An Architecture of Encounters Tahj Rosmarin
Published by Regular Spread Publishers © University of Melbourne Melbourne School of Design Copyright © 2015
An Architecture of Encounters
Edited and written by Tahj Rosmarin
Regular Spread Publishers 2015
Table of Contents i)
Architecture fosters human relationships.
In its purest essence, architecture is about crafting relationships. It is about encounter.
Architecture lies within the creation of space whereby diverse and unpredictable relationships can occur.
Architecture is not static.
Architecture is an open framework.
Architecture is not defined by its boundaries-but by the movement of humans and diversity of events that occur within it.
A framework that does not dictate or propose any ideological belief systembut rather encourages diverse human behaviours to engage within undefined and blurred boundaries.
Form is a fallacy.
Conceiving of architecture as an exercise in form can no longer define the nature of our built environment.
Architecture is not an object.
Architecture can no longer be viewed as an object distinct from its immediate environment.
Architectural relations operate within scales.
Architecture deals with both micro and macro relations.
In a constantly evolving climate, whereby inter-relationships are becoming evermore present, architecture must no longer disassociate itself with its context, but instead gracefully accept the infinite complexity of the world we live in.
Introduction An Architecture of Encounters The manifesto of the past- with its egotistical inflexibility and selfreferential nature, is no longer a relevant tool in dictating the future directions of architecture. Architecture can no longer rely upon a singular, proud idea, but rather must graciously accept the unexplainable relations of our world with welcoming arms. Architecture cannot be viewed as a static act that only adheres to the rules itself creates. In its purest essence, architecture is about crafting relationships. It is about encounter.True architecture lies within the creation of space whereby diverse and unpredictable encounters can occur. The painting La Tempesta (1506-08) by Italian Renaissance painter Giorgione marks a turning point in the visual depiction of Western landscape and the built environment. In this work, landscape is not depicted merely as a backdrop, but rather, as an essential setting to the meeting of two characters of vastly different backgrounds. On the right, a mother can be seen nurturing her child while on the left a soldier can be seen gazing into the distance. The painting depicts a chance encounter. An encounter unrestrained by the preconceptions of what is considered the status quo. In a world whereby humans are becoming increasingly inter-connected, architecture needs to encourage the diverse possibilities of human relationships. We need an architecture of encounters.
â€œSomething forces us to think. This something is not an object of recognition, but a fundamental encounter.â€? (Gilles Deleuze)
Figure One: The painting La Tempesta (1506-08) by Italian Renaissance painter Giorgione marks a turning point in the visual depiction of Western landscape and the built environment.
1. Architecture fosters human relationships. Architecture lies within the creation of space whereby diverse and unpredictable relationships can occur.
SANAA, Serpentine Pavillion, 2009 Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa â€˜s pavillion aims to encourage social interaction within an open field.
Sensing Spaces, Royal Academy of Art, London, 2014 Diébédo Francis Kéré explores an interactive art piece whereby the participant’s interaction with the piece is vital to the outcome.
Architecture fosters human relationships. “Architecture is a social activity that has to do with some sort of communication or places of interaction, and that to change the environment is to change behaviour.” (Thomas Mayne)
The most important element of architecture is not a static one. Architecture is wholly defined by its influence upon the behaviour and relationships of the people who use it. Without human relationships, architecture would bear no meaning. The great American president Winston Churchill once said the following about architecture: “ We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Whether one is aware of it or not, architecture directly dictates the behaviour of its inhabitants. It influences the way people interact and the way that they relate with each other. Architecture is always a social actit provides only a platform whereby human relationships are able to occur. Architecture should never promote an ulterior objective or underlying agenda, but rather allow for its use to become flexible and responsive.
True meaning in architecture is derived from the human relationships it fosters. Without human interaction, architecture would become a meaningless endeavour: stagnant and unattainable.
Figure Two: Toyo Itoâ€™s Meiso no Morio Crematorium encourages diverse human relationships to occur.
