You are on page 1of 7

The Architecture of Movement

Patrik Schumacher 1996
Published In: ARCH+ 134/135, Wohnen zur Disposition,
Dezember 1996 German: Architektur der Bewegung
"To see the system of movement as a key to space remains an exception in
architecture. In other areas, e.g. dance, such ideas have been conceived."(1)
1. The quest for the space of movement as the quest for an Other Space
Can there be a theory or a conception of space beyond the "archarchitectural" space of modular control?
Is there an alternative tradition, an alternative paradigm of space or at least
the theoretical possibility of defining space through movement alone, without
an independent and prior system of reference? How do I design a system of
circulation without presupposing points to be connected? A system of
connection that defines its points of destiny from within itself? The circulationsystem runs in circles and turns into its opposite, a dance: a movement
without motivation, ultimately to be understood as the escape from the
architectonic system. How does the dance define itself and its space without
cartesian grid? Not without fundamentally subverting the whole notion of
definition, of rationality and objectivity as resting on regularity and
reproducability. The "definition" of space through movement becomes the
solipsistic fiat of gratitious subjectivity. Per definition such escapist
"architecture" must remain exceptional. This escape from Architecture - to be
traced historically - becomes a revolt against architecture and attains a
philosophical as well as political dimension, in as much architecture as "the
system of systems"(2) remains the original reference of any notion of structure
and order. (Here emerges the problematic of a selfconcious
The idea of an "architecture of movement" depends upon an architecture of
(modular) order being presupposed logically as well as historically.
Logical: a-rythmic, creative movement is only identifiable through its negative
definition as de-viation from the algorythmically compartmentalized space.
The perception of space becomes "subjective" as deviation from the objective
order of space. Time becomes "subjective" as deformation of the objective
relations established by mechanically produced time: the hand traverses the
modular space of the clock's face.
Freedom/subjectivity registers and thinks itself against the framework of an
institutionalising "architecture". The technology of architecture gives birth to
such concepts. ("Architecture" sigifies not any kind of built something, but first
of all a formal system, postulating a structure as an ordered whole conceived
and errected in reference to such system.)

But before deconstructivism makes sense. in real as well as in conceptual terms. the founding technique of man's appropriation of space. within the ambit of 1968. that was part of an aesthetic revolution carried forward by the ascending bourgeoisie of the 18th Century. It does this playfully and comfortably. Debor's Situationism is Anti-CIAM. This counter-movement is always also part of a political movement. 2. an integration of the surrounding into the interior of the city.The space of movement and experience of the picturesque English landscape garden emerges in the 18th Century as the artificial reconstruction of the natural. potentially revolutionary "situations" that re-open the possibility of the "Other". Deleuze and Guattari are scetching open. Guy Debor's psychogeographical "derive" continues this dismembering anti-tradition in the 20th Century: The disoriented drifting within the body of the city has (anti-)method as it expects unexpected spaces of encounter. Anti-planning. an architecture of movement. More existential than playful seems Baudelaire's flaneur who's dis-tracted and desire-driven movement dis-figures the architectural space of the 19th Century city. It offers itself as the unknown and confronts us with the unforeseen. Athens still had an edge-condition.a "smooth space" defined in opposition to modular "striated space" . hierarchical and "territorializing" order is put forward in the form of a quasi-geometry. flexible and fluid anti-architectures. In the case of Debor the political dimension is absolutely selfconscious and ecxplicite. embedded in the familiar and transparent order of architecture that has already conqered the unknown alien. the history of mankind. The same applies to the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari (5) that is the basis for the recent american architectural debate around the notion of folding: a political critique as critique of a rigid. This regards also the movement of the English landscape garden. Considering parallel developements in France. might be described as a successive internalization. Antiarchitecture. Following Mark Cousins. and his movement becomes part of the movement towards 1968. Here. propably the the most extreme and selfconscious anti-architecture of movement in the 20th Century. The landscape garden validated and took part in the unrestrained usurpation of space by early industrial capital. a long historical process of construction has to be presupposed. because the order of architecture is always also a political order. in relation to space. which aetheticizes as vital "uproar and tumult" the dynamism of urban growth that can no longer be contained within the formal system of baroque planning. permanently moving in and out of shifting networks of relation. All those architectures of movement are comprehensible only as atempts to suspend the territorialized architectural space. one finds as well the political and philosophical origin of Deconstructivism. The space of the nomades . Manfredo Tafuri (4) identifies in Laugier's naturalizing architectural theory the urban ideology of capitalism. The Production of Space as Elimination of the Other Architecture is the paradigmatic metaphor. whereby it met the unknown and .

