Eisenman, Peter

1   b   c   d   e

16011001   House II model   2211
16011004   House VI plans sections elevations   2220
16011002   Wexner Center plan section   2251

Campo Marzio - book outline redux
. . .
Staying with this section a bit more, I can call in Eisenman's comments about Piranesi from the Charlie Rose Show, and I should re-read Wilton-Ely's chapter "Fever of the Imagination." After just going through my notes, I think this will be the easier sample chapter for me to do. I have lots of material and I also have most of the drawings that I need to do for the analysis. I just thought that I could also include the contiguous/generative element analysis to this section as well.

continual mistakes and reversals
After seeing how the figure captions are inverted with regard to the Ichnographia and the Nolli Plan in the Peter Eisenman section of Autonomy and Ideology, it reminded me of the other mistaken inversions that I have found in other texts on the Ichnographia. For example, the east/west and other mistakes (Equirria and Antoninus Pius) of Fasolo, the mis-characterization in the Ichnographia-Jerusalem essay, the mention of inversion in the Allen essay, and my own mistake about the direction of the Triumphal Way. I find these mistakes to be uncanny, as if the Ichnographia had the power to confuse anyone who studied it (and here I can quote Kreiger).
"Rome's Campus Martius suggests an impossible tension among competing parts, perhaps even anarchy. The engraving itself seems to pulsate and change patterns as one studies it."
The strange thing is that Piranesi seems to make the same kind of (archeological) mistakes.

Tafuri, Manfredo
After an extended independent analysis of the Ichnographia Campus Martius, it becomes evident that Tafuri misreads Piranesi's large plan in most cases. Tafuri's text indicates no research of the plan beyond simply looking at it and subsequently offering a description of what Tafuri thinks he sees. (In fact, a careful reading of both Tafuri's texts and the text of Fasolo from 1956, clearly shows that Fasolo's text greatly influenced Tafuri's observations.)
For example, in calling out the various axes of the Campo Marzio, Tafuri notes the axis running through Hadrian's Tomb, but he fails to recognize it's symbolic function as the Axis of Death; nor does he identify the Axis of Life that runs perpendicular to the Axis of Death. Moreover, Tafuri marginally notes the semblance of an axis within the northeast sector of the plan, yet he never mentions that Piranesi labeled this axis the Equiria, place of the annual horse races instituted by Romulus in honor of Mars.
These are just two examples which plainly demonstrate that Piranesi's plan holds significant and coherent symbolic content, however, recognition of Piranesi's "carved in stone" symbolism necessarily negates Tafuri's primary thesis that the Ichnographiam Campi Martii is utterly fragmented and devoid of "language." Ironically, had Tafuri not discounted the presence of language and instead actually translated the hundreds of Latin labels Piranesi applies throughout the plan, he would have concluded with a more accurate, if not also a more honest reading.
It is truly unfortunate that the subsequent 20th century Campo Marzio analyses of Allen, Bloomer, and Eisenman, build upon Tafuri's mistakes rather than correct them.

articles for Not There article entitled “Peter Eisenman should read this.”
The free use of the descriptive adjective “Piranesian” is used by Eisenman too freely... ...a misservice to the architectural community at large, and to Piranesi in particular. (There is also the Venturi 1982 reference to 'Piranesian'...)
Piranesian is better refered to as Carcerian or Piranesi Prisonesque...
Eisenman’s reference-connection-interpretation of the interstitial within the Campo Marzio is a case of misidentification. There is an interstitial within the Campo Marzio, but it is not the smaller (vernacular) non-descript buildings that Eisenman points to.
The interstitial of the Campo Marzio are precisely the Latin labels that Piranesi intersperses throughout the large plan that holds together the entire design of the large plan.
It is ironic that Tafuri states that it is exactly language that is missing from the Campo Marzio, when, in fact, it is precisely language that congeals the large plan into a cohesive whole.
Eisenman wants to use his interpretation of the Campo Marzio to validate his own arbitrary and fragmentary designs.
If an interpretation is wrong, does the argument based on the interpretation then become totally void as well?
There is far more order than disorder within the Ichnographia Campus Martius. the direst quotations from Eisenman and Tafuri. ...delve into describing/translating the buildings that Eisenman calls interstitial.
...end with a reference to the caption mix-up in Ideology and Autonomy.

