) generated and brought forth … While he produced in silence, what he cried was heard outside … The cry was “Let there be light” … “And there was light” … The expansive force produced a mysterious point, En Sof (the limitless), which divided the ether and indicated the point Yod … When Yod expanded, what was left was Light (OR), light that had come from the ether … This point of the word OR is light … It spread and from it seven letters of the alphabet shone forth and remained fluid … And so the firmament was created … “And God saw that the light was good”… The fact that it was good is the acceptance (central 55
column) that casts light upwards and downwards and on all sides by virtue of YHWH … From the complete light the firmament spread forth, the life of the worlds (which is day on the right side and night on the left side) … The Zohar is a circular text in a poetic-epic key, constructed around light as a central metaphor of all creation, all renovation and all mystical and beatific experience. In the Zohar light is that which cannot be dissociated from vitality. The centre of the decision to live, that which “cannot not be” when there is life. 7 Bachelard (La flamme d’une chandelle. Puf, 1961) recalls that as one looks at the flame of a candle one dreams life and the universe. That the flame is one of the greatest operators on the imagination. The flame of the candle is a source of light that one can look at, that does not dazzle, and that allows one to partake in the ecstatic spectacle of life protected in a tranquil envelopment. Bachelard reminds us that the flame makes the world grow larger, the expansion becomes inflamed, and a passionately passive gaze is compelled, divided from our thinking existence. For the candle’s flame is the miniaturization of the emission of light as the central mystery of universal life. And light is an overvalued production of fire. The incomprehensible phenomenon that makes the existence of everything else possible. Light is the purifying product of the flame that consumes all matter. When light appears it is because something is burning, something is being consumed in the imaginal will to live. With Bachelard, light is understood as the reflection that accompanies all actual or incipient life. In another book (Psicoanálisis del fuego. Alianza, 1966), Bachelard recalls that light is a phenomenon produced by something that is always like fire, from which he deduces that the experience of fire is analogous to the experience of light. He also points out that fire (or light) is the element that has proved most difficult to reduce to its scientific dimensions, because it is the most potent object of fantasy, bound up with the most profound generic myths, with survival, everyday life, prizes, punishments, the social collective, eroticism and sexuality. And even with man’s intellective capacity (the myth of Prometheus). In this work Bachelard identifies fire (light) as the central metaphoric driving force in the human production of fantasies. 8 Edward Gordon Craig (1872–1966) was, like Adolphe Appia, an innovator in the theatre. Actor, theorist, author, set designer, communicator … He fits in well here because he was the inventor of the changing expressive installation, the discoverer of the “empty box subjected to light” as a self-contained spectacle. In Craig we have always seen a subterranean connection with Turrell which, as far as we know, has not been pointed out by anyone else. Turrell is considered an artist of the non-material or of light and is associated with a series of figures who include contemporaries of Craig, such as Scriabin and Wilfred, and artists of emptiness and light such as Moholy-Nagy, Peranek, Gyula Kosice, Schöffer, Mack, Klein and others. He tends to be grouped with authors such as Bruce Nauman, Walter de Maria, Robert Irwin, Dan Flavin, etc. (Chavarrias, J.: Artistas de lo inmaterial. Nerea, 2002). Perhaps the “phylum” of the artists of penumbra and light may have to be explored more deeply in order to take account of other precursors historically, but there is no doubt of the fact that Craig’s concerns can be included in this genetic line of artists. In about 1907 (Herrera, A.: “E.G. Craig: el espacio como espectáculo”. Doctoral thesis, ETSAM, 2004), Craig proposed designing sets with smooth masses, gaps between the masses, and an interplay of shadow and light. At the time he defined theatre as an art of movement and light. He spoke of scenes rather than classical decor, and he understood scenes as movements of things in changing light. Craig played with half-light and shadow, which are elements that fill the scenic volumetric box of worldly expressiveness. Later, after the Great War and at the very limit of his conception of theatre, Craig thought that a mere empty stage with light playing on it was capable of making one see and of revealing the inexplicable, which is what the art of theatre is about. He argued: “The stage (the empty stage) has a face. Its surface receives the light, and as the light changes position the stage itself varies in dialogue with it like a duet, performing figures like a dance. Because the light moves over the stage, and as it moves it produces visual music. The relationship between light and the stage is very similar to that of the bow and the violin or a pencil and a piece of paper. Throughout the development of the drama, light sometimes caresses and 56
sometimes strikes; it is never still, although often its movements are not visible. The acts are differentiated because the light changes totally.” Craig does not paralyse light like Turrell, he moves it in order to compose a dance with its figures. Turrell makes light stay still in the emptiness of his trap scenes, or else he lets them move extremely slowly, vastly increasing the sensation of surprised amazement of a spectator located inside the scene. At any rate, the Mendota Stoppages would have captivated Craig. 9 Figures of light is the name we give to glimmers in the darkness which break up the gloom, causing gleams to appear which are promises of objects that as yet have no outline. When the figures of light are the effect of beams of light of a certain power they acquire visual prominence, dissolving the darkness among the scattered objects that mark out territories. In intermediate intensities, light striking against things invents the mysterious form of the shadow, which is the portion of darkness that remains sheltered from the light among opaque objects. To us, these figures of light appeared to be a special teaching situation which made it possible to experience the enveloping nature of dark spaces, inverting the gaze, learning to see figures of light as genuine entities apart from the objects where the figures gleam, and they can also serve as an external referent for practising “shadowed” drawing (see Seguí, J.: Oscuridad y sombra. Instituto Juan de Herrera, 2003). Our “figures of light” name a practice and an experience in the curriculum of architecture studies which forces students to find themselves involved and to positivize unforeseen or intentional glints of light as autonomous objects. Turrell helped us to understand this practice in its radicality, because ever since we started using it we have been aware of the capability that darkness possesses to dissolve boundaries, and of the power of transformation of the gaze which is involved in the exercise of not looking at ordinary objects, so that one understands the light that is outlined (figured) as a non-material object. 10 Architectonic, which means having to do with architecture, also means (in Aristotle: Ética a Nicómaco. Orbis, Barcelona 1985) knowledge that organizes; that which organizes plans of life. Leibniz gives the name architectonic to that on which wisdom is founded, and he says that something is explained architectonically when we call upon final causes, having sufficient knowledge of the uses of that something (Monadología. Pearson Educación, Madrid 1986). Lambert indicates that the architectonic is equivalent to a logico-ontological system made up of all the thinkable concepts capable of encompassing the totality of existence. For Kant (Crítica de la razón pura. Orbis, Barcelona 1984), the architectonic is the art or possibility of constructing a system (any system). In short, architectonic refers to that which makes it possible to give meaning to the goal of events and actions. It is also that which organizes something with sense. The architectonic quality of architecture resides, therefore, in its signifying sense, in its relational possibility. Not in the construction or shell of the building, but in the environment inside the shell, in the empty space imbued with atmosphere, inasmuch as that empty space allows one to feel the things that are done inside it. The things that are done and the things that can be done. Good architecture reinforces those feelings in such a way as to bring out the relationships that sustain them. Heidegger says that good architecture reveals that which encompasses or frames and draws attention to that which impedes or conceals (“Génesis de la obra de arte”, in Arte y poesía. FCE, Mexico 1980). By analogy with the denomination applied by Barthes (El grado cero de la escritura. Siglo XXI, 1980), we give the name of “architecture degree zero” to architecture which seeks the architectonic dimension that organizes it, to neutral, insipid architecture which pursues its selfdestruction as an object, which seeks the basis that organizes the signification of the surrounding. To what remains when architecture disappears or is on the verge of disappearing. In this sense, we understand Turrell’s work as basic experimentation with the architectonic in his constructions intended for semi-darkness. As we have indicated, with architecture degree zero we are close to Eduardo Nicol’s psychology of the situations of life (Psicología de las situaciones vitales. FCE, Mexico 1953) and Benson’s conception of the self, which we might understand as studies that have to do with discoursing about location as a constituent of the architectonicity of subjects. Turrell indicates a path of experimentation and learning in the architectonic which, according to Muntañola (L’arquitectura, es pot ensenyar? Acadèmia de Sant Jordi, Barcelona 2002), is the clear experience of pure envelopment as a dialogic framework of spatiality. 57
11 Can the senses, without more ado, register the experiences that are entailed in the execution of works? Can works offer the uncertainty that accompanies them? The hidden arbitrariness that has sustained them until they are abbreviated into works? Can one show the essence of darkness? Can one possibly invent light? Can one play with what was previously dark and allow incandescence to filter between objects, impeded and mediatized, while one lives out the lie of losing oneself with half-words, imagining discourses that speak fragmentarily of darkness and light? 12 APHORISMS ABOUT THE ENVELOPING NATURE OF LIGHT Wisdom lies in spacing, in emptiness, in the birth of the architectonic. In the place of greatest potentiality. In the effaced act. In the origin of light. The formless and the soundless have the ability to communicate with anything and to reach everywhere. The formless (not formed, not put together, not configured) is pure dynamic imagination. Insipidness (degree zero) is a certain world which one must enter. Its season is late autumn and its time is dusk. Degree zero has no pathos; it is an approach. The degree zero of the arts lies in arresting the process of formation (or effacing it) to allow other values to be released in the form of irrepressible impulses. Narrativity is that which cannot destroy itself without the self-annihilation of the writer. If literature is viewed as an object, its form is suspended before oneâ€™s eyes. Form made itself the conclusion of a fabrication (a formation). Afterwards, literature remained as the corpse of the annihilation of language. First, narration as a function of the eye; then the making that shapes; then destruction; and now absence, neutrality, degree zero. Degree zero. Writer without literature. Artist without art. Blank writing which follows the tearing apart of writing. Insipid, neutral, blank art which pursues the destruction of the rules of art; which seeks the radical estrangement of making. Art is the morality of form in the social sphere where artistic activity is located. The degree zero of writing (of art) is made out of the absence of pathetic judgements and cries. It is an amodal, indicative writing. It is a style of absence. It is the absence of style. The search for a non-style (effaced style) is the anticipation of a homogeneous state of society. The degree zero of art invents languages in order to plan its future. Art evolves into the utopia of art. * Oteiza (Quosque tandem. Pamiela, Pamplona 1993) suggests that muting expressivity, silencing expression, means approaching the cromlech silence that leads to the emptiness of pure receptivity. Style is imagination. Style is rhythm, gesture, light. Style ends in silence. Believing is creating. The language of art is completed in two phases. In the first, expression is multiplied. In the second, it is hushed until it concludes in a transcendent, empty construction as freedom in relation to everything. Man begins by clutching what is still. Then he grasps what moves. Then he arrives at the emptiness where style becomes bare, without art. Current art leads to a silent reality. Empty, neutral space. Integration of the arts (in the architectonic). MuntaĂąola maintains (op. cit.) that architecture in its most architectonic degree appears in the collective experience of dialogue. Theatre, dance and music contain high degrees of dialogue. The architectonic is the Dionysiac, the alienated, the orgiastic, but contained, slowed down, emptied. Space is social dialogue. Significativity arrested by belonging to the social. * Having clear sight means losing human form. The eye is a device that enlarges bodies and objects and distances them. Myth is the first collective envelopment. The support of cultural significance. The architectonic at 58
its most basic. Narrativity organizes experiences and assembles the world of sense. It is another radical of the architectonic. Memory is the residue of what must be forgotten. It is the emptied deposit that certifies the past. Recollection attaches itself to feelings. Another dimension of the architectonic. Feeling is the forgotten condensation of recollection. Narrativity depends on topoi, on metaphor. Metaphoration is the architectonic dimension of the architectonic. Metaphor describes the inexpressible. * The medium of fascination, in which what one sees becomes interminable, is where the gaze becomes immobilized in light, where light is the absolute splendour of an eye that is not seen but does not cease to see because it is our own gaze. A fascinating light which is also a bright, attractive light. Absence is not seen because it makes one blind. The degree zero of the arts (insipidity, indifference) is situated in the sphere of the extensive light of the setting sun. 13 WORKS CONSULTED ARISTOTLE: Ética a Nicómaco. Orbis, Barcelona 1985 BACHELARD, Gaston: La flamme d’une chandelle. Puf, 1961 BACHELARD, Gaston: Psicoanálisis del fuego. Alianza, Madrid 1966 BARTHES, Roland: El grado cero de la escritura. Siglo XXI, 1980 BENSON, Ciaran: The cultural psychology of self. Routledge, 2000 BLANCHOT, Maurice: El espacio literario. Paidós, 2000 CALVINO, Italo: Bajo el sol jaguar. Tusquets, 1989 CHAVARRIA, Javier: Artistas de lo inmaterial. Nerea, 2002 CRAIG, Edward Gordon: El arte del teatro. Hachette, 1911 DUJOVNE, León (trans.): El Zohar. Sigal, Buenos Aires 1970 HEIDEGGER, Martín: Arte y poesía. FCE, Mexico 1980 HERRERA, Aurora: “Edward Gordon Craig: el espacio como espectáculo”. Doctoral thesis, ETSAM, 2004 KANT, Immanuel: Crítica de la razón pura. Ediciones Orbis, Barcelona 1984 LEIBNIZ, Gottfried Wilhelm: Monadología. Pearson Educación, Madrid 1986 MUNTAÑOLA, Josep: L’arquitectura, es pot ensenyar? Acadèmia de Sant Jordi, Barcelona 2002 NICOL, Eduardo: Psicología de las situaciones vitales. FCE, Mexico 1953 OTEIZA, Jorge de: Quosque tandem. Editorial Pamiela, Pamplona 1993 SEGUÍ, Javier: Oscuridad y sombra. Instituto Juan de Herrera, 2003 TURRELL, James: James Turrell. The other horizon. Atje Cantz Verlag, 1983 TURRELL, James: Turrell. Fundación “la Caixa”, 1992 TURRELL, James: James Turrell. Contemporary Art Center, Mito 1995. 1999 TURRELL, James: Kijkduin. Stroom, 1996 TURRELL, James: House of light. Gendaikikakushitsu, Tokyo 2000
