Bernard Tschumi

Bernard Tschumi

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Bernard Tschumi in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

) is an architect
Architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

, writer
Writer
A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....

, and educator, commonly associated with deconstructivism
Deconstructivism
Deconstructivism is a development of postmodern architecture that began in the late 1980s. It is characterized by ideas of fragmentation, an interest in manipulating ideas of a structure's surface or skin, non-rectilinear shapes which serve to distort and dislocate some of the elements of...

. Born of French and Swiss parentage, he works and lives in New York and Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. He studied in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and at ETH
Eth
Eth is a letter used in Old English, Icelandic, Faroese , and Elfdalian. It was also used in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages, but was subsequently replaced with dh and later d. The capital eth resembles a D with a line through the vertical stroke...

 in Zurich, where he received his degree in architecture in 1969. Tschumi has taught at Portsmouth Polytechnic in Portsmouth, UK, the Architectural Association in London, the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies
The Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies
The Institute for Architecture & Urban Studies is a non-profit Architecture Studio & think-tank located in Manhattan, New York, USA.-IAUS :...

 in New York, Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, the Cooper Union
Cooper Union
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, commonly referred to simply as Cooper Union, is a privately funded college in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, United States, located at Cooper Square and Astor Place...

 in New York and Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 where he was Dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
The Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University in New York City, also known simply as GSAPP, is regarded as one of the most important and prestigious architecture schools in the world...

 from 1988 to 2003. Tschumi is a permanent U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 resident.

1960s-70s


Throughout his career as an architect, theorist, and academic, Bernard Tschumi's work has reevaluated architecture's role in the practice of personal and political freedom. Since the 1970s, Tschumi has argued that there is no fixed relationship between architectural form and the events that take place within it. The ethical and political imperatives that inform his work emphasize the establishment of a proactive architecture which non-hierarchically engages balances of power through programmatic and spatial devices. In Tschumi's theory, architecture's role is not to express an extant social structure, but to function as a tool for questioning that structure and revising it.

The experience of the May 1968 uprisings and the activities of the Situationist International oriented Tschumi's approach to design studios and seminars he taught at the Architectural Association in London during the early 1970s. Within that pedagogical context he combined film and literary theory with architecture, expanding on the work of such thinkers as Roland Barthes
Roland Barthes
Roland Gérard Barthes was a French literary theorist, philosopher, critic, and semiotician. Barthes' ideas explored a diverse range of fields and he influenced the development of schools of theory including structuralism, semiotics, existentialism, social theory, Marxism, anthropology and...

 and Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

, in order to reexamine architecture's responsibility in reinforcing unquestioned cultural narratives. A big influence on this work were the theories and structural diagramming by the Russian Cinematographer Sergei Eisenstein
Sergei Eisenstein
Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein , né Eizenshtein, was a pioneering Soviet Russian film director and film theorist, often considered to be the "Father of Montage"...

 produced for his own films. Tschumi adapted Eisenstein's diagrammatic methodology in his investigations to exploit the interstitial condition between the elements of which a system is made of: space, event, and movement (or activity). Best exemplified in his own words as, "the football player skates across the battlefield." In this simple statement he was highlighting the dislocation of orientation and any possibility of a singular reading; a common resultant of the post-structuralist project.

This approach unfolded along two lines in his architectural practice: first, by exposing the conventionally defined connections between architectural sequences and the spaces, programs, and movement which produce and reiterate these sequences; and second, by inventing new associations between space and the events that 'take place' within it through processes of defamiliarization, de-structuring, superimposition, and cross programming.

Tschumi's work in the later 1970s was refined through courses he taught at the Architectural Association and projects such as The Screenplays (1977) and The Manhattan Transcripts (1981) and evolved from montage techniques taken from film and techniques of the nouveau roman. His use of event montage as a technique for the organization of program (systems of space, event, and movement, as well as visual and formal techniques) challenged the work other contemporary architects were conducting which focused on montage techniques as purely formal strategies. Tschumi's work responded as well to prevalent strands of contemporary architectural theory that had reached a point of closure, either through a misunderstanding of post-structuralist thought, or the failure of the liberal/leftist dream of successful political and cultural revolution. For example, Superstudio
Superstudio
Superstudio was an architecture firm, founded in 1966 in Florence, Italy by Adolfo Natalini and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia. Superstudio was one of major part of the Radical architecture movement of the late 1960s...

, one such branch of theoretically oriented architectural postmodernists, began to produce ironic, unrealizable projects such as the 1969 Continuous Monument project, which functioned as counter design and critique of the existing architecture culture, suggesting the end of architecture's capacity to affect change on an urban or cultural scale. Tschumi positioned his work to suggest alternatives to this endgame.