on the Campo Marzio:
For me, [the Campo Marzio] possesses a notion of criticality and autonomy in its notion of autonomous time, in its movement of buildings, in its invention of buildings, in its denial of the hierarchy of the baroque city. In all of these it transgresses the established norms of the time to establish an autonomous discourse of architectural time.
Peter Eisenman in Autonomy and Ideology: positioning the avant-garde in America (New York: Monacelli Press, 1997), p.79.
As early as the mid-18th century, Piranesi questioned the legitimacy of the figure/ground relationship, particularly in his drawing of the Campo Marzio. Piranesi operated on two conditions in this drawing. First, he obliterated the relationship of figure to ground by producing a plan of only figures, a figure/figure urbanism in which the ground is only an emptiness outlining the filigree of the figures. Second, and more importantly in this context, he inserted, even in the smallest voids between the figures additional figures, which can be called interstitial figures.
Traditionally, the interstitial in architecture is seen as a solid figuration generally known as poché, which is an articulated solid -- usually a wall or facade -- between two spaces. While the interstitial is a containing presence that is figured or articulated, it is also primarily inert or static. This interstitial is figurative in the Deleuzian sense because it already embodies its content as a container that encloses, shelters, and has an aesthetic.
Peter Eisenman, "Zones of Undecidability: The Interstitial Figure" in Anybody (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997), p.243.

eros et thanatos   2683a

excerpts from:
Luca Galofara, Digital Eisenman : an office of the electronic era (Basel: Birkhäuser, 1999).   below

1999.11.07 13:08
Re: Colin Rowe
Just over a year ago I learned that Colin Rowe had a copy of Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius hanging over his desk. I believe it was given to him at some recognition ceremony vis-à-vis Collage City.
Eisenman (in Autonomy and Ideology) chides Rowe for looking too closely at Nolli's Map of Rome and not looking at Piranesi's Campo Marzio close enough. Ironically, within the Eisenman piece the illustrations and captions of the Ichnographia and Nolli's Map of Rome are inverted!

def: a-typological architecture
...he straight away understood how my concept of reenactment fit exactly with the point of his paper, which was that there is now indeed too much copying of Koolhaas and Eisenman by a 'second generation' that does not fully understand the process behind the 'original' designs Bernard subsequently embraced the notion of 'critical' reenactment as a key to continuance of methodology that does not merely become an insufficient copy.

reenactionary notes
Here is the first attempt to list all the possible aspects of reenactionary [architectures] that I can think of so far:
30. reenactment of mistakes (Fasolo, Tafuri, Eisenman).

work with mesh surfaces
A good portion of the last week's work focused on "sketching" and manipulating two of (the thirty odd) DTM surfaces I've generated. I primarily generated many hline perspectives of paired surfaces (which represent a single multistory building) which increased in number of pairs and ultimately included scale/rotation modifications. The resultant drawings (and design play) turned out to be very stimulating, and indeed inspirational. There is now much further design investigation to perform, investigations and opportunities to greatly enhance my design repertoire.
From the start, I was consciously working to introduce the whole new Gehry/hybrid form language into my own design methodology and capabilities, and there is also the intention of finding out how far I could use and push the CAD capabilities at my disposal. What has happened is that I now have a very easy way to generate a vast collection of 3D mesh surface forms, that play perfectly within the infinite possibilities of CAD(esign) manipulation. Moreover, I believe I am documenting a methodology other than the presently popular Gehry/Hybrid Spaces way of using CAD/sophisticated form generating software. I am also developing an alternative to the "diagramatix" approach espoused by Eisenman (and UNStudio). All of this work fits perfectly within OTHERWISE EYES.
After generating the latest set of hlines, which were of two pairs of vertical surfaces combined, one orthogonal, one scale/rotated, the similarity of the resultant drawings to Gehry (design) drawings was near to identical, and also very provocative and eye opening. At night, after generating the last batch of drawings, I looked through the Gehry Complete Works, and was then further convinced that I was beginning to work with CAD on par with Gehry, and I will go so far as to say my approach is actually different than Gehry's because I've developed a catalogue of forms that can undergo infinite CAD manipulations. I would like to document all these new design methodology/theory/philosophy issues in OTHERWISE EYES.
Ultimately, I thought of a great project where I will reenact Bilbao Guggenheim in Philadelphia along the Schuykill River adjacent Eakins Oval (my first year final jury site). This project provides a myriad of opportunities: 1. a chance to design a building using the DTM collection 2. a documentation / demonstration of the design process 3. effective use of the Philadelphia Model 4. further development of the Parkway Interpolation project and perfect promotion thereof 5. another example of reenactment and/in architectural design.

