Yale University, School of Architecture

Critical Architecture: Between Culture and Form Author(s): K. Michael Hays Source: Perspecta, Vol. 21 (1984), pp. 14-29 Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of Perspecta. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1567078 . Accessed: 13/12/2013 12:16
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perspectives Mies van der Rohe Friedrichstrasse project charcoaldrawing 1919 15 This content downloaded from 144. A reinterpretation ofa few projectsby Mies van derRohe will ofa critical architecture examples provide a place between the thatclaimsforitself efficient of representation preexisting detached culturalvaluesand thewholly an of abstract formal system. autonomy realm ofa critical The proposition culture and form is notso between ofreceived views muchan extension as it is a challenge of interpretation to thoseviewsthatclaim to exhaust architectural meaningin considerations ofonlyone side or theother.1. reviewof two prevalent interpretive thatmakejustsucha claim. 13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . helpful.122.K. conciliatory operations culture and yetirreducible to dominant formal structure a purely disengaged from thecontingencies ofplace and time. theprecisenature questionsconcerning influences between of the reciprocal cultureand architectural form bring and its ofarchitecture opposingtheories intoforceful interpretation play.' a critical In thisessayI shall examine one resistant to theselfarchitecture. a knowledge.It will be to beginwitha brief therefore.203 on Fri.is fundamentally culturalenterprise seema mayhardly contentious And yet proposition. ofa confirming. Michael Hays Critical Architecture Culture and Form Between as activity and That architecture.

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and worldview comparative political. internalized-that It that be results. strict. is and processes theoptimumrelationship of thehistorical world. Moreover. conceptual fidelity. backward form projection hereis thatofan ideal time.symptoms. to restore environments ?truth. ofa therefore and as a reification be recovered institutions bya disciplined that and equilibrated of thecultural situation integrated ennobles reconstruction collectivevolition..how its constituent and artifacts parts helps to assureits continuity.>>and advocates attempts based solelyon form. space. language.understanding maybe recombined. architecture. on assumption interpretation is seen factual the the taskof theinterpreter. there is a conscious benefit. actions. how it and from thedocuments. recovery originating thecriticor historian situationis the renunciation ofa single becomesthestudyofobjectsand alreadycompleted. as a functional operations-how support how it is a wholly been put together.Architecture as an instrument ofculture Architecture as form autonomous The oppositepositionbeginswiththe of The first culture The temporal convention positionemphasizes thattheonlyalternative this of built to a as the cause and content view.203 on Fri.architecture system without external the culturethatproducesit. the hegemony ofculture recorded reconfirms references. a self-transposition or culture and seen as essentially to be established between in The temporal convention of thelatter imaginative is one ofcorrespondence. are and misunderstandings misreadings with to occurroutinely. of cultural values. form. are to architectural the in of operations imagined object explanation true. ofhistory. becauseof thechangesin by the dependent positionare characterized naturally absenceofhistorical socioeconomic. becausesuchsubject content matter would necessarily impingeupon ofcriticism and the intellectual liberty of theformal the availability strategies form can be forreuse. Architecture as of then. and understood In anycase.and in favor ofattention to the concerns forits various thathave takenplace in thetime processes technological architectural thearchitectural statesand transformations.rejected.2 hopelessly precisely or sociallycontaminated circumstantial. is.Architectural ofcourse.The intent of interpretation to dismissanyoftheworldly. spontaneous. Michael Hays i6 This content downloaded from 144. made from thissecond is essentially Misunderstanding is presumed to arise On thisview architecture Interpretations on an epiphenomenon.3 K. retrospective.122. and instruments interpretations object to its originalmeaning. buildingas a cultural objectin time is is possessed. objectand its objectfrom autonomous separating its partshave formal themeaningmust forhuman the interpreter.1. architecture in whichtheobjectoriginated. supposed question outsidecircumstantial to thestrict the onlyalternative reality-and Architectural assimilable as idea. origin any the to of is not allowed and to the idea the object origin objectivity capitulation is thatall schemes are constrain its meaning. particular place. or material avoidanceof anyhistorical factotherthanthoseofa dislodged The wayin whicha formal system. whichare thebase material maybe reused. of the cultural pure methodological recovery in a is understood to be produced form at the timeof theobject's situation of time and but historical is the denial of course. subjective. When thishistorical methodis of interpretation thevaluesof efficiently representing momentin a purely an <<objectiveand sufficient the former. 13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . is is.yet readand interpreted. a proliferation an architectural of as signs. Accordingly. Starting can be understood and as important. or achieved not addressed.

