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Theory and Criticism
 
Deconstruction & national architecture
How do we use the deconstructive tool to evolute our national architecture and still keep its character intact? For example: old regions of old cities.
Mohannad Fareid
Responses
 
Deconstruction & national architecture
Deconstructive tool is not the right way to deal with national architecture. Usually the architecture of any region evolve with the passage of time and this deconstructive tool is the international phenomenon of designing, destroying the original. For in the beginning it works, as new looks better, but its not the case all time, we should think about the demand of the project, the work of Frank O. Gehry, is not for all type of activities, if so its not a good piece of architecture. Well to everybody there are certain limits of deconstructivism and the result depends on it.
Muhammed Atif Shaikh
Deconstruction & national architecture
What I'm talking about isn't FORM;
I'm talking about the ability to braeking down the mass of traditional architecture into small integrable parts useful for recreating what our ancestors built...via the deconstructive tool...
The subject is quite complex, I know!

But please, let's not take the superficial approach to it...we all want evolution in the end.
Mohannad Fareid
Deconstruction & national architecture
The approach is a rather careful one, as one must take into consideration the history behind every street, passage and house within a traditional region.

In many cases a deconstructive intervention is risky, if the region itself is endowed with a powerful identity, which might disrupt the natural flow.

On the other hand some regions may require a modern approach, in which case deconstructivism is applicable, whereby the architect may deconstruct the traditional structure in some parts, while still remaining true to the whole, and administer a careful yet highly innovative intervention within the traditional space.
Tamara Zantout
Deconstruction & national architecture
When will a city require a modern approach, while another should preserve its natural flow?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe architecture should be one mean for history to erect a timely sign identifying our technological accomplishment and cultural values. A deconstructive approach may well be an effective tool to dismantle every element's potential to its very basic meaning, while compositing it in a new language need not be done in a very conflicting manner.

Kurokawa's symbiosis provide a new approach in combining these elements in an Eastern way, imho.
Agastiya S. Mohammad
Deconstruction & national architecture
Dear friends:

First of all, why don't we question the very notions and concepts of national architecture in the post-structuralistic era.

Deconstuction, my dears, is not a tool which one can use for architectural designing and thought, but is another wave of thought and functioning - we shall have to 'deconstruct' the very values of society, nationalism and ethics to achieve a state of deconstruction/dialectic binaries in the so-called national architecture...
for more, deconstrution is not a movement, but a non-movement - a non definition.

For more, write to us at antithesis77@ATsa.net - and we are members of archnet.org of course, by the name of Dronesundeep Iyangarnagaraj...
Dronesundeep Iyangarnagaraj
Deconstruction & national architecture
An architecture befitting a national identity must first be analysed. To evoke a deconstructive tool, would imply that there is a sample to work with. 'History' may not be an appropriate starting point, but more likely the 'present' - what is now, as well as what is projected (to present).

As well the creation or superimposition of national identity is a matter of critical architecture, and is supposedly out of the reach mass consciousness.
David Cuthbert
Deconstruction & national architecture
certain questions manages to retain their fervour always
to me one such ; especially being from this(india)part of the globe is about 'NATIONAL ARCHITECTURE' and identity of the sorts.
that, what could be nationality
that, what all make my nationality (my nationality or?!)
a geographic imposition , a cultural identity (?) certain living conditions
....
what all to be mapped together to find a premise
may be the way of explanation of'nationality' might have to differ for various circumstances.
will poor make an identity to the third world?
is identity a matter of difference?
then exclusion make identities possible?
inclusion and exclusion as represented in a venn diagram?
the relative permenance of our buildings in conflict with the aspiring evolution of architecture ?
Jayaraj Sundaresan
Deconstruction & national architecture
The topic seem to me a topic of confusion. There seem some misunderstanding on the use and meaning of the terms deconstrution and national. Are we referring to deconstruction as a means to fragment elements of a regional architecture? Does deconstruction as used universally mean that? Would it not be better if we clarify the main concepts and to use established nomenclature as used universally?
B. Shashi Bhooshan
Deconstruction & national architecture
Two different architectures contrasting, but we can merge them and thus they complement one other. There is no way to redesign the architecture of the past, for it is the mirror of who we are and what we have become now.

