Who does not long for that histrionic branch of the profession that leapt like clowns--pathetic yet courageous--off one cliff after another, hoping to fly, flapping with inadequate wings, but enjoying at least the free-fall of pure speculation? Maybe such nostalgia is not merely a longing for the former authority of this profession (no one can seriously believe that architecture has become less authoritarian) but simply for fantasy.
...a system of fragments. Nothingness here would be a modified Caspar David Friedrich landscape--a Teutonic forest intersected by Arizona highways; in fact, a Switzerland.
If there is a method in this work, it is a method of systematic idealization -- a systematic overestimation of what exists, a bombardment of speculation that invests even the most mediocre aspects with retroactive conceptual and ideological charge. To each bastard, a genealogical tree; the faintest hint of an idea is tracked with the obstinacy of a detective on a juicy case of adultery. In such a way, the interpretation of the Berlin Wall as a park enlivened by a Zen sculpture made it possible to imagine the villas along it. In Rotterdam, it was the banal givens of water and traffic, together with the reductive inventory of modern typologies, that triggered the imagination.
Also, the wall is not stable; and it is not a single entity, as I thought. It is more a situation, a permanent, slow-motion evolution, some of it abrupt and clearly planned, some of it improvised.
In comparison, the sixties dream of architecture's liberating potential-- in which I had been marinating for years as a student-- seemed feeble rhetorical play. It evaporated on the spot. 2. The wall suggested that architecture's beauty was directly proportional to its horror.
A contradiction lies at the heart of contextualist design: in the contextualists' favorite examples, these collisions and aborted utopias are literally generated by the course of events over long periods of time; but the modern contextualist is forced to telescope vicissitudes of centuries into a single moment of conception. In an act of more-or-less inspired projection, the contextualist generates a scenario that simulates the history of the next 400 to 500 years. Through this extrapolation in the name of history, the contextualist short-circuits historical continuity. The contextualist's search for empirical necessity-- the circumstantial forces that will inflect the pure model-- can become frantic. The existing is squeezed for its maximum potential to inspire imperfection and cause imp...