chapter  27
9 Pages

Less than enough: a critique of Aureli’s project

Differentiating ‘the project’ from mere design has been crucial to the architectural theory

of Pier Vittorio Aureli, not least since his own oeuvre consists of something like a project

for the affirmation of the project.1 In The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture he

states, ‘Design reflects the mere managerial praxis of building something, whereas the

project indicates the strategy on whose basis something must be produced, must be

brought into presence’.2 Aureli’s discourse is nothing if not decisive. Decision – originally

from the Latin decaedere, ‘to cut’, as he reminds his readers – in fact constitutes the

form and the content of his project.3 The separation of the project from design is just one

in a series of cuts from which the project itself is fashioned. The political is separated

from the economic, the architectural from the urban, the limited from the totality, the

object from the field, the fixed from the circulating. The positive terms of each opposition

– the political, architecture, limit, object, fixity – are stacked up to one side, forming the

basis of the project. The procedure seeks out fundamentals and establishes identities,

the fixed points of origin for words, meanings and practices; the essential loci around

which architecture and its political potential should be understood and refounded as a

formal project. Its case is argued through exemplars – Boullée, Hilberseimer, Red

Vienna, Ungers. It understands architecture as the possibility of establishing the limits

that protectively frame the life of the subject and its small-scale communal relations,

securing its integrity from the economic currents circulating in the realm of the urban. Its

object is autonomy – individual, political, architectural.