11. HERZOG & DE MEURON
Perhaps of more interest than Frampton’s writings on Arendt are his texts on current Swiss production. In Minimal Moralia, he lauds the romantic materiality of Peter Zumthor, while denouncing Herzog and de Meuron’s attempts at dematerialization, especially their “more dandified impulse to draw or write on the surface of their work as though the structural material itself, however dramatically wrought in respect to its origin, cannot be given a sufficiently emotive charge.” This is, of course, in direct opposition to Semper’s division of the load-bearing wall and its surface.
Carrie Asman writes in the 2002 catalogue of the CCA’s exhibition of H & de M’s working process, to celebrate their work, especially their willingness to draw ornament out of its confinement as the binary opposite of minimalism. Turning towards Semper’s conception of the wall she writes, “What others architects would have dared to redefine the wall as a mere spatial enclosure, shifting the emphasis from its weight-bearing function to something so trivial as a screen, partition, or ornamental covering, thus relocating the origin of architecture and art within an unstable construction?” She defends the appearance of screen-printed leaves on the façades of the Ricola Storage building in Mulhouse, France “not because the leaves represent a form that architects have taken from nature but because they erase the arbitrary divisions between nature and art, between the Mauer as weight-bearing, opaque structure, and the Mauer as semi-transparent ge-wand.“
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