The only way to accommodate new activity and new function is to add this deconstruction movement in a way that the old building is preserved; use transparent architecture, consider the Louvre pyramid, with the old and new complementing... but when you say "evolute" old cities, I think that's impossible, because every artifact, every fragment of stone, texture and pattern is part of a whole. All we can do is preserve and restore.

Thanks, I hope I made myself clear.
Sherman Damuag
Deconstruction & national architecture
The possibilities are endless. We cannot live with the past in the present time.It is inevitable to decon and for nationalism to come in.

It is the conceptualization, the integration of form and function that creates harmony. There are no such rules, because it's all in the state of mind and sometimes subjective. And remember, these rules are man-made.
Sherman Damuag
Deconstruction & national architecture
Salaam,

We do not live in the past or in the future. We live in the present.

if there is a problem, it is always placed in the past by the solution. The trick is to not let expected solutions dictate the questions we pose as planners.

Ergo, problems are always in the past, solutions in the future: The designer lives and works in the present.

Elements of style, design - may always reflect respect for traditional values, cultures and societies: The elements are not in of themselves solutions or problems.
Of all the arts, architecture - your work - will live in the past, present and future for other generations - it exists in a manner that we ourselves may not.

That new technological understandings and materials in no way should, or can truly affect the fundamental, intrinsic values which an architect brings to fruition in construct.

It's good to have a best, widest possible knowledge across the board so the designer has the most choices available make selections, demonstrating efficacy and artistic integrity in design and construction work.

ma salemah!
Anthony Stewart
Deconstruction & national architecture
Deconstruction and national design are inherently incompatible concepts. To ignore this fact is to ignore reality.
Frank John Snelling
Deconstruction & national architecture
salaam,

In as much as 'national design' constrains a pallette it cannot be termed 'deconstructive:'

I offer that deconstruction is a tool by which design elements are recognized and added to the architects' pallette - including such elements which may, or may not have to do with 'national design.'

While a predilection to use a tool, or depend on a color scheme may be an indicator an artists perspective - the tool does not have a particular moral value on its own.

Neither a chicken, nor an egg...

ma salemah!
Anthony Stewart
Deconstruction & national architecture
Anthony, You know Deconstruction comes complete with an ideological agenda which is antithetical to nationalism.

The egg of Deconstruction was created by a system of thought which I am not allowed to mention in this forum. This is a pity because I am only observing the modern phenomena of hijacking (aka subverting) design in architecture for non-architectural reasons. :)))
Frank John Snelling
Deconstruction & national architecture
salaam,

Let us not confuse the architecture of language with the architecture of buildings: Nationalism stems from shared language, not from the kind of buildings we design.

If architectural design were political, it would be a global movement and not nationalistic. Please do not accept this as a diatribe against vernacular building, nor validation for 'international' design schools. Modernity for modernity's sake is just as tedius as living in a museum of antiquities.

If peoples needs are to be met through good planning, sound principles of deconstructive analysis are perfectly allowable - I think it is post-Modernist criticism that you object to (and with god reason). If deconstruction was only used for meaningless and endless dissection of design elements and techniques it be just as useless. Fortunately there are some, if only a few who are not afraid to utilize difficult forms of analysis for the benefit of communitas, with respect for local identities, regional specific cultures including moral belief systems. Architects are spiritual masons as well whether they know it or not.

ma salemah!
Anthony Stewart
Deconstruction & national architecture
Anthony,

If truth be told, all architecture is "political" because it portrays or represents some viewpoint.
Having said that, vernacular architecture is the most non-political type because it is designed to be appropriate for specific climates and environments regardless of human viewpoint. On the other far too much modern architectural design are overtly political statements by subversives.

