3 lessons in Architecture - Daniel Libeskind


Design and Research Methodolgy
Simon K. Chung - skc@altavista.net

Reading Architecture
 

"Teaches an almost forgotten process of building, a process which is in its own way not yet fully unfolded in Architecture.  Like the medieval monastery out of which the Reading Machine (dedicated to Petrarch) emerged, the method of construction and the technique of understanding bring about a revolution of architecture's techne which coincides with the movement of the text that it propels.  As a place of intersection between archaeological reconstruction (Remelli, Palmanova, military engineering) and the will to power it discloses (metaphysics, monasticism, ideology) the Reading Machine reveals the tautological reality of the architectural text.  The eight books - each a single word uttered by the forgetfulness of Being that resolves itself by turning back in order to come forward - lie on eight shelves.  The books come and go for a comparison not only with each other but with the weight of the last seven words of Metaphysics, which crush the gears and axels whose relation is inaccessible from the reading position.  The wheel revolves, and in completing a revolution returns to its starting point while exposing its own uselessness and kinetic beauty.
Executed in a "medieval" manner, with glueless joints and using no energy of a contemporary kind, this machine represents the triumph of spirit over matter; of candle light over darkness.  It is made solely from wood, as are the books."

Remembering Architecture
 
 

"The Memory Machine (dedicated to Erasmus) consists of the backstage only - the spectacle takes place wholly outside of it.  As a mechanism for projection, concealment and illusion, this prosthetic piece of equipment exposes and also hides the Venetian projects.  Since the process of its construction remains in the classical arena (imagination, measurement, idea) the subversive element of the mechanics (Teatro Farnese versus Teatro Olimpico) enters only in those places where memory has succeeded in retaining its surrogate authority.
As a ghost of Humanism's cosmic hubris, the Memory Machine seeks to desengage the sites from the earth in order to return them to their original, destined locus: Joyce's Dublin and Tatlin's Moscow.
Done in a "Renaissance" style of being, the Memory Machine abounds in the kind of inventiveness and caprice that we associate with the Odradek.
It is executed in wood and retains in its structure the "hanging papers" seen by the King.  This project represents the stage of Architecture's appearance and is a testament to its own manifestation.  Made of wood also are the eighteen subordinate spectacles, which include the "schizophrenic forum".  Colourless: the bloody red illuminates the shiny exterior of an inner sanctum dedicated to what remains nameless.  Metal is used exclusively for non-structural reasons, related as it is to light itself.  Ropes are used throughout."
 

Writing Architecture
 
 

"Since the Writing Machine (which is black and throws a gleam dedicated to Voltaire) processes both momory and reading material, it takes what is projected into an exact account.  Not only the City itself (Palmanova) but all places written into the book of Culture are here collected and disposed.
Through an enlightened vision the random mosaic of knowledge is gathered together into seven times seven faces, each mirrored in a quadripartite realm.  The totality of Architecture is shattered by the foursome reciprocity of earth, sky, mortals and gods and lies open to a contemporary stocktaking.
The four sides of the "Orphic" calculator or probability computer prognosticate the written destiny of Architecture whose oblivion is closely associated with Victor Hugo's prophecy.  The four-sided cubes work in the following Swiftian manner:
Side 1: the City as a Star of Redemption is refracted and congeals into a "boogie-woogie" constellation.
Side 2: is a metallic reflection which shatters and disrupts the spatial-mathematical order of the 49x4 sides.
Side 3: consists of a geometric sign which points to a graphic omen or architectural horoscope.
Side 4: enumerates the forty-nine saints who accompany the detached pilgrim in order to care for this unerasable vulnerability.
Thus the oppositions and complementary reciprocities which glide through the whole constitute a "destablilised technology" which would break up the mechanism instantly if the computerised controls (twenty-eight handles) weren't there to keep it stable.
The Writing Machine is the first totally unstable text.  As opposed to "stable" architectural texts which best fly in a straight line of myth and resist the pilot's effort to climb, bank or dive, this "unstable" prototype is extremely agile - having no natural flight path.
It jumps around the text's sky and is guided by an "active control system" which can perhaps never again disclose its starting position.  the Writing Machine is a contribution to Roussel scholarship.  It links Africa and the Impressions of Italy through those miraculous figures whose presence is both inevitable and contingent.  Angelica, with a grid, burnt on a grid: St Donatella; Mossem, killed by burning Iambic text onto forehead: St Theodore of Constantinople.  By rotating the "foursome", the arrangements appear ready for interpretation.  These seemingly random relations are generated by an extremely sophisticated system which consists of 2,662 parts, most of them mobile.  All are involved in an unpredictable rationalisation of place, name, preson.  Once in motion, the stockpiling and accounting of places, cities, types of buildings, gods, signs, saints, imaginary beings, forgotten realities, will present almost insurmountable difficulties for the operator, yet these are difficulties which can be eliminated through the revolutionary discipline of this turn towards a Buddhism of Action."