Notes about Drawing Imagery
1. General Introduction 1.1.
This work is just a part in the indefinite sequence of incessant drawing, teaching drawing and architectural design, and tirelessly reflecting on actual drawing, architectural design and teaching both things. It will be the twenty-first work in the series of articles and papers that I have been publishing in the magazine Expresión Gráfica Arquitectónica (EGA) and in the proceedings of various conferences since 1986 (the previous writings have not been counted). Therefore, I would like to reflect on the following before I start. I have been drawing since I was a child. I do not remember my beginnings nor am aware of my progress because I had no conceptual arguments to outline drawing until I started teaching architecture students in 1974. Since then, my concerns have been focused on drawing and drawings, that I consider the starting mechanism and reference for architectural design. This has been reflected in countless and progressive writings, both teaching and theoretical, which result in the twenty works previously mentioned and listed later. I still draw nowadays. For the nth time, I am also witness to discussions such as what is pertinent to draw to design architecture, if drawing will persist in the age of absolute digital virtualization, and which contents should be taught in the globalized university to train global “architects”. Curiously, there are two previous questions which are still concealed and are vital to get an intellectual and teaching position regarding drawing and architectural design. These questions are the following: -
The need to throw some light on the linguistic nature of drawing/drawings and, consequently, on the imaginary –recalling and triggering- capacity of graphic expression. The lack of theorizing on the organizational and figurative nature of architectural design and its relation to the configurational capacity of drawing. Accumulated views of drawing
The contents of the reference articles collected until now can be summarized as follows: Drawing has always been understood as a ritualized and self-reflective exercise. It consists in marking traces of the bodily movements by means of some tracing tool on a tracing surface. It is also a successive, approximative and episodic exercise. A sequence of active –tracing and intervening- and inactive or receptive –contemplative and reorganizational- moments is assumed. Lines heap on the previous drafting in active moments, while meaning endowment, assessment and re-planning are developed in contemplative moments. The wide scopes of communicative meaning/intention in the process of drawing have been defined: expression, representation and interpretation. Drawing has been analyzed following the external triggering referents –what can and cannot be touched-, and the effects of the tracing tools, which induce different procedures –regarding edges, shades and gestures-. The frame/setting, regarded as a contextual constituent that has a bearing on a drawing being drawn, has also been studied. The imaginal and conceptual drawing carried out by architects when they design has been set within these considerations and also within the peculiar meaningful patterns used in architectural design from Renaissance, i.e. plan, section, elevation, bird’s-eye view and 60
perspective drawing. To go into drawing and architectural design in any depth, a theoretical framework to design architecture –similar to the theoretical framework for drawing-, based on action theory, has been introduced. The wrong use of certain terms frequent in scholarly jargon has also been reported, such as idea, space, form… with special emphasis on the word representation, commonly used with no critical awareness when talking about drawings which define a design. The drawing characteristics easily receiving architectural meanings without ambiguities of “likeness” have also been appointed and established. These characteristics form part of a specific and intentionally non-representative kind of drawing searching conceptual and compositional planarity. Nowadays we consider drawing and designing by drawing to be some kind of writing. More specifically, it is a configurative writing focused on a play with rules that could not be stated so far. The play consists of living drawing and drawings as reductions of worlds where both their actor and forewarned recipient get immersed. 2. Excursus 2.1.
Designing architecture by drawing To live means to know that something is happening but ignoring how it does. It means to verify that our bodies leave some traces. Drawings and writings are traces of an activity which takes place. This activity results from unknown reactions which leave behind floods of indescribable figures, repeated forms escaping any control. My drawings flow with no schedule, no destination, no content. They come from my stroking the emptiness of surviving. Drawings and more drawings elude words. They avoid the density of memories and distract our attention from the urgency of arriving to death. One of the appeals of being an architect is that, in architectural design, worlds are dreamt “by hand” with problems that “force” the fantasized characters’ lives. * Designing architecture by drawing means the use of drawing for giving shape to architectural forms. Designing architecture by drawing involves the use of lines as pure traces and, at the same time, as signs of a movement, a resistance or a limit. Designing architecture by drawing is enriching the free shaping capacity of graphics with architectural meanings, which in turn will be affected by the evanescent and primary tension of drawing. This imagery mingle gets radical. Architecture benefits from drawing organizational tools and its inherent capacity for surprise. Drawing also benefits because its elusive intentions get much more intense after receiving the specific concentration of architectural meanings. * Designing architecture by drawing converts to drawing by designing architecture. Such specific drawing is architectural design because it shows the background from where drawing is organized.
From the inside and from the outside The world is what can be imagined about things beyond us. The world is a weak representation of the clamor outside. The existing world takes the shape of an object when it is related to a subject. Reality is the representation of the other matter raised to the category of independent existence, of unavoidable enveloping quality. It is created from the awareness of the sheltered self facing this reality. The world is the counterpoint and context of the human body/mind, which is autopoiesis, an active, self-referent and autonomous system. The system survives and thrives in natural and social surroundings and is open to interaction with them. 61
Alive bodies/minds constantly move themselves and move other things. Living is moving, and movement is the foundation and consequence of the whole activity of the body/mind/environment system. * Experience is the relationship with the other matter. Experience designates the exchange between living beings and their surroundings. It produces emotional and mnemonic traces, active frameworks and integrative intellections. Experiences are understood as the encounter of the (historical) body/mind with things. Then, the situation appears. This is the origin of borderlines or differentiation between what is the inside and the outside. The aware experience of the movemental encounter with the other matter produces intellection, which is de-ciphering, dis-mantlement and separation, and is always influenced by the tools employed in the restless and operative confrontation, as well as by the context of the body/mind. Then, both “material imagery” and “fictional phantasm” emerge and modulate the projective sense of any possible experience. For Jose Ferrater Mora, the awareness of experience can be encouraged in two ways: either through paying greater attention to exterior objects and emphasizing the starting point in the outer world, or focusing on the interior states which are the seeds and contents of the inner world (the inside) where the self appears. Objects are managed by body extremities –sometimes by prosthesis-. A phenomenology of experience linked with the distance to objects and extremities involved in such interaction takes definite shape. The other way around, this phenomenology will describe the situational positions from where narrative and intellections of experienced occurrences are tackled. Then, there will be a positioning from the outside and far away. Objects will be observed and classified in autonomous categories as objective, distant, well-defined, real and dogmatized things. There will be also a position “from the outside but close”, where objects can be touched and linked to the inside as material resistances/extensions. Among the positions “from the inside” –from action as defined by Humberto Maturana-, there will be a position “from the deep inside” and a position “from the inside by the edge” (at the cross section), where objects are shelters for fantasy (as Gaston Bachelard explained) or products –material configurations- that can be felt as dynamic forms developed by a “hypothetic” –also inner and “generic”- vivacity. 2.3.
Memory, imagination, past
Sometimes, the brain reproduces past situations that overlap the emerging ones as thickness of the present. We are then as we used to be, but just partly. The inner world makes us feel the past as present, but this is eased, diffuse and confused with the current moment (Antonio Lobo Antunes). There is an imaginary state appearing as frozen past that welcomes us. Memory is a –functional, forgotten- accumulation of situational presences or configuration states. The brain stores configurations generating the persistence of places and sensations. The permanence of places produces identity as familiarity of overlapped situational configurations, i.e. repetition of the same thing. If memory is made up of the brain –body- environmental and configuration states accumulated as tendency functions, remembrances are the detailed “movies” of roles played in such states. Memory is set when remembrance is closed, when remembrance is dissolved into the context of its corresponding mental state (obscurity). Remembrances either appear with no context or they must be produced with words and images (figural narrative). A remembrance is finally the story invented from a memory state. A spare remembrance needs an –invented- context to become plausible. A memory state only gets revived through narration of remembrances that can be included in it. Proust was sensitive to the incurable imperfection of the present, which is always corrupted 62
by the memory of past presents. The scope of a memory state produces a set of remembrances housed in that state. Memory works as a hive of permanent narrative. The hive of narrative expands or shrinks according to the state where narrative is occurring. The will of happiness is related to repose, which is a form of slow and melancholic pleasure. The image –manifestation and tension- is a precious and fragile reality. An image is a spontaneous mental state. Imagery is the aspect of memory responsible for triggering narrative action. This produces remembrances. 2.4.