Alone in a Crowd, Rolf Sachs, 2010 Fostering meaningful inter-relationships between people should be the primary aim of architectural design.
Diagram of movement of antâ€™s, Encyclopedia Britannica, 2012 This diagram aims to map the movement of ants within an open space. Individual narratives are intertwined to form a larger picture.
Form is a fallacy. Conceiving of architecture as an exercise in form can no longer define the nature of our built environment.
OMA, CCTV Building, 2008 Rem Koolhaas’ theory of ‘Bigness’ can no longer influence our built environment. Architecture needs to become more aware of human interaction and well-being, and less focused upon commercial profit.
Greg Lynn, Animate Form, 1999 The exploration of form has reached boiling point- we must now investigate a formless architecture; one free from the constrains of formalism. Greg Lynn’s ‘Animate Form’ is a manifesto which is no longer appropriate to architecture.
Form is a fallacy. “How then, can architecture be made to disappear?” (Kengo Kuma, Anti-Object)
Architecture is not about creating a form or an object. Conceiving of architecture as an exercise in form can no longer define our built environment.
Figure Three: Zaha Hadid, Heydar Aliyev Center Source: http://www.dezeen.com/2013/07/11/ heydar-aliyev-centre-by-zaha-hadid-architects/
Ever since Le Corbusier defined architecture as the “masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light” , contemporary architecture has explored the possibilities of form to no end. Form has become a fetish. Capitalist corporate culture has seen the creation of infinite nonsensical forms as a method of branding buildings for the selfish benefit of a few. It is this capitalist driven society that has enabled our built environment to enforce a strict state of encounter upon us. Form is no longer a saviour.
Form is a fallacy.
Eric Mendelsohn’s Einstein Tower is a representation of an age obsessed with exploring form in architecture. Source: http://www.archdaily.com/402033/adclassics-the-einstein-tower-erich-mendelsohn
Figure Five: The informal city represents a physical manifestation of complex social interaction and behaviour. It’s flexible nature is desirable in responding to the needs of it’s inhabitant’s needs. Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/world/06/dharavi_slum/html/ dharavi_slum_intro.stm
Striving towards informality We must now look to informality as inspiration for creating architecture. Take for instance, the informal settlement.The common misinterpretation is that the informal settlement represents a lack of structure. But this is far from true. Informal settlements operate within an entirely different paradigm of social interaction whereby the built environment reflects a response to its immediate context. Informal settlements are constantly shifting and accommodating the flexible behaviours of its inhabitants.
Form is a fallacy.
Diller and Scofidio, Blur Pavillion Architects Diller and Scofidio have begun to explore a formless architecture in their work, most notably their ‘Blur’ pavilion. They describe the design in terms of it being a ‘ spaceless, formless, featureless, depthless…and dimensionless’ building. Its ephemeral spatial quality has earned its description as a building ‘made of nothing ’- an immersive environment in which the ‘ world is put out of focus’.
Junya Ishigami, Another Scale of Architecture, 2009 Mapping of tree canopies Junya Ishigamiâ€™s architecture takes inspiration from the natural processes of the environment. Can our architecture learn from poetically abstracting the mechanisms of natural systems?
3. Architecture is not an object. Architecture can no longer be viewed as an object distinct from its immediate environment.
Rem Koolhaas, City of the Captive Globe Delirious New York, 1978 Rem Koolhaasâ€™ City of the Captive Globe was an attempt to actualise the presence of ego that is so apparent in contemporary architecture. Architecture must no longer be determined by the manifesti of a few.
Le Corbusier, Villa Savoye, 1929 Architecture lies within the creation of space whereby diverse and unpredictable encounters can occur. Architecture lies within the creation of space whereby diverse and unpredictable encounters can occur. Architecture lies within the creation of space whereby diverse and unpredictable encounters can occur.
Le Corbusier, Villa Savoye, 1929 Le Corbusier became the most influential thinker in modern architecture. Although his theories helped pave the way for the development of architectural thinking, no longer can we apply his theories to architecture with such confidence.