2002.02.16 14:42
Re: Paper architecture...origin and uses of the term
Peter Eisenman wrote two articles entitled "Cardboard Architecture: House I" and "Cardboard Architecture: House II". Here's what prefaces these articles in the 1975 book Five Architects:
"These two articles by Peter Eisenman "House I" and "House II" were first drafted in November of 1969 and April 1970, respectively. In both cases they were redrafted and necessarily condensed for publication in the first edition of this book."
This does not answer when and by whom the term "paper architecture" originated, but it does provide further historical context.
I can remember the term "cardboard architecture" being used as a derogatory critical term during my years in architecture school (1975-81). I was taught by many former students of Louis Kahn, and my recollection is that it is a term that Kahn frequently used in his design studio at the University of Pennsylvania during the 1960s, referring to student designs that could only be built out of chipboard, the material used to make architecture models. Actually, the vernacular I recall was "chipboard architecture".

2002.09.08 16:29
a slave to reenactment
What I like about Peter Eisenman's proposal of three office towers (directly adjacent the [quondam] World Trade Center site) that deliver "a kind of sense of a moment frozen in time where the buildings were collapsing" is how this design clearly demonstrates that Eisenman is well capable of being a slave to reenactment. I like this because it is in direct opposition to the notion that architecture is an autonomous [from context] art, a notion that Eisenman himself has strongly advocated for many years through his writings and [supposedly] his designs. I now understand Eisenman better because in "a kind of [deep] sense" I understand that Eisenman doesn't even understand himself.

2002.09.23 11:47
At the very end of the video interview of Peter Eisenman in conjunction with the latest Venice Biennale, the architect makes reference to "Kafka's Magic Mountain," as in hopefully the architect's project of a City of Culture at Santiago de Compostela will find a happy artistic commonality with Kafka's Magic Mountain.
Maybe Eisenman is knowledgeable of some manuscript that Kafka himself destroyed (as Kafka did destroy some of his own manuscripts), but otherwise it was Thomas Mann that wrote The Magic Mountain.

Peter Eisenman: Two Projects   2002b

2003.01.19 17:26
abstract for Studium Urbis
Mnemonically Delineating Veracity
"Authenticity is one thing, veracity another."
Marguerite Yourcenar, "Faces of History in the Historia Augusta" in The Dark Brain of Piranesi and Other Essays.
An apparent lack of veracity has always been at issue within modern interpretations G. B. Piranesi's Ichnographia Campi Martii (1757-62) despite Piranesi's extraordinary 'scientific' knowledge of ancient Rome and it's remains as evident throughout the four volumes of Le Antichità Romane (1756), as well as throughout Piranesi's other archaeological publications, including the Il Campo Marzio dell'Antica Roma. Contemporary architectural theorists from historian Manfredo Tafuri to architect Peter Eisenman view the Ichnographia as a city devoid of its own history, thus a plan prognosticating autonomous urbanism, yet that is exactly what the Ichnographia Campi Martii is not.
Beginning with comparisons between select portions of the Piranesi's Ichnographia and Giambattista Nolli's Pianta Grande di Roma, it becomes clear that the Ichnographia is an elaborate mnemonic devise. Like the imaginary building plans that Roman orators created in their minds as an aid toward the memorization of their speeches, the Ichnographia is literally an imaginary plan manifest as an aid toward the memorization of virtually all of ancient Rome's history. Thus the Ichnographia is not a fantastical reconstruction, rather, like the art of memory itself, the Ichnographia is a reenactment.
Mnemonically Delineating Veracity concludes with a brief reenactment of how an independent artist from Philadelphia came to discover a heretofore unnoticed initial(?) printing of the Ichnographia Campi Martii.