Geography of imagination
Imagination is understood as an irrepressible activity of the system body/mind/environment. Imagination is made up of successive states, active mental reactions to vital situations. Imagination is the warp and woof of life. Imagination: internal event where new situations, possibilities, personal roles or conduct sequences appear. These are projected on a mental screen as “figurations”, which are visual, hearing, verbal or made up of diverse sensory components (smell, tactile sensing, and so on) coming from complex associations of past (memory states) and current events. Imagination produces fantasies which are imageries articulated into stories. Cornelius Castoriadis studied imagination in Aristotle to reach the concepts of primary and collective (social) imagination. Imagination is different to sensibility and thought. Imagination is movement coming from sensibility in act. Imagination can recall figures either created by sensibility or images independent from it. Primary imagination. The soul never thinks with phantasms. Imagination is the foundation –the scope- of thinking. Imagination induces a person to action and makes it possible to create representations. Hume: imagination as the base for thought. Kant: imagination a priori, i.e. synthetic imagination. C. Castoriadis used the concept of collective imagination to explain the pertinence, defense and sense of both the social being and institutions. Social imagination (common sense) is made up of reference and value figures, award and punishment figures, affinity figures, and so on. Sigmund Freud considered fantasy, i.e. dreams and their narrative, a balancing element in group life. Carl Jung established imaginary archetypes which are collective figures/myths/fantasies (stories). Jacques Lacan made a difference among reality, symbols and images. In G. Bachelard’s view, imagination is a faculty, while imagery is a dynamics correlated to vital action. Such dynamics produces the inside, the fabric (warp and woof) of initiative (autopoiesis), of intel-legere (discrimination), of thought, of narrative, of memory, and so on. Imagination is a brain function, the reverberation of an organizational state (Robert M. Young, thought and brain). G. Bachelard considered that there is a dynamic/static imagery linked with another material imagery, i.e. with the existence (of air, earth, water and fire) among materials. The imagery of water involves immersion. The imagery of fire is tactile and involves confrontation. The imagery of earth involves installation and confrontation. The imagery of air is movemental and dynamic. 3. Imagination in drawing 3.1.
Imagination is the correlate of experience. Experience is the situational framework where a 63
reflective entity meets what is not itself, i.e. the world outside. Imagination is diffuse and dynamic figuration associated with movement, feelings and memory recalled at each experience. * Drawing means leaving marks of movement on a tracing surface. Marks are linked together and the tracing surface increasingly defines itself. Marks overlap, they swirl around and lay out in a frame. When displaying, they stimulate a peculiar imagery, the imagery of drawing. When a drawing is finished, the drawing itself –an autonomous figural object that excites surprise- is transformed into the place for imagery, the place for “dwelling”, the enveloping imagery. The variables of drawing are imaginal matrixes. They occur in the fantasies associated with drawing experience, which is similar to writing or any other creative experience. The tracing surface can be horizontal, vertical or inclined in relation to the action level. When this is horizontal, the actor may be above or underneath (such as Miquel Barcelo). The frame may be big or small so it can be differently appreciated by the eye on each occasion. Finally, the results are influenced by the characteristics of the marking material, such as hardness, easy tracing, erasure, interaction, and so on. Drawing is a search for sense through lines. This search reverberates according to meaningfulness of the emerging figures. Some meaningful situations are already established: in plan, i.e. from above, between the inside and the outside. In elevation, i.e. frontally, from far away, from the outside. In cross section, i.e. between the inside and outside (or from the inside). In perspective, i.e. obliquely, from the outside, from far away. 3.2.
Situational categories in drawing imagination
Situational categories are positions taken up when drawing. They appear in the process developed against the resistance of lines being plowed, be there awareness of the setting or not. According to location (of the figure in the tracing surface): - No awareness of frame. - Awareness of framing, acting as a “window” or a “world”. According to position (of the creator in relation to the object): - From the outside, from far away (from above). - From the inside, in the shade, from very close, surrounded. According to attention: - From the whole, from the framing, from a general network. - From the parts, units joining one after the other. According to activity, speed: - Fastness, trace, gesture, mobility, hardness. - Slowness, restless, shading, stroke. According to intensity: - Strength, decision, incision, sordidness, pathos. - Lightness, stroke, delicacy. According to contrast: - Harshness, pathos, contrast. - Fade (sfumatto), twilight. According to color: 64
4. Drawing The effort to approach drawing and drawings imagery means to verbally collect the experiences carried out in configuration and its later observation. Such exercise has been encouraged by works of different authors, such as G. Bachelard, Henry Michaux, Jose Luis Pardo, and so on. We will develop the narrative coming from drawing and from using drawings as scopes where staying and getting lost as systematically as possible. This work is neither exhaustive nor descriptive of standard dynamics, but only tries to be moving and encouraging, i.e. imaginatively active. First we differentiate between a material/bodily reactive imagery linked with drawing (with configuration), and a locating (meaningful) and passive imagery linked with contemplation of drawings. The first imagery is correlative with action. It appears when facing the resistance found when tracing and the overlap/comparison of the successive lines to the drawing previously drawn. The situational context may be different on each experience. 4.1.
To draw means to leave stable traces of bodily movements on a tracing surface, regardless of possible messages that later eyes can venture after drawing scrutiny. To draw means to record a dance, a spontaneous activity led by the draftsman’s body and hand. Matter is slippery in drawing. Matter can be plowed without being broken, it can be even colored, but only to a certain extent. The feedback to movements are lines, figures unexpectedly emerging, traces which remained invisible, discursive paths produced by aimlessly wandering. To draw means to be in front of the chemical magic of the reaction tool/movement/tracing surface. Movement and spontaneous gestures may produce pleasure, hence drawing may produce pleasure. Suffering appears when free action is postponed to conventionalized communicative purposes which distort spontaneity and force the guidelines set by that pleasure. It is impossible to control action when this is taking place. Such issue becomes clear in any reflection linked to the spontaneous pleasure of drawing. Hannah Arendt pointed out that to think and to make think are incompatible and impenetrable situations. They may happen successively, never at the same time. First you do, then you think, as if the attention necessary for each vital situation would require a totalized and exclusive quantum of energy. In drawing (as in writing), the hand extends through the pencil –the tool/prosthesis- and plows the tracing surface. This is stroked and scratched, marked and plowed. Simultaneously, the draftsman is plowed by the dreams of “imagining tracing”: his whole reality is broken down into the peculiar features of a world which progressively shows itself in the drawing. The hand at work puts the subject (the person at work) in a new order: the enrichment of his dynamized experience.
In this kingdom, any image provides speed. Imagination goes too fast. The work with the hands/brain acquires the prominent role of symbolizing images. However, these are adjusted in operation, in the pure feeling of action taking place. Imagination is always excessive and shaping. Artistic activity (from inside) means short-circuiting action/imagination. This results in the imaginary excess, the imagination of exaggeration, the reach of the limits in any situation. “Poet with a shaping hand, the workman gently works to find the happiness of the shaping union with matter. Imagination cannot yield to the nature of things. Imagination accepts its first images only to exaggerate them.” (G. Bachelard). The artistic imagination is “clever”, changing, lively and flexible against the fixed (stony) images of perception. The artistic work defines a universe, puts the artist in its center and organizes everything around as a whole environment. The artistic work is genesis in essence. The matter resistant to the artist’s efforts gets imaginarily recreated through material images which encourage work. When working matter, Homo Faber is never satisfied with his position of agent –geometrical thought-, but he enjoys the intimate resistance of basic materials. In drawing, the white or spotless part of uniform spaciousness gives way to the rest. Spaciousness gets plowed –a dance performed by hand- and consequently a lessened unit of pathos (blackness) is released, letting the –firm or doubtful- trace of a gestural reverie appear. A drawing is an incision, an anatomical operation, the dissection of a surface concealing an undefined organism. To draw is always to incise and to section. Drawing means cutting off the tracing surface, which in turn cuts off the draftsman’s imagery. 4.2.
Drawing is the pursuit of plowing a tracing surface which records plowing. There is never an absolute beginning for a drawing, but drawing means to begin again an interrupted drawing, i.e. to start plowing again an erased plowing. A drawing is drawn after the close environment has been prepared to house the process. A drawing is drawn on a tracing surface which can be horizontal, vertical or inclined. A drawing is drawn from above, frontally or obliquely. Figures are drawn in plan, in presence or foreshortened. 4.2.1. In plan In plan means from above. A territory is plowed perpendicular to gravity force. “In plan” is not a geometric projection, but a way to approach the working plan. In this position, drawing involves a dance or tracing on a plan where “representation” is not intended. Drawing figures are then either effective dance movements, or obstacle (limit, cut) marks. Spaciousness takes shape among them. 66
Drawing divides reality into autonomous portions and shows geometric or working relations among the parts of an ensemble. Drawing in plan contributes to increase knowledge, since information gets compacted and produces (configurational) models. Writing is a variety of drawing in plan (writing is drawing sounds). Plan dis-mantles, dis-arms, breaks down, puts some distance, dis-joints. Plan is territoriality, reverie of will. When a “representation” (i.e. the reproduction of an appearance) is to be done, lines are not free. They cannot give shape to a cosmos, but they form part of a concatenation aimed to outline the remembrance of what is to be represented. In such circumstances, imagination is flattened and the dynamic imagery disappears. Representation is a particular and specialized case in drawing. 4.2.2. In presence In presence, elevation is not a geometric projection either, but a position of the tracing surface in relation to the draftsman and the world. “In elevation” means frontally, with the force of gravity facing the bottom side of the plan defined by the surface. In elevation means on equal terms, on an equal presence. In elevation, the raised elements –those standing up- are checked out. As an art, painting (and photography) is configuration in presence arrived so far. 4.2.3. Obliquely Drawing on an oblique plan means that the relation between the draftsman and the act of drawing is not clearly defined. “Obliquely” is an anecdotal, forced and absurd state. 4.2.4. In section Any drawing is exploration of a section, a cut in time, a halt in the course of the successive accumulation that overlaps throughout time in progressive drawing. A drawing is always a figured, frozen, halted section which excites surprise in the continuous drawing/configuration. Any finished (left) drawing is a section, a substance segregated from the indefinite action flow. However, sections may be drawn expressly. The drawing may be sectioned by sectioning what is being drawn. In drawing, to section means to set at the figuration of the cut, i.e. what has an inner and an outer part. Section breaks reality according to a systematic pattern. It discretizes as an X-ray, going through the standing elements without distorting them. Section dissects, it makes transparent, it prepares the generic dwelling fabric. It categorizes ecstasy. It does not break into fragments, but goes through the shaping figures. There are sections in plan, although drawing in plan means to go through the figures traced by the own drawing, and there are sections in presence which cover all over the figuration/structuration and feel the gravity inherent to the frame. 4.2.5. Volume 67
Volume is a convention: the appearance of depth inherent to drawing “in presence”. It is a way to categorize the object according to its proximity to the draftsman. To represent the volume means to flatten the different plans of the perceptive field into the framing –into an elevation-. The conquest of volume has been hard and slow, partial and exhausting. The invention of flat figuration for volume is strictly associated with the translation of an event (happening in front of the draftsman) into figures. Representation involves putting some distance with the represented object, which is far away, separated and not accessible. This state is accepted and endorsed. Perspective drawing may be the invention allowing to check the distant position of the depicter from the depiction. Perspective lets him know and verify that such distance is irrefutable. The depicter does not want to get involved in his depiction, but needs to simulate asepsis. The weakening of representation corresponds with the progressive approaching to the picture of the “plastic fantasizer” until merging is produced. The “figuration”, the artist and the painting combine into the act of creating a figure. The artist gets into the painting, a framing (a window) which is transformed into a world. The “figuration” moves around this universe and plows a map of gestures or figurative contention, a dwelling for an event. Then, the painting becomes “a house”, lodging, geography in plan (with no background) or in section (frontally, from inside and from outside). Pictures are immediate representations of the distance between the depicter and the depiction. Expressionism is the arrival of the gesturing enveloping quality. Cubism and Futurism show the fight for distortion of the relativized presence. Abstraction and Abstract Expressionism mean newly-appeared planarity, the invention of both plan and enveloping quality, the fusion of the artist into the atmosphere of his work. De Stijl and Suprematism are the victory of planarity, the victory of the fusion of the creator into his work. Drawing for architectural design is drawing universes habitable for imagination. This drawing is done through trying and without conventions of depth. 4.3.