RE: The value of "deconstruction" as an analytical tool. Analytical tools clinically separate the parts from the whole. Whereas "Deconstruction" is the subversion or corruption of the whole, as an exercise in nihilism.
Frank John Snelling
Deconstruction & national architecture
salaam Frank,

What you really seem to be saying that primary utility of the design (vernacular) has taken 'a backseat' to acertain type of aesthetic-encased 'politics.' This is not in of itself contradictory to what I wrote before - only that these issues exist. Muhannad Fareid originally referred to the 'deconstructive tool' - perhaps he may now define as simply as possible, what that 'tool' really is.

This may help clear up any unclear perceptions regarding the 'political' nature of deconstruction.

ma salemah!
Anthony Stewart
Deconstruction & national architecture
Anthony, two points:-

[1] Vernacular Architecture has been downgraded in the eyes of most people, because today it is too closely associated with poverty. Most of the existing traditional housing around the World is old, worn out and therefore used by the poor, because they cannot afford the non-traditional brand new plastic, steel and concrete designs.

But, "the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater" because Vernacular Architectures` are appropriate and sustainable designs evolved over many thousands of years.

[2]The notion that the intentionally subversive and corruptive political agenda as used in architecture today (for example "deconstruction") is in any way, shape or form, aesthetic is nonsense, because there is no beauty in any state or act of corruption. Marxism is the basis for this neo-pseudo-ism, but such reality is not wanted. :)))
Frank John Snelling
Deconstruction & national architecture
Well said Frank.
Ziad Aazam
Deconstruction & national architecture

Salaam Ziad, Frank -

As to the first point, I agree completely: However, just because vernacular designs and materials are associated with poverty reflects less on their actual properties than to the political, emotional spirit of the times. In point of fact, "vernacularisms" help define cultural values. So, it does not serve to disrespect "all" previous norms just because the world and people have moved on. No one can argue that all cultural values are relative in the objective sense, only in a subjective sense. One man's hovel, may in fact be a palace somewhere else. At issue is not architectural "product," but rather human process.

As to your second point: My readings of Kandisnky strongly imply that "deconstruction" cannot be an "esthetic" as such, but only an evaluative tool. Granted, it has been much abused with regard to post-Modernist criticisms et al. Pure logic, the logic of Socrates, or Plato would imply that one may examine even the most simple elements of design - a point, a line or a plane in terms of their gravitas and meaning. This does not constitute any sort of "international style" or anything else like that. It is merely a tool for analysis.

Your posts seem to suggest that "deconstruction" is some sort of possibly insidious, idologically motivated attack on common sense and values. It is not - it is not that big of a deal.

We have no problem saying, when confronted with unexplained phenomena in nuclear physics that greater examination must be made of basic quantum mechanics - so we examine them.

Point, line and plane: These represent the most basic visual relationships our neurochemistry perceive. What is so wrong about examining these and applying what we discover to our architectural models?

At some point, a pencil is a pencil: You can either use it to draw a beautiful line drawing, poke somebody with it or throw it away: It does not change its intrinsic 'telos' - it is only a pencil.

ma salemah my friends - good arguing with you!
Anthony Stewart
Deconstruction & national architecture
Salam Anthony,

The difference between a pencil's intrinsic 'telos' and a thinking tool's is that the former is a 'moved' object while the latter is a 'mover'. Unlike physical tools, thinking tools have the power to move physical tools. Yet we cannot be critical of the thinking tools as such; it is what we use them for that presents itself before our judgment. It is here that the following argument resides.