2003.09.26 17:02
architecture and accidents
"...check out some of Peter Eisenman's work. It has an accidental quality--he sets up processes and systems and kicks back and waits to see what happens."
As just described, Eisenman's methodology is then a process of intended serendipity rather than a process of pure accident.

Peter Eisenman, "The Matter of Architecture" (Cornell University, 2004.02.04).   below

2004.07.31 10:36
Peter Eisenman: "Liberal views have never built anything of any value."
Thinking about what architectures these day are really political, I wouldn't count Peter Eisenman's among them. What I would count are "the great wall of Israel", US military bases all over the globe, any secured border checkpoints, architectures like that. Was the USSR the last great political architecture of the 20th century? Could be. And how does Communist Chinese architecture stand up these days?

Peter Eisenman   "The Matter of Architecture"   Cornell University   2004.02.04
The title of this talk is really in the form of a question. I do not know if, in fact, it will answer any questions. The reason why I ask is that every year at my introduction to teaching either at Yale or at Princeton I ask my students to name ten Italian architects from the period 1450 to 1600. Since I have in total approximately about eighty of them, even though that would not be a cross-section of intelligence in America or in architecture, the results tell you something. The usual score is three. High is four, rarely five. When I make it more difficult and I say, name ten buildings by those ten architects, everything goes blank. And then, if I ask, who was the architect who painted "The Fire in the Borgo," they look at me like I am crazy. And the question is, maybe they are right. They look at me as if to say, "Why do we need to know these things?" And I think that is a very interesting question. Why indeed? What I am going to do tonight is to try and offer some possible reasons that the history of one's discipline is important and not in any sense as a sentimental recall of times lost. But for me, history is part of the interiority of any discipline.
Now I realize that I may be running against an enormous current. For example, when I watch my own children, especially my twelve-year-old, when he gets on a computer and does something called IM-ing (he is allowed an hour of IM-ing a night) and an hour of x-boxing (a computer game console). Sometimes I see the messages in IM. There are no capitals; there is no punctuation; there is no sentence structure. It is just run-on stream-of-consciousness – orality at its most promiscuous, but it is written. Even before IM-ing, the notion of writing a letter for most of us has been also lost by email, because we no longer write letters. I do not do email because I do not type fast enough.
I write things longhand and send them by fax, which is also becoming obsolete, but one cannot yet send longhand letters by email. Perhaps I am an old-fashioned person in that I deal in paper. For example, when I am writing a text I have to print it out and then take a pair of scissors and I cut paragraphs and move them around visually, even though I have heard you can do this in a computer. However, I cannot see it. I do not know which keys to push. And so I prefer to put the paper out like a long scroll and see which paragraph goes with which paragraph. Of course, people who are typing these things say, we don't know where these paragraphs came from, and it probably screws everybody up.
This problem extends to paper in architecture and to paperless studios, to building real architectural models, and doing what I call real architectural plans. We get students in our office, particularly from this institution, who are fabulous at 3D Studio Max and Rhino and Maya and the new languages, but then I ask them to make a plan. They do not know how what making a plan is; it is not connecting dots on a computer. They have no idea about making a parti even to make a more contemporary idea – a diagram, it cannot be done by connecting dots. One still needs an idea first. Students today have no concept of the plan. The question is, do they need to?
The general question that I am asking is what is the future of the history of the discipline in relationship to architecture. This assumes that there is a dividing line today between what could be history and what is the present. For architecture this could be conceptualized as today being between the analog and the digital. And I think the edge of that analogy is between Frank Gehry and Greg Lynn. Frank, no matter how much he uses computers, is an analog architect. He works his things out by crunching paper, moving it around, etc. in an old-fashioned way and then uses the computer to systematize the crunching. Whereas Greg starts with the possibility of the algorithms of the computer to crunch form and space for himself. There are basically the two poles.