The appearance of paintings is a real event in the history of painting. From that moment, the choice of a precise size –a specific scope where tracing, i.e. a con-figuration will be executed- will be always presumed. A framing is a cutting in a theoretically unlimited configuration, a window where organized lines appear. It is a portion of a huge, enveloping and impossible to manage theatre stage. It is a sample of a reduced world, or a world itself cutting out a bigger world. The conscious framing is a geometric/materialized figure, or a surface/emptiness with precise geometric laws. The geometry of the frame is the cosmic structure of emptiness, its numerical soul, its figural determination, its proportional architectural framework. Any pictorial framework is a framework of self-referenced relations, a scope of linked abstract figures. 68
Therefore, drawing or painting means adjusting lines in the static/dynamic flat mesh of the image of an ideal territory observed from above or below â€“a floating image-. To choose the size of the canvas is the first cosmic decision. It means to choose the size of a nosize reduction, the figure of the stage where the act of drawing will be performed. Once the frame geometrization has been completed, the warp for any painting, i.e. the architecture of painting appears. The awareness of the framing brings another imaginary dimension into drawing: the whole and the parts, the composition as a pattern/contention of the situation of the figures to be drawn. Sometimes, lines are gathered until the area defined by the frame has been covered, while other times the figuration layout is determined by the frame geometry. 4.4.
Speed when drawing
Fast means out of control, in full restlessness/excitation. Speed makes the inherent surprise of tracing lines and its automatism evident. Speed blinds the person working fast, so lines disregard the tracing surface. Slowness converts tracing in caressing. Slowly drawing is a soothed wandering that allows nearly to think about, it is the pleasure of being in the framing. Slowly drawing is almost to settle in and to feel the traced lines as references for repose. 4.5.
Intensity is linked with speed in some way, even though tracing can be done slowly, sadistically. Strong means aggression, determination, urgency, anxiety, rejection, encounter. It means intensity blindness, similar to speed blindness. Gentleness is to overdo in slowness. Fast gentleness seems boring because gentleness is full caress, a touch in the surface that is a touch of the surface. The frame becomes a skin, a foreign body which gets qualified and modeled by drawing. Surface gentleness is coloring, slow shading. Gentleness in linear tracing means to slip by without obstacles, without urgency nor anxiety. 4.6.
Harsh, fade, bright, dull
Harshness is linked to tonal contrast, to chiaroscuro, while fade leads to range, to shading off, to twilight, to some kind of reversal of what is being drawn. Harshness and brightness are pathos, contrast, drawing as a split between radical atmospheres, between confronted sectors. Fade and dullness are shading, atmosphere, enveloping pathos. Fade without brightness is converting drawing into the genesis of an atmosphere. 5. Imagination versus drawings A left (finished) drawing is a plowed setting, a world of figures warped in linear networks defining areas of color and intensity. For G. Bachelard, terrestrial imagination has two aspects or focuses: opposition and inside. 69
The inside means the imagination of refuge, of repose. The outside means opposition, activity, fictions surrounding action. Images are not concepts, but quick appearances, traces, overlaps, boosts pushing us to action. They are echo but also repose, quietness, emptiness. Images do not confine to meanings, but these get multi-functionally surpassed. Synthesis between opposition and inside can be observed in many material –related to matterimages. This synthesis shows solidarity between extroversion and introversion. Imagination “furiously” wants to explore matter. Big human forces are images of intimacy, even though they display externally. Imagination is the subject transferred to the inside of things (G. Bachelard). To imagine is to be e-motionally affected. It is to ramble on enveloping qualities and encounters, to open the inside of anything susceptible of being experienced. It is to be sheltered, to be housed, to define a position for oneself in a determined fictitious scene. After reflection, any matter immediately becomes the image of a specific intimacy. Philosophers think that such intimacy is always concealed, but imagination never stops and instantly converts any matter into a value. All objects may be visited. Even more, any object is an entity inviting us to visit it, to get lost inside. * To confront a drawing means to get inside. The experience gained throughout time has served us to “outline” two ways of penetration and an insurmountable obstacle. The obstacle is representation. When drawing, to represent means to link lines in units recalling plausibly visible situations. Representation is generally done “in presence”, i.e. frontally, searching for the generation of figures which can be appreciated as “visible objects placed in the environment”. To represent means to describe visible things as far as visible. To represent is a way to deflect attention from the basic nature of drawing. To observe the representation means to stop observing the action of representing. There is a historical relationship between progress in representation –an insurmountable distance is kept between the observer and the work- and release from representation to ease the observer’s penetration into the drawing. There are two ways to get into a drawing: an active way and a passive way. The active way means to penetrate the work by updating it, i.e. by feeling the dynamics involved in its realization. The passive way –as G. Bachelard mentioned in “Earth and Reveries of Repose”- means to enter the object and settle down, so as the observer can feel protected and sheltered, and observe himself in repose. 5.1.
The active way to get into a drawing means to understand this as the result of an action that could have been carried out by the observer. The drawing is regarded as a consequence of close and well-known drawing. Such access is the hermeneutic position valid for any human production. 70
The observer penetrates the creator, or rather, converts the creator’s work into a forgotten product from his own activity. The productive situation gets familiar and may be objectivated. The active access into a work is made easier when the observer knows the creative process as a consequence of his own practice. There is much literature about the way of entering/being in front of/being into a work (drawing). We have looked at this matter in “Interpretation of Artworks” (Javier Segui de la Riva. Editorial Complutense. Madrid, 1996). This kind of penetration produces well-known and disseminated fantasies (imaginations). * The will (reveries or allowed wishes) to look inside things converts the vision into violence –the search for the remains, for the flaw- aimed at finding the crack which lets the observer violate concealed secrets. The wish to observe the interior of things is the wish to look at what is not visible. What must not (and cannot) be seen. The lack of vision produces tense reveries. As H. Michaux said, “Beyond the external limits, how wide the inner space is; what a relief. I put an apple on my table. Then I put myself inside of this apple”. Any dreamer wishing to dwell the apple will be allowed to do it in the form of a tiny person. Dreamt things never conserve their original size, they never get steady at a specific dimension. The possessive fantasies are Lilliputian; this is the basic postulate of imagination. Jacob (in Bachelard’s work) said: “Tiny things are huge things. To imagine repose is to dwell an interior”. Forces inside small things are dreamt as cataclysms. Any object can be visited. The architectural situation is the imagination of stillness that can be aroused in “all” objects. Philosophers wish to live the being whose interior they contemplate. However, Philosophy intends to externalize such interior up to make it stony and distant. Any interior is defended by reserve. Live (for dreamers) takes place in a small space and a fast time. In the inside, life is curled up, it is withdrawn. Everything is a shell. The imaginative life from inside makes the cosmos tiny. It converts everything into an envelope. 5.2.1. Enveloping quality in plan The drawings drawn from the vertical plan with no depth are habitable as recognizable spaciousness. They encourage slow movement through their interior, as Leonardo da Vinci understood –see “The Reflection of Mobility in Architecture”, EGA, No. 9, 2004-. In plan, the artist plays with lines that plow and divide the surface, but also with cuttings between lines as redoubts of a slow and carefree normality. The ordinary interest is sometimes focused on the areas among obstacles. Any drawing (sectioned) in plan is a planimetric geography, a potential design for a building. Such 71
peculiarity made all “concrete” drawings (from Rationalism, De Stijl, Abstraction, and Suprematism) containing geometric figures architecturally productive. 5.2.2. To penetrate in presence In drawings, presence may be penetrated in two ways. In “representative” drawings, the succession of regards, gestures and positions rests on words. This is the usual imagery in most of books describing artworks. If there is an object in the distance in a representative drawing, one might settle down inside –as H. Michaux did-, although this inside be made up of words, of tense situations drawn by the “represented” story and not of amniotic, enchanting and enveloping atmospheres. In non-representative drawings, presence is a place to settle down thanks to the support provided by drawing elements. In a shaded and informal drawing, twilight comes out and envelopes the observer, who is captivated by the new atmosphere. In a drawing sectioned by well-marked profiles (lines), there is an appeal to repose which turns into a way of resting, of feeling remoteness and of being out of oneself. When the sectioned presence is productive in terms of architectural design, the world shaped in the drawing is a place for ecstasy and immobility, a kingdom subordinated to verticality. 6.
Drawing in architecture
The imaginal characteristics of drawing and drawings “in plan”, in “plane” presence and in “sectional” presence come from the relative situation of the draftsman about the tracing surface/frame. Imaginal characteristics are responsible for the graphic configurations that are finally understood and lived as fictions. The speculations on life drawn by reveries of will (tracing) and repose (dwelling of drawings) take place in them. This work is to be continued. It will be the end of con-figurative understanding of (linguistic) graphic expression, as well as the fundamental of the propositional and transformative nature of drawing as a design tool for dwelling environment. 7.
