figure/ground vs field condition


For discussion sake:
How does one distingush between/define a figure/ground composition vs. a field condition?
At a human scale and/or an urban scale.

Bonus: Direct me to a related text or select two examples of work that support your distinction/definition.

Apr 10, 05 3:41 pm

starting points:

colin rowe - collage city
stan allen - points and lines

discussion would take more time than i have right now.

Apr 10, 05 6:00 pm

do your own homework

Apr 10, 05 6:03 pm

Fuck you, silverlake!

Apr 10, 05 6:30 pm
Josh Russell

i would have to agree with silverlake. your post seems like it was taken straight from an assignment sheet. with that said....i would second colin rowe no matter how much i despise him.

Apr 10, 05 6:43 pm

why don't we step outside so i can rearrange your figure/ground composition.

Apr 10, 05 6:45 pm

This has truly been a riveting conversation.
I appreciate everyone taking full advantage of the open forum for discourse that is the internet.

So much easier being smug and condescending when it is in complete anonymity.

Apr 10, 05 7:01 pm

more queries:
Name a figure/ground composition designed and built within the last 30 years.
Name a field condition designed and built in the last 30 years.

I just curious if any of this theory ever makes it into practice.

Apr 10, 05 7:20 pm

Rita thank you for your interest in my discussion.

I had the opportunity to work w/ Doug Garofalo in Chicago on a temporary exhibit outside of the Museum of Contemporary Art. One of the main objectives of this design was to introduce a non-hierarchical field condition infront of the museum in order to compensate for the extrodinarily rigid figure/ground relationship the building has with the city.

I would also say that Eisenman's design for the City of Culture in Santiago de Compestela is comentary on the disolve of classical figure/ground compositions.

Apr 10, 05 7:48 pm

wcorco 1, so much easier to tell people to fuck off when its in complete anonymity, eh?

in the spirit of being keeping this forum positive...

two examples i would recommend looking at:

urban scale:
eisenman's holocaust memorial. a field condition is inserted into a traditional figure/ground relationship

human scale:
zago's detroit pavilion. a field condition creates the canopy, rethinking the typical figure/ground relationship of a building as an object in space

Apr 10, 05 7:59 pm

There you go silverlake. Thanks. Sorry I told you to fuck off.

Apr 10, 05 8:11 pm
Sarah Lorenzen

You may want to check out the paper "Urban Design: Practices, Pedagogies, Premises" to see how graphic representations/research are used to support certain urban agendas.

Apr 10, 05 9:38 pm

wcorco1, can you explain why the (so-called) extraordinarily rigid figure/ground relationship outside the Museum of Contemporary Art needed compensating? What about the temporary exhibit was non-rigid? (That's 'non-rigid' speaking figuratively, since the exhibit structure comprised many rigid components. The notion of non-hierarchical also seems a figurative notion, since a temporary condition by definition falls within a hierarchy.)

Exactly what classical figure/ground compositions does the City of Culture in Santiago de Compestela design-as-commentary dissolve? To me, the design looks more like the rethinking of a typical US suburban mall. Suburban malls are more a field condition than a figure/ground composition, aren't they?

Eisenman's Holocaust Memorial is probably more a traditional figure/ground condition inserted into a site-specific inserted field condition, rather than the other way around. Berlin since the end of WWII was/is hardly a 'traditional' place anymore.

If field conditions are somehow non-hierarchical, why do I get the feeling that field conditions are seen (at least by those that design them) as somehow better than figure/ground compositions?

Apr 11, 05 9:22 am
plexus 1

i have to second rita's skepticism.......the garafalo project seems to be a pretty powerful object(figure) inserted within a clear space(ground). it seems to sit symmetrically in the center of the exterior space, creating a very dominant and hierarchical experience. It does very little in terms of dissolving...especially with regard to its tectonic, material and spatial circumstances. hopefully this idea has the potential to exceed the formal lightening of structure.

figure ground is concerned with the contour between solid and void or closed and open. why on earth did the installation not challenge the integrity of this contour?

Apr 11, 05 9:47 am

read: Colin Rowe's "Transparencies: Literal and Phenomenal"

Apr 11, 05 12:21 pm
vado retro

garafalo's temp piece in front of moca was very disappointing to vado. the craftsmanship of the pieces was on par of some rough framing. countering the concentration camp feel of the museum could have been achieved with just about anything that zigzagged or swerved and was any color other than the auschwitz grey of moca.

Apr 11, 05 7:18 pm
Mason White

wcorco1 -
stop what you are doing and read this text by stan allen.
esp. consider his assesment of the "thick surface" including moires and mats as a reconsieration of a figure/field relationship.

also Hashim Sarkis' Venice Hospital book is relevant.

other projects that might be relevant are:
rem koolhaas/bruce mau - downsview park - [field condition]
tschumi - parc la villette [figure/ground?]
candilis josic woods - berlin free university - [mat urbanism]
candilis josic woods - toulouse le mirail [field urbanism]
le corbusier - venice hospital [mat urbanism]
f.o.a. - barcelona park [field/figure?]

Apr 11, 05 8:17 pm

vado, agree, doug piece was very disappointing. whippy is the best word to describe it.

and can archinect get NAAB accredidation? maybe the 3 year v the full 5 year?

why do all us archinect'rs want to spend big bucks/ get way in debt going to these fancy ivys and elsewhere to get that high profile degree, when its all here. everything you need to know about architecture is here. what else do you need? is there an open house scheduled?

Apr 11, 05 10:07 pm

and vado, garofalo is a very down to earth, all around great guy, but i think your and i are using a Euphemism because his is so nice......

'disappointing' = one big piece of shit.

Apr 11, 05 10:15 pm

Thank you Mason. I knew I could count on you.

Apr 12, 05 9:29 pm

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