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Out of Time and into Space   John Hejduk

*Perspecta 8--Yale University Architectural Magazine. 'Transparancy' by Colin Rowe and Robert Slutzky. Professors Rowe dnd Slutzky present a remarkable study in depth on the subject of flat space in architecture.

In order to fully understand the implication of spatial views incorporated within the Center, one must look at the workings of the Cubist canvas; in particular, the synthesization by Juan Gris. The architectural ramifications are answers to the new Center's mysteries, Before entering this sacred field, it is in order to say that the ideas scattered throughout the Center have been encased within a time-bomb set in Paris during the early 1920's, and finally exploded at Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1963. The detonator did not realize that another bomb was fired with a smaller, stronger, and more devastating discharge in the form of Le Corbusier's Villa Garches, and Mondrian's Victory Boogie-Woogie. Perhaps it is necessary to throw bombs back into time in order to effect a future liberation. Since the first setting, the dialectic has continued with painstaking exercises and fulfillment upon the canvases of Piet Mondrian.

Le Corbusier is well aware of the Cubist and the Neo-Plasticist points of view. His architecture is the pendulum between the two poles of spatial magnetism. Today the weight seems to be in favor of the Cubist vision; although the seduction of the spartan, flattened, taut, shallow depth formulation"* holds its grasp. Villa Garches was the pinnacle of the Cartesian instigator; it remains the classic contender in the new world of architectural space.

The Cyclops of brute force is again challenging. The stimuli for further spatial conflicts exist. The composition entitled Guitar, Glasses and Bottle by Juan Gris will be used as a prototype for investigation. Violin and Newspaper can equally be viewed as a generator.

The field comes first. As with most Cubist canvases, the field worked upon is usually directional; it either has a vertical or horizontal preference, perpendicular to the observer's vision. In the above paintings the field is vertically disposed. Rarely did the Cubist use a square canvas. The foundation had an a priori directional orientation. In contrast, the canvases of Mondrian are usually square; a non-directional field. His first bias is one of equilibrium. The Carpenter Center favors the Cubist vision of field.


The major planametric direction of the building is reinforced by the ramp and structural bay disposition. The long bay runs parallel to the ramp; the short bay perpendicular--therefore introducing compressed spacing and tighter penetration. Guitar, Glasses and Bottles, as well as Violin and Newspaper, are split through the middle, with a vertical and horizontal axis oividing the canvas into quadrants. The shapes and figures congesting the inner field energize a high concentration of action towards the intersecting axis, compressing the central space. The compression eases off as the eye is lead to the periphery of the canvas. It is as when a stone is thrown into the water--upon disturbance of the surface and depth, the radial forces from the point of contact outwards diminish in intensity with the distance from the nucleus of impact. Le Corbusier's plan of the Carpenter Center is presented in a similar manner, with one important difference. This difference is the edge compressor which imposes itself on the free flow of space regarding the peripheric boundaries.

Le Corbusier splits the scheme along the longitudinal axis creating a high concentration at the center of the form through the use of the ramp, the major entry ways, and the vertical-horizontal circulations. As one moves away from the necessary biological nuclei and organs, the space flows generally un-interrupted until it arrives at the edges where again it is activated through the forms of curved walls, 60-30 accordian-like brise-soleil and the horizontal syncopation of the vertical mullions. The peripheric tension is homage and acknowledgement to the Neo-Plasticist contribution. The push-back of the forces to the center establishes the spatial fluctuations.

A plan is a section-and when sections are put together they make space. If Le Corbusier is interested in the phenomenon of the flat plane in plan, it could follow that the vertical sections might operate in a similar way. Upon close look, one finds that they do. Le Corbusier is involved with the co-ordinates of spatial composing. As with the plan, there is a high concentration of elements in the center of the sectional configuration. The elongated slot through which the ramp passes is the locking device for the two curvilinear volumes. These volumes act in shear, pulling laterally in opposite directions towards the periphery. These are capped and compressed in a sandwich vise of the upper and lower floors, applying additional pressure to the centralization of space. The same generator works both in plan and section. Given all the necessary plans and sections, the cubic configuration is set into motion driving the whole organism around the field of space. The constant rhythmical modulation of grid is a stabilizing frame upon which counter-point is played. It is elemental theme and supporting structure. Painter and architect are forced to recognize the ordering principle of the intersections of grid. Objects relate in various ways to its dictatorial insistence. They can be outside of it, within it, on top of it below it--unlimited variance and possibility are inherent about it.




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