Bachelard, G. “La tierra y los ensueños de la quietud” (“Earth and Reveries of Repose”). Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE). Mexico City, 2006. Bachelard, G. “La tierra y los ensueños de la voluntad” (“Earth and Reveries of Will”). FCE. Mexico City, 1994. Jullien, François. “De la esencia o del desnudo” (“De l’Essence ou du Nu”). Editorial Alpha Decay. Barcelona, 2004. Michaux, H. “Escritos sobre pintura” (“Writings on Painting”). Colegio Oficial de Aparejadores y Arquitectos Técnicos de la Región de Murcia (COAATMU) / Professional Association of Technical Architects of Murcia. Murcia, 2000. Segui de la Riva, J. “El reflejo de la movilidad en la arquitectura” (“The Reflection of Mobility in Architecture”). Expresión Gráfica Arquitectónica (EGA) –magazine-, No. 9. Valencia, 2004. Segui de la Riva, J. “La interpretación de la obra de arte” (“Interpretation of Artworks”). Editorial Complutense. Madrid, 1996. 8.
Published articles and writings about drawing and architectural design 72
Notes about Conceptional Drawing. Sevilla, 1986. About Drawing in Architecture. EGA, No. I, 1993. For Drawing Poetics. EGA, No. 3, 1995. The Drawing, a Place for Memory. Florence, 1996. A Drawing Impossible to Touch. EGA, No. 5, Pamplona, 1997. The Reflection of Mobility in Architecture. EGA, 1998 (conference proceedings). Writings for an Introduction to Architectural Design. 1996. Designing Architecture. 1995. Pedagogical Approach and References (of Drawing and Architectural Design). 1998. The Argument for Drawing. 2001. Classifications for Drawing and Drawings. 2002. Innovations in Teaching of Drawing. 2002. Plastic History of Seawater. 2002. Drawing and Architectural Design. 2002. The Search for Light Figures. Blackness, Erasure and the Draftsman among Gray Tones. 2002. Works Genealogy. 2002. Graphic Thinking. 2004. Twilight and Light. 2004. Face to Face. 2005. Summary of the main points discovered in drawing and drawings
From inside. The procedure. Nature of drawing (Notes... 1986). Drawing as action. Bernice Rose. Drawing as love. Giulio Carlo Argan. Imagination (1st approach). Drawing dynamics (1995). The graphic language. The appearance of painting. Writing, drawing. 1997. To touch and not to touch. 1997. From outside. The graphic language and its fictional and appearance function. (Notes... 1986). Universal techniques for ideation (visualization), preparation for working. Representation, the adventure of joining together. The surprise of the duplicated object. As a mediation. Philippe Boudon (unspecified conception). Plan and section (1998). Drawing in architectural design (2000).
Translation : MarĂa J. Uzquiano and Emilia Pallado.
Optimization of practice (25-10-07)
Coordinator: Javier Segui de la Riva Research report 1.
2. 3. 4. 4.1. 4.2. 4.3. 4.4. 4.5. 4.6. 4.7. 5. 5.1. 5.2. 6. 7.
Architectural project, composition, synthesis, architectural design. The current situation of architectural design. Architectural design map in the curricula offered by schools of architecture. First demarcation: levels in architectural design. Second demarcation: stages in architectural design. Third demarcation: the mediating role of configuration in architectural design. Fourth demarcation: prompt situations. Fifth demarcation: operating procedures. Sixth demarcation: teaching management. Seventh demarcation: references in architectural design. The problems of learning architectural design in schools of architecture. What is architecture? Generalizable unreality of architectural design. Conclusions. Bibliographic references.
This report is the culmination of two periods of study and thorough analysis of the structure and – both explicit and implicit – statements regarding design problems formulated to students in schools of architecture. The target courses focus on design of building artifacts to house private and collective life in advanced societies. Initially, we looked for and gathered together problem instructions and teaching documents from Spanish and foreign universities where we had contacts. Simultaneously, we sought the periodicals most used for reference in these centers and the most updated works regarding the formulation of design problems for habitable environments. After data were written on index cards, the information gathered was analyzed. The first year, 255 problem statements were analyzed and 36 reference documents were consulted. The second year, 250 statements were investigated, besides other documents. Therefore, this report is the compilation of the conclusions drawn from nearly 500 design problems presented to students from different schools in Europe and America and representing different societies and views of architecture. The sample has not a meaningful size yet, although it is wide enough to get a glimpse of the intention and background of this peculiar kind of training in higher education. 2.
Architectural project, composition, synthesis, architectural design.
Between 30% and 50% of the time of study in undergraduate programs offered by schools of architecture (this name is used all over the world) is assigned to the tentative trying of – more or less technological – solutions to design problems through drawing, model-making or computer virtualization. The issues include the development of socialized human activities and the adaptation to the environment, local weather conditions and symbolic significance of the city. This generic training takes place in studios and is sometimes addressed to problem solving teams. It is produced through a kind of group activity that attempts to create converging criteria. The tentative solutions presented by students are usually confronted in “review sessions”. Coursework is criticized and compared to existing or reference buildings ideologically chosen by professors or stars invited to these sessions. The courses/workshops are named differently. The terms applied actually reveal different 74
attitudes with regard to the training in each country. In Spain and Latin America, the course is called “architectural projects”. In Italy and adjacent countries – as Spain a century ago – it is named “architectural composition”. In Greece it is known as “architectural synthesis”. Finally, in English-speaking countries, the term used is “architectural design”. The names are always nouns (projects, design, composition, synthesis) and not verb forms (to project, to design, to compose or to synthesize). For some people, this is a way to avoid involvement in pedagogical attention to teaching methods. It would be replaced (like in academicism) by the special care given to coursework criticism and the criteria applied. It should be remarked that the verb “to project” has existential meaning: to throw forward, to anticipate, to estimate for the future. “To compose” strictly refers to grouping (arrangement) able to be ruled. “To synthesize” is to integrate, far from “to form conjectures”. “To design” is to configure; the term is not tinged with tension because it designates the concise figuration with no reference to the meanings involved. We will always say “to project” either buildings or environments (in the Spanish version). We believe that the existential (conjectural) striving expressed by this verb form is unavoidable in any work related to altering the natural state of the environment. 3.
The current situation of architectural design (the design of scopes for life).
The university centers that offer training for the trade of “proposer of habitable built environments” are called schools or departments of architecture. Nonetheless, there is a lively and broad scale debate on the meaning of “architecture”. Architecture is a pompous word. Etymologically, it comes from the combination of the Greek arche (fundamental, principle) and tecne (transforming potential, organizational capacity…). The term refers to something like a basis that makes arrangement by systematic planning possible. Architecture is a meta-physical and generic word applicable to any performance that allows organization and is related to the fundamentals of situations. As many experts on the subject, we prefer to use it to designate the element of power inherent to any building, as well as the ideal mythology of Pythagorean origin – where architecture is understood as a source of shaping and idealizing power. Nevertheless, we accept that some situations may also be termed “architectural”: the preparation of oneself and one’s environment to design (to anticipate, to tentative try), so that the results of that effort will be recognized as “architecture”. If architecture directs for a metaphysical entelechy, the architectural aspect of building design refers to the author’s search for a material configurality (the design). This is based on reasons (arche) and organized in a way that allows reproduction by industrial means in the form of a usable object (techne). Our analysis is disturbed by the word “architecture”, hence it will be set aside from now on. This decision is the first hypothesis of this report. If “architecture” were removed from program curricula and from the work performed by architects, then what would remain? The answer is: building technology, building construction and something else with no proper name. In other words, there would remain the conjecture formed on habitable coexistence. There would be the knowledge on habitable environments for (social) groups, on organization of settings for everyday life. We mean architecture without architecture (a sort of zero degree of architecture). This would be the result of suppressing its intended, model and ideal universalizing power. Then, only the work striving to anticipate built environments for human coexistence would remain. P. Boudon (1971) emphasized the knowledge on the environment (environmental sciences) which is linked to 75
practice, to the art of “surroundings” or “location” (of spaciousness’ organization). P. Sloterdijk (2006) called this activity “production of location” or “production of immunity envelopes”. Architecture without architecture (and without art) is only knowledge conjecturing on locational machinery. The skill area would cover modelization (miniaturization) of enveloping configurations. These would be planned as scenes for behaviors and shocking presences that could be manufactured/built later on. Architecture without architecture may be categorized in attentions following a systematic procedure. Architecture without architecture might focus on referential – diverse but concrete – skills that, consequently, could be taught and sequentially arranged throughout a training program. There would be higher technical schools of “location”, where architecture would be considered a historical and fictional reference. At the heart of this demystified concern/skill training, we could wonder if historical architecture is something that we are capable to deal with. We could also wonder if it is a deal of contents exclusive to some buildings or a universal constituent of any material arrangement. Our first hypothesis made us avoid trouble in understanding and deciphering data from the gathered documents. Our analysis has been focused on the practice known as “design” and included in undergraduate architecture programs. It is based on the tentative trying of configurations to conjecture buildings (environments, locations, envelopes, and so on). The configurations must be constructively reproducible and thought for human use in specific places and societies. 4.
Architectural design map in the curricula offered by schools of architecture.
In countries such as Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Nordic countries and some others, the degree granted by the university departments offering “architectural” programs allows professional practice. In some others, such as Italy, France, the USA, Chile, United Kingdom, and so on, the degree awarded after successful completion of the program requirements does not allow practice nor guarantee professional competence. This difference is remarkable in the tension among training objectives in each country. There is a direct relationship between undergraduate programs leading to professional/non-professional degrees and the level of refinement required to students in terms of technical/economical precision and compliance with regulations. Requirements are higher in the first group of countries, and lower – sometimes even incidental – in the second. 4.1. First demarcation: levels in architectural design In the countries where undergraduate programs lead to professional degrees, design problems are formulated from situations common in professional practice, particularly in the last years of the program and also in the senior design project (course). Students are presented with problems coming from public competitions or with detailed instructions for specific places and required to offer technically, economically and legally viable solutions. However, in the first years of these programs and also in those where requirements are not that high, the range of problem statements is wider. They are always aimed at introducing patterns useful to set working methods, attentional/signifying systems and conjectural procedures. The ritual and symbolic fundamentals of theory and practice (including criticism/convictions) inherent to “anticipate designs of environments for life” in real or fictional places are explicitly (seldom) or implicitly covered. 4.2. Second demarcation: stages in architectural design. 76
Some imaginary, operational, and cognitive adjustments take always place in design practice, as follows: 4.2.1.
Material complexity can only be managed after it has been reduced and signified in an operating means that the user can easily manipulate. Firstly, students must get used to miniaturize the stage of human behavior, i.e. the real world. Miniaturization is achieved by drawing, model-making or computer virtualization. Later, miniatures are experienced as accommodations allowing visitation.
The experience of building environments – voids arranged to receive life – is only learnt through perception of their “enveloping capacity”. The student must learn to find his/her way around the drawing and be aware that the “envelope” cannot be “figured” since its whole (holistic) images are more closely tied to the attitude of repose than to representation. G. Bachelard’s imagination of stillness refers to this particular learning.