Robert Venturi, Rauch, Scott Brown National College Football Hall of Fame, 1967 After Le Corbusier, came the theories of postmodernism. Robert Venturi’s ‘Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture’ was a pivotal text in describing the obsession of the object in postmodern architecture. Architecture is not a monument.
Architecture is not an object. “Insofar as they are purposeful, buildings are not just objects, but transformations of space through objects” (Bill Hillier, The Social Logic of Space)
Figure Six: The Petit Trianon in Versailles typifies the classical approach of architecture as a fixed and static element within a landscape. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petit_Trianon
Figure Seven: Rotunda at Stowe Garden (1730-38). Architecture appears as a proud intervention within a natural landscape. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stowe_House
The perception of architecture as an isolated ‘object’ shares its roots at the very crux of Western architectural history. In his book, ‘De Architectura’ Vitruvius famously asserted that the fundamental components of architecture were firmitas, utilitas, venustas – solidity, functionality and beauty. For too long Vitruvius’ definition of architecture has been considered the most correct. We can no longer solely rely upon the tangible qualities of solidity, functionality and beauty as the key pillars of architecture. What Vitruvius’ definition failed to recognise is that architecture is a social act. Architecture has a direct impact upon its environmentit influences the way we behave and the way we interact with each other.
Figure Eight: Donato Bramante’s Tempietto (1500) Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Pietro_in_Montorio
Donato Bramante’s Tempietto (1500) is probably the clearest manifestation of classical architecture as an object. This building exists purely in relation to itself: the subject is of no importance to the object. Architecture can no longer sit proud of its context. It must recognise that it shares a symbiotic relationship with it’s environment.
Architecture is not an object.
Figure Nine: The moon viewing platform at Katsura Imperial Villa. Source: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/ealac/V3613/katsura/dmb50o01.htm
“A bamboo veranda for viewing the moon is in front of the waiting froom the guests. From here one can see the entire garden including the pond. The sight is so beautiful one wants to cry. The abundance of forms- many turtles are on the stone, some stretching their necks high ... The diagonal line of the landing on a promontory in the pond helps one best to understand this ... [It] leads the eye along its line to a deep growth of azaleas, and further to a bridge leading to a Buddhist hall [Enrindo] and hut [Shokataei]” Bruno Taut’s description of the Moon Viewing platform at Katsura Rikyu.
Bruno Taut, the famous German modernist architect visited the 17th century Katsura Imperial Villa complex in Kyoto, Japan in the early 30’s. Surprisingly what fascinated Taut was not the modernist aestheticism of the architecture, but the complex’s clear opposition to the presence of architecture as an object. In his journal, he wrote: “ The essence of this miracle is the style of relationships- that is architectural interrelationships” . Taut speaks of the design not in terms of it being an object, but rather as an openended continuum- specifically referring to the garden as a formless medium that nurtures a relationship between subject and architecture. For Taut, the Katsura Imperial Villa marked a historical moment in which the symbiotic relationship between architecture and environment were manifested within a singular vision.
Although it is true that architecture and object share intrinsic similarities (both achieve a functional objective while adhering to a certain aesthetic style), architecture cannot be viewed with the same rigidity as one would view an object. The act of architecture is fluid - it is always in motion, constantly shaping and being shaped by the people who use it.
Figure Ten: View from interior of a building in Katsura Imperial Villa. Environment and architecture are of equal importance. Source: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/ealac/V3613/katsura/dmb50o01.htm
Junya Ishigami, KAIT Workshop, 2009 The work of Japanese architect Junya Ishigami aims at de-constructing Western notions of form. The focus is placed upon making an architecture that is invisible- as opposed to alerting one of its presence.
Tadao Ando, Chichu Art Museum, 2004 The Chichu Art Museum in Naoshima, Japan creates meaningful space through the assemblage of objects, rather than the presence of a singular form. The space between the objects is what is important- rather than the object itself.