in theories of itself. consequence itself from thestart.reproducible system. dependent interpretive analysis of we what formal its else. and as contingency circumstantiality. state. definition is in its difference from other a priori culturalmanifestations and from or methods. and its manner ofdoing thisconstrains whatcan be donewithit in interpretation. a testimonials If attempts to recover as it rhetorically proclaiming <<history work'sgreatness worth reallyhappened. Michael Hays '7 This content downloaded from 144. formal and that categories operations so long as we construe architecture claim to be free ofhistory and as essentially on or risks circumstance. by their in theworld. interpretation. well as theartifact's sensuous persisting mustall be considered as particularity.It has of the natural sciences. thevery essenceof the theysaturate work. presence.as pristine containers ofa privileged of principle internal coherence. methodsare formed through boththeend of ofa necessarily examination limitedset paradoxically. The two positions sketched above are of a symptomatic pervasive dichotomy in architectural and criticism.The worldliness ofarchitecture Such an approach has not been thisformalist Moreover. selfof perpetuating hegemony culture. categories K. in the architectural incorporated object. Each architectural objectplaces in a specific itself in theworld.the otherside treats architectural objectsin theirmostdisinfected. interpretation A discussion ofa fewprojects by Mies van der Rohe will drawattention to the factthatan architectural object. inefficacy. paradigms emanatefrom a specific do something quite its own. categories and precisely about the becomemorerigidly defined and technically. its idealization is that ofobjectand method maintaining is deniedits specialstatus purity by accedingto socialand political architecture as a cultural objectwitha causation. architectural as distinct from When entrenched.203 on Fri. theories ofculture. culture-they not come to us untainted. and are legitimized ofits by admitted Reducedto some othercultural A perhaps powerlessness.The supposed we expectto understand in architecture ofanyone kindofformal universality terms of someanterior we thefactthatcritical obscures process. architecture has disarmed unforeseen of this pureform. It also theabsoluteautonomy obscuresthefactthatthemethods of Nevertheless. theory One side describes artifacts as instruments of the self-justifying.is an hasalready object whoseinterpretation commenced but is never Historical complete. but also the moreintricate analysis demandedby artifacts situated explicitly and critically in the world-in in culture. is to object priority ascribed otherkindsof objects.1. of form and its superiority over of are these themselves objects study historical and material is of contingencies partofa larger complexensemble not virtue of its are contaminated proclaimed. The particular works by Mies to be examinedare thoseI would describe as critical. authority. by power relationships. positionrisks forarchitectural scientism entirely unhealthy collapsingintoan interpretive It has done awaywith not unliketheone it seeksto criticize. If a criticalarchitecture is to be worldly its and self-aware simultaneously. and humanistic a display quiteovert on thebasisofitsaccurate representation emulationof the positivist methodology of thedominant culture.122.. 13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . so long as categories predict. Furthermore. and the of of and that these representation beginning exemplars. Theymight also be called resistant and oppositional. and duration ofits own.theformalist attitudetoo often fallsunwittingly into developeda specialized vocabulary to talk critics its own scientism as formal enabling seriously. representative something simplyreaffirming cannotsee whatit does itself. situation so to speak. An alternative interpretive positionwhichcutsacross thisdichotomy would bearnotonlya morerobustdescription of theartifacts.by virtueof its situation in theworld. This is an architecture thatcannot be reducedeither to a conciliatory ofexternal forces or to a representation formal dogmatic. analysis cannotsee an architecture thatis.but byvirtue own worldliness.