4.2.3. To anticipate a future accommodation means to understand the protective character of built environment, which is also the setting for stories (behavioral narrative). This consideration involves two different courses of action. The exercise of understanding makes the student see the drawings of buildings – their miniaturized display – as the background of real-life situations. The exercise of proposing leads to formulate utopias in the form of social dynamics able to be narrated and to provoke the conjecturing of unexpected scenarios. Utopia becomes a leap into unreality to conjecture innovation proposals. Functionalism is a procedure to generate spaces from the figuration of chained bodily/social actions. 4.2.4.
To design means to miniaturize spaces, to inhabit miniatures and to experience their enveloping capacity. It means to relate configuration to behavioral narrations but also to understand that work is being done through a modeling tool allowing configuration to be constructively reproduced. In this attentional stage, the quality of building is transmitted to the miniaturized tool, which turns into a figurative construction conjecture.
To design (to be in the position to design) covers two other significant attentions: the adjustment to the environment (sustainability) and the use of diverse miniaturized figures provided with symbolic roles in the operating means. The adjustment to the environment is achieved through addition of geographic data to the drawings. Symbolization requires the representation of the environment as the framework for the new figuration (design).
4.3. Third demarcation: the mediating role of configuration in architectural design Miniaturization is a natural process inherent to any kind of cognitive operation, be it conceptual, theoretical or artistic/receptive. Cognitively speaking, learned knowledge may be sized according to each situation’s requirements. Any focused object-of-interest may be enlarged or reduced. Related/drawn figuration (figuration modeled in any sort of way) is thus the imaginary (unreal) basis for anything that cannot be directly experienced. Figuration itself is magnified (radicalized) or diminished (reduced). It is produced through operating means and its imaginary capacity, its nature of unreal experience gets finally qualified by them. Tools could be classified in three groups: drawings, scale models and computer virtualizations (3D configurations of objects from outside/far away and “morphic” configurations from the inside). Such approach leads to investigation on the imaginary capacity of figurations of the environment 77
for human coexistence. The section covering this matter is not entirely defined at present. The tools most frequently used to miniaturize the built environment in schools of architecture are scale models, construction games and architectural drawings. These provide information on arrangement and assembly in plan, cross-section and elevation. Many research works on the imaginary capacity of such figurative techniques are currently underway. Plan provides the best setting for constructive/dynamic imagination, as well as cross-section does for static/aesthetic and quietist imagination, and elevation does for symbolic imagination. They allow the author to experience the figured place from the inside, the outside and the bounds between both spaces. 4.4. Fourth demarcation: prompt situations. As it has been mentioned above, design is the core of practice in architectural programs. It covers the work of conjecturing buildings by tentative trying of configurations constructively reproducible for human use. While learning, figuration that can be miniaturized is particularly oriented to accommodate stories, to simulate building arrangements and to provide locations in the environment with a meaning. Design practice is based on giving response to academic proposals that are formulated as prompt requests. Our study showed that the following exercises are particularly frequent: 1.
Just miniaturization. Big elements are reduced and become transcriptions, large plan-view and other maps, scale models of places, diagrams, plans and cross-sections.
Work with miniatures. Practice is done from drawings, scale models or construction games. These are linked with narrations and changed following new ones. The miniaturized figures are thus (imaginarily) inhabited and transformed.
Manipulation of materials to find inhabitable fantasies. The spectrum covers from the imagery of “opposition” (Bachelard) to the dwelling.
Change of designs already figured (represented) and miniaturized. This prompt involves to find the meaning of the existing design and to add or to remove some functions. Criteria for harmony (“the way…”) or contrast are usually applied.
Narrative on (private/collective) life’s situations with envelopes. Narrations may show common or radically alien (extreme) lifestyles. Situations may happen in extreme places and be enveloped through extreme techniques. Narrative can be fictional or fantastic.
Inhabitation of figurations coming from other fields. Everything can be a building if it has the appropriate magnitude. Any artifact properly sized for a narration is the design of a building.
Inhabitation of contexts. Any context (environment) may be a chance to try out settings for human coexistence, even though such context cannot be graphically represented. For instance: music, landscapes, paintings, neighbourhoods, and so on.
Inhabitation of the town/city, which is considered the place of coexistence par excellence. The walk (drift) serves to warn the user. The environment becomes the prosthesis of the human body. 78
Design of buildings similar to others considered singularly good. The primary adjustments to the projective space are taken for granted or assimilated. The statement is usually made up of instructions (including dimensions) and urban regulations. The place is well defined and, sometimes, economic (construction) conditions are also formulated.
4.5. Fifth demarcation: operating procedures. There is a standard procedure for design practice, as follows: 1.
The starting point is a referenced situation. The situation is the prompt and some writings, guidelines and/or existing buildings which are presented as examples serve as references.
Students are required operational work: sketches, notes, diagrams, models, and so on.
An idea-sharing session takes place while coursework is being done.
There is a review session after completion of the coursework. Criticism covers the operational sequence developed during work.
Prompts are organized differently within this general scheme. In theory (implicit assumption), to design is to tentatively try configurations following a circular path of attentional (signifying) and categorial stages (see J. Segui de la Riva). However, the analysis of design problems in this study shows variations in the attentional sequence. The most remarkable paths (methods) are the following: 1.
Construction/formalist method (programs offered by Universidad Veracruzana, University of Brighton, Polytechnic University of Madrid, and others). • • • •
Situationist method (programs offered by University College London – The Bartlett –, Architectural Association, UK university and university colleges in general, University of Alicante in Spain, and others). • • • •
Experiences such as walking, observing and finding nearby places are suggested. They are recorded as movies, pictures, drawings, and so forth. There are images linked to/derived from these experiences. The images are used as figurations of architecture. The figurations are adjusted to become building units with specific instructions.
Building construction method. • •
Some touching images are generated in the group or taken as references. If they are not previously located, they are ascribed to concrete places. Uses involving occupation are proposed. The configuration is approached from a construction perspective.
There is a construction system clearly defined and a playful or emerging situation (immigration, crisis, and so on). The latter is supported by data. The possible dwellings are conjectured.
Fictionalist method. • • •
The starting points are daily/fictitious narrations, urban utopias or ecological stories. Narrations are provided with related figures. The figures are transformed into dwelling schemes. 79
The dwelling schemes lead to designs with specific locations.
4.6. Sixth demarcation: teaching management Operating procedures are implemented in studios. There, students are led to engagements with work in shared environments. There are diverse ways to manage the atmosphere within groups regardless the faculty and chosen methods. Three kinds of dynamics have been observed, as follows: 4.6.1. Conventional dynamics. The formal paradigm serving as a pattern, the representational system and the structure of problem statements are set by the professor through figures, references and clear examples. 4.6.2. Self-management. Both the students and the professor assume the duties of setting the course dynamics and students’ performance evaluation. This system is commonly applied in the intermediate years in undergraduate programs leading to professional degrees and in all years in the programs leading to non-professional degrees. Self-management may include one or several of the following extreme positions: • Exploration and proposal of references. • Formulation of problem statements. • Problem solving addressed by teams, not individually. • Discussions during idea-sharing sessions. • Criteria for student performance evaluation. 4.6.3
. Experimental dynamics. This was the usual system at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Providing solutions is not required, just providing situations instead. The failure and the final results are assumed by the group. An agreement is reached on the time devoted to the studio as well.
4.7. Seventh demarcation: references in architectural design. The practice of architectural design will always require investigation on the intermediate conjectural unreality. To design means to anticipate, “to propose solutions for the future as if the future were present”. Furthermore, buildings form part of the general cultural history. They have been and are symbols of forces in power. The “history of architecture” is the scope of reflection where buildings are gathered according to diverse progressive criteria. In this context, writings, theories, existing buildings and authors are chosen following ideologies and conceptions of architecture and architecture without architecture in individual studios. Each set of references provides precise indication of the convictions held by the studio faculty. It is difficult to establish a system of classification because currents change according to fashion trends, but the following groups of references could be distinguished: 1. 2.
(Almost exclusively) architectural writings and buildings designed by selected architects. (Mainly) literary, philosophical and sociological texts, and buildings “canonized” for different reasons (not just authorship). 80
Personal (professor’s) writings, and other texts and works selected with no recognizable criteria.
These are the general cases, since there is no agreement on the theories, writings, works and architects to which students should obligatorily refer. Dispersion is partially due to the lack of open theories on design. Another cause is the global debate on the meaning of architecture in the unique capitalist market, where the production (development) of buildings provokes confused situations. 5.
The problems of learning architectural design in schools of architecture.
Nowadays, an “architect” is a professional of “configuration” (arrangement) of buildings (as a general term), regardless geographical peculiarities. The architect works together with specialists in technology and industry to define models “capable of being built” by the companies that manufacture buildings. All over the world, the architect is involved in industry. This sector has a leading position in multilevel (funds/technology) resource mobilization in the ensemble of the related proposers, policyand decision-makers. The architects’ scope of work is always determined by the building production available on the market. At the end of the day, the scope depends on the role assigned to architects by developers and allowed by insurance companies. Broadly speaking, an architect belongs to the professional body responsible for the proposal and control of manufacturing of building artifacts whose complexity is undefined. As a production system, the building trade has not been an author’s business for long – from Renaissance in some views. In other words, there is not one single person who controls conception and building. Today, more than ever, buildings are designed within “factories”, where the duty of forming ideas is parceled out and addressed by different and disconnected teams. Each team is assigned a particular portion of the work that is integrated into an apparent whole, previously defined by circumstances or by the whim of some relevant person. Later, the work is developed by another task force, whose operators provide services for different industrial sectors. Companies hierarchically take part in construction: each incorporating firm adjusts their products to fit into the preceding framework with the only purpose of making the superficial appearance of the finished building “not shocking”. With few exceptions, building trade has become a polyphonic industry divided up into tens or hundreds of co-authors deciding on small parts (units) of their products. According to R. Koolhas, there are ten thousand unknown architectural firms throughout the world producing the vast bulk of buildings that provide architectural meaninglessness to the chaos of the generic city. Only some singular artifacts, which are sometimes associated with disproportionate costs, stand out from the rest. These buildings are produced by certain firms that work as trademarks under the name of “star” architects. Such exceptions feed the morbid fascination of critics and the iconic (ideologized) references of schools of architecture around the world. The training of professionals runs against the impossibility of teaching students to be wageearners or partial actors in a hypertextual ensemble process at the mercy of the changing nature of building trade. How teaching someone to be a part of a depersonalized collective production system? How teaching someone to be a co-creator of exquisite corpses? We only can teach architecture if teaching is set in the fiction of chimerical architecture. Teaching 81
can only be justified on the hypothesis that design, i.e. the tentative trying of alternative solutions, will replace construction. Furthermore, the capacity of the budding architect to become exclusively responsible for the product and to oversee the building process without any lack of foresight is highlighted. Finally, it is assumed that he/she can develop the indispensable genius for distinguishing between good and bad architecture. The aura of the word “architecture” has been rubbed off in this attempt to analyze training offered by schools of architecture. The contents of undergraduate programs have been qualified “architecture-free”, so there is no need to resort to deceitful, elitist and corporatist fictions. The training can focus on the development of skills to conjecture – through miniaturizing tools – figurations of buildings constructively reproducible. These will be finally subjected to criticism in the illusory and unreal scope encompassed by the currently off-target term “architecture”. Within this approach, we will point out the subject matter underlying the teaching of design in the programs offered by the schools under consideration. 5.1. What is architecture? The only possible training is focused on design “without architecture” but at the heart of the question on architecture. Everything is architecture for some people and in some places. It is assumed that the word refers to the fundamental of the ability to arrange human understanding. At the other extreme, architecture is considered by some people a “quality” just ascribable to some buildings. It would be some kind of mysterious factor that links these products with a world ideal and well-known for experts (specialists or connoisseurs). In general, out of university departments, “architecture” is applied to (good and bad) buildings. Maybe it happens this way because the word is definitely related to the capacity or power to modify the natural environment through the introduction of devices. As Nic Clear, responding to the ideas of Professor Iain Borden, wrote: “Architecture is objects and practices (…). Architecture is ideas and theories (…). And architecture is experiences (…). So architecture is inherently unpredictable and uncertain. Or, to put it another way, architecture always has the potential to be truly new and stimulating, a catalyst to all manner of thoughts and purposes. This is why architecture is a set of machines of possibility. The most radical of all architectures suggests that architecture is not just a building, that architecture is not just what architects do, not just what people experience or write. (…) We can say that the most radical architecture is that which dares to say, “what is architecture?”(…). And this is also what a school of architecture should be. Certainly a school is (…) a exchanges and questions, disputes and trials, speculations and experiments. (…) questions of ourselves, we ask questions of architecture and of cities, and we give answers through designs, words and speculations. An architecture school is yet another of possibilities”.
