Returning to the Roots of Contemporary Sensibility

Despite this, for an attentive observer, noticing for example that the interest shown by Eisenman in language as such is inseparable from a critique of functionalism, this categorisation clarifies that which has happened since 1960, and principally that which is understood by ‘Postmodernism’ – a Postmodernism now increasingly appearing as an attempt to create a synthesis of the various issues of the 1960s mentioned above. Everything is built from standard and cheap wood with vertical T-shape steel reinforcements. nature of which is derived from a different observation to that of Koolhaas, but indirectly very well summarised by the personal opinion of Anthony Vidler: ‘That in which I am involved is another type of identity of the subject, built within self-generated spaces by software which knows nothing of the distinction between animal and human; an identity which, at least for the time being, is more concerned with the morphological and topological transformations of an external skin or a shell, than by the human dimensions of an interior.’10
The summary of the major themes of the postwar critical re-readings of Modernism is therefore the major project of Postmodernism. — Andrea Branzi, Le mouvement radicalArchitectures experimentales 1950-20002
It is with these words that Andrea Branzi commented four decades later on the general philosophy of the Italian movements of the second avant-garde. EZCT Architecture & Design Research, Seroussi Cupboard, 2005-8
The fully scripted panel system leads to an entirely automated fabrication process. The title of this article, ‘Sense and Sensibilia’, evokes the significant transformations that were taking place in the early 1960s, and is named after John L Austin’s 1962 book of the same title3 rather than Aristotle’s classic philosophical text (De sensu et sensibilibus). The first was the principal motif of the neo avant-gardes – led by Archizoom and Superstudio – before they turned their attention to the widespread urban condition of global megastructures. Due to very strict constraints, all stainless-steel hinges were conceived by EZCT. A pitfall as noted by Nietzsche in the following terms:
Socrates and Plato, great doubters and admirable innovators were nevertheless incredibly naive in regard to that fatal prejudice, that profound error which maintains that “the right knowledge must necessarily be followed by the right action”. Beyond their apparent incompatibility, this research forms an extremely coherent set that can be defined as four priority ‘topics’: 1) the type and role of permanent avant – gardism; 2) mass communication as a source of semiotic pop;
3) the dimensions of the town and its architecture which reach the sizes necessary for their autonomisation; 4) the role of an idealised language of Modern architecture in the face of
Figure 2. It was also, a decade later, that of the humanist positivists such as Christopher Alexander.8
Of course it goes without saying that this categorisation has in fact never been so clear. Though it has shared with Postmodernism the theorisation of social transformations, apparent in Fredric Jameson’s analysis of the Bonaventure Hotel of 1988,11 it has also introduced a new preoccupation with ‘deep structure’. It is also thus, although from a different perspective, that we can understand the works of FOA or the intricacy of Greg Lynn,9 the generic

Figure 3. For these intrinsic reasons, the “radical” movement refused any stylistic unity, any recognisable formal code, to act, on the contrary, as a movement which destroyed within it any trace of the old search for modern certainties. The inherent difficulty in such a project makes it possible to understand both the theoretical inflation which appeared in the 1970s – when architects attempted to link
everything to the quasi-totality of surrounding theories with deliberately funny or sometimes unintentionally grotesque connections – and the relative failure of this summary. the contrary position is in fact the naked reality which has been demonstrated daily and hourly from time immemorial.14 It is a context inseparable from the social transformations that were established from 1960 onwards – the trigger for which was the hedonistic consumption of goods and services developed during the Second World War – and that defined the theoretical directions taken at this time by architectural research. For this belief in the logical continuity which extends from the logico-mathematical laws to the acts had, well before Alexander, been denounced as the pitfall par excellence of moral philosophy, which did not prevent High-Modernism (for example, that of Rudolf Carnap in The Logical Structure of the World)13 from running aground. It is by the refusal of this naive belief that Lynn and Zaera-Polo appear as ‘experienced intellectuals’, the latter being ‘those who have understood that they are not at the head of a change but in an experienced rearguard which measures the difference and the progress of technology in relation to the human sphere’.12
Conversely, it is due to the half-acceptance translated by the zealous application of science – an application without any scientific foundation or fact – that Alexander may be considered an ‘inexperienced intellectual’; intellectual, considering the relationships between the social development and that of the sciences within a historical invariance, deducing from the constant validity of theorems and algorithms the permanence of sensible things. This language, which moves on the logical ocean that characterises Western civilisation, defines the current relationship between ‘sensible things’ and mathematics. A brilliant intuition of the “radical” movement was that normality as a shared value no longer existed, that all society now constituted a set of creating minorