Deconstructivism Architecture

The literary theory of Deconstruction holds that there is no fixed accessible truth, only chaos and multiple interpretations. The architecture spin-off simulates an appearance of chaos with dizzy, diverse perspectives. Vertigo and confusion are the desired responses.
Decon reflects a work out of whack. Its fragmented discontinuous forms represented the uncertainty of contemporary life after the downfall of the Soviet Union, Berlin Wall and 1987 stock market. Decon architects speak of the concept of “disturbed perfection,” symbolized by elements that seem randomly stacked, bent or tumbling.

Bernhard Tschumi

Decon follies (like Tschumi’s pavilions at La Villettein Paris) seek to promote dislocation, not provide cosy shelter. Decon is mostly paper architecture, in which many of designs published in magazines are clearly unbuildable: girders projecting at weird angles into air, beams that pierce space like pins in a voodoo doll, and columns without function seem to violate laws of gravity.

The designs create non-sensual sculptures for an irrational world. “Making things fit doesn’t make sense anymore,” the Swiss-born Tschumi said.

Parc de la Villette,Folies, 1986

Zaha Hadid

At the age of eleven in her native Iraq, Zaha Hadid (b.1950) decided to be an architect. During her training in London, she became obsessed with the unfulfilled potential of Russian Constructivists, pioneers of Modernism in the 1910s and ’20s.

“We can’t carry on as cake decorators and do these nostalgic buildings that have an intense degree of cuteness; we have to take on the task of investigating modernity,” Hadid told an interviewer.

Centre for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati

This whole idea of liberation from gravity is not because you are flying around in the air, but because you are freed from confining laws and conventions, and can make a fundamentally new kind of space,” Hadid explained in a 1992 interview.

Her free forms and slicing axes convey a sense of thrust like the sharp fins of a 1950s Cadillac. Her diagonals and dislocations compromise what Hadid futuristically calls “planetary architecture.”

Pavilion design by Hadid

Exhibition space by Hadid

Ice storm, MAK, Vienna , Austria

Peter Eisenman

The chief Decon theorist was Peter Eisenman(b.1932), who described buildings as made of disparate “texts” unable to be resolved into a whole. In the heady days of Deconstructivism’s birth, he called himself a “post-functionalist,” saying

“My best work is without purpose—who cares about the function?” At first he was more into conversation than construction.

Wexner Center for Art, castle

Eventually he built several uninhabitable houses designated by Roman numerals to showcase his theories. House VI (1978) has a master bedroom with a floor split by a fissure where the marital bed would go.

The void, for Eisenman, symbolizes the vacuity of contemporary culture. (Within ten years, the house had to be completely renovated by its owner.)

Model of Teatro dela Musica, Spain

Eisenman is convinced that discomfort is vital to the experience of architecture.
“Most people want architecture to remain casual,” he said.
“My work is about making it uncasual.”

Warping space so the viewer feels destabilized is how he awakens our senses to generate a fresh response. By undermining our comfort index, Eisenman jolts us out of boredom or indifference.

Ciudad de la Cultura de Galicia , Santiago de Compostela, Spain

At the end of the 1990s, Eisenman entered a new phase. Enthusiastic about the capacity of computer-assisted design to generate expressionistic forms, he leapt on the bandwagon of sculptural form. To explain why he dumped Decon, Eisenman said,

“There will always be four walls in architecture.” he hoped to create a “fluid architecture” with a “gelatinous quality” evoked by computer morphing.

Ciudad de la Cultura de Galicia , Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Intensely cerebral, Eisenman was an eminent provocateur in the 1980s, the high priest of Deconstructivism.

Notorious for having two psychiatrists—one on the East Coast and one on the West—his neuroses and high anxiety are translated directly into his work.

Max Reinhardt Baus Project, Berlin, 1992

Rem Koolhaas

The Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas (b.1944) believes architecture should be a dangerous, risk-taking enterprise. His vision of dynamic between an architect and the megalopolis informs his work.

Koolhaas’s book Delirious New York (1978), praised the chaotic energy of the city. Congestion and excess, he speculated are the glory of urban life. He wants architecture to capture this exhilarating sense of being out of control, an almost erotic ecstasy.

Villa dall Ava, St. Cloud, Paris, 1991

Irregular forms and slanted lines show Koolhaas’s Deconstructivist tendencies.

Seattle Central Library, Seattle, USA, designed by OMA, 2004

Masion a Bordeaux, France

A wealthy married couple with three children lived in a very old and beautiful house in Bordeaux in France. Suddenly, the husband had a car accident and almost lost his life. Now he needs a wheelchair. The family started to think about their new house.

The married couple bought a hill with a panoramic view over the city and approached the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas in 1994. The husband explained to him: "Contrary to what you might expect, I do not want a simple house. I want a complicated house because it will determine my world."