by mr

#architecture #protagonists


poems from the plenty
generic poem 024


Writing on architecture is not like history or poetry.1 For this book does not show of what architecture is composed, but treats of the origin of the building art, how it was fostered, and how it made progress, step by step, until it reached its present perfection.2 I would like to emphasise above all that architecture is a game lacking clear rules.3 Architecture is at one and the same time a science and an art.4 But all the possible alternatives are not in fact realized: there are a good many partial groups, regional compatibilities, and coherent architectures that might have emerged, yet did not do so.5 And architecture, too, has this mysterious dimension of the frontier between two worlds of space.6

Nothing has ever been invented by one man in architecture.7
Architecture is stifled by custom.8
Architecture is a plastic thing.9
Architecture is a thing of art, a phenomenon of the emotions[…]10
Architecture is a matter of “harmonies,” it is “a pure creation of the spirit.”11
Architecture is a very noble art.12
Architecture is governed by standards.13
Architecture is stifled by custom.14
The “styles” are a lie.15
Architecture is very broad.16
Architecture is nothing but ordered arrangement, noble prisms, seen in light.17
Architecture is based on axes.18
Architecture is a plastic, not a romantic, affair.19
Architecture is very well able to express itself in a precise fashion.20
Architecture is a plastic thing.21
Architecture is stifled by custom.22
But wait a little, architecture is not only a question of arrangement.23

Beyond this stage of perfection in architecture, natural selection could not lead; for the comb of the hive bee, as far as we can see, is absolutely perfect in economising wax.24 Architecture positions its ensembles—houses, towns or cities, monuments or factories—to function like faces in the landscape they transform.25

The house stares through its windows at the vineyards and tufts of thyme, ornamental oranges take shape on its walls, a tissue of lies, oranges and lemons. The philosopher forgets that the house, built around him, transforms a plantation of olive trees into a Max Ernst painting. The architect has forgotten this too. And is happy if the next harvest, outside, is transformed into a Virgin with Grapes, inside. The house transforms the given, which can assault us, softening it into icons: it is a box for generating images, a cavern or eye or camera obscura, a barn which sunlight only illuminates with a slim shaft piercing through the dust – an ear. Architecture produces painting, as though the fresco or canvas hanging on the wall revealed the ultimate cause of the whole structure. The aim of architecture is painting or tapestry. What we took to be mere ornament is its objective, or at the very least its end product. Walls are for paintings, windows for pictures. And padded doors for intimate conversations.26

I now held in my hands a vast and systematic fragment of the entire history of an unknown planet, with its architectures and its playing cards, the horror of its mythologies and the murmur of its tongues, its emperors and its seas, its minerals and its birds and fishes, its algebra and its fire, its theological and metaphysical controversies—all joined, articulated, coherent, and with no visible doctrinal purpose or hint of parody.27 For architecture, among all the arts, is the one that most boldly tries to reproduce in its rhythm the order of the universe, which the ancients called “kosmos,” that is to say ornate, since it is like a great animal on whom there shine the perfection and the proportion of all its members.28


1, 2 Vitruvius_The ten Books of Architecture, 3 Ito_Tarzans In The Media, 4 Durand_Precis of the lectures on Architecture, 5 Foucault_Archaeology of Knowledge, 6 McLuhan_The Gutenberg Galaxy, 7 Rand_The Fountainhead, 8 LeCorbusier_Towards a New Architecture, 9 Rogers_A Place for All People, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 LeCorbusier_Towards a New Architecture, 24 Darwin_On the Origin of Species, 25 Deleuze Guattari_A Thousand Plateaus, 26 Serres_The Five Senses, 27 Borges_Collected Fictions, 28 Eco_The Name of the Rose