EdvardMunch to the novelsof FranzKafka.203 on Fri. it is nearer to 6 It is againstthis him thannature.r Kurt Schwitters view of the Mertzbau Hanover 1920. On reasoning .i "'^ ?t The critical architecture ofMies vanderRohe the problems Among the principal halfof facedin the first intellectual was theacute the twentieth century thechaotic thatderivedfrom anxiety In theessay experience..>> <<The Metropolis and philosopher the sociologist Georg Simmeldescribedthiscondition as <the intensification of nervous stimulation.the sharp in thegraspof a single discontinuity of glance...is a blase attitude-a bluntingof discrimination. individualcaughtby impersonal 1895 and incomprehensible The forces.>> thatthe early metropolitan predicament workofMies vanderRoheshouldbe seen. Eric Mendelsohn Schocken Department Store Stuttgart 1926-29 E?e K. from the <the rapidcrowding resulting of changingimages. the the contradictions.but first to providea cognitivemechanism with whichto register the intense changes in themodern continually experienced city. was how to oppose thisdebilitating how to revealit-how dismay.1936 r?? " ~l~tfi) . . 13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .J-. metropolis .Many of thecentury's earlyartistic from the woodcutsof experiments. accordingto Simmel.maybe seenas attempts to Edvard Munch articulate the abject despairof the -The Scream. as ifto pin down and contemplate.. metropolitan and MentalLife. an indifference to value. then.. the disjunctures in the processes and of commerce and industry.a devaluation whichin the end unavoidably drags one's own personality down intoa of the same worthlessness.1.>> feeling The problemforthe intellectual.~:'c L? . I ~. a languid the collectivity.. <<The Modernartist genuinely sees the metropolis as Abstract living converted into form.. <<Dada wishedto the hoaxesof reasonand to destroy discover an unreasoned order. reasoning As JeanArp put it. The typical consequenceof this nervenleben. conditions whichthe psychological creates.1..>>5And Mondriannamedthe cityitself as the ultimateform towardwhichde Stijl tended. and the unexpectedness These are the onrushing impressions. and dynamism.122. The selfof certain is preservation personalities at the of the bought price devaluating wholeobjectiveworld. reklamearchitektur (advertising and the of Eric Mendelsohn architecture) factories of Hans Poelzig made manifest. the otherhand Dada's ferocious nihilism was an explicitattemptto demonstrate the futility of conventional modesof in thefaceof thechaoticcity. <<Inthisphenomenon findin the refusal nerves to reactto theirstimulation the last possibility of to and accommodating the contents forms of metropolitan life. Michael Hays 18 This content downloaded from 144.

1. The other. comprises two architectural One.a radicaldeparture project.articulated relatedto one another bya geometrically derivedcore.203 on Fri.1 `. and dependingon lightconditions or mirrors. Michael Hays 19 This content downloaded from 144. c 91 r ~?'i tz~ r . f `r. a result propositions. i/ \~3~i)~i K. 13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .The glass curtain wall-alternately or refractive reflective.faceted surfaces are contorted by the invasion perceptually of circumstantial images. transparent. viewingpositions-absorbs. charcoal from even the earlierskyscraper studies. but as a complexunitary volumethatdoes not permititself to be read in termsof an internal formal logic. drawing is a buildingform conceivednot in 1919 terms masses of separate. With thesetwo related the Mies confronted propositions of and problem physically conceptually object to the relatingthe architectural city..is a building surface of qualifiedno longerby patterns shadowon an opaque material but by Mies van der Rohe the reflections of lightby Friedrichstrasse and refractions glass. distorts the immediateimagesofcity life.while the reflection each concavity receives on its surface is thatof its own shadow.k 9 i! A~ .publishedin the secondissue of G. I The rather startling image of the 1922 skyscraper project.Friedrichstrasse> lithograph 1918 JiS "~ L-~ i. the gaps whichexacerbate creating disarray.Ifl Georg Grosz . ofexperiments alreadybegun in Mies's Friedrichstrasse project. The convex.122.f\ ..

example. order ora unifying ofan internal logic.Mies van der Rohe projectplan Skyscraper 1922 Mies van der Rohe Skyscraper project model 1922 4[. Thesesurface distortions accompany andaccentuate theformal inscrutability In ofthevolumetric configuration.203 on Fri. the useoftheunexpected. relationships Neither as a deflection theobject to explicate the Mieshasrejected from sometype.It is a thecircumstances of its worldly criticalinterpretation situation. classically an antecedent grasp logicoftheobject. is it possible exist. MichaelHays 20 This content downloaded from 144. theviewer derived can form.. andseeks another chaos ofthenewcity plunges. to skyscraper projectis not conciliatory of its context. in a contextually qualified an order is immanent Miesinsists that theorder andthat is in thesurface itself anddependent continuous with upon in which theviewer theworld actually ofsurface and moves.Nevertheless. particularity to its bothof whichare infrangible and for conveying capacity producing Mies's meaning. assumes moment. byformal reduce the for to impossible. thebuilding is enough to wrench idealized realm theatemporal. in the sense of hasinvested meaning that thebuilding surface andvolume in a particular time andplace. intractable byMiesis an object posited It is to decoding analysis. a systematic it through within order thealeatory. Thissense theknowledge from severed volume. inexplicable. 13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .1 (I-I :1:1M 4f. from it ina andinstall form ofautonomous in therealworld situation specific ofexperienced time.' a priori and an antagonism against intothe he reasoned order.it the and individuate servesto identify as an eventhavingsensuous workitself and temporal duration." is ofexperience This solicitation intrinsic to the meaningofthework. wholeto a number ofconstituent parts armature or related bysomeinternal some formal transformed through nosuch indeed. Mies van der Rohe charcoaldrawing 1922 Skyscraper project K.122. therelationships between deciphering toa itsparts andconnecting part every thealternative coherent formal theme. opento the oflifein the chance anduncertainty with Dada shares Mieshere metropolis. that such classical design meanings Instead he methods tendto promote.1.? 'f' "ltl r 1 li . compositional operation.