The resulting chessboard pattern was marked by hedges and drywalls. starts with the gridded horizontal plane. and the map stops at the white terra incognita. The canals imposed a horizontal datum: an architecture of dykes. This finds its pendent in the representation of space through perspective construction which. a brilliant study attentive to the various formal strategies by which the ever-resistant geo-morphology is forced under architecture's rule. The villa transposes the urban architectural order into the hinterland. Architecture's formal systems start to conquer the landscape during the Renaissance. which found its historical peak in the service of 17th century French Absolutism. This process of territorialization leaves no space for ambiguity. formally sizeing upon the colonizing grid imposed under the centuriatio system that devided the land relentlessly into squares of 625sqm. thus domesticating everything in advance.all the way to the horizon. effectively subsuming space and movement under the modular order of the proliferating in England is the period when the land is finally brought under the total jurisdiction of private property and made accessable through the comprehensive transport network of roads and canals. City. while the piano nobile was again raised above the intersection. Venice's reclaimation of the Veneto in 16th century was the politicoeconomic agenda setting the task for the Palladian Villa. Here emerges the space of the controlling perspective.the order of the city . Manufacturing industries. . Greek cosmology can still ask questions concerning the end of the world. Palladio recommends to raise the axial streets against the fields and to line them with a regular rythm of trees. landscape and villa are unified into the "integrazione scenica". accompanied by new settlements. the city remains a closed circle. The roads were straightened and their surface hardened. departure from it being adventure. The medieval realms are trancended.uncontrolled Other. as the land was built into a state. (This historical process of appropriation is traced by Clemens Steenbergen and Wouter Reh's "Architecture and Landscape"(6).) 3. thus placing all of nature under its spell. The Villa was placed at major crossing points within this system formally enhancing the intersecting axes. according to Alberti. This was the first precise articulation of a comprehensive modular and hierarchical order. The italien villa emerged as the castello could shed its fortifications and the control over the hinterland was completed and asserted by way of extending architecture's geometry . First Dance: Toying with the tamed Other 18th Century England: The period in which Palladianism and its dialectic extension . The whole middle ages exist within aristotelian cosmology. Everything that might happen to occupy space is always already safely positioned.the english landscape garden . This process of appropriation is accompanied by a rationalization of the agricultural geometry. All formerly common land is turned into private property according to parliamentary act regulating this so called "enclosure". tunnels and aqueducts defined the hilly topography as de-viation. Signposts and milestones were introduced.

which Sigfried Gideon (7) termed "space-time". LeCorbusier. and neoplasticism are assimilated into (anti-)architectural spatial experiments on the scale of the villa only."(8) Because the highways neither follow straight lines nor any algorythm. But this movement was no longer measured by milestones and signposts.. only to be revealed through movement. A whole new class of country nobility (with bought titles) settled on country estates crowned by Palladian Villas. Ludwig Hilbersheimer etc. those artificial zones of nature's irregularity and freedom. postulating a new aesthetic category. futurism. The more complex and open spatialities emerging through suprematism. did involve subjectivity and movement. all these are based on the classical geometric canons of modularity. If the Sublime and the Picturesque are signalling moments of relief. without visual boundaries. In this respect one might then interpret Modern Urbanism as a late atempt to finally bring the chaotic capitalist urban landscape into the domain of architecture. . The picturesque garden was a labyrinthine. they also pave the way for an urban developement which is no longer fully controllable by the (baroque) architectural formalism. impenetrable by the controlling gaze. Giedion discovers within the "Parkways" around New York an architecture of movement on an urban scale."(9) Despite Giedion's claim that "space-time" represents the essence of the modern epoque it remained marginal within overall 20th Century construction. The urban models of Tony Garnier. "The fundamental law of the parkway: there must be unobstructed feedom of movement.would enter into successive alignments. Such sublimated experience of the danger of untamed nature was theorized in Burke's 'Philosophical Inquiry into the Origins of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful' from 1756. unbearable to a classical sensibility. Ernst May.spread out into the country. conceived as tabula rasa structure. playful escapes from the architectonic system. Frank Lloyd Wright. utilizing the water-energy available along the rivers. allowing for surprise and even sublimated horror. whereby the identity of a spatial unit (a "room") would shift with the respective position of the moving subject. but are rather lead by the natural topography. The spatial units . dissolving the possibility of unitary identity implied by the notion of the room or module. moments of freedom from and a reaction to Architecture. This new sensibilty and concept of space. mythically charged space. it followed another drama. they convey to Giedion the illusion of a totally free movement: "a feeling like nothing else so much as sliding swiftly on skis through untouched snow. 4. This massive urban colonization of the countryside was the framing context of the emerging landscape gardens.or rather no longer units . cubism. Modern Modularity One might argue (with Tafuri) that the sublime as aesthetic value became a means by which the emerging bourgeoisie could sublimate and aesthetizise its chaotic industrial urbanization.

