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"Deconstructing is to deform a rationally structured space so that the elements within that space are forced into new

relationships" (Samara 122). It features a lot of chopping up, layering, and fragmenting. Initially, the Deconstructivist architects were influenced by the philosophy and ideas of French philosopher Jacques Derrida. The theory of deconstruction from Derrida's work argues that deconstruction "is not a style or 'attitude' but rather a mode of questioning through and about the technologies, formal devices, social institutions, and founding metaphors of representation" (Typotheque). It is very much history as well as theory. Derrida introduces us to this idea of deconstruction in his book, Of Grammatology. In his theory, we question the idea of how representation dwells in reality. For Derrida, Deconstructivism was an extension of his interest in radical formalism.

In the 1970s, architects that embraced Deconstructivism saw it as a means to assess the supposedly unifying and idealistic ways of the Modern movement, and sought to break apart the concept of classical order and space. In architecture, Deconstruction attempted to shift away from the restricting "rules" of modernism that involved ideas of "purity of form" and "form follows function". "Purity of form" refers to "purism" which is actually a form of Cubism, another art movement that was brought upon by the French painter Amedee Ozenfant. Artists under purism were precise in their use of geometric form and interested in proportion that was pure. The principle of "form follows function" is exactly as its name implies: its idea is that the form or shape of the building or architecture that is being made should be largely based on its intended function. Deconstructivism essentially opposed the ordered rationality of Modernism.

Along with the other Postmodern styles, from the 1970s onwards, Deconstructivism criticized and sought to remedy some particular aspect of the performance of Modern Architecture. In the case of Deconstructivism it was noted that the Modern Movement produced objects and buildings which were formal or even monumental in appearance. Even ordinary buildings and interiors with no social or significance took on a monumental character. The brutality and hostility of Modern environments clearly showed that there was something very wrong with the Modern approach to design. The reason for this was as follows: 1. Each object or part of an object and each space was precisely designed to suit a particular purpose falsely isolated from a complex of other spaces and activities. 2. In the standard method of REDUCTIONISM, complexes of activities were pulled apart analysed - and each aspect identified independently of the others. They were never re-integrated as a whole. 3. The interactions, active relationships and interdependence of elements were ignored or suppressed in favour of falsely identifying their supposed unique character.

4. Each interior or object, activity or event was seen to be a complete thing in itself. The space closed itself off and isolated from other spaces and functions. 5. Every activity was forced into a regular cubic space, every junction was a right angle.

For the International Style all design problems could be solved within these precise cubic spaces. This gave Modern Movement spaces a fake monumentality and certainty. However, in the late 1980s the Deconstructivist movement began to break open the closed forms of the Modern Movement. (That is, to DECONSTRUCT it and accept that the character of elements is complex and derived from the interaction of many other adjacent elements). That complexity would be revealed in Deconstructive works. If not, the resulting form would be inauthentic a lie in other words.


Origin Characteristic

Architectural Examples The

of Structures


What could possibly be the reason behind a style which appears to distort, twist, bend and destroy the conventional (ie. Orthogonal) shape of buildings and to dissolve any obvious relationship between the function of the building and its form? For this is what Deconstructivism seems to do. Why should such a style come into existence in the first place? What purpose can it have and what is the philosophy behind it? There is a fairly clear source for the origins of such a movement and this comes from OUTSIDE the area of architecture and design and lies in the field of Freudian psychology. This idea can be outlined in point form as follows: 1. The real origins of Deconstructivism lie in the work of the Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud (c.1890). 2. Before he revolutionized psychology in the 19th century, mental illness was assumed to be the product of some inbuilt defect in the patient or even of demonic possession. 3. Freud, in working with mentally ill patients realized that in many cases their illness was the product of events in their childhood, their background and their past experiences. 4. The patients had changed their behaviour from its normal course of development in order to cope with the pain of these events.