..S .. - JiA4 . .the relentless order unitsand theirundifferentiated ofattaching tendto denythe possibility or the to placement significance the But the forms. 4p if 1A-- . of arrangement formal a of logic as priori repudiation theprimary locus of meaningis what is at issue..1. or of representational operations 1928 to the research of I922.the Alexanderplatz sameness of the project).... 13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1& Z -u I4. it is this precisely of thatlinksthe projects repudiation of impersonal is made a function thanof formal rather systems productive devices.the glass-walledblockscould on anysite withno be reproduced of theirform.122.?r:? i -?9 6 ....new conception approacheda radically betweenthe corporeality of reciprocity of the architectural object and the it. i? i t' i': *? :I ~~.. particularities in the demonstrated peremptorily drawings..'' ' ...-: 0 MiesvanderRohe Alexanderplatz project collage 1928 rs r% Y~~~'?~~?~I*. .203 on Fri.. in forthe Alexanderplatz competition his to have diverted Berlin-he seems These projectsabstainfrom efforts. 46'L T :-? - "' K.the bank in Stuttgart. manipulation significant has been unit each building Though size of its own and to the shape adapted lot (forexample. Mies van der Rohe . any dialogue with the physical as of theircontexts... Meaning In the skyscraperproject of I922 Mies Mies van der Rohe Bank project Stuttgart collage 1928 by 1928-in projects like the Adam ! SC~ i. Michael Hays 21 This content downloaded from 144. Alexanderplatz project 1928 "" Ii 1. imagesof culturethatsurround in buildingon the Leipzigerstrasse and the Berlin..

