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1. Archaism The first strategy is Archaism. Archaism hopes to barricade itself against the destructive force of racing Modernisation. it refuses to accept the…
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  • 1. Archaism The first strategy is Archaism. Archaism hopes to barricade itself against the destructive force of racing Modernisation. it refuses to accept the consequences of endless acceleration and tries to find a way of resisting it. Archaism seeks an escape from historical dialectics in the ‘primitives’ of existence. It studies the enduring attributes of the topos with the aim of thereby giving mankind his identity. Archaism resists Modernism by appealing to a timeless prehistory in which man supposedly still lived in innocent symbiosis with his cosmos. Although this strategy is unavoidably a representation of the symbiosis instead of the symbiosis itself, so that the cerebral aloofness of modern man continues to apply with undiminished force, it does in fact offer a ‘way back‘. The real object. the authentic thing, the phenomenology of space and material, the innocence of ritual: these are things we share with all peoples in all times. And that is where Archaism aims to lead back to. Archaism places itself outside the Modern dialectics between form and content. All that matters is substance. It has an aversion to design. It insists on an architecture of reality, an architecture you can feel — feel with your eyes. We can also describe this strategy in psychoanalytic and biological terms Archaism represents the unconscious, the id. Architecture that accords with this analysis does not work at a cerebral, cognitive, logocentric, rational or purposive level, but seeks its existence in the organic. phenomenological. symbiotic and holistic. These are areas that are difficult to treat discursively (although that does not apply to theories about this archltecturel). You could perhaps compare archaism with the eighteenth-century romantic longing for the condition of the noble savage in his primitive hut. But it goes much further: in the interests of achieving a primal state, it would have us give up the consciousness that has made us into the aloof and calculating creatures we are. For some archaists. it even implies a figurative return to the maternal lap. to the womb. In some ways this architecture bears an unmistakably erotic tint, in that it strives to produce an almost orgasmic release through (the eyes) caressing of the object of adoration. While the archaistic id can be understood in Freudian psychology as the libido, its neurological counterpart is the mid—brain. the reptilian substratum of the human spirit, Archaism appeals to the seat of the passions. the limbic system. Archaism is the architecture of homo faber. As such, it concentrates on the solid stuff, the touchstone. the centre of cosmology. Its method is a return to the thing. the referent. the ground on which all else is based. The main philosophical problem that besets archaism is that the return to roots and to mythical consciousness involves forgetting all that has taken place between ‘then’ and now. The past is romanticised. Interpersonal relations are offered up in favour of supracultural categories which can only be experienced individually. in lonely silence. Meanwhile, the (tectonic) world gets by perfectly well without the individual. To identify archaism, take note of the following paradigmatic soundbites: traditions, authenticity, essence, phenomenology, niche, Geworfenhoi, immediacy, nearness, thingness, presentness, factility, Heidegger, unconscious, eternity, place, texture, material, ground, métier, canton. autarchy, landscape, path, tectonics, haptic realm, silence, loneliness, modesty, harmony, participation, use, human scale, ontology. ..