place of We ask potential machine
Architecture is something (some kind of attention) related to uses, environmental experience, buildings, spaces and different types of movement and representation. To be an architecture professor or student means to belong to a human group involved in the question: what is architecture? 5.2. Generalizable unreality of architectural design 82
Everyone agrees on this point more or less: the design of an architectural project is an existential process. It is a function of the vital activity involved in everyday life and, of course, in collective (social and political) issues. To project “oneself” is to look to oneself in a different position, to settle down in a more or less operating unreality that is termed “phantasm”, “fantasy” or “imagery”. The experience of such dimension is required to embark on any undertaking involving transformation. The change of the environment and adaptation (another way of changing) are survival strategies. A design is a projection into the future. It is the haphazard and surprising course that maintains the survival of any kind of life. Hence, the exploration of dynamics related to designing “places that respond to specific needs” (the “production of space” for H. Lefebvre) brings to light a background applicable to all tasks of transformational adaptation. The evidence on these dynamics produces the “training directed to design”. This technique may be applied to any training focused on the transformation of the general environment. Actually, the use of any technique involves transformation. 6.
We have thoroughly analyzed practice in courses (studios) focused on the development of architectural designs (projects on environments where the studied human life can take place) in schools of architecture. The goal was to set a framework for optimization of this kind of pedagogy. Our study is not exhaustive but it is representative. The following conclusions can be drawn: 1.
The training on management of inhabitable environments in schools of architecture is always qualified by the assumptions held in relation to architecture and the role of the architect as a whole. The approach is different whether undergraduate programs lead to professional degrees or not. However, the fact that the designer controls the production of buildings is taken for granted in all centers and teaching is based on it. In the schools awarding non-professional degrees, the level of pressure is lower and the degree of tolerance is higher than in the others. This aspect usually favors the search for innovation. The role of the architect is demystified in the less conservative centers. There, teaching is an open play and architecture is understood as an idealistic intent. These features encourage the appearing of “creative atmospheres”.
Any architectural design studio is based on an ethical agreement: the play of developing conjectures complying with requirements set collectively or by some kind of authority. When the ethical agreement covers criticism and progress evaluation, the work is open to collective creation and learning gets enriched.
It happens to be really disquieting that the role played by the miniaturizing tools used in practice is not expressly – in fact – known. The scarce consideration given to the imaginary attentional capacity linked with these tools is also worrisome. To make this imaginary/operating connection clear means to make learning definitely easier. Optimization cannot be achieved unless a part of teaching is devoted to consolidate such peculiarity of any design process.
The approach to training is prone to fantasizing in some countries, whereas it is rather operational and based on daily life in others. 83
We have found no elements to prioritize one particular stance. Actually, strategies combining both approaches are applied in most schools. It seems that the most suggestive designs are related to positions taken to extremes in each case, either bordering on extravagance or getting far from it. 5.
The formulation of design problems must always run in parallel to progression in courses covering theory and technology matters. The accumulation of successive experiences is a feature common to all curricula.
These conclusions could be summarized as follows: 1.
To design is to anticipate, to conjecture the future in front of the others. This goal is difficult to achieve if future teeters on the brink. The quest for exciting futures must be a priority in higher education. Future is imagined collectively.
The environment is everything around us, both natural and man-made. It is the place for community and technology. To understand the environment means to manage it, to criticize it, to caricature it, to make fun of it, to fantasize about it. To design places means to conjecture stage settings for real life, i.e. a collective life developing plausibly, sustainably and viably. The environment is better explored in a group than individually.
To design means to work in an operating means allowing the user to reduce the world, to easily reconfigure the means itself and to fantasize to the utmost. The means should be able to receive diverse – the appropriate – significations. This subject is of paramount importance. Some systems of figurative miniaturization (for instance, 3D computer graphics software) hinder the user from conjecturing some signifying features because the intervening technique blocks their way. The best tools are those which encompass a wider scope and give greater freedom, opening out in the production of artworks.
7. Bibliographic references • •
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The Scope of Design & Drawing in the Renewal of the Architect’s Training
Architecture without architecture Architecture is a pompous word. Etymologically, it comes from the combination of the Greek arche (fundamental, principle) and tecne (transforming potential, organizational capacity…). The term refers to something like a basis that makes arrangement by systematic planning possible. Architecture is a meta-physical and generic word applicable to any performance that allows organization and is related to the fundamentals of situations (see G. Agamben, 1993).
Figure 1. The Tower of Babel (P. Brueghel the Elder) As many experts on the subject, we prefer to use it to designate the element of power inherent to any building, as well as the ideal mythology of Pythagorean origin – where architecture is understood as a source of shaping and idealizing power. Nevertheless, we accept that some situations may also be termed “architectural”: the preparation of oneself and one’s environment to design (to anticipate, to tentative try), so that the results of that effort will be recognized as “architecture”. If architecture directs for a metaphysical entelechy, the architectural aspect of building design refers to the author’s search for a material configurality (the design). This is based on reasons (arche) and organized in a way that allows reproduction by industrial means in the form of a usable object (techne). Our analysis is disturbed by the word “architecture”, hence it will be set aside from now on. This decision is the first hypothesis of this report. If “architecture” were removed from program curricula and from the work performed by architects, then what would remain? The answer is: building technology, building construction and something else with no proper name. In other words, there would remain the conjecture formed on habitable coexistence. There would be the knowledge on habitable environments for (social) groups, on organization of settings for everyday life. We mean architecture without architecture (a sort of zero degree of architecture). This would be the result of suppressing its intended, model and ideal universalizing power. Then, only the work striving to anticipate built environments for human coexistence would remain. P. Boudon (1971) emphasized the knowledge on the environment (environmental sciences) which is linked to practice, to the art of “surroundings” or “location” (of spaciousness’ organization). P. Sloterdijk (2006) called this activity “production of location” or “production of immunity envelopes”. Architecture without architecture (and without art) is only knowledge conjecturing on locational machinery. The skill area would cover modelization (miniaturization) of enveloping configurations. These would be planned as scenes for behaviors and shocking presences that could be manufactured/built later on. Architecture without architecture may be categorized in attentions following a systematic procedure. Architecture without architecture might focus on referential – diverse but concrete – skills that, consequently, could be taught and sequentially arranged throughout a training program. There would be higher technical schools of “location”, where architecture would be considered a historical and fictional reference.
At the heart of this demystified concern/skill training, we could wonder if historical architecture is something that we are capable to deal with. We could also wonder if it is a deal of contents exclusive to some buildings or a universal constituent of any material arrangement. Our first hypothesis made us avoid trouble in understanding and deciphering data from the gathered documents. Our analysis has been focused on the practice known as “design” and included in undergraduate architecture programs. It is based on the tentative trying of configurations to conjecture buildings (environments, locations, envelopes, and so on). The configurations must be constructively reproducible and thought for human use in specific places and societies. Space of design We call “space of design” the setting or situation where the architect can design. It is a scope of activity and reflection, a dwelling interior where professionals settle down to work. It may become an ivory tower, a place of retreat or a microworld. The drawing tools, the work surface, the room lighting, even the covering of boundaries play a role in such gestating cubicle. This womb is a source of intensity which fosters creation, and is absolutely necessary to work and to understand others’ works. Currently, there is an exhibition of A. Giacometti's work in Paris. A picture shows his studio, where he erased his figures once and again. He said: “I have never destroyed my work voluntarily. What I call to destroy is just to unmake for improving and going on”. The studios of P. Mondrian, F. Bacon, J. Pollock, W. de Kooning and many others are also famous. Other workplaces, such as J. Oteiza’s and C. Brâncuşi’s are nearly legendary. The workstation is a machine that constructs work. In this scope, work gets the intimate meaning of recovery of unassembled pieces to compose (to invent) surprise, this being the place where the author rests from irresponsibility (deception).
Figure 2. C. Brâncuşi’s studio in Paris
Figure 3. Melencolia I (A. Dürer) 91
Design is also required to create architecture without architecture. To design means to anticipate. To design “architecture without architecture” is to anticipate artifacts that can be built to house or shelter generic and/or specific social activities. As in any other design process, the starting point is the awareness of a lack, the evidence of a disadvantage or the intensification of a concrete feature in the environment. This is the framework where a wish may be realized. The design is done against some circumstance to make it change (G. C. Argan, 1969). The design is done by conjecturing tentative configurations. The designer decides which signifying plans are eligible for assessment before they get attentionally isolated. The designer must be settled in an unreal, manual and operating/tentative scope to ponder configurations using specific criteria. He/she becomes a Demiurge in this realm and plays with the unexpected surprise, with the keenness of imaginal insight and with his/her free will. This scope is common to any kind of designing process and has been given different names. We have made a synthesis and have called it “architectural space” to draw an analogy to M. Blanchot’s “literary space” (1992). The architectural space might be similar to the operating unreality termed “phantasm” by G. Agamben (1993) and to the omitted place from which G. Bachelard (1948) observed and outlined “material imagination”. The scope where buildings are designed is analogous to the spheres of activity where narrations or poems are written, paintings are painted, and so forth. The main difference is that architectural space is adjusted to the framework of “habitable environments”. These are explored through stroked (drawn) or modeled figurative miniatures.
