The Crisis of the Object
These words of Romano Guardini have not lost their allure even today at the dawn of this new century.1 Like many other thinkers of his time, Guardini seemingly addresses the sensitive issue of cultural heritage and the ways its foundation should be shaken and readjusted according to the demands of the “time.” Contemporary history is full of instances of architects’ attempts to rethink architecture in the context of the socio-cultural and technical imperatives of modernity. From the 1914 debate of the Werkbund, concerning architecture of Sachlichkeit, to Peter Eisenman’s advocacy for the “Futility of Objects,”2 architecture is relentlessly reformulating itself according to formal and contextual factors. It is the intention of this volume to discuss the theoretical issues pertinent to the crisis of the object, thus historicizing contemporary architectural praxis. Of interest is the thematic shift from construction to surface, a subject central to the advocates of the international style of architecture, but more importantly is the current turn to “surface” in spite or because of the proliferation of media technologies. The project’s importance has to do with the early modernist infatuation with the machine, but also the fact that it is not the image of machine any more but the very technique itself that determines the processes of design and perhaps the nal form of architecture. In spite, or perhaps because of the crisis of the object, the present state of architecture is suggestive of a return to the thematic of the disciplinary history of architecture. Central to the objectives of this book is Gottfried Semper’s discourse on theatricality and its theoretical potentiality in oering a dierent
interpretation of the dialogue between construction and “expression” permeating contemporary architecture.