hejduk

apposing the shells of architectural thought

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Unlike the earlier Diamond projects, which combined interior spatial density with exterior volumetric simplicity, the Bernstein House externalized its figural ambitions, pushing stair tower and chimney to the outside, leaving the interior rather empty. In terms of the wellknown distinction made by Colin Rowe and Robert Slutzky between literal and phenomenal transpareney, the Bernstein House is somewhat ambiguous.22 To explain this ambiguity, however, it is first necessary to extend Rowe and Slutzky's distinction in the direction of the preceding discussion about transparencies of form and expression, a direction that they did not pursue. By framing their discussion exclusively in perceptual terms and focusing on "spatial stratification" and the "interpenetration of primary concepts without optical destruction of each other," Rowe and Slutzky overlooked the epistemological preoccupation with transparency, a preoccupation equally embedded in the formalist tradition.

The search for direct, intuitive presentations of concepts as an alternative to characterization, imitation, or systems of signs was not limited to neo-Kantian philosophy, and may be seen to be active not only in Le Corbusier but also in Gropius's Bauhaus at Dessau, not only in the curtain wall of the studio wing, but in the entire complex of buildings. Employing the medium of building (bauen) self-reflexively, Gropius intended each wing of the Bauhaus to be the direct and legible expression of its internal uses and organization as well as construction. In this respect the Bauhaus building belongs to the formalist program that insists on the achievement of internal coherence and the deliberate conformity of the artistic object with the inner laws of the medium. The rather minor differences between the building under construction and its final glazed and stuccoed condition demonstrates Gropius's construetivist claim that the building bodies itself forth directly, without representational mediation.23

22. Colin Rowe and Robert Slutzky, "Transparency : Literal and Phenomenal (1955-56)," Perspecta 8(1963) : 45-54. Reprinted in The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa, and Other Essays (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1976), 159-183.
23. Walter Gropius, The New Architecture and the Bauhaus, P. Morton Shand, trans. (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1935, 1965), 44 : "Instead of anchoring buildings ponderously into the ground with massive foundations, it puises them lightly, yet firmly, upon the face of the earth; and bodies itself forth, not in stylistic imitation or ornamental frippery, but in these simple and sharply modeled designs in which every part merges naturally into the comprehensive volume of the whole."

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