Poesis-Production I have been asked to talk about poesis and production.

As far as I understand the thematic for this panel, which was written by Ignasi de Solà-Morales, the terms poesis and mimesis are here seen as unconnected and even opposed to each other. I want to raise some different questions, which in many ways turn on the same question: How can one work today, in the time in which we live, as an architect? The traditional form of dialectical thinking, based on the separation and isolation of one element of the thinking model in order to enhance and strengthen the other, has come to an end and can no longer be used in architectural (and other?) design processes. This “heroic” form of dialectical thinking, which denies any link between seemingly opposed systems, has its historical roots in the 19th century. Natural-Artificial Rather than seeing artificial and natural processes as opposed to each other, today we see them as one thing, as a continuity of things. We no longer believe that nature and society, or nature and the city, are dialectically opposed. By nature we mean biological, chemical, and physical processes, processes that we try to describe in order to understand nature. We also mean artificial and artistic processes that allow us to understand our own natures, our perception and sensation of nature, and our effect on and alteration of it. We have learned much from reading about chemical processes and crystallographic descriptions that compare microstructures, i.e., “invisible” structures such as atomic grids of materials, to the “visible” aspects and qualities that these materials or substances reveal to us in everyday life. My partner de Meuron and I have put together some thoughts on this in a text entitled “The Hidden Geometry of Nature.” We were curious to know more about things that, although invisible to the naked eye, are becoming extremely effective and that, ultimately, are responsible for such things as the shape, color, or physical stability of an object. For example, largely due to the differing mineral qualities of (invisible) crystallographic structures, a mountain of granite takes on shape different from that of a mountain of limestone. Although people constantly separate the visible and the invisible worlds, there is a link between them. Even today most people (including architects) understand “reality” as something they can see or hold in their hands. They cannot or do not want to accept the existence of the realities hidden within either natural or artificial objects. This has major consequences not only for the way in which architects conceive architecture, but for architecture’s economic and ecological impact on society. Our first project dealing with the problem of natural/artificial processes is the Diagonal competition in Barcelona, in which we proposed a pond system that works as a biological water purification plant while serving as a public garden. At the time nobody understood the project. Many read it as an ecological ideal

But what? Ten or 20 years ago. This is the same for art. We like to take advantage of the possibilities offered by new materials and tools such as video and computers. These come up again and again like constants in a mathematical equation or.and not an urban planning strategy intended to solve one of Barcelona’s main problems. All interesting. or space attractors) be understood as ontological categories in an architect’s work? Does the presence of these attractors in one’s work mean that the work is basically ontological rather than phenomenological? We don’t think that such classifications are helpful in understanding anyone’s work. . Can these architectural attractors (e. attractorlike elements. This is true not only in architecture but in most areas of our culture. Past-Present Tradition doesn’t exist anymore. but we should be aware of the forces at work in the age in which we live. There is no such thing as timeless values. Phenomenological-Onthological Our approach is phenomenological. Time is a reality. to go back to natural processes. This architecture can tell us many secrets if we are willing to listen to and are able to deal with the fascination connected with these buildings. sometimes paradoxical qualities. An architect can no longer base his or her work on traditional information. shape attractors. the nonexistent relationship between the city and the ocean.g. In the past few years we have welcomed the increased activity of landscape designers in France and Switzerland who suggest treating the city and landscape in a more integrated way. material attractors. modernism still hoped for a new modern tradition while postmodernism offered to remake imagery from past eras. Today making an object is a new problem each time.. An architect has to base his or her work on something else. This is why our buildings are each so different from one another. What is a theater? What does a window look like? How should a railway engine depot or even such a simple thing as an office building look? We don’t mourn this lack of tradition because it opens up new. This means that all of the former security and selfevidence of architectural work in traditional cultures has vanished. more stable and recurring elements in our work. All of our projects are products of our perceptions projected onto objects. Of course one can also find other. coherent work reflects many influences and differing. a parallel existence of phenomenology and ontological. This doesn’t imply a distaste for traditional objects. something that he or she must bring to the project. All that we have ever designed comes from observation and description. previously nonexistent possibilities in architecture. stable elements and changing elements. time is part of the project. the buildings arise from changing perceptions. All that we have ever done has been found on the street. film. like attractors. Because we turn our heads in different directions. literature. We love traditional architecture – Swiss mountain houses as well as Japanese or Arab courtyard buildings. and even architecture.

or the differing and changing quality of surfaces. dead or almost dead. not very fast. serving only the individual designer’s pleasure. Without such a conceptual base any material is wasted. Intelligent design processes in architecture and engineering create low-tech buildings. The early 1980s produced an almost baroque period.Time changes. where the highly developed technological equipment is motivated . Rather. Hopefully the architect is intelligent enough to waste his or her own intellectual energy rather than the energy of the building structure. for example. Architecture should be based on simple (but not reductive) ideas: for example. The conditions under which one works today have to be redefined almost daily. Many of these enthusiastic projects are now stuck. As time changes. and leading architects outdid each other in mannerist. high-tech. buildings technologically based on a minimum of energetic input. Filmmakers and writers can express time. Architecture should be thought and constructed with the most contemporary materials. as if they were waiting for some additional information from an unexpected source. The leading architecture of the past few years recalls art deco. which led to a euphoric growth of gallery spaces and museums in which both the objects displayed and the buildings themselves were realized in picturesque styles. Decision-making processes have become even more complex. logical strategies. and deconstructivist exercises. individual approach. we leave the choice of materials completely open to the building's concept. they can use it as a working tool. the wall and the opening in the wall. Buildings are not intelligent. not only because of economic strictures but because the whole spirit of the 1980s has been affected by crisis. with a lot of money invading the market. it is a market in which psychological and coincidental aspects can be decisive. Facades are not intelligent. but with a constant and invisible rhythm. which also implies constant openness. Perhaps architects are not so aware of time because they cannot see it. We see the 1990s as a period in which everything will become less certain and less stable. We can face this chaotic reality more easily with a conceptual approach to architectural problems than with a stylistic. Architects should not work with quotations but rather try to give their buildings a more direct expression. The economic world is not a world of rationalism and well-calculated. Many cities and enthusiastic politicians rivaled each other by pumping a lot of money into their architectural projects. how will architecture change? The 1990s are different from the 1980s. High-tech buildings should remain exceptions. Clients’ decisions are systematically made very late. It was a bit like the 1960s – anything seemed possible. to make them work like signs or – even better – like music that anybody from anywhere and with any cultural background can understand. Art brought astonishing prices. The globalization of the economy allows investors to move not only capital but also production processes from here to anywhere with unprecedented ease. This puts the architect in a state of constant uncertainty. but because any available material is as contemporary as any other and because we never favor one material over another. We have seen this happen recently with some of our clients.

individualistic stylistic exercises or tourist attractions. Davidson (Ed. 1994. 84-89. Lecture held by Jacques Herzog at the Anyway Conference in Barcelona. 1993. In: Cynthia C.by specific. Symp. 3. Herzog & de Meuron: Poesis-Production. Otherwise such buildings become either boring. Anyone Corporation / Rizzoli International. No. Anyway. Spain. pp. New York. 1993. . Vol. difficult conditions. Proceedings Barcelona.).

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.