To set a background for the argument, we can say that the built form we see today as inspired learning and practicing architects is what money, power, technology and media (MPTM) present to us. The result is inevitable: our inspiration is make-believe driven. MPTM quadrants are and should be subservient to humans well-being not the other way around. This is what happens: instead of focusing our energy on 'people' in the context of their built form, the prime reason for designing and constructing, we focus on what is subservient to them. For examples, digital possibilities have shifted architects natural focus on people-form relations to technology-form relations; money-power 'combo' has pressed for self-interest of the 'few' where 'people' figure as dollar signs or subjects for the architect's self-glorification; and the 'media' has multiplied the local effect globally.

No one argues a case of closing the mind on the potentiality of any thinking tools. On the contrary, what is argued here is that open-minded criticality is required when using such tools. However, before choosing a tool one needs to have a 'purpose' of which such tools serve. Yet 'purposes' do not come free of 'intentions' whether 'good' or 'bad'. In the case of deconstruction, one needs to know that it is a 'literary' tool adopted as an attitude for material de-formation promoted and made possible by all MPTM for the sake of MPTM not 'people'. In case of Kandinsky's Point and Line to Plane, one needs to be critical not of the analytical tool, but of the outcome that places 'spirituality in art', while excluding everything else in a process of abstraction; thereby discontinuing human knowledge of itself. Abstraction per se is not 'evil', but exclusion and discontinuity are. Nature and surviving artifacts around us untouched by modern interventions tell us stories of continuity, of 'inclusion' and 'integration', of harmony and sustainability. We need thinking tools that read these stories to us.

For any thinking tool to do its work the question becomes one of intention: what is hoped to achieve by such thinking tool that serves the purpose within a set of 'good' or concealed 'bad' intentions? Good intentions are assumed to be the norm for all built form professionals, no one intends to cause harm; yet some of us are not critical of their positions on the MPTM quadrants at any given time, thereby risking being in a condition in which their 'good' intentions are turned bad by ill-intended hidden agenda within the quadrants.

At all points in history and geography, a human is a human; 'you can either use him or her to draw a beautiful line drawing, to poke somebody or throw him or her away: it does not change their intrinsic 'telos' - they are only humans'.
Ziad Aazam
Deconstruction & national architecture
Ziad,

i'm afraid that all this talk about "deconstruction" only builds a shrine to it without really touching on the important aspects. would it be better to cite a specific architecture that's been subjected to deconstruction and yet had withstood the test?
Jofer Magsi
Deconstruction & national architecture
Jofer,

What 'important aspects', what 'test' and who is examining?

The issue is NOT with 'deconstruction' per se, but with Today's Architecture, for lack of a better term. Deconstruction is taken here as a representative of new 'discontinuity' with our knowledge of ourselves that includes history and culture, which started with Modernism and continued with 'Metarationalism' that has its roots in 'consumerism', a 'club' exclusive to the affluent. Architecture became 'purely' a manipulation of form, and lately of 'surface'.

The 'shrine' is already built in the minds of architectural students as they flip through glossy photos of architectural books and magazines, only to be shattered when facing the reality of practice. What a waste of time and energy when these minds of young architects during a five-year course are 'fully' preoccupied with 'fantasies' of material form when they could be balanced with the knowledge of space and society.

I am afraid that citing an example will change the level at which this argument is conceived. At the level of specific architectural example, I admit my admiration of the work of Zaha Hadid for its excitement and innovation. Seeing her work as a material formal and spatial expression, I can only be moved emotionally as a user and be inspired as a designer. But this is besides the point I am making here that relates to this question: what is the intention of such architecture? To which I give the following answer: there is a direct pronounced intention that we either understand directly from the architect/client or infer from the building; and there is a by-product intention hidden from our intellect that serves one group only: the affluent.

However, such architecture within the boundaries of the affluent is not subject to criticism, for it is their 'purpose' that this architecture serves. It is only when such architecture is taken out of its context across the globe to land in the minds of young architects forming shrines of fantasies that one should pause for a rightly criticism.

This 'talk' needs to be settled first as the most 'important aspects' of any architecture that we seek to adopt and adapt before we begin to discuss a 'specific' building and what it does to feelings.
Ziad Aazam
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