hejduk

apposing the shells of architectural thought

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Ledoux continued this search for natural symbols in his designs for the Ideal City, not only for institutional buildings, but also for the various houses of the métiers of the forest-the wood-cutters, charcoalburners, barrel makers, and agricultural guards. In these houses the outward expression of internal organization was augmented by emphatic visual metaphors, making hieroglyphic signs out of material drawn from the occupations of the inhabitants. The house and workshop of the charcoal-burners, for example, was modeled on the pyramidal constructions typically used for the manufacture of charcoal; and the house of the surveyor of the river was akin to a segment of a giant pipe or aqueduct with water flowing through it. In all of these cases, the language of the classical orders gave way to a combinatorial play of elements, some of which were abstracted mutations of antique forms — porticoes, pediments, drums, colonnades — while others were derived from objects or constructions associated with work and industry. Regardless of their source, however, Ledoux's architectonic repertoire was treated elementally and geometrically in ways that were to conform to and symbolize the principles of descriptive geometry, stereotomy, and crystallography. In effect, the received elements of classical architecture were reformed according to the inorganic sciences, from which the notion of the pure architectonic received its characteristic properties.8

As Emil Kaufmann implied in his groundbreaking prehistory of architectural modernism, Von Ledoux bis Le Corbusier (1933),9 Ledoux's experiments in organizational, physiognomic, and architectonic expression prepared the way for early twentieth-century modernism, including the architecture of Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus--two contexts for John Hejduk's early work. Of course, in the period between Ledoux and Le Corbusier, research and experimentation on architectural expression and self-disclosure were undertaken from every conceivable perspective that laid claim to knowledge--idealism, romanticism, positivism, historicism, historical materialism, symbolism, the renewal of idealism, and neoKantianism, as well as aesthetic theory informed by laboratory research into human perception. From these multifarious attempts to develop modern, non-representational modes of expression, I would like to draw on three paradigmatic architectural projects that extended the lines of research on transparent expression that I have cited in the work of Ledoux : Peter Behrens's schematic elementalism of 1902 to 1906; Walter Gropius's self-disclosing Bauhaus building at Dessau of 1925-26; and August Endell's empathetic form art of pure emotions, developed after 1896.

8. See Anthony Vidler, "The Idea of Type: The Transformation of the Academic ideal, 1750-1830," Oppositions 8 (Spring 1977): 105-108. Also Werner Dechslin, "Architecture and Nature: On the Origin and Interchangeability of Architecture," Lotus International 31 (1981/2): 4-19.
9. Emil Kaufmann, Von Ledoux bis Le Corbusier. Ursprung und Entwicklung der Autonomen Architektur (Vienna and Leipzig: Passer, 1933).

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