  • 2. IS"? The second strategy. Facadism. operates largely within the dialectics of form and content. it is most tellingly exemplified by the ‘decorated shed‘. This strategy defines our environment principally in stylistic terms. Functions are represented by a stylised narrative couched in terms of ornament and figuration. The narrative, be it metaphorical. critical or speculative. is thereby separated from the substance and expelled to the surface. The facadist approach concentrates in general on the Semperian Bek/ eidung and is thus not necessarily restricted to the outer surface of the volume. Surfaces are treated in an overtly communicative way; the architectonic sins are like pictographs. In psychoanalytic terms. facadists operate at the level of the ego. They wish to engage every user in a dialogue by means of multiple coding of form and meaning. They aim to attract everyone into the communication process at his own level. The facadist architect believes he controls the semantic scenario of his building. just as the ego has control over cognition. This architecture is thus in a certain sense humanistic. It places its trust in meaning — and in the happy ending. The facadist strategy is based on correspondence thinking, ie on the faith that the meanings ‘behind’ the signs are based on universally valid agreements. Man still forms the centre, even if he is just an anonymous consumer. Facadism appeals to the cortex. It is the architecture of homo sapiens and homo significans. It is cognitive and assumes a reasonable communication of meanirg. As such, it concentrates on meaningful images. Its method is the use of many separate signs. The WOf. -( guards consciousness a ainst doubt. Facadism appeals to the cortex. It is the architecture of homo sapiens and homo significans. It is cognitive and assumes a reasonable communication of meanirg. As such, it concentrates on meaningful images. Its method is the use of many separate signs. The WOTJ-( guards consciousness against doubt. Facadism is not interested in the critical evaluation of its signs. The context offers all kinds of meanings. whether mythical or rational. and these territories are regarded as interchangeable. The presence of at least some meaning is the ultimate criterion. In the first instance. facadism seems to rely on a strongly developed consciousness of everything to do with meaning and communication. But when we examine this consciousness more closely. it seems to relate largely to the operation of the meaning process and not to the cultural causes and effects of that operation. Facadism allies itself with the world as it is. It lives in harmony with the liberal tradition. History knows only gradual variations, not breaks or sudden changes of direction. Facadism seems to believe in democracy as the mitigating circumstance of capitalism. which offers everyone an equal chance as long as he or she takes the initiative. Its practitioners believe in open. free and meaningful communication in which the consensus functions by majority. The New World exists thanks to the people. To identify facadism. take note of the following paradigmatic Soundbites: representation, iconography, common sense, democracy, life-style, marketing, communication, Rorty, language, semiotics, sign, Jakobson, surface, varnish, eclecticism, visuality, city, monumentality, volume, classicism, dressing, figuration, decor, ornament, authorship, matism. ..
  • 3. Fascinism The third strategy we call fascinisni Fascinism denies the dialectics between form and content For this strategy. the surface is the deepest thing there is The author. as genius and as producer. no longer exists. lntentionality makes way for modality. Representation is reality, in an endless semiosis We can never stop this process. only succumb to it in fascination How does the global village work? Despite its inhabitants. with autonomous chains of meaning- assignation and social processes. Fascinism treats us to a bombardment of images torn largely from a variet of historical and functional contexts, obscene fragments. And although fascinistic architecture harbours a vei of criticism. an intrinsically valid aesthetic revolt against the uniforming terror of teleology and system thinking. its nihilism makes it a ready vehicle for a charismatic‘ politics. The architecture of fascinism IS a construction in frame only. It is dematerialised on all sides into a communication medium in which it is possible to ‘write meanings of every kind Hence this tendency is post- historical. post-humanistic and post-structuralist, outside dialectic history. beyond Utopia and intertextual. What remains is a universe of signs that may be viewed positively as the source of an immense freedom. or negatively as a terror of simulacra in a pluriversum of so many different micro~meanings that every distinctio is erased. However you look at it. it is a waste of time seeking anything ‘behind’ anything else — and certainly seeking truth behind a form.