4. Architecture is not static. Architecture is not defined by its boundaries-but by the movement of humans and diversity of events that occur within it.
Projective mappings of tourists in New York City, 2013 This map notates the movement of tourists through NYC. Can our architecture be influenced by the flow of goods and movement of people that occur within it?
Junya Ishigami, KAIT Workshop Concept Drawing, 2009 Ishigamiâ€™s concept drawing for the KAIT Workshop highlights what he considers to be important when designing. Instead of designing a singular entity, Ishigamiâ€™s design caters for the unpredictable movement of people.
Architecture is not static. “Architecture- its social relevance and formal invention- cannot be dissociated from the events that happen in it” (Bernard Tschumi, Architecture and Disjunction)
The key disjunction between architecture and object is that architecture does not merely exist with the container it is distinguished by. Architecture should not be defined by its formal container- but rather by the movement of humans and diversity of events that occur within it. In others words, we can no longer measure the quality of architecture against the static ‘vision’ of the architect, but rather upon the events and encounters it will give birth to.
Figure Eleven: The circulation diagram for Bernard Tschumi’s Parc de la Villette in Paris, France. Diverse and unpredictable circulation occurs within a flexible framework. Source: http://people.umass.edu/latour/ France/nickerson/
Through his work and writing (namely the Manhattan Transcripts), Bernard Tschumi has attempted to highlight the importance of movement and event in architecture. His most famous project Parc De La Villette is a clear example of an architecture focused upon human movement and social encounter. The park is made up of a grid of follies that are ambiguous in function. Circulation is undefined and follies act as stimulants for human movement. Collectively, these follies equate to a designed framework that allows spontaneous events and encounters to occur within it. The park is designed in a way that each time it is used, it is used in a different way. In Parc De La Villette, the focus is placed on human movement and encounter, not upon the formal desire of the architect.
Figure Twelve: Bernard Tschumiâ€™s â€˜Manhattan Transcriptsâ€™ aimed at visualising movement in an architectural setting. Source: http://www. tschumi.com/projects/18/
Bernard Tschumi, Parc de la Villette Competition Entry, 1982 Parc De La Villette is a designed framework which encourages event and movement to occur within itâ€™s boundaries.
M-Pavillion, Amanda Levete of London-based studio AL_A , 2015 The 2015 M-Pavillion in Melbourne provides a flexible platform whereby people can gather and events can take place coincidentally.
5. Architecture is an open framework. A framework that does not dictate or propose any ideological belief system- but rather encourages diverse human behaviours to engage within undefined and blurred boundaries.
Flock of birds, South Africa, 2015 Can our the boundaries of our architecture become fluid and blurred? A flock of birds appear as a singular yet fluid entity, always able to respond to their immediate context.
Emma McNallyâ€™s Fields, Charts, Soundings Cartographies, 2014 This artwork maps the diversity of a field- a field made up of a series of individuals. Can our architecture become a field, whereby individualism and self-choice are still retained?
Chapter Five Six
Architecture is an open framework. â€œIf we view buildings as shelter, inevitably they become immovable barriers separating us from the environment, but if we think of buildings as new environments, perhaps we can find alternative ways for them to endureâ€? (Junya Ishigami, Another Scale of Architecture)
In an era of escalating interconnectivity, whereby technology continues to provide new platforms for inter-human relationships, architecture can no longer be viewed as an object distinct from its immediate environment. Instead, we must view the creation of architecture as an open framework. A framework that does not dictate or propose any ideological belief systembut rather encourages diverse human behaviours to engage within undefined and blurred boundaries.
In order to explain architecture as an open framework, I shall use Stan Allenâ€™s analogy of a flock. A flock is made up of a series of individual organisms operating within their own behavioural paradigms. The actions of each organism respond to their immediate and local context by exercising complete freedom in their behaviour. Despite this, the flock appears as a fluid, yet singular entity.
Can architecture investigate a similar bottom-up approach whereby individuals are able to act autonomously within indeterminate boundaries, unrestrained by the motives of an external force or object?
