18 February


Name any current mathematical, scientific or philosophical theory, and there's an architecture that will try to reenact it.

Look at the architecture of Mies, Le Corbusier (especially the late works), and Kahn (especially the early works), and there's a lot of contemporay architecture reenacting all that.

Philip Johnson's architecture is one reenactment after another.

Frank Gehry's architecture evolves via reenacting itself.

You want something original? Just reenact with a twist.

–verb (used with object)
1. to combine, as two or more strands or threads, by winding together; intertwine.
2. to form by or as if by winding strands together.
3. to entwine (one thing) with another; interlace (something) with something else; interweave; plait.
4. to wind or coil (something) about something else; encircle; entwine; wreathe.
5. to alter in shape, as by turning the ends in opposite directions, so that parts previously in the same straight line and plane are located in a spiral curve.
6. to turn sharply or wrench out of place; sprain.
7. to pull, tear, or break off by turning forcibly.
8. to distort (the features) by tensing or contracting the facial muscles; contort.
9. to distort the meaning or form of; pervert.
10. to cause to become mentally or emotionally distorted; warp.
11. to form into a coil, knot, or the like by winding, rolling, etc.
12. to bend tortuously.
13. to cause to move with a rotary motion, as a ball pitched in a curve.
14. to turn (something) from one direction to another, as by rotating or revolving.
15. to combine or associate intimately.

–verb (used without object)
16. to be or become intertwined.
17. to wind or twine about something.
18. to writhe or squirm.
19. to take a spiral form or course; wind, curve, or bend.
20. to turn or rotate, as on an axis; revolve, as about something; spin.
21. to turn so as to face in another direction.
22. to turn, coil, or bend into a spiral shape.
23. to change shape under forcible turning or twisting.
24. to move with a progressive rotary motion, as a ball pitched in a curve. 25. to dance the twist.

26. a deviation in direction; curve; bend; turn.
27. the action of turning or rotating on an axis; rotary motion; spin.
28. anything formed by or as if by twisting or twining parts together.
29. the act or process of twining strands together, as in thread, yarn, or rope.
30. a twisting awry or askew.
31. distortion or perversion, as of meaning or form.
32. a peculiar attitude or bias; eccentric turn or bent of mind; eccentricity.
33. spiral disposition, arrangement, or form.
34. spiral movement or course.
35. an irregular bend; crook; kink.
36. a sudden, unanticipated change of course, as of events.
37. a treatment, method, idea, version, etc., esp. one differing from that which preceded.
38. the changing of the shape of anything by or as by turning the ends in opposite directions.
39. the stress causing this alteration; torque.
40. the resulting state.
41. a twisting or torsional action, force, or stress; torsion.
42. a strong, twisted silk thread, heavier than ordinary sewing silk, for working buttonholes and for other purposes.
43. the direction of twisting in weaving yarn; S twist or Z twist.
44. a loaf or roll of dough twisted and baked.
45. a strip of citrus peel that has been twisted and placed in a drink to add flavor.
46. a kind of tobacco manufactured in the form of a rope or thick cord.
47. a dance performed by couples and characterized by strongly rhythmic turns and twists of the arms, legs, and torso.
48. the degree of spiral formed by the grooves in a rifled firearm or cannon.
49. Gymnastics, Diving. a full rotation of the body about the vertical axis.
50. a wrench.

[note to self: reenactment with a twist, is that what Hejduk's architecture is really all about?]


Better to turn the house into an architecture cult museum.


irony 2 a : incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs: "Hyde noted the irony of Ireland's copying the nation she most hated" (Richard Kain).

And yes there is a certain irony in utilizing common easily associated images to help execute and promote an architecture that otherwise strives very hard to be original.

What I like most about memory (i.e., remembering, being reminded of) is that it is a seminal manifestation of reenactment.

seminal 2 : highly influential in an original way; constituting or providing a basis for further development: a seminal idea in the creation of a new theory.


I prefer what the eye really does see as opposed to photography where what is 'unsightly' is omitted.


Brian asks:
Does this mean that typological architecture falls within the domain of reenactionary architecture, wherein there is a precedent / original (enactment) to be copied again and again--does originality pose any problem, such as finding the correct original from which to base the reenactment on? For example, the Parthenon has been said to be copied by bank typologies. Aesthetically, the Parthenon is not a unique building type as far as I known, it shares common traits with other Greek temple architecture, thus the problem of finding an original might be one of a mythical original or first ideal form.
How does reenactionary architecture deal with this issue?

Steve replies:
Bank is a typology.
Temple is a typology.
Greek temples are a specific category of the temple typology.
The Parthenon is a specific Greek temple.
Some, but definitely not all, banks reenact Greek temples, and probably quite a small number of banks specifically reenact the Parthenon.

William Strickland, Second Bank of the United States, 1819-24, Philadelphia.