For argument's sake, the digital model is in a sense a dumb model when it comes to architecture. Does it contain anything that one could call architectural since the algorithms that are in use are not designed or have no basis of knowledge of architecture? It could be argued that to use digital algorithms as they are and produce what is called architecture today, assumes the possibility of no knowledge of history. I would ask how one assesses value in digital work, how one produces algorithms that in fact deal with the discipline as opposed to are imported into the discipline and if in fact there is such as thing as any disciplinary expertise.
That having been said, what does one teach? How does one teach values as an expertise as opposed to mechanisms as an expertise? I teach Palladio. Why do I teach Palladio? It represents in a microcosm an idea of the discipline. Similarly one could teach Le Corbusier or Piranesi, as a model for how to use historical precedents today. On the other hand, it would be difficult to teach Frank Gehry or Greg Lynn not because they are of the present, but I personally do not know how to think their work, to frame their discourse. Since I am still teaching, one could ask why should I still be teaching. Perhaps as an antidote to these other kinds of pedagogies.
I make all of my first-year architectural students draw for the whole year. They are not allowed to use computers because they need to understand what it is in one's hand to draw history, to draw differences between a plan of Palladio and one of Vignola, even if they never use it. On the other hand, I don't hire people because they can draw. They have to have computer skills. But in order to have computer skills, I believe you have to know how to draw. You have to know the scales before you can write operas. The second thing is that I believe any discipline, whether it is the law, medicine, engineering, philosophy, language, etc. is a tool not only for knowledge, but also for thinking. I think you have to learn how to think in a specific discipline. And I believe what I call thinking in architecture is a second sight. It is something which non-architects do not have. When tourists go to Venice, because they do not have a second sight they cannot look at Palladio; they cannot look at Redentore and San Giorgio Maggiore because they do not need to know how to do this. But an architect does need to know this. And therefore an architect needs to develop what I call a second sight. And that for me is a tool for thinking.
I teach Palladio first because Palladio is also a critical vehicle. In his time and in his place, Palladio challenged the conventional wisdom that had started with Brunelleschi, to Alberti, to Bramante, each one challenging the next. In other words, each one displacing architecture as it was known. Palladio did two things, which makes his work critical. He both designed buildings and built buildings, yet then, in 1570, at the end of his life when he had built all of the projects, he redrew all of the buildings, not as they were built, not as measured drawings of buildings, but as he conceptualized or conceived them. He produced a book called I Quattro Libri, the Four Books of Architecture. Such a book represents part of what I consider to be a critical practice. That is, he recorded a critical view of his own production. I believe that without those four books no one would ever go and look at the little houses of Palladio. As a matter of fact you can watch tourists go to Venice and follow their tracks like ants through honey or sugar and they avoid assiduously all buildings by Palladio because they cannot see them; they cannot see their critical nature. Thus for me the first value of history is its criticality.