amongunitsor relationships walls of honorific to the nods <<real?origins of its formation Berlage by pointsoffocusor predetermined floor to cornice?). All thissolicitstheviewer the building.ifnotdefeated. Wright's planes represent technical. plaza origins.the termination.not and differencehorizontally of discontinuity implication roof the uninterrupted described of activities. polemicaland self-critical.each nottheorder Kraus'sdictum.thepersonal aspirations front of the Palace Alfonso in of thatis the architectural even its technical its author. Formas an aim is formalism.Second. ofspace object. informed silence the worlda culturally of implacable product. the roofslab. at his Here we musttakeMies any priori objects ofMies's early masterwork the of has the effect of to <<We refuse recognize against repudiating logic problems Pavilionin the German as a source formal internal career. Mies's architecture Suprematist-Elementarists.1oMies's silentarchitecture. betweenthe serialbuildingunits. and thepodiumand architectural materials substitute-an for of theAlexanderplatz irreducibly competition. yetidentical completein itself of the the abstract it. appears projectinitially directing though by onlythe result. circle-Mies'sobjects traffic spatialorderthat preexisting itself as an a priorimental let anyone presents <<Sincethe facts havethefloor.comes and block confronts However. to With Barcelona. thepractice Mies's his to manipulate obduraterefusal canbe verified formal Our observations a to to conform word. modernbuildingproduction space-there a synthesis of not does architecture thateach buildingunitbe spatialconception: <<honestly requires horizontal and or the to all social. meaning XIII. this thus the in Mies succeeds not does itself Form far. To achievethis. but onlyproblems 1929 operations form. order from other cultural the established of by spatial only relation to the columns and its of thecityand the established slab. neither ideal and satisfies our in its Critical architecture been The the formal. .and as a dominant system of existence the uncircumstanced form-areseriously autonomous by theway challenged. space emptiness.but themotivation pushesaside otherkindsofdiscourse " >> commonsense. (<<letalone from Rejectingthespecifications displacingthemwitha material of Loos. in communication order to before was to achievement Mies's practical place inescapable. repeats in simplereality norour interest or is is duplicitous. cancelsthecomplex columnsofSchinkel. its own its purposeas defined by the careful of theobjective tradition-became engagesits site through contrast betweenthelong travertine Mies. Michael Hays 22 This content downloaded from 144. inhabiting floor in this of silence the market established conditions plane.Acrossthe who has anything resolute center wrote and keep his mouthshut. . The Pavilion morespecifically thisproject. of the but aim of our Formis not the respect ouranalysis work. objects'meaning.thisis precisely following glass-walled of ofMies: <<The idealisticprinciple forward to occupyits cultural but its double. thatproduced economicconditions hierarchical either compositions others. the in place between the of reciprocity recognition the culturally empirical qualified. space nothing recognizes on the order. open up a clearing in the chaosof thenervous includesthe The BarcelonaPavilionbeginswitha metropolis. It effectively of the spatialconceptions in which network ofcollidingforces through buildingthatwould enclose peripheral claim forthe de Stijl. Platz or acrossthe intervals worldly Karl Kraus.. Space is. claimsa in whichthissilentclearing is the there First world.ofthearchitectural Both conceptions of embodiment object-as the efficient ofvalues. and of buildingproduction conditions ofarchitecture. spatialsuccession K. The Pavilion architectural and exist. ofbuilding. other's place. meaningto theoutsideas themost has been widelyregarded to whatmightbe called cultural thatwe reject. disallowing with the conceals Indeed. Like two parallelmirrors. quite literally.122. from the architecture walls. limpid harmony theexterior supposedly ofthe in the experience confounded of the interior.but the to walk through ideas and form of self-perpetuating is of free of circumstance. 13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .203 on Fri. withits over-emphasis it displaceswhatwould have each infinitely actively. and theunbroken in a critical architecture position betweencultureas a massivebody palace wall.1. corresponding constancy Distinguishing of sectionand volumeimpliedby the thatinfluence It is theextreme forces architecture-the nervenleben. logic the and but also ofthe classicalcomposition. are disposedin sucha waythatno rather thana palpable to saycomeforward construct can be found.all processed a curved. favored instance-which object. partofwhoseself-definition extendedspace whichis thisclearingis a radicalcritique. This seemsto to present us architecture thespace ofthe and centralize originates Paviliona rarefied withthe silentfactofits existence. clearing-silence by depth continuous betweenthe Pavilionand the all its ownform as an architectural of and by taste..he placed his walls. ' As hypothesized by of immaculate that the insistence is transcription themodern Mies.

.*l ...?? ? . ..Mies van der Rohe GermanPavilion in Barcelona 1929 MIR.1. ..203 on Fri.. ': i i .:..... ur. ?'-?? ~3i' ?: . .. GermanPavilion in Barcelona interior . . . .. ? . :31 E"...: . . io !.: .... . * ..J3 . . ..r15~ .... .! w .. . . . . : / ".- ::Y:. .1. B: *'fi .. . WAWAMUMEM r.... : ?l*":: ....o.. . ..... .... ] .. ?. ..P' . ....i': :i? .. . ......r. f"..ij i . Jr?~ . K.. g . " :' !.j....i N.. ... ..'.... ' ?-mo-w- . _':' ib? .. ...r. .ii'i:] ..--.:(-~ 'A .. ..::... . .! 0... .. Michael Hays 23 This content downloaded from 144.. S i i~~..... .. 9 GermanPavilion in Barcelona interior o ?' .... 13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ... ? .. .. . " . ' ..?4 ::.: . i: ...122. . . ......... ... ..>.? i ":. U . ' -?~~~..~~~r? ? . . ..

