chapter  4
32 Pages

Bernard Tschumi: Return of the Object

In Tschumi’s work, transgression of the normative elements of architecture is achieved not by fragmentation or the technique of shock, but through the insertion of “event” into the space separating the object from its signication. Disjunction between architecture and its institutional hegemony involves emptying the object of its conventional connotative context, and reinterpreting a given program free from its formal contingencies. These two strategies suspend the axiom of “form follows function,” and charge architecture with a sense of space that is pregnant with “event.” In this development, the rehabilitation of earlier avant-garde work such as constructivism and situationist “terror” is utilized not for their original ends, but as a radical choice against postmodern historicism and the formalistic play practiced by some members of the New York Five Architects. Interestingly enough, Hugh D. Hudson Jr. has this to say about neo-avant-garde use of languages that are associable with the Russian constructivists:

The specicity of Tschumi’s architecture, however, has to do, I claim here, with a sense of objectivity where matter-of-factness compromises the historicity of the Neue Sachlichkeit with the theatricalization that prevails in the present culture of spectacle. What this means is that instead of demystifying “return” by strategies that emphasize the process of design, Tschumi attempts to recode the idea of objectivity in the purview of tactile and spatial sensibilities that are central to the concept of return.