Bernard Tschumi’s making of Architecture and Disjunction

Architecturally, if space is the medium for the materialization of theory, is a space the materialization of the architectural concept?”

Bernard Tschumi, being the son of an architect, had no interest in architecture, his interests at the time were philosophy, mathematics, music, literature, and movies, but once he chose to dive deep into it, he became a theorist for six years. It was during that period that he wrote down his views, mainly on his reflections on issues in architecture. His book architecture and disjunction are a collection of his critical essays that depicts the aim of “demonstrating the relationships of disjunction, of dissociation between space and use, between form and function: an architectural transcription of reality by means of a story of love and death in Manhattan.”

Book in focus: Architecture and Disjunction - by Bernard Tschumi - Sheet1
Cover Page Architecture and Disjunction_©www.goodreads.com/book/show/388879 | Architecture and Disjunction

In his essays, Bernard Tschumi states that the study isn’t only influenced by culture but has become the producer of culture itself with questions of space being the fundamental focus.

Architecture and Disjunction 

In the book, Architecture and Disjunction Bernard Tschumi defines architecture as being inseparable from spaces, events, and movements. He defines disjunction as relating to conditions of being separated and disjointed. 

“Do all spaces in society taken together constitute a language?”

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Parc de la Villette, deconstructive folies_©www.paris-la.com/archive2008-2020/book-bernard-tschumis-architecture-and-disjunction/

The collection of essays is dissected into three main categories: Architectural Paradox, Program, and Disjunction.

Architectural Paradox

Bernard Tschumi explains the architectural paradox by comparing two notions of space using opposite metaphors such as that of pyramid and labyrinth to explain what space is. The paradox of ideal space is the space of reason and real space is the space of experience reflected in architectural context as the building process. It alternates between abstraction of concepts and construction of material images and complement and inform each other.

“Does the experience of space determine the space of experience?”

The pyramid is the control of ideas over matter and is similar to the idea of the ideal space where the subject is detached from the object. The essence of space is mental and the architect is the one that provides the “ultimate model of reason” by which the conception of a building comes to be.

The labyrinth is the physical sensory experience of space, a contrast to the pyramid, and highlights the lack of general perspective.

Book in focus: Architecture and Disjunction - by Bernard Tschumi - Sheet3
Parc de la Villette_©www.architectuul.com/architecture/parc-de-la-villette

Bernard Tschumi’s main focus for the architectural paradox was to get people to understand that every physical intervention or interaction created between people and spaces throughout history was not just made by accident. Architecture is being perceived through various uses of senses and does contribute to the human’s interaction between one another and spaces.

“Is space the product of historical time?”

Bernard Tschumi also poses questions on the nature of architecture to allow the reader to debate the larger question of nature, space, and its primary destination; to arrive at the same conclusion as he did. It was also to realize that all the different results are all part of the overall expression.

“The sensual architecture reality is not experienced as an abstract object already transformed by consciousness but as an immediate and concrete human activity.”

Program

In the second section, “Program”, he explains that having human beings in a particular space breaks the natural structure. Without having an event, action, space, violence, and a program, architecture wouldn’t exist.

“If space is an in-between, is it a political instrument in the hands of the state, a mould as well as a reflection of society?”

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”To really appreciate architecture, you may even need to commit a murder” _ ©www.architectuul.com/architecture/parc-de-la-villette

According to Bernard Tschumi, violence in architecture is inevitable and there are three types of it:

  1. Body does violence to the space, by just being present, the human violates and disturbs the purity of the architectural order. 

Example: Architectural photographs never include people.

  1. Space does violence to the body, the physical violence by and through space can lead to psychological destruction.

Example: If a person is kidnapped and wants to escape but the space is designed with long narrow corridors and an unclear exit, the person can’t escape which will lead to his/her downfall.

  1. Ritualized violence, uncontrolled violence in large circulatory spaces is repeated by the violence within “A ritual implies a near-frozen relationship between action and space. It institutes a new order after the disorder of the first event”.

Disjunction

Bernard Tschumi’s Theory of Architectural Disjunction tackles various types of disjunctions: between form and content, or between use, form and social values, between being and meaning, man and object. Simply put, design disjunction aims to unite fragments on the level of formal juxtaposition. It aims to leave the individual elements unreconciled and highlight the fragmented experience of modernity in the friction between them.

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Montage using music, movement & picture frames_©www.pinterest.com/pin/344666177726018503/

Bernard Tschumi has used montage in film and images to portray this in the Manhattan Transcripts, the Screenplays, and his scheme for the Parc de la Villette in Paris.

A clearer representation is his method and its different components for the Parc de la Villette he describes. Using a system of lines, surfaces, and points to represent a different and autonomous system, refusing to adhere to any organized system.

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System of line, points, and surface in Parc de la Villette _©www.tschumi.com/projects/3/

Conclusion 

Architecture and Disjunction is a thought-provoking book that introduces an element of architectural reflection criticizing contemporary concepts and showcasing the strength of architecture. Bernard Tschumi makes it a point for you to question everything and proposes an architecture that is based on space, event, and movement and not merely on function and form. 

References: 

  1. Tschumi, B. (2001). Architecture and disjunction. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Mit Press.
  2. Floornature.com. (n.d.). Biography of the architect: Bernard Tschumi. [online] Available at: https://www.floornature.com/bernard-tschumi-89/ 
  3. Anon, (n.d.). Tschumi’s Architectural Paradox: Of oppositions and differences. [online] Available at: http://clinical-observation.blogspot.com/2010/02/tschumis-architectural-paradox-of.html.
  4. Brogdon, B. (n.d.). Simultaneous Perception and Experience: The Architectural Paradox. [online] Available at: http://www.bradbrogdon.com/resources/The%20Architectural%20Paradox.pdf.
  5. The Dilemma with Disjunction. (n.d.). [online] Available at: https://e-pub.uni-weimar.de/opus4/frontdoor/deliver/index/docId/1281/file/ebert_pdfa.pdf [Accessed 14 May 2022].
Author

An architectural masters graduate with a passion for design and writing. She holds a strong attitude to overcome obstacles combined with an optimistic character used to bring value to whatever project she is working on. She is organized, motivated, self-confident and success oriented.

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