Principles of contemporary architecture endeavour to construct by the deconstructing and then reconstructing.
A viable example of the aforementioned principles of contemporary architecture supposition could be considered the interpretation of the “street” and “place” by Michel de Certeau.
In the article “Answering The Question: What Is Postmodernism”, Jean-François Lyotard insists on breaking away from repetitiveness in justifying the essence of the post-modern society emphasized by Jean-François Lyotard:
“Finally, it must be clear that it is our business not to supply reality but to invent allusions to the conceivable which cannot be presented… The answer is let us wage war on totality; let us be witnesses to the unpresentable; let us activate the differences and save the honour of the name” [Jencks, 1992: 149].
In decoding postmodernism calls for a war on totality, Lyotard states that the mission of the current generation is not in providing that which the society expects to be accomplished but instead to provide allusive inventive solutions.
Lyotard’s appeal to the post-modern generation to displace this repetitive, visionless creative culture has also been emphasized in the year 1988 by Elias Zenghelis in his attempt to portray the current aesthetics in architecture, assembled in the text that holds the title “The Aesthetics of the Present”:
“It is the settings where a sequence of displacements activate the imagination (like those in complete sentences that offer a large number of conclusions) and animate the inanimate. With the economy and simplicity of its means, it takes very little to pass from the implicit to the explicit. When architecture achieves this, it becomes an intense and pleasure giving experience. This experience, involving our minds and our senses is the measure of its beauty” [Benjamin, 1988: 67].
Zenghelis adopts the act of displacement as an improving factor when applied to architecture, outlining that those displacements achieve beauty only when they avoid being subjected to a generic way of pursuit.
Instead, Zenghelis argues that those displacements become lucrative only when they focus on immediate parameters of a subject processed.
Is an architect supposed to reflect his favourite buildings throughout his work or is he supposed to actually produce his own great buildings?
Out of all of the deconstructivist architects, Tschumi could be considered as one who has constantly warned that if we do not displace the architectural precedent values or methodologies the profession is exposed to a threat of it evaporating.
In the year 1975 Bernard Tschumi in the “Architectural Paradox”, classifies displacement as a central theme to the survival of the architectural profession.
Because the reduced control by the architect over the construction process is on the increase, Tschumi draws his attention to the grounds of the cause, and according to Tschumi architecture is saved from extinction only when it architects stop corresponding to society’s image of a building:
“So architecture seems to survive only when it saves its nature by negating the form that the society expects of it. I would therefore suggest that there has never any reason to doubt the necessity of architecture, for the necessity of architecture is its non-necessity” [Tschumi, 1996: 47].
The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry, is perhaps the most valid testimony to the above claim. Frank Gehry has conceived an unorthodox approach by defying the rules of the metric handbook and rejecting the convention of symmetry synonymous with traditional design.
This resulted in revised principles of contemporary architecture being widely published in architectural and non-architectural prints available at the local newsagent.
In the text “On the Razor’s Edge” written in 1989, Coop Himmelblau clearly portrays the displacement of common associations as an important factor in their identity. The challenges in perceiving various elements differently to random logic.
Prix argues that their architecture does not rely on traditional perceptions in confining how a building would look, but in searching less obvious new ways to enrich it:
“When we speak of ships, others think of ship wreckage.
We, however, think of wind inflated white sails.
When we speak of eagles, the others think of a bird.
We, however, are talking about the wing span.
When we speak of black panthers, the others think of predatory animals.
We, however, think of the untamed dangerousness of architecture.
When we speak of leaping whales, the others think of saurians. We, however, think of 30 tons of flying weight.
We won’t find architecture in an encyclopaedia.
Our architecture can be found where thoughts move faster than hands to grasp it” [Noever, 1999; 20].
The replacement of the normative generic association to a specific subject with a related fragment is crucial to the work of Coop Himmelblau. Dealing with a ship instead of its association to ship wreckage, Himmelblau is interested in wind inflated white sails or an eagle instead of portraying it as a bird, Himmelblau draws attention to wingspan.
But apart from the attempt to revive the status of an architect in a society the act of displacement is also considered as a form of criticism towards the inconsistencies that the manifestos of the past ideologies have created.
Auge, M., (1995): Non-Places an introduction to the anthropology of the post modernity. Verso, London.
Benjamin, A., ed. (1988): Deconstruction in Architecture. Architectural Design, 58, no. 3/4, London.
De Certeau, M., (1984): The Practice of Everyday Life. Trans. Steven Rendall, University of California, Berkeley.
Derrida, J,. (1976): Of Grammatology. Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Johns Hopkins UP, Baltimore.
Eisenman, p., (1988): “Eisenmanesie”. V: Architecture + Urbanism, Vol. Extra edition, August. p.:70.
Jencks, C., ed. (1992): The Post-Modern Reader. Academy Editions, London.
Johnson P., Wigley, M., (1988): Deconstructivist Architecture. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Leach N., ed., (1997): Rethinking Architecture; A reader in Cultural Theory. Routledge, London.
Noever, P., (1999): Architecture in Transition; Between Deconstruction and New Modernism. Prestel, Munich.
Ryan, M., (1982): Marxism and Deconstruction: A Critical Articulation. Johns Hopkins UP, Baltimore.
Tschumi, B., (1996): Architecture and Disjunction. MIT Press, London.
Woods, L., (1997): Radical Reconstruction. Princeton Architectural Press, New York.
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