In 1978 he published an essay entitled The Pleasure of Architecture in which he used sexual intercourse as a characterizing analogy for architecture. He claimed that architecture by nature is fundamentally useless, setting it apart from "building". He demands a glorification of architectural uselessness in which the chaos of sensuality and the order of purity combine to form structures that evoke the space in which they are built. He distinguishes between the forming of knowledge and the knowledge of form, contending that architecture is too often dismissed as the latter when it can often be used as the former. Tschumi used this essay as a precursor to a later eponymous series of writings detailing the so-called limits of architecture.

1980s-90s


Tschumi's winning entry for the 1982 Parc de la Villette
Parc de la Villette
The Parc de la Villette is a park in Paris at the outer edge of the 19th arrondissement, bordering the Boulevard Périphérique, which is a ring road around Paris, and the suburban department of Seine-Saint-Denis.-History:...

 Competition in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 became his first major public work and made possible an implementation of the design research and theory which had been rehearsed in The Manhattan Transcripts and The Screenplays. Landscaping
Landscaping
Landscaping refers to any activity that modifies the visible features of an area of land, including:# living elements, such as flora or fauna; or what is commonly referred to as gardening, the art and craft of growing plants with a goal of creating a beautiful environment within the landscape.#...

, spatial and programmatic sequences in the park were used to produce sites of alternative social practice that challenged the expected use values usually reinforced by a large urban park in Paris.

Tschumi has continued this design agenda in a variety of design competitions
Architectural design competition
An architectural design competition is a special type of competition in which an organization or government body that plans to build a new building asks for architects to submit a proposed design for a building. The winning design is usually chosen by an independent panel of design professionals...

 and built projects since 1983. The 1986 Tokyo National Theater and Opera House project continued the research that Tschumi began in The Manhattan Transcripts, importing notational techniques from experimental dance and musical scores, and using the design process itself to challenge habitual ways of thinking about space, in contrast to earlier static, two dimensional representational techniques which delineated the outline of a building but not the intensity of life within it. At a local scale in his 1990 Video Pavilion at Groningen, transparent walls and tilted floors produce an intense dislocation of the subject in relation to norms like wall, interior and exterior, and horizon. At the urban scale in such projects as the 1992 Le Fresnoy, Studio National des Arts Contemporains, in Tourcoing, France, and the 1995 architecture school at Marne la Vallee, France (both completed 1999), larger spaces challenge normative program sequence and accepted use. The Le Fresnoy complex accomplishes this by its use of the space between the roofs of existing buildings and an added, huge umbrella roof above them which creates an interstitial zone of program on ramps and catwalks. This zone is what Tschumi calls the in-between, a negation of pure form or style that had been practiced in the 1989 ZKM Karlsruhe competition project, where a large atrium space punctuated by encapsulated circulation and smaller program episodes developed a more local network of interstitial space.

The capacity of an overlap of programs to effect a reevaluation of architecture on an urban scale had also been tested in the 1988 Kansai Airport competition, Lausanne Bridge city, and 1989 Bibliothèque de France competition. In the Bibliothèque de France, a major aspect of the proposed scheme was a large public running track and sports facility on the roof of the complex, intersecting with upper floors of the library program so that neither the sports program nor the intellectual program could exist without an impact on the other.

With these projects Tschumi opposed the methods used by architects for centuries to geometrically evaluate facade and plan composition. In this way he suggested that habitual routines of daily life could be more effectively challenged by a full spectrum of design tactics ranging from shock to subterfuge: by regulating events, a more subtle and sophisticated regime of defamiliarizations was produced than by aesthetic and symbolic systems of shock. The extreme limit-conditions of architectural program became criteria to evaluate a building's capacity to function as a device capable of social organization.

Present


Tschumi's critical understanding of architecture remains at the core of his practice today. By arguing that there is no space without event, he designs conditions for a reinvention of living, rather than repeating established aesthetic or symbolic conditions of design. Through these means architecture becomes a frame for "constructed situations," a notion informed by the theory, city mappings and urban designs of the Situationist International.

Responding to the absence of ethical structure and the disjunction between use, form, and social values by which he characterizes the postmodern condition, Tschumi's design research encourages a wide range of narratives and ambiences to emerge and to self organize. Although his conclusion is that no essentially meaningful relationship exists between a space and the events which occur within it, Tschumi nonetheless aligns his work with Foucault's notion that social structures should be evaluated not according to an a priori notion of good or evil but for their danger to each other. In this way, Tschumi's work is ethologically motivated, in the sense that Deleuze uses the term to propose an emergent ethics that depends on a reevaluation of self/identity and body. Freedom is thus defined by the enhanced range of capacity of this extended body/self in conjunction with an extended self awareness. By advocating recombinations of program, space, and cultural narrative, Tschumi asks the user to critically reinvent him/herself as a subject.

