chapter  13
Machines in Architecture
From Performance to Accident: A Modern Trope and Its Afterlife
WithLaurent Stalder
Pages 7

Talk of machines is ubiquitous in the classical tracts on architecture. Actually, talk of machines in the literal sense can only rarely be found in the works of Adolphe Lance’s numerous successors. Indeed, when Lance writes of machines in 1853, he mentions neither construction plants, nor the equipment used to survey or portray architecture. In his first volume, Vitruvius distinguishes three subsections of architecture, one of which is the construction of machines. Architecture machines are, hence, neither isolated nor autonomous. Architecture machines are, hence, neither isolated nor autonomous. The abstract machine is a machine inasmuch as it segments society in time and space—in the disciplinary society, on different levels, and in the control society, by modulating its flow. The machinic character of architecture is distinguished not only by the fact that it fulfills a certain program, triggers a certain process, or serves a certain purpose; it also initiates a certain performance.