Figure Twelve: Flocks form as a result of individual responses to encounter. Within the framework of the flock, the bird is able to make their own decisions. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Flocking_(behavior)
Figure Thirteen: Stan Allen provides diagrams of different potential field conditions. Source: http://www.ibiblio.org/ istudio/09/ai/Allen.pdf
Architecture is an open framework.
SANAA, Field Party The work and practice of Japanese architecture firm SANAA explores the concept of a ‘relational’ architecture. Their architecture often defines a broad framework whereby meaning is imbued through human encounters. Kazuyo Sejima’s ‘Field Party’ involved constructing a grid of 12 x 12 metres of hundred barbeques set in a large field in the outskirts of suburban Tokyo. Each barbeque only offered one type of food and drink. Inhabitants of the suburb wandered through the field, unrestrained by a visible ordering system. Although the party appeared disconnected, the chance encounters that occurred between people transformed the field into a meaningful social event. By viewing architecture as an open framework, the architect is no longer the creator of space, but rather the organiser.
Toyo Ito, Concept Design for Sendai Mediatheque, 1995 The floorplans of the Sendai Mediatheque operate as open fieldsthey do not prescribe movement, but rather encourage diverse individual behaviour.
6. Architectural relations operate within scales. Architecture deals with both micro and macro relations.
Chapter Six Seven
Architectural relations operate within scales. Although this manifesto primarily concerns itself with the social relations that occur within architecture, it is important to understand that architecture is made up of different types of relations. There are three scales of contextual relationships that one garners meaning from in architecture.
Scales of Relations. 1. Relation #1: The subject to architecture The first is the relationship of the subject to space. This relationship concerns itself most obviously within the field of phenomenology: in other words, how one gathers value from sensory experiences within architecture. How does one experience and perceive space? How do we relate to our environment? Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the French phenomenological philosopher described this relationship between architecture and subject as an â€˜ in-between reality â€™ whereby the subjectivity and objectivity collide into an enmeshed experience.
Figure Fourteen: A person shares a personal relationship between him/herself and architecture. Source: Tahj Rosmarin, 2015
Relation #2: The Micro-Scale: Social
The second relationship of architecture concerns itself with a fundamental encounter- how humans interact within architecture. How do we relate to one another in architecture? How does architecture influence our relationships with one another? French art critic Nicholas Bourriaudâ€™s seminal book Relational Aesthetics attempted to define an art movement that placed â€œ focus upon the sphere of inter-human relations â€? rather than the art itself. Bourriaud believed that after viewing art, the consequential social engagement between humans equated to an art form of equal importance to the art itself. Architecture, too, concerns itself with this social praxis. The inter-human relations that occur within architecture are of equal, if not higher importance than architecture itself.
Figure Fifteen: The social encounter and relations of people within architecture. Source: Tahj Rosmarin, 2015
Relation #3: The Macro-Scale: Urban
The third relationship concerns itself with the macro-scale. How does a piece of architecture relate with another? How does architecture relate to the city? How does architecture relate to society, culture, politics, economies and territory? Macro-relations deal with the full urban continuum in all its complexity.
11 Figure Sixteen: The relationship of architecture to itself and the rest of the world. Source: Tahj Rosmarin, 2015
Exit “There exists no “reality” prior to the event of communication, in which perception and agency are never separated. There is nothing outside situated relations, no being other than being-throughcommunication and being-inrelation. The world constitutes itself, so to speak, from meridian point of encounters.” (Anselm Franke, Art critic)
In a post-capitalist world, it is becoming increasingly acknowledged within the field of social science and architecture, that previous conceptions of spatiality no longer accommodate the complexities of our daily lives. No longer does formalism represent the zeitgeist. Rather, it is the fostering of interrelationships between things in space that is becoming a main priority of architects practicing today. With the passing age of ‘ego’ in architecture, the architect must now relinquish total control of the outcome and instead, embrace the inevitability of unpredictability.