Now, the second argument for history is something like this: that Alberti said to start off the chain, even after Brunelleschi, that the most important thing for a discipline was history. That is, what he said was "storia," and he said that every discipline had to have a history in order, one, to exist but two, to be able to change. It is like Colin Rowe's argument that if you do not have a constitution, no change is possible. He always says that England is never able to change because it never had a moment of change. Most of the books that are written in fact are books which are categorical treatises which in a sense remove criticality from the issue of history and like the book by J. N. L. Durand, by Guadet, Choissy, Talbot-Hamlin, people who produced categorical treatises on the way architecture should be. And they are important because if we do not have a categorical treatise we do not have a way of reacting against the concordances of its coherence. What Alberti said was that there has to be a moment where history is recorded so change can be made from that moment to the present.
Because architectural history, its coherence, is different; it does not in its history confirm the zeitgeist but in fact is always a disturbance to that zeitgeist. And so history became a sequence of what I would call critical displacements. Now, for architecture I think this is a unique situation because actually architecture is the only critical discipline which displaces in order to place or places in order to displace. In other words, it has the function of placing, of situating, of concretizing matter in such a way at the same time that it must displace. A building would be nothing in the history of architecture if it did not displace the given conventions that were existing at that time. An architecture that is displacing is one that in fact contains a level of criticality.
In fact the only history that we read is a history of those architects that displaced those conditions that always attempt to hold the discipline together. Displacement attacks coherence but does not eliminate it. So architecture is a struggle between a necessary coherence and its necessary displacement. Freud said that the reason for psychoanalysis is to bring forward those elements that keep an individual from gaining his or her autonomy. The critical nature of architectural history is that condition that allows architecture to bring forward its autonomy. That autonomy, whatever it may be at any given time, is what makes the discipline alive. Thus there is an intimate link between displacement, criticality, and autonomy that exists uniquely in architecture.
Now what I am putting forward tonight is since architecture is a displacing condition, since it must displace in order to move forward, is it not fair to ask the question should it not displace its own history? In other words, should it not say that Alberti – to learn the sequence Brunelleschi, Alberti, Bramante, Palladio, Borromini, Piranesi, etc. – is unnecessary. In other words, because if in fact architecture should displace why should it not displace its own history?
The issue is the question of the future of history. Which is, how do you displace the history of the discipline in order to open up the discipline. And a related issue is the question of the relationship of architecture to what I call the present or the zeitgeist. There are two ideas about history. One is Mies van der Rohe's idea that architecture is the will of the epoch translated into steel and glass. In other words, that you find a historical moment; you understand that historical moment and you translate it somehow, whatever way one is supposed to do that, into built form. And the other is the anti-zeitgeist argument and that is that you take the geist and you say that it is problematic and the one thing you do not want to do is to create something that continues that moment in time forward into the future. And I would argue then that we are in a situation today where that geist is now defined in a very different way than it was defined, let's say, fifty years ago.

And that is, in terms of media. And media has turned information into a commodity and has caused people to think in very different ways. They think in sound bytes; my kids all watch advertising on television and they don't watch the programs, because the advertising is clearly better than the programs. And so therefore we are all prisoners of media. We behave as media wants us to behave. There are these reality shows. Three weeks ago I went to Italy to a conference. I gave five interviews and five photo ops, all about media which took more time than my twenty-minute presentation. The only reason I was there it seemed was because media demands people to consume and I was one of the people that was brought in to be consumed.
The question goes back to Guy Debord's book The Society of the Spectacle in 1968, and there are two issues in Debord's book which I think are important. One is that the spectacle is a condition that is constantly eroding away and opening more and more demands on image, on information, etc. and therefore we become more and more passive. And I think the big moment for me that I realized about that was the spectacle of the World Trade Center which turned into a media spectacle all around the world except for all of us who were living in New York where it was a real event. And the difference between the reality of being in New York and the spectacle of the media are such different moments in time and place which then recalls the whole idea of placing and being in a place that architecture somehow is about. So that was a critical moment.
The second critical idea that is implied in Debord and others talks about is the idea of explosion versus implosion. Our mediated, capitalist society is about explosion, about getting more and bigger markets. But what you realize as you go around this country is that we may need to contract, to have our plans implode. For example we are doing a project in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which at one time was a thriving downtown with an active economy. It is a city of four hundred thousand people, and it has only one Double Tree Hotel and a Ramada Inn. The entire downtown is a parking lot filled with churches, or churches in parking lots, and on Sunday, the city is very active because it is called the "buckle on the Bible Belt." Because everybody from the suburbs comes to services in these grand old churches that were built in downtown Tulsa, fills up the parking lots, and Tulsa is an active city for four hours on a Sunday morning and then it is like a ghost town. What probably should happen in Tulsa is to suggest that instead of exploding, Tulsa ought to implode, in other words, it ought to become smaller. It ought to condense its urban grid and fill in its fabric because there is not enough economic activity to warrant filling it all in and yet it must have a certain density to sustain any meaningful infrastructure.
There are many cities that ought to become smaller. How do we use a history that teaches us how to grow, to add new things, how to build onto something, to make something smaller? You have to find out how it became bigger and what are the environmental conditions that have caused it in a sense or need to implode. And if there would be one idea about the history of the future or the future of history is how do you deal with the concept of implosion as an architectural idea?
When I was in school, we all believed that there was a future and we believed that architecture could influence and add to that future. I think there are very few students in this audience or in any school that believe that anymore. Architecture was proven unable to carry out that promise of a St. George figure slaying the dragon of the past or a St. Paul figure pointing the way to a better future. My argument would be that there were a series of texts that we all read. We all read Vers une architecture; we looked at the Oeuvre Complete; we read Rossi's Architecture of the City, Tafuri's Theories and History; we read Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction, we read Reyner Banham's Theory and Design in the First Machine Age. These were common texts that had common currency between 1955 and 1975. We all had access to these texts. As a matter of fact, when we found out Le Corbusier died, Michael Graves and I took every page of the Oeuvre Complete, took it apart and covered the walls of the front gallery of the architecture school at Princeton, from floor to ceiling, with these books, and then put black crepe paper Xes over these pages. Now that gesture would be improbable today. When a James Stirling died, when a Aldo Rossi died, who would do something like that and what would they do? What would be the artifacts that would symbolize this passing?