Figure 4. Carceri Plate VII - The Drawbridge (G. B. Piranesi) 92
To design Designing is like writing. To design a building is similar to writing a script or a score that will be interpreted (represented) in the artifact afterward. Teaching design means to introduce the trainee in the task (training) of configuring building scripts. Designing is a tentative and circular work that is pursued until finished. Proposals/solutions are formulated in response to a – generally vague – situation. The work is being given a meaning until the procedure reaches a “configuring germ” that actually is an “objectual function” (see G. Deleuze). This allows the designer to thread the meaningful figurations and to form an “object to be developed” from the confidence gained through the process. The objectual function is K. Fiedler’s “shaping form” (1991). It is the flowing matrix where objectual definitions able to be built are proposed. This matrix must be completed to satisfy a question unstatable and everlasting in professional work. Sometimes, this “configuring germ” is called “idea”. When this word – E. Morin (2002) and F. Jullien (2004) – is used to designate a blind and automatic “stereotype” endowed with previous meaning, there is no design strictly speaking. The beginning of the process is the implementation of design itself, a complex protocol of giving signification and thought. To consider oneself a designer (an architect who designs) means to see oneself working, to be aware that one is designing. Designing, like writing, involves consecutiveness and tension coming from the combination of narratives that are to be housed in figuration. According to M. Blanchot (1992), pain is objectified by literature. The same way, the impossible “enclosure” is objectified by architecture without architecture. The thought from outside (M. Foucault, 1997) is performed by design through action. To design buildings is to fantasize about environments.
Figure 5. Plans on course (L. Khan, F. J. Sáenz de Oíza and J. Seguí de la Riva) The unreality of design The only way to design is to move during action to the unreality of the potential outcome. The (imaginary) space of design results from this “situation”. It is achieved through the creation of the appropriate “enclosure” where playing at housing narratives of vital forms. Narratives are sheltered in figures that will be lived (fantasized) as miniaturized and deformable replicas of material reality. For G. Agamben (1993), that enclosure, i.e. the active/imaginary realm appears when the human being uselessly tries to take ownership of something that cannot be owned. To appropriate something means to play in a reduced world. The enclosure must be understood as intrinsic activity, as a situation where the unusual is explored while working. The designer experiences the material daydream (imagination) where both the things resistant to action and the personalized inputs are given life. The enclosure is the phantasm (fantasy) or founding imagination mediated by the tool used in action. Designing involves figuration on a small scale (miniature). The designer fantasizes about the world’s capacity to shelter activity and to be built while attempting to transgress or to endorse the recalling appearance of other buildings. The object of melancholic introjection is between phantasms and signs, between dreams and wakefulness. Its presence opens up a space different from both visionary/oneiric scenes and neutral natural objects. This intermediate and epiphanic place is in no man’s land, located between narcissism and the choice of external objects. The place is intended to house the creations of human culture, the search through symbolic forms and textual practices. These keep the man in touch with a world extremely close to them; his happiness and misfortune depend more directly on it than on physical nature (G. Agamben, 1993). To miniaturize To miniaturize is to reduce the material world to hand- or mind-scale models with the help of imagination that annuls the relative size of things. Models are abstractions, reductions to basic essentials. They show the material or functional structure of parts or aspects of reality. You cannot think about the things themselves, but about their modeled replicas. C. Lévi-Strauss (1955) put special emphasis on this “reduction” since “it makes the object as a whole simpler and less extraordinary. Through miniaturized models, the knowledge about totality precedes the knowledge about parts. Furthermore, miniatures are fantasies (fictions), so their handling satisfies intelligence and gives rise to specific enjoyment”. G. Bachelard stressed (1957): “The small size is the only way to reach the sublime”. We find at home in miniaturized worlds that can be dominated. When they are experienced, waves of worldly awareness emanate from reveries. Bachelard declared: “Miniature [model] is an exercise that has metaphysical freshness. It allows us to be world conscious at slight risk”. For miniature, imagination is pleased and restful. M. Morris (2002) pointed out that the only way to design buildings is to conceive them as miniatures. For this author, the consciousness of miniaturization in the scope of architectural 94
design started with the use of scale models in the Renaissance. They were employed as mediating tools by Brunelleschi, for instance, later in the Basic Course at the Bauhaus, and currently by the teams that compose factories of design. Curiously, nobody has ever mentioned that drawing is also a means/scope of miniaturization, like 3D programs and other frameworks for multimedia virtualization. In terms of “intellectual realism”, architectural drawing (in plan, cross-section and elevation) leads to reductions of habitable and easily changeable configurations. However, “conception drawing” has never been included in the operating/conceptual scheme encompassing scale and 3D models.
Figure 6. Child at play
Figure 7. Villa Savoye (Ryan Fujita)
Figure 8. Great Model for St. Paul’s Cathedral in London (C. Wren) Imagination in design From Aristotle (see C. Castoriadis, 2002), we know that the fact of operating things and being among them mobilizes imagination by means of the way these activities are done. For J. Piaget (1947), G. Bachelard (1948), C. Castoriadis (2002) and other authors, imagination is a background activity of the human body/brain/mind and a prompt consequence of experience as an active framework – autopoiesis. This gathers up schemes and mobilizes one’s will to action. G. Bachelard (1948) remarked that imagination (dynamic images) and its figures depend both on the person’s interests and on active operations tied to the impulses fulfilled in “figuration” against 95
matter. He distinguished between the dynamic/generic imagery and other material imageries. From this perspective, the imageries of drawing, model-making, configuration through 3D programs and/or other kinds of multimedia virtualizations used in building design are to be explored. In default of such investigation, some peculiarities can be outlined and differences can be specified, as follows: 1 To design through drawing. To draw is to mark movement strokes in a support tool (framework). Their display is a stimulus for imagination (imagination at work). When a drawing is finished, it becomes an autonomous and surprising entity that houses the imagery of enveloping repose (G. Bachelard, 1948). A drawing is always done in front of the paper. To draw means to go all over it and to use this framework/support tool as a territory that may be covered or stands out against the background. A drawing is always done “in plan” or “in presence”. In consequence, the dynamic imagery involved in design naturally leads to the conception of movement in plan, i.e. from above and perpendicular. This kind of detailed imagination appears when “plans” are drawn so that strokes may be experienced as displacements or boundaries of scenic voids. “In presence”, the paper is considered a glass, a stage where things stand up in front of us. Strokes overcome downward force of gravity, so that configurations are the presence of what does not collapse under its own weight. A cross-section is a cut of presence; strokes are split matter, the boundaries between an interior and the whole. When the process is completed and drawings appear as “objects” – as any other object in front of us –, imagination gains access to the inside of the figured matter and settles down in reveries of enveloping repose. “Imagination gives substance and substantiation compiles images arisen from feelings but placed inside the matter imagined as an object” (G. Bachelard, 1994). Any drawing is a miniature shelter where the subject is transported to dream of it as a realm of repose or slow movements. A drawing in plan becomes a place for action. A cross-section is a situation of repose, a scope of dissected and luminous motionlessness. An elevation is pure presence enclosing an undefined gaseous state. 2 To design through model-making. Models are made using appropriate materials. The starting point is usually a figured (drawn?) and tentative script or a system structuring void outlines. To make models is to cut more or less soft materials, to classify elements, to provide them with a position and to join them together. These operations prompt dynamic images “against” the difficulty of performing action. Constructive imagination reveals the grammar of miniaturized building and is linked with the substantiation of hollows for future habitation. The author’s hands can get inside the model. Beyond this property, models are autonomous and transportable objects which can be seen from the outside. They may be considered sculptures to be placed as symbols in the environment where they belong. A model may be easily modified at any time. This is the basis for its tentative quality as mediating tool in architectural design. When a model is finished, it turns into an object to dream of slowness and repose more directly than a drawing. If the model is not solid, it is possible to look at the inside and to daydream. If it is a faceted solid, it is only possible to daydream.
Figure 9. Pedagogical game. Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH), Greece 3 To design through 3D programs. 3D programs serve to construct a global virtual structure. Some kind of transparent solids are built in space from figural principles that can be abstract or structural. An initial empty whole gets progressively defined and visualized through plans and cross-sections. The process is a coming and going from the totalized outside to the dimensionless inside, which may be adjusted to fit in equipment and furniture. The passage from exteriority/structurality to stageable privacy is so fast that imagination must choose the most pregnant (memorable) position to thread useful images with specific criteria. Execution involves problems not directly related to tracing (like in drawing) but to good knowledge of the software. As a consequence, imagination “conforms” better to operation and surprise than to “creational work” of figuration, which becomes weaker step by step and even disappears. Figuration does not come from a profound personal source, but from a mysterious shaping mechanism hidden in the software. The final products are miniatures seen in distance and with no tangible interiors. Repose is not possible in these places and to dream of it seems pointless. Some virtualization systems make it possible to tour through nearly or completely undefined settings. These become movie-like backgrounds where an automatic eye wanders around with no clear reference. It can go through disturbing or soothing, luminous or gloomy, simple or complex atmospheres, following a patterned or random sequence. Imagination is episodic and internal and has no logical connection with the inexistent outside. These programs do not provide a complete figuration of the artifact, although some experiences could be integrated into lofty spaces similar to TV/movie sets. 3 To design through exploration of the environment. Nowadays, there is a widespread educational trend that typically includes the discovery of figurative and narrative fundamentals of design, and the incessant report of experiences that are methodically or unsystematically undertaken from exploration of the environment. This can be natural or hypertextual – the latter is intercommunicative and produced by the Internet. Some teams intend to transform the remains of such processes into “free” designs, assuming that they are justified through the procedure applied. Their active imagery leads to report “everything”, and the Internet is browsed to analyze the daily, provocative and “a la page” work. Once this has been 97
documented, it is already considered a proposal capable of changing the environment. The dynamic imagery producing a design gets used up in the design itself. To design, to draw To design habitable environments means to anticipate situational processes which require the miniaturized figuration of the parts to be built. Some meaningful and imaginary links allow the designer to get into conjectural unreality. There, con-figurations able to accommodate behaviors and reportable events that prompt deliberate feelings are tentatively tried. It seems undeniable that design training in schools of architecture must cover the miniaturization of the environment. Hence, the use of configurational languages and tools suitable for conjecturing reproducible figures is required. Our field of study in the School of Architecture at Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM) is – and will be – focused on this matter. Apparently, the imaginal power and degree of engagement required by each procedure used in miniaturization/operation/configuration are different. We defend drawing as the most e-motionally affecting and, at the same time, the most liberating system: when produced in excess, it immediately connects with artistic work (see Antonio Negri, 2000).
Figure 10. Building drawings (J. Seguí de la Riva)
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Alemán Romero, Jordy Israel: La evolución de la arquitectura con los medios tecnológicos (“The Evolution of Architecture following Media Technology”), lecture presented at the 1 st International Academic Conference Computation and Computer Technology in Architecture, Urban Planning and Engineering (I Congreso Académico Internacional La Computación y la Informática en la arquitectura, el urbanismo y la ingeniería). Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM) and Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM), 98
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