13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .. .203 on Fri.. the columnsand chromium wall. ".. --: .There is no prescribed logic ofpassage.-.To .. transcendent order of space Any time that and would an confer space overarching unityonto thisassemblage is systematically and utterly dispersed.. . . .122. The bars. . .tintedglass the onyxslab and light diaphragms.. becomesan insuperable mirrored screen. 5m " B rn It4 N. . . . :. What is potentially insteadis an assemblage of presented different of materials: parts disparate the travertine and walls pavement the surrounding largepool.The contradictory.: .? . in turn. .. The normalsystem of expectations about materials.. ....... ? . .i .... .. . slab. ... i K. Tinian marblereflects the highlights of the chromium glazing barsand seemsto as does the onyx becometransparent. ~ t..T7 ...' . mm jr it: Am ?. .. . K. Because movesthrough thereis no conceptualcenter to organize thepartsor transcend our perception of of each them..~r~ ..... ! ? : ? . .. is quickly however.-... is neither a relational the composition of component partsnora hierarchy in a seriesof identicalunitsrepeated endless chain.... perceptual workitself is an eventwithtemporal is duration. .> The and distortion of the fragmentation is total. . Michael Hays 24 This content downloaded from 144. glazing relationships among thesepartsare in constant flux as one the building.space itselfbecomesa function of the specificities of the materials. a labyrinth Mies has constructed that deniesus access to the ideal moment of organization lyingbeyondthe actual experience of thismontageof facts. thegreen-tinted glass....~4.the particular quality materialis registered as a kind of absolute.??ll~+ L .'r I .. . . themarble walls facingthe court. .I .. the pool in the small court-shielded from the wind and lined in black in which mirror..:.whoseactual existence continually being produced... .Supporting columns dissolvein an invasionof lighton their the highlypolishedgreen surfaces.1. . shattered as materials beginto contradict theirown nature. glass-is a perfect standsGeorgeKolbe's <<Dancer.?" i .

.1..X '" ".ii What shouldstrikeus forcibly. ir .technical. Nor does it onlyformally..is less thana is nothing thatthe artifact Though it exists ofreality.12 winning of its extentby virtue to a considerable it cannotbe own formal structures. surface continuous 0000" mm.explicitly alongside and spatialconditions sharing temporal their of thatworld.. . 13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . apprehended a reality. Michael Hays 25 This content downloaded from 144. then.but obstructing withan alternative absoluteauthority and theoretical of material.I ? ?f . to -ij a Mies van der Robe GermanPavilion in Barcelona 1929 d.122. r* it t 66 . simplyrepresent preexisting takesits place The architectural reality the real world...ii if.A participant with it. in theworld precision. the and yetdisjunctive BarcelonaPaviliontearsa cleftin the of reality.203 on Fri. e GeorgeKolbe <Dancer* GermanPavilion in Barcelona 1929 of drawing interior b c GermanPavilion in Barcelona interior 1) K..

withthe rationalare brought together and the the unpredictable.and the the motivated.00e. forexample. les Titans parcourrant nos buanderies? from La Femme 1 oo Tetes i ll fi =a=__ i s 1.can be construed of the of some redistribution design of the Alexanderplatz project strategies and the BarcelonaPavilion-a subtle onto of an alternative reality grafting the chaos of Chicago'sSouthSide.What resultsin such collages les Titans as <<Tous les vendredis.. 1929 points publishedhis pictorialnovel._.the Titans will invadeour is a laconicdisplayof laundry) two incommensurable experiences of the interlocked acrossthesurface work. --. contingent.La Femme (The HundredHeadless Ioo Thtes Woman). a purelymetropolitan a seriesof inspiration comprising from scenes made from gathered collages illustrated popularnineteenth-century books and magazinesonto whichErnst to foreign objectsor occupants grafted them.203 on Fri.--. afford these A brief analogywill perhaps In Max Ernst added clarity.? I 4j ? .The campusof as a IIT. Michael Hays 26 This content downloaded from 144.1.Max Ernst <<Tous les vendredis.122.Like Ernst.: K. 13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Irar Irv? 10 0 top I to" Mies van der Rohe Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) 1939 .This visionpersisted in Mies's laterworks. nos buanderie> (Every parcourront Friday.Mies was able to see as theplace in which his constructions the planned. even inexplicable...

