chapter  8
30 Pages

Steven Holl: Fabrication Detailed

This book highlights major shifts taking place in the achievements of the architects under consideration. More often than not, this change follows a diversion in theory, either in reference to a larger pool of theoretical paradigms available through interdisciplinary work, or in reference to revisions the architect introduces to his or her own design philosophy. This opening statement for a chapter focusing on Steven Holl’s architecture is convincing. And yet, the distinctive mark of his work, both written and built, concerns the culture of building. Typological investigations, for example, underpin both his early research, published under the heading of Pamphlet Architecture (1978),1 and a recent competition entry for the Museum of Human Evolution, Burgos, Spain, 2000 (Figure 8.1). This latter project will be examined later. For now it is important to note the design’s superimposition of a theatrical image of the body on a courtyard building type. The implied excess, often explored in the architect’s conceptual watercolor work, is another persistent theme of Holl’s architecture. This aspect of his career is a reminder of Le Corbusier’s daily schedule: attending painting during the early morning and architecture and related business during the rest of the day. The dierence between these two architects, however, is signicant. If a modernist visuality underpinned Le Corbusier’s simultaneous rapport with painting and architecture, what most interests Holl is the phenomenological depth and its various implications for architecture, the understanding of which demands recalling Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s reading of the experience of looking at a painting of Cezanne. A phenomenological transformation of form is thus the third constant responsible for the shift(s) taking place in Holl’s architecture that this chapter would like to examine. Cutting through these commonalities, this chapter will attempt to single out projects that bring forth the complex task of intertwining phenomenological excess with the tectonic.