Tschumi, well known for his radical theories on post-structuralist architecture in the 1960s and ’70s, won the commission for the New Acropolis Museum
New Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on its feet, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece...

 in a competition. The museum offers a seemingly placid stance, focused on the impressive Athenian light and landscape while remaining precise in imagination and sophisticated in form.


Criticism


Tschumi's work has been criticized for sacrificing human needs for intellectual purposes. Most currently, the Greek mathematician Nikos Salingaros
Nikos Salingaros
Nikos A. Salingaros is a mathematician and polymath known for his work on urban theory, architectural theory, complexity theory, and design philosophy. He has been a close collaborator of the architect and computer software pioneer Christopher Alexander, with whom Salingaros shares a harsh...

 claims that the New Acropolis Museum
New Acropolis Museum
The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on its feet, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece...

 clashes with the traditional architecture of Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and continues to unnecessarily threaten historical buildings nearby http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles7/SalingarosAthens.php.

The People for Public Spaces inducted his Parc de la Villette
Parc de la Villette
The Parc de la Villette is a park in Paris at the outer edge of the 19th arrondissement, bordering the Boulevard Périphérique, which is a ring road around Paris, and the suburban department of Seine-Saint-Denis.-History:...

 into their Hall of Shame for lacking sensitivity for its human users. It is Paris's largest park, and considered one of the first major breakthroughs for deconstructivist theory in architecture. However, critics have said that its abstract design has resulted in unintelligent landscape structures http://www.gardenvisit.com/landscape_architecture/computers_design/digital_design_creativity and unsafe spaces http://courses.umass.edu/latour/2007/nickerson/index.html.

In his writings, Tschumi reveals that he deliberately intends his buildings to have an interrupted, even violent feel, and that he enjoys not appreciating the great works of architecture but "dismantling" them. http://www.2blowhards.com/archives/001415.html

Completed

  • Parc de la Villette
    Parc de la Villette
    The Parc de la Villette is a park in Paris at the outer edge of the 19th arrondissement, bordering the Boulevard Périphérique, which is a ring road around Paris, and the suburban department of Seine-Saint-Denis.-History:...

    , Paris
    Paris
    Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

    , France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     (1983–98)
  • Alfred Lerner Hall
    Alfred Lerner Hall
    Alfred Lerner Hall is the student center or students' union of Columbia University. It is named for Al Lerner, who financed part of its construction...

    , Columbia University
    Columbia University
    Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

    , New York, New York
    New York City
    New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

     (1999)
  • New Acropolis Museum
    New Acropolis Museum
    The Acropolis Museum is an archaeological museum focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. The museum was built to house every artifact found on the rock and on its feet, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece...

    , Athens
    Athens
    Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

    , Greece
    Greece
    Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

     (2002–08)
  • FIU School of Architecture, Florida International University
    Florida International University
    Florida International University is an American public research university in metropolitan Miami, Florida, in the United States, with its main campus in University Park...

    , Miami, Florida
    Florida
    Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

     (2003)
  • Vacheron Constantin
    Vacheron Constantin
    Vacheron Constantin is a Swiss manufacture of prestige watches and a brand of the Richemont group. Considered by watch enthusiasts to be one of the finest traditional watch makers in the world along with Patek Philippe & Co., Jaeger-LeCoultre and Audemars Piguet.It employs around 400 people...

     Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland (2004)
  • Lindner Athletic Center, University of Cincinnati
    University of Cincinnati
    The University of Cincinnati is a comprehensive public research university in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a part of the University System of Ohio....

    , Cincinnati, Ohio
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Cincinnati is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio. Cincinnati is the county seat of Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located to north of the Ohio River at the Ohio-Kentucky border, near Indiana. The population within city limits is 296,943 according to the 2010 census, making it Ohio's...

     (2006)
  • Blue Condominium at 105 Norfolk Street in the Lower East Side
    Lower East Side
    The Lower East Side, LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is roughly bounded by Allen Street, East Houston Street, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street....

     of New York City (2007)
  • Concert Hall, Limoges, France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     (2007)

Proposed

  • Alesia, Archeo Museum, Dijon, France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

  • Elliptic City: International Financial Center of the Americas, Guayacanes, Dominican Republic (completion after 2008)

Quotes



"In America, it's more difficult because architects have lost a lot of power; power has fallen into the hands of the builders... the general strategy is determined by the client himself... That's a big problem. And that's what we want to avoid."



"Any relationship between a building and its users is one of violence, for any use means the intrusion of a human body into a given space, the intrusion of one order into another." Tschumi in Architecture and disjunction (2001, p.122).

Articles


External links