The suggestion is there is a link between a rather critical attitude to the present's capacity to project the future and a certain loss of the discipline as a history in the lack of any common artifacts, particularly books that have a common currency. Not since Delirious New York has there been a book that one needed to have, that one would take on a desert island. This says something about your situation, there are no books perhaps because it is felt they are not needed. Perhaps why the students do not know anything about the Italian architects of the Cinquecento, or how to draw plans, is because it is felt they do not need to know. And the issue then is, if not, what is it that they need to know other than Maya, Rhino, etc.? The question is as architecture is displacing – can the idea of a plan, the idea of a parti, and ultimately also history be displaced? But how much displacement can there be before there is no coherence? For me that coherence is not clear.
A final thought: I want to encourage all of you to go and rent the film "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" by Alain Resnais. It is a film about a Japanese architect and a young French actress set in Hiroshima in the 1950s. It is a stunning movie. And then, go and see "Lost in Translation" which is the Sophia Coppola film of present-day Japan. Both films are supposedly love stories, but they are basically about architecture. If you want to see a difference in the idea of architecture today, you have to see these two films together. "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" could not be made today. I remember seeing Antonioni's "L'Avventura" and seeing the towns of Avila and Noto; I was stunned by the sort of emptiness, the silence of those movies. I see them today and I realize how off-the-charts my nervous system is, that I cannot sit still. I cannot sit and watch nothing for two hours. I remember we used to go watch Andy Warhol five-hour films, watching nothing, or Peter Kubelka's flicker films, watching black and white, black and white, and sit there mesmerized. Today, you all would look and say, "Wha? What's that stuff?" But I would like to believe that Sophia Coppola could not have made "Lost in Translation" without seeing "Last Year at Marienbad" or "L'Avventura," certainly "Hiroshima, Mon Amour," without understanding the discipline and how the discipline can come into being today.
Jean-Luc Godard said at the time of the film that it is a film that would be actually inconceivable in terms of what we already know about film. The question for me then is, how does the discipline of architecture come into being today in a way which would be inconceivable in terms of what we already know about architecture? I leave you with that question.