  • 4. The fascinists represent the dominion of the superego. It is not insignificant that they agitate keenly against the paralysing effect of too much knowledge. and long for a new innocence Fascinists know too much. Taking into account a whole complex of social, cultural and technological factors. they aim at an architecture that is up to date. Everything must be represented in this architecture (as a person or as an architect, you must spare no effort to follow the news). In negative terms. the superego is your own Big Brother. The media keep watch on everything. and even mould reality to suit the image. There is no escape from this condition, and architecture that does no justice to it is. intellectually speaking. utterly irrelevant. In positive terms, this architecture of the superego is a hypersensitive expression of what is actually going on in our culture. All in all, viewed positively or negatively. the superego stays on top: you. the architect. cannot know how things are, no. the here and now of current reality is always one step ahead. Anyone who wishes to disobey is suffering from hope for the past or yearning for the future (or vice versa). Hence fascinism is free of nostalgia. but by no means free of other impositions. Mandatory submission to the ‘course of things‘, to a historicalffuturological Zeitgeist. is a present-day variant of the seductions of totalitarianism, Hence this strategy is vulnerable to the same criticism as has been applied to cultural relativism it offers no moral criterion to help us chart a course into the future. At the same time, the fascinist refuses to recognise the ethical choice implicit in this observation. Nothing is true, and not even that — everything is relative except that Fascinism appeals to the extensions of the cortex. to the eye of television, to the binary brain of the computer, to artificial intelligence. Fascinist architecture is a feverishly progressive architecture, aimed at an impassioned mood, an architecture for homo cyberneticus. To identify fascinism, take note of the following paradigmatic sounclbites. post-humanism, metropolis, periphery, interface, fragment, rhizome, difference, Derrida, intertextuality, Barthes, speed, mobility, dromology, Virilio, atopia, simulation, nomadism, excess, hyper-reality, cyberspace, grotesque, dislocation, folding, event, tracing and mapping, elevated, skin,
  • 5. With regard to the invisible, there is a theological and philosophical tradition as old as the distinction between truth and untruth. A cloak of invisibility has always been the favourite guise of the truth. The truth was something you had to strive for. The invisible was the infinite. the absolute. the unreachable, and it was seen as being one with God. with the Platonic Forms of the True. the Beautiful and the Good, with the ghost in the machine or with the Weltgeist. Faith in the invisible truth has been so steadfast that five hundred years of Humanism. two hundred and fifty years of Enlightenment, a hundred years of Modernist creative destruction and twenty-five years of Post—Modern radical doubt have proved insufficient to unmask it decisively. The invisible truth has invariably seduced the rational biped. Our intention in celebrating the Invisible in Architecture is not to uphold this tradition of an ‘underlying’. invisible truth. We cherish no iconoclastic longing for a pure, bare essence, uncontaminated by the deceit of representation. It is not our aim to reinstate a spiritual transparency. This book is the result of our wish to react to a culture whose products appear more and more to be nothing but representations. Seeing is believing, as the proverb would have it — but now literally so: seeing is the only believing. The truth still seduces. but invisibility is no longer its favourite stratagem. We have abandoned the metaphysical perception of the universe that made us long for the reality behind appearances. When the contract on this essentialism expired, all we had left was the image. the sign. From that moment onwards, the truth lay in the image itself and must hence also be sought there. Truth now no longer seduces through image. but as image. And that is quite a different matter. Once the arbitrary relation between image and meaning, between signifier and signified. was discovered. the way was open for total manipulation and fictionalisation of the image. In these times, the signifier has supplanted the signified, the representation has usurped the original, the semblance has displaced the essence, and verislmilitude has ousted truth.
  • 6. This book also aims to offer a cross-section of contemporary pluralistic architecture — not so much a Who's Who, as a Who's What and Why, of present-day architecture. For that purpose, we must cut right across contemporary culture. Most architects offer immense resistance — with renewed force in recent years — to the view that their work is ideologically loaded, that it has political consequences and that their formal choices and spatial concepts institutionalise relationships of power. This book's explicit aim is to probe and to discuss these particular dimensions of the craft. and thereby to stimulate debate on the social motives that give added legitimacy to, and receive added legitimacy from. architecture. Perhaps the architect's goal should be not to make political architecture. but rather to make an architecture with politics. In other words, should an architect's thinking about social constraints and possibilities not manifest itself in her or his work? Therefore one thing we would like to emphasise in this book is the considerable potential of architecture as a medium of dialogue on current social conditions — and, of course, on potential alternatives. Gradually, the entire architectural discourse has come to centre around design. Design discourages critical thought and action — and by probing the politics of design, the present book aims to rehabilitate precisely those attitudes. Architectural and urban design will be considered not only as affairs of autonomous, poetical inspiration (which can of course be a source of much pleasure) but as loci where individual artistic creativity intertwines with cultural, social and economic processes. We hope this book will stimulate a fonn of criticism that has a bearing on (architectural) practice; and vice versa. Criticism must never be an indulgence, a let~out for an otherwise autonomous mérier that unblinklngly and unthinkingly throws off one masterpiece after another. Criticism of that kind lives on a reservation. out of touch with the rest of culture. We hope to make it clear that there exists a kind of criticism that really does enmesh with society, a criticism that forms part of a practical strategy. Criticism should not be primarily about other criticism. but about the object that was its original raison d'élre. That is the only way to break out of the vicious circle of academic scholasticism. Real criticism is marked by intellectual generalism, and does not confine itself to its own specialist idiom.
