The Deconstructive Theory in Architecture

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The very essence of the deconstructive architecture is to constantly reinvent the design of the architectural elements, rather than establish a common design.


In an interview with Eva Meyer titled Architecture where desire can live in, the French philosopher, Jacques Derrida pinpoints that architects should explore the elements of the architectural space, which are often perceived as secondary or deemed as unimportant.

“Each architectural place, each habitation has one precondition: that the building should be located on a path, at a crossroads at which arrival and departure are both possible. There is no building without streets leading towards it or away from it; nor there is one without paths inside, without corridors, staircases, passages, doors.” [Jacques Derrida on page 68 of Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture]

Jacques Derrida has outlined the need for architects to adopt the deconstructive thinking in dealing with issues that although might be intended for temporary or secondary use, their presence and function is an equally important feature to the user, as any other element.

The inhabited spaces are acknowledged since they accommodate activities that enable us to function but also they always are accompanied by a journey that leads you to those spaces.

The proper way to highlight the methodology that Deconstructive Movement is actually an attempt to construct the deconstructed (not fully constructed) structure is the interpretation of the “street” and “place” by Michel de Certeau.

“The street geometrically defined by urban planning is transformed into a space by walkers” [Michel de Certeau on page 117 of The Practice of Everyday Life]

In the past, it has been a general assumption that the role of an architect has been to create spaces.

But according to de Certeau, a place is something fixed and determined and therefore is planed, but when movements are introduced to a place, the latter becomes a space alongside its variations in their behaviour.

Architectural creativity has in the past relied upon the technological aspects of a building, whereby the human factor has been paid little attention by the architects.

Marc Auge has also outlined by remains in the dynamics of the location since a place with activity concludes into space.

Auge draws the attention to the dynamics of a space as its primary element and not the architectural elements, concluding that a place without an activity is not space.

“A space exists when one takes into consideration vectors of direction, velocities, and time variables. Thus space is composed of intersections of mobile elements. It is in a sense articulated by the ensemble of movements deployed within it. Space occurs as the effect produced by the operations that orient it, situate it, temporalize it, and make it function in a polyvalent unity of conflicting programs or contractual proximities… In contradistinction to the place, it has thus none of the univocity or stability of a proper. In short, space is a practiced place.” [Marc Auge page 81 of Non-Places]

The writing by the Australian philosopher, Andrew Benjamin draws a clearer perspective of deconstructive thinking in architecture, and in particular, Peter Eisenman’s theoretical backing and perceptions of his designs.

Benjamin acknowledges the existence of tradition and its achievements but he also claims the past has also produced vacuums in related subjects for which there has to be a way to review them thoroughly and establish new notions of understanding them.

“The origin has to become redescribed. The foundations are renewed with repetition such that they are then repeated for the first time. The consequence of this means that if there is to be a refusal to take over and carry on that which tradition hands down then there has to be another way in which this task can be understood. It is precisely in these terms that it will be necessary to rethink the force of the claim that “architecture houses”.
[Andrew Benjamin on page 291 in Rethinking Architecture]

In “Eisenman and the housing tradition”, Benjamin continues to illustrate further the concept of work behind deconstructive philosophy in which he explicitly states that traditional views are there and we do not challenge them in that there has already been established but yet that should not stop the process to enrich the traditional philosophy by dealing with issues that have been under-explored in the past.

Benjamin implies that in its repetition or rather in its revisit, the deconstructive mind enters with exploratory vision searching for meanings in things that were previously considered as trivial, emphasising that philosophy has been confined within its borders in defining the subject of its interest.

Under the deconstructive vision adding related issues that have
been not so visible is expanding these borders.

“The tradition within which philosophy is enacted – and hence which it enacts – has decreed what is going to count as philosophical and therefore what will fall beyond the borders it constructs. The repetition of philosophy within, by and as tradition reduces it to the repetition of an ideal essence. It must not be assumed of course, that the essence need be at hand. Indeed it is possible to present a conception of philosophy were its and its nature are in some sense hidden, and thus what becomes fundamental to, if not descriptive of, the philosophical task is the revelation of that which is not at hand. Here repetition is the repetition of that which is not essential though concealed.” [Andrew Benjamin on page 291 of Rethinking Architecture]

Benjamin concludes by outlining that Eisenman is different from other architects because the American architect is constantly establishing new forms of interpretations of a certain typology applied in his design.

Therefore, the very essence of the deconstructive architecture is to constantly reinvent the design of the architectural elements, rather than establish a common design.



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