| “The old clichés involving both banality and mess will still be the context of our new architecture, and our new architecture significantly will be the context for them.”
(Robert Venturi, ‘Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture’, 1966, p. 42.)
A work of architecture must take place in a world that is submitted to a continuous process of modification, and has to make sense of it. It always involves an act of judgement - an attitude taken up with regard to place, context, society, history, change, etc. As it is itself an agent of change, this attitude must be critical.
The critical component of architecture doesn’t develop as a radical rejection, nor as a perfect alternative, but rather within proposals broached on immediate reality. It steadily elaborates a repertory of stances, strategies, formal means and effects; a repertory that transforms impressions, images, types and signs from enfolding reality into the material by which architecture is made, allowing it – though ‘filtered’ and ‘translated’- to disseminate.
Alan Colquhoun stated (in ‘Rules, Realism, and History’, 1976) that a work of architecture is part of the real, ‘usable’ world, as well as a representation of that world; that architecture thus has to embrace both the real and the representational, and he thereby observed that if these two aspects are intermingled experientially, they are opposed logically. The whole interest of architecture lays in this double-truth, and it should be consciously elaborated on this discord.
A project operates on a circumstance, redraws a situation. Within this we look for clues, engineer harmonies. Architecture, after all, must be ‘installed’. The design lays out a structure in which form and substance rely on each other to come through. The structure is prescribed by intention. It is set out on a conceptual grid and creates a bridge between ideas and facts. It constructs the field upon which meaning is developed.
Architecture imposes a perspective. It arranges things along a horizon and identifies their vanishing point. Structure, form and image are involved jointly and simultaneously in the meaning of architecture. The work of architecture adjusts circumstances. It operates a shift in the situation and remains visible as a distortion.
Congruence and distortion are the operators of a hyper-realistic architecture.
Guy Châtel – ssa/xx, February 2009.