  • 7. Architectural criticism often takes a passive stance. reflecting on the work but refraining from any explicit standpoint. it operates introvertedly, from the viewpoint of the architect or of the architecture, while the critic herself or himself hides behind marginal notes on the architectural object. When architecture is intrinsically empty of any stimulating philosophical, ideological or poetic vision, then criticism, too, usually lacks the power to escape this emptiness. Criticism degenerates into project documentation, becomes entangled in quasi-profundities or starts describing its own impotence and alienation. Such criticism is little more than a travel guide for the omnivorous cultural tourist. But. even when the object of criticism is not ostensibly ‘about’ anything, that criticism should surely not ape its object's superficiality. Perhaps this calls for effort. independence and nerve - or at least some other angle than the usual architectural jargon. Criticism must create a picture of reality through its own cogency. it must maintain an independence towards the object of its attentions and not merely take sides. When architecture tends towards endless mystification. towards a rhetoric of functionality. beauty, force, utopia, communication, cultural fragmentation or (by contrast) tranquillity and order. a rhetoric that casts a smoke-screen over the real social forces within which it operates, then criticism must act as the conscience of that rhetoric and make the doubtings visible. Only such criticism can elevate architecture to a mainspring of intellectual and moral understanding, and at the same time promote an architecture that demonstrates this understanding in practice, in the kind of use the building sanctions. Such criticism can bring architecture into contact with a public sphere that is more than just a market or the sum of private interests. The present book must be seen as an attempt at such criticism. it argues for cultural analysis as the backbone of architectural discussion, and for architecture itself as a cornerstone of the ongoing cultural debate. It advocates the creation of conditions for a new scholarly and critical mentality. None of the architectural intelligences discussed in this book is to be interpreted as the exclusive product of an ideological, economic or geographical context. After all, intelligence and talent travel beyond the frontiers of their origins. However, the result of their expression is never located in a historical or cultural vacuum. Nowadays there is a widespread interest in the creative achievements and ingenious practical solutions of architecture. We would like to widen this interest to cover the world in which architecture is practised, and how that practice is defined by institutional and social factors. it is this world and these factors that generate the meanings crucial to the functioning of the architecture and thus vital to its proper understanding. The influences and pressures must be recognised, even when they are denied. We must escape the rigid dichotomy between ‘us’ and ‘them’, between architecture and the world at large. Our conviction that these spheres are really interdependent will accompany us throughout this book. A fair treatment of today's kaleidoscopic architectural culture will inevitably be a tangle of intersections and overlaps. We intend to bring countless ‘inherent’ aspects of the craft, such as buildings, models, drawings and the accompanying architectural jargon. into relation with matters usually regarded as being extemal to it, namely politics, culture and economics. On the one hand, this intention reflects our wish to approach architecture architecturally, i. e. in accordance with the specific laws of the discipline and with respect for the profession’s attainments. On the other hand, we wish to probe the programme behind the architectural discipline - a programme which may be latent, implicit or explicit. in other words, we are
  • 8. prepared to raise questions about how architects could or should go about their business. We must move from a situation in which reality tolerates criticism in a non-committal way towards a situation in
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