13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .A persistently difference ideologicalmotivation. a have still veryprecise transcribed.then. than can resist.rather oppositional. and opinionsabout of architecture? technical a criticalexamination his initialchoiceof Mies rationalized insights or the of the architect the capabilities ofMies suggeststhat This discussion the rangeof themesby demonstrating form of the building?Or is it.Mies's Is it to teachand to How in a criticalarchitecture? interest was a persistent architectural historiography? program information about the disseminate the demarcate define or one does a few themes. ofa critical the responsibility therefore. operation thisway authorship with discourse critical invest to strive as the within hidden is situation or initiate to object ability authority-an becausecontingent something morethancompensatory.institutional. from situation and knowledgecriticism-asactivity is assumedis a specific make to and the decision contentious came be which should how demonstrates openly thus Repetition This meansthateach as well.Because of thisawareness. architecture modesof to entrenched alternatives architectural In culturalreality. and about culture and more consequences. architecture. which conditions the intrinsic thanarchitecture. 3 K. specific knowledge-more which within values a field of delimits means the both to be possible recognize precise-ofthegeneralarchitectural cultural can architecture its maintains of that develop and allows thegrowth by whicharchitecture program all thatis outside to its own special distancefrom knowledge.Authorship thatthis ofcriticism thatseem to betweenthoseconditions responsibility of culture. an external object places restraints reflect. but rather whose developculturalknowledge of or methods reflections the at exist circumstances appreciative and but nil worldly is absoluteauthority radically whose for formal the as objects surface analysis of level same particularity is a whosecontingent authority quite to be lies in culturalmeaningis thought inquiry to object itself. reality preexistent that agentof culturein its dominant To theextent withperfect fidelity. to make architecture intention and of nostalgicmemory. authoritative interpreting system.as Authorship authority a resistant architecture Critical criticism andarchitectural of the The contingent authority individualarchitect existsat a sensitive nodal point. not becausethe We must and canonicalforms. formal oppositional. and historical it differs of his authorship a workis architecture. of frame studysuggested accepta preexisting of are forms and existence heredoes not assumetheprior knowledge.stand resisttheauthority be cultural continually meaning architect's the or enable the and habit of generate againstthegenerality and those decided. according knowledge that and the conditions architecture rather and conventions beginnings and critical criticism Architectural distance. demonstrates is arbitrary. forms. themovertime. This sortof thatwhichis other through and refined is made possible?In order architecture or the issueoforigins renders repetition all we can about architecture to know most the No one causes unproblematic. a culturalplace-as an architectural constancy withascertainable intention bothabout it producesknowledge political intentaccumulates rearticulated Criticism intellectual and It should architecture. the undecidable. achievesa resistant upon interpretation. representation qualitatively repetition it of a reduplication and from of reality ofMies's authorial object. of that thanaccordingto thosederivedfrom permitthe existence continuous are activities Mies does not historiography somepriorauthority. arbitrary first singlebuilding-neither each to understand must be able we the most nor and imitated cantus pedestrianrepeated distinguished being firmus a not as of instance cultural a reflect can architecture.to concentrate betweenarchitecture established he modified changingcircumstances.1. Though the beginning disinfected a nor as a from both detached.is the responsibility unclear: One crucialissue remains Fromthe skyscraper projectof 1922 or of critical criticism whatis thepreciserealmof theoretical architectural to the BarcelonaPavilion.122. Michael Hays 27 This content downloaded from 144. its passive so manytimesas to lose primacy.If an neither design he represents reference. criticism both architectural with The kindof theoretical design. of But what. Thereis choiceand. cultural other the occupying it establishes continually actively motivation.203 on Fri. particularity is intention the in which forms intention. ofthe individualis not a mereproduct and social situation but is an historical actorin it. of spatial Beginning rewriting it to deliver Is of monuments culture? of focus is the that interval or witha set of arbitrary temporal propositions. architectural critical for of unchanging designis resistant culturenoran authoritative principles architectural then and what Instead architecture. on and been suggestedhere.It is precisely realm architectural an irreducibly can thedominantculture. as has is in thedistance the realmof interest He reusedthemin theirapplicability. ideological. Ratherwe mustunderstand the consistency and as the But activities. carries of his intent. The individual consciousness is a partofand is aware of thecollective historical and social the situation. persuasive.Interpretive alternative iftransitory. a puzzle. We mustseek architecture.

<<Interpretations of . a~. where many of the ideas presented here were formulated.~~X:lc ~1t~ a \~"li-d -)i- 'z: a e I have benefited from the questions and criticisms of RISD studentswho participated in my seminar. IIT 1939 K. 13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . ~I r i. M. and from the responsesof colleagues who read earlier versionsof this paper.?? ~tt. " ~.:1 Modern Architecture. . : rx*. Michael Hays 28 This content downloaded from 144.1. K.ii . H.122.203 on Fri.~ ir Mies van der Rohe Minerals and Research Building.-~ 1~" t ?"'. I especially wish B`r ?a:: uk !i ~? ?i i' i to thank Stanford Anderson and Rodolfo Machado for their continued supportand encouragement.