5. He also noted that in order to deal with these painful memories the patients REPRESSED them. That is, pushed them out of their conscious mind - tried to forget them. 6. Freuds view was that if he could get the patient to reveal these traumatic events to themselves they would in a sense cure themselves. 7. Freud's way of doing this was to get the patients to talk about themselves and through the clues he found in their conversation reveal the deeply repressed source of their problems now buried in their unconscious mind (the 'talking cure'). 8. By noting the way they avoided certain subjects and the phrases and figures of speech that they continually used, the psychologist could target those areas for analysis.

9. In other words Freud set out to 'deconstruct' the speech of his patients in order to find the repressed source of their anxiety which, once identified and opened up for discussion would resolve the problem.
10. Deconstruction in this psychological sense simply means a method of interpretation and analysis of a speech or a text.

The concept of REPRESSION as identified above can also be usefully generalized in the following way:
i. The MODEL or representation of an event is inevitably less complex than the event itself. ii. The report MUST be simpler than the event reported. In psychological terms this means that the final form of behaviour expressed by any system is aproduct of a mass of unseen forces. That any attempt to authentically express or represent the true nature of a system must inevitably reveal this complexity of sources which are the basis of its expression. However, in order to function in the world, a system cannot continue to express every aspect of its organization. It must repress the character of the component parts in order to function as a whole.

These ideas represent both a clear statement of the basis of deconstructivism and also an implied criticism of its function in architecture. Namely a potential LACK OF ECONOMY OF ACTION in revealing the character of the component parts of the system or the nature of every activity that takes place in the system. In other words: a lack of integration and elegance.

In the 1960s the French philosopher, Jacques Derrida who had studied the work of Freud, developed and began to apply this deconstructive technique to the study of philosophical texts. Derridas approach was as follows:
1. Whereas Freud had listened to what his patients had to say, Derrida analysed what other people WROTE, but with the same purpose in mind. That is to reveal the repressed ideas which underlay the apparently smooth, elegant and well-constructed arguments put forward by other philosophers. 2. He wanted to find the inconsistencies in their ideas by analysing the way they wrote them: again the figures of speech they used and the way they avoided certain topics which might contradict the coherence of the model of experience which they had put forward. 3. Derrida believed that no theory could pretend to be absolutely consistent, logical or present itself as a self-contained and whole system. If it did, it could only do so by hiding or repressing something which did not fit its view of things.

4. He looked for clues in the text which betrayed these hidden / repressed thoughts. He deconstructed the text in order to find them. 5. He also placed contradictory texts and ideas beside each other on the same page to indicate the futility of either claiming absolute authority. 6. By disrupting texts in this way he forced the reader to approach the text (and the ideas behind it) in a more critical and therefore more intelligent way.

The general characteristics of Deconstructivist design are as follows:

1. Explodes architectural form into loose collections of related fragments. 2. Destroys the dominance of the right angle and the cube by using the diagonal line and the `slice' of space. 3. Uses ideas and images from Russian Revolutionary architecture and design -Russian Constructivism 4. Searches for more DYNAMIC spatial possibilities and experiences not explored (or forbidden) by the Modern Movement.

5. Provokes shock, uncertainty, unease, disquiet, disruption, distortion by challenging familiar ideas about space, order and regularity in the environment.

6. Rejects the idea of the `perfect form' for a particular activity and rejects the familiar relationship between certain forms and certain activities.
7. Note the work of the architects, Peter Eisenman, Bernard Tschumi and Zaha Hadid.



of the Deconstructivist philosophy was therefore to detach architecture from 'function' as such and to allow a 'free play' of design. In a sense to make architecture/design a 'pure' art. It might solve some of the functional problems but that was not its main purpose.

In the 1970s a group of American architects including Peter Eisenman started to emphasize and distort the grids and frameworks of his buildings. This was a process which became more dramatic and insistent over time up to the 1980s when Eisenman's buildings became recognizably 'Deconstructivist'. His work and writings and his discussions with Jacque Derrida on the process of deconstruction in architecture form the intellectual base of this movement. The work of Zaha Hadid, Morphosis, Bernard Tschumi, Daniel Libeskind, Michael Sorkin, Coop Himmelbau, Gunter Behnisch, Lebbeus Woods, Kazuo Shinohara, SITE, Frank Gehry.



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