Perhaps typology is basically an exercise in the reenactment of architectural abstractions.

When it come to mythical origins and first ideal forms, it is worthwhile to ask if the mythical origins and the first ideal forms are themselves reenactments. For example, the manifestation[s] of Shiva reenacts metabolism. Moreover, might not Plato's ideal forms [like his Socratic dialogues] also be reenactments (albeit highly abstracted)? Perhaps Plato's perfect circle 'ideally' reenacts the pupils of our eyes and Plato's perfect triangle 'ideally' reenacts the nose on our face.

Perhaps all abstractions are highly idealized reenactments of reality, rather than reality being a reenactment of highly idealized abstractions.


Brian asks: I wonder what the limits of reenactment are... where does reenactionary architecture begin and end?

Steve replies: It seems logical that no reenactment occurs without an enactment ocurring first... reenactment's most inescapable limit is that it can never be as original as that which it reenacts.


...a crazy building where a whole set of collaged Villa Savoyes are placed within the Palais des Congrès with level 3 and 4 [of the Palais] emptied out except for the columns.


"A collective definition of myth composed of many theories might be framed by the following paraphrases:
Myths are stories, usually, about gods and other supernatural beings (Frye). They are often stories of origin, how the world and everything in it came to be in illo tempore (Eliade). They are usually strongly structured and their meaning is only discerned by linguistic analysis (Levi-Strauss). Sometimes they are public dreams which, like private dreams, emerge from the unconscious mind (Freud). Indeed, they often reveal the archetypes of the collective unconscious (Jung). They are symbolic and metaphysical (Cassier). They orient people to the metaphorical dimension, explain the origins and nature of the cosmos, validate social values, and on the physiological plane, address themselves to the innermost depths of the psyche (Campbell). Some of them are explanatory, being prescientific attempts to interpret the natural world. (Frazer). As such, they are usually functional and are the science of primitive peoples (Malinowski). Often, they are enacted in rituals (Hooke). Religious myths are sacred histories (Eliade), and distinguished from the profane (Durkheim). But, being semiotic expressions (Saussure), they are a disease of language (Muller). They are both individual and social in scope, but they are first and foremost stories (Kirk)."
--Robert W. Brockway, Myth from the Ice Age to Mickey Mouse (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), p. 15.

Feb 18, 13 12:29 pm

@Quondam- Lol. Too much time on your hands? I enjoyed it though.  

Feb 18, 13 4:10 pm

It's not so much that I have too much time on my hands, it's more that I choose what to do with virtually all my time.

Feb 18, 13 5:28 pm


Scale test of the Villa Savoye, etc. within the Palais des Congrès.

Feb 18, 13 9:31 pm

Last night I read all of the 27 indexed citings of Kahn, L. within Tafuri's Theories and History of Architecture (1976), and [wouldn't it be neat when all texts are availble as ebooks you could then customize the order of the texts by order of index because] a somewhat revealing subtext manifest itself, like a strong, contiguous thread of thought came more and more into full focus. This will be further analyzed once all the passages are compiled and pieced 'chronologically' together.

This morning I read (again) a good bit of Biraghi's "Kahn as Destroyer" which begins with an analysis/interpretation of Tafuri's  first published critique of Kahn's work--"Storicita di Louis Kahn" (1964)--which, from what I can gather, is a critique of Kahn's work via a review of Vincent Scully's Louis I. Kahn. One would hope that Tafuri could read English, but there was certainly nothing stopping him from scrutinizing all the numerous images that chronical Kahn's work up to that point along with some examples of historical context and/or inspiration. Thus, while looking at the images within Scully's Louis I. Kahn now, and at the same time being well aware of Tafuri's writings on Kahn, you can see what is the greater inspiration behind Tafuri's whole critique of contemporary architecture and 'history', even to the point where it was indeed Kahn that lead Tafuri to his 'analysis' of Piranesi's Campo Marzio. I'm still in the process of absorbing all this myself, but it turns out Kahn wasn't the 'destroyer', rather he was the inspiration to Tafuri's counterpoint. Basically, without Kahn the counterpoint would never have happened.

Two images of Piranesi's Campo Marzio appear within Scully's Louis I. Kahn: first the plan on its own, and second the plan with a Kahn sketch of Market Street East Redevelopment Project hanging over it.

"More directly, the shapes used by Kahn can be found not only in Choisy but also infinitely repeated in the composite photostat of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's map of Rome, drawn by him for his book on the Campus Martius, probably of 1762, which now hangs in front of Kahn's desk."
Vincent Scully, Jr., Louis I. Kahn (New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1962). p. 37

Tafuri first presented the paper "Giovan Battista Piranesi. L'Architettura come 'utopia negativa' in 1970.



Otherwise, just to note a calendrical coincidence, this image

appeared at Archinect 2013.02.18

and this image

appeared at Archinect 2014.02.18


Feb 18, 14 7:01 pm

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: