HOUSE FOR A HOUSE Excerpt
by Oliver Pershav, AA 4th Year
Diploma Unit 9
02 December 2013
New Soft Room, Architectural Association
An excerpt from his presentation at the Diploma 9 jury as he recontextualises John Hejduk's unbuilt Diamond House.
[caption id="attachment_2458" align="alignnone" width="360"] The different houses as seen from above, nested one into another[/caption]
Tell me, what is more characteristic of our time than to house an art museum within a church? The gradual shift from art in the service of religion as it was in the counter-reformation, to religion in the service of art found itself at its peak during the youth of my architect, in the hippie free-love 1960′s. The painter, whether painting with tones, colour or clothes, was the priest of a new church of belief in humanity, in the good-natured character of Lennon in his “Imagine.” But here again we find simple answers insultingly simple even, coupled with the pursuit of inevitable form. The painter is forced, like the architect, to speak without a voice. No words, no sentences, just spaces meant to fill you with awe. My architect was clear in his inspirations: it was the de Stijlists, the Mondrians and the van Doesburgs. An action as simple as tilting the canvas 45 degrees, made us chuckle with delight when we attempted to draw it in axonometric view. The art museum is a square mini-Guggenheim but the exhibition is curated by two persons: my architect and myself. I have selected paintings that correlate not with the references of my architect but with the project he developed out of them so that the exhibition taking place protrudes both into the past and into the present. And now, finally, prepare yourself for the ultimate horror in formalism …
*opens the final wall hiding the Diamond*
… John Hejduk’s Diamond House, built on the premise of imitating a flipped canvas from the early Modern painters. The Diamond house is called the diamond because it is to be viewed from a point of view that reveals it as a prism. And it’s beautiful! This beauty is the worst of troubles to the contemporary architect because he cannot deny the importance of it, however much he wants to pursue building. People judge it according to beauty if it looks like a big pair of trousers, or a testicle crashing through an enlarged circular opening, metaphorically speaking we still want our back lot to be beautiful, and isn’t it formal how much we must resist the troubled relationship to form long enough to be taken seriously. An architect who builds only with matter is as complete as a painter who paints only with paint. He has no intention other than to explore the characteristics of the form and paint itself. Is this naughty? Are we afraid to be caught pants-down admiring a building for its sweet texture to the concrete, its mastering of light it’s perfect relationship to the site? All the clichés of the dezeen project’s description … the Diamond has no site, no concrete, no light. It is just form, an idea of form, an end in form, the last house within a house containing only me.
[caption id="attachment_2456" align="alignnone" width="360"] The different layers of houses separated out[/caption]
For more information:
Oliver Pershav on the Diploma 9 blog
Diploma 9 Unit Brief
Diploma 9 Extended Brief