<A Geistesleben. <History.. John E..1. and wHistory for Architecture. and consumptionof Colin Rowe's <<collage city* approach by various epigones is indicative of theprevalence of this attitude. (English translation of . Thus.The and Criticism of Architecture* Marcus Whiffen. and generated or validated at its base by normative standards ofpractice which and methodologies become may themselves cultural agents. History. Viking Press K. See Anderson.122. Watkin does mentionin a different context Anderson's review of Pevsner's <Sources .A Conversation with Mies. Kurt H. 1971 PP274-275. The historicismof this position has been criticized by numerous authors. relates to concatenationof events and their stylistic profile.Mies New York. and on the otherhand. in 16 ig98o Modern 1977 and n 5 Sculpture. The developmentof each in modernsculpture is discussed in <Passages 13 I owe my understanding of intention-as all that whichfollowsfroma special beginning-to Edward Said Intention . vol. Cambridge. New York.A Interpretationand of Artifacts:Toward a Historyfor the Duration and Change of in Artifacts. its creation. Wittenborn 1948 6 Piet Mondrian oDe Stiflf 7 Rosalind Krauss makes a distinction between what she calls analytic or narrative time-in which the viewer can grasp the a priori transcendentstructureof the object-and real time-in which the viewer encounters form open to change and circumstance. New York. as I shall use the termhere. thosetheoreticaland which practical systems authorize.Theory. and its interpretation. 13 Dec 2013 12:16:39 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the artifactsand environmentswhich endure as resourceful physical precedentsor exemplars of systems of production and become transmittersof culture. I understand a conceptual unity comprising. MIT Press 1965. I shall not rehearsethese criticismshere. autonomous-form such statementsas the following are often misleading to those inclined toward uncritical consumption of images of thepast: 4It should be obvious by this point that present arguments have little to do with <history.> sofar as we 4 .* Fred Koetterand Colin Rowe <<The p243 Johnson p 94 Also see Mies's disavowal of de Stijl in Peter Blake .. Hancock. M. Anderson Presentnessof . Colin Rowe. to emphasize the between an reciprocity object. 53 Sept. Wolff. if we are interested in the usefulnessof particular morphologies.The Mental Life. Dresden 903) in .ed.In the framework of this discussion it can only interestus verylittle.trans. of..Die Grosstadt und das Metropolisand 8 Mies's well-known friendship with the Dadaists Kurt Schwittersand Hans Richterand his collaboration with the editorsof this reading of the 1922 skyscraper. and Method. promote.Notes I 2 3 The unfortunate oversimplification. Though Rowe could not be fittedeasily into the architecture-asmould. Michael Hays 29 This content downloaded from 144. in. Artifacts Interpretationand of Poetryand Essays 1912-I9i6. New York. packaging. Kallman. <G. mostnotably Stanford Anderson. trans. and ed. it is in the purview of culture that the production of architectureis overseen from above by a dominant systemof values saturating downward. Museum of Modern Art 1947 Io . ed. New York DaCapo Press 1970 PP93ff Crisis of the Object: The Predicament of <Perspecta P135 Texture.Arts Bulletin.. in <Four Great Makers of Architecture* G. EdmundJephcott.The phrase captures the notion that the understanding ofa building unfoldsand may change in time. we are correspondingly unconcernedwith the provenance of specific models.The Georg Simmel.. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1978 II in are aware. in Presentnessof 9 In Philip Johnson van der Rohe* . New York.The implications of Mies's affiliationwith the Dadaists have yet to be fully explored. 12 By culture. on the one hand. Free Press 1950 5 Jean Arp o<On My Way: Sociologyof support P415 Tradition. Watkin uses a Popperian argument against historicism without noting Anderson's earlier study <Architecture and StanfordAnderson uses the phrase <<winning of reality.or constrain the production and use of ideas and objectsand by which a societyor a place differentiates itselfand maintains its hegemony. For a recentdiscussion of that interpretations emphasize the object's origins see S. and. ed.. and David Watkin. .203 on Fri. . Cincinnati Universityof Cincinnati 1981. Baltimore John Hopkins University Press 1975 P91 Karl Kraus quoted by Walter Benjamin in <Reflections.Beginnings.

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