excerpts from:
Luca Galofara, Digital Eisenman : an office of the electronic era (Basel: Birkhäuser, 1999).
pp. 18-23:
. . . Another figurative and conceptual analogy is used by Piranesi in Campo Marzio: here we see the triumph of the method of arbitrary associations and the exclusion of any definite structure through the principles of aggregation.
"The recognition of some alignments only serve to highlight with greater clarity the 'triumph of the fragment' that dominates the shapeless piling up of sham bodies" (Tafuri). Moreover, Tafuri affirms that Piranesi's intention is to detect the birth of a meaningless architecture, cut off from all symbolism and every value outside architecture itself.
Eisenman also searches for a loss of meaning that will restore to architecture a real value, lost in contemporary society. Eisenman sees the Campo Marzio as an example of a new type of urban form that is defined through the relationship between figures. This type of urbanism may be regarded as the first modern plan because of its complex internal logic. It was the first town plan to emphasize an anti-hierarchical ideology. A conception that breaks the linear continuity with tradition from an extensive point of view, the space-time continuum where ever step is directly linked to the one before. The translation of this system into urban forms represents the idea of a relationship between figure and ground, where the solid and the void exist in a sort of dialectic tension.
The development of thought has meant that the ideal of an intensive spatial relation now replaces the extensive idea of the evolutionary continuum (Eisenman -- Maurizio Bradaschia, interview in Il Progretto, no. 1, 1997)
Turning to today's situation, we can affirm that we now look at history in a similar light to Piranesi. The technical obsession with assembly represents an extreme attempt to undermine langauge and restore inventive freedom. Piranesi's transgression, his anticlassical interpretation of Roman monumnets, is the same ongoing criticism adopted by Eisenman.
Piranesi shows something different, His views of ancient Rome often distort the real dimensions of the buildings: a typical example is the view of the Pantheon square in which the Imperial rotunda is reduced, whereas a giant obelisk standing in the centre of the fountain towers over it. Piranesi's engraving illustrates a truth than (sic) goes further than reality. The Pantheon blends into the urban continuum, it mixes with the city (Tafuri).
Eisenman proposes an urban system based on the Piranesian concept of relations between figures in his project for the Klinghofer Triangle in Berlin (Eisenman, L'Architettura - cronache e storia, no. 484.), but contrary to Piranesi's invention for Campo Marzio, his system is not based on the reinterpretation of classic Roman forms; it is inspired by the development of contemporary thought, and in particular the profound transformation of forms that took place between the mechanical era and the information era. As a symbol of this transformation, he chooses two analogous figures, each of which represents a different era: a clock mechanism and the digital microchip of a computer. Both represent a transition and are images of their time.
Piranesi uses Roman architecture, whereas Eisenman adopts a technique called morphing used in contemporary cinema: a transformation technique, a system capable of changing the chosen figures so that none is dominant; there is no relationship between the figure and the ground, but only between the overlapping figures, transformed into a new system of urban living. Architecture is reborn outside any recognized dogmas. At this point, the project embarks on the development process using the digital system; the diagram is generated and influences the setting according to two scales of intervention. The first is at the city level, where morphing restores the site's position by creating a new relationship with the power centers. This leads to a new relationship with the government buildings at Spreebogen, the President's new residence, and the general HQ of Potsdamer Platz.
On the second scale, the building block, the process suggests a new way of living. The perimeter of the block was a valid urban concept when everyone living in the block shared the semi-public ground. But now this kind of space cannot be divided any longer owing to today's high urban densities, and the available space is constantly shrinking. Eisenman's project creates a new system of relations that are no longer tied to the relations between the residential block and public ground. It restores open spaces to everyone by making different use of the ground, optimizing its enjoyment.
This figure/figure system leads to the creation of a wide variety of building types, easily adapted to changing living requirements. An urban conception that is no longer deterministic, but adaptive, using the landscape as an active element capable of organizing its own layout; buildings are no longer seen as functional containers, but integrated systems capable of changing the very nature of the city itself. Total flexibility and a method that acts directly on the height, transparency, density and program, rather than on form. As in Piranesi's theoretical work and projects, Eisenman asks himself about the architect's role and his capacity to shape space. The logic of decomposition, much discussed and reinterpreted in the context of different works, reveals the discovery of the contradiction principle. The art of dialectic development, an architecture that evolves around itself and manages to renew itself by destroying each goal once it has been achieved. Eisemnan's works give movement to Piranesi's views, forcing the language where necessary and searching in formal excess for a critical but not necessarily linear system of evolution.



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