Ten maisonette units . The history of 20th Century urbanism between 1920 and 1980 was following the paradigm of the modular "Siedlung".threedimensionally complex figures . The public outside space penetrates and "erodes" the block. Particulary I shall reference two residential projects. Communism would move through such spaces. Movement beyond the module: Two limit cases Such a conception of space as generated by spontaneus movement entails an understanding of Being and Dwelling at its point of disappearance. The dweller is no longer able to overlook where his property starts and ends. The . thus constituting a rectelinear mass. inexhaustably ambiguous spatial substance. The work of Zaha Hadid and of Berkel&Bos might be interpreted as such an antiArchitecture. re-emerging over and again as the unfamiliar and never becoming his home. a stranger in his own house. landscape. hermetic unit. Movement within the module Within and against this modular mass production LeCorbusier developes the seemingly unproblematic idea of an architecture of movement. The same is true for LeCorbusier's Villa. Within this tangle the single unit looses its identity and integrety. being reproduced on an everextending scale throughout this period. the photographic sequence through the interior of the villa is inconspicuously subtitled "promenade architecturale". Ben van Berkels multi-storey housing project for Borneo-Sparenberg radicalizes the dissolution of the stable. 5. based on the fordist mode of production. one of the few built experiments in modern "space-time".are entangled into one another. offering change. Architecture can only approximate or simulate its implied disappearance. surprise and the unknown. He disappears into an inconceivable burrowgeometry. best exemplified by his classic icon of modernity: the villa Savoye. 6. Within his Oevre Complete. If the thus suggested analogy to promenading through a park. the scene should constantly vary. where the question of Being (and being at home) is most radically challenged. modular framework of orientation that would locate one's home within the structure. In his own house. thus clearly and objectively defined as object and property. was bound to be relentlessly modular. or urban environment is taken serious. one faces an uncanny (unhomely) paradox: The inhabitant of such an environment would have to be conceived as a flaneur.which. if the exterior would not have been secured architecturally as a discrete. who's landscape-like quality is constricted into a cartesian envelope. where he once knew himself safely kept and reassured of his identity. edited by LeCorbusier himself. Only within the four walls does spontaneous movement extrude its space from the given. A similar spirit haunts the Villas of Adolph Loos: Spatial sequences merging across the shifting levels prevent fixed identities to take root anywhere.

Endless design variations bear witness to the indeterminacy of the morphology. The creative play . A dynamic of inhabitation is thus suggested that radicalizes Adolph Loos' "Raumplan" and further enhances the fluidity of the relational play. within limiting parameters like maximum incline. Nevertheless. It is not to be understood as geometric figure. Everything seems to be shot through with movement. A potentially liberating space. The spiral-house remains an unhomely bunble of open questions. that comes as surprise within a multy-storey building.potentially . allows for a strange "promenade architecturale". The spiral is the means by which the whole three-dimensional field of the volume remains open and continuous.three-dimensional jigsaw conjures a continuous labyrinth of interstitial spaces. The envelope is prefigured by the setback rules and rigidly positioned within the grid of Koolhaas' masterplan. The internal anti-geometry touches. yet it remains unsettling in as much as the cube itself is undermined and distorted by the thrust of the "movement". twists. Those inscriptions mutate into absurd stipulations. This "topography" of movement deterritorializes . It does not follow any geometric rule but bends and twists out of pure "willfullnes". Zaha Hadid's design (1991) of a villa for the Hague ("Spiral in the box") proceeds from what seems at first to be a purely formal contradiction or contrast: between a violently dynamic interior and a strictly modular exterior. a type that has hithertho been the paradigm of modularity. such labels remain subject to the destabilizing forces of movement and subjectivity. while operating as access and lighting space. to transparent. that. Exact geometrical determination . without ever implying an unambiguous territorialization of the space. born from willfullness.the hierarchical structure of the family as well as the related rigidity of the functional zoning of the house. Any form of devision into levels or cells is suspended. and cuts the architectural envelope. translucent. This dynamic thrust seems caught and fixed within the given cubic grid. The inescapable identification and labelling of the standart territories like "living room". The dichotomous distinction between programme areas and circulation areas is erased.the (anti-)principle of the "soft" free-form furniture of the sixties .a constant or algorythmically controlled radius . This given volume is conceived as indivisible continuum. smoothness of curves etc. . "master bedroom" etc. Everywhere variations within the field are offered as local (and temporary) possibilities of identification. like anything that would lead to uniformity. lust and an urge for here swollowing the whole house. This overstretched architecture tears at a brittle social edifice and sets it into motion. is always possible and can even utilize certain valences or latencies offered within the free-form morphology. The facades seem to follow the spiralling drift as they transform along a sequence from opaque.

p. Prestel 1996 7. 1976 5. "Architecture and Landscape". Sigfried Giedion.References: 1. 1941. "Mille Plateaux".I. Les Editions de Minuit.T. Time and Architecture". "Architecture and Utopia". M. Gilles Deleuze. Nr. ebenda S.T.T. "Against Architecture". Manfredo Tafuri.I. "The Architecture of Deconstruction". 2. 33 3. Felix Guattari. Press. ebenda S. "Space. 824 9. Harvard University Press. 1980 6. 131.14. Paris. M. ARCH+. 1989. M. Press. Press. Mark Wigley.I. Denis Hollier. Clemens Steenbergen. Fifth Edition 1967 8. 1993 4. S. Joachim Krause interviewd by ARCH+.825 . Wouter Reh. "Information der Architektur".