In a constantly evolving climate, whereby inter-relationships are becoming evermore present, architecture must no longer disassociate itself with its context, but instead gracefully accept the infinite complexity of the world we live in. We need an architecture of encounters.
List of Figures 1. SANAA, Serpentine Pavillion- London, digital image, http://www. serpentinegalleries.org/exhibitions-events/serpentine-gallery-pavilion-2009-kazuyosejima-ryue-nishizawa-sanaa-0, 2009 2. Sensing Spaces Exhibit, Royal Academy of Art, digital image, https://www. royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/sensing-space, 2014 3. Giorgione, La Tempesta , physical painting, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_ Tempest_(Giorgione), 1508 4. Alone in a Crowd, Rolf Sachs, physical artwork, http://www.dezeen. com/2010/06/25/alone-in-a-crowd-by-rolf-sachs/, 2010 5.
Movement of ants
CCTV Headquarters, OMA, building, http://oma.eu/projects/cctv-headquarters,
7. Greg Lynn, Animate Form, physical image, Princeton Architectural Press, https:// www.papress.com/html/book.details.page.tpl?isbn=9781568980836, 1999 8. Zaha Hadid, Heydar Aliyev Center, http://www.dezeen.com/2013/07/11/heydaraliyev-centre-by-zaha-hadid-architects/, 2000 9. Eric Mendelsohn, Einstein Tower, building, http://www.archdaily.com/402033/adclassics-the-einstein-tower-erich-mendelsohn, 1921 10. Dharevi slum in Mumbai, image, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/world/06/ dharavi_slum/html/dharavi_slum_intro.stm, 2010 11. Diller and Scofidio, Blur Swiss Pavillion, http://www.dsrny.com/projects/blurbuilding, 2002 12.
Tree canopy mappings, Junya Ishigami, Another Scale of Architecture, 2009,
Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York, drawing, City of the Captive Globe, 1978
14. Le Corbusier, Villa Savoye, photograph, http://villa-savoye.monumentsnationaux.fr/en/, 2015 15. 1960
Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, National Sollege Football Hall of Fame,
Donato Bramante, Tempietto, 1500, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Pietro_in_
17. Katsura Imperial Villa, Kyoto, Japan, 1500â€™s, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Katsura_Imperial_Villa 18. Junya Ishigami, KAIT Workshop, Kanagawa Institute of Technology, http://www. archdaily.com/66661/66661, 2009 19. Tadao Ando, Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima, Japan, http://openbuildings.com/ buildings/chichu-art-museum-profile-2447, 2002 20. Projective Mappings of Tourist Attraction, New York, 2014, http://www.nycgo. com/official-nyc-guides
21. Junya Ishigami, KAIT Workshop, Kanagawa Institute of Technology, http://www. archdaily.com/66661/66661, 2009 22. Bernard Tschumi, Parc de la Villette Circulation Drawing, 1982, http://people. umass.edu/latour/France/nickerson/ 23. Bernard Tschumi, Manhattan Transcripts, 1976-81, http://www.tschumi.com/ projects/18/ 24. Bernard Tschumi, Parc de la Villette, 1982, http://people.umass.edu/latour/ France/nickerson/ 24. M-Pavillion 2015, Melbourne Australia, Amanda Levete of London-based studio AL_A, http://www.archdaily.com/66661/66661, 2015 26.
Flocks of birds, South Africa
27. Emma McNallyâ€™s Fields, Charts, Soundings Cartographies, http://socks-studio. com/2012/03/15/emma-mcnallys-fields-charts-soundings-cartographies/, 2012 28. Types of Fields, Stan Allen, Field Conditions, http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/ icb.topic1313185.files/Project%201_3%20Readings/Allen_Field_Conditions_Points%20and%20 Lines.pdf 29.
SANAA, Field Party, http://so-il.org/writing/relations/, 2008
30. Toyo Ito, Sendai Mediatheque, http://www.archdaily.com/118627/ad-classicssendai-mediatheque-toyo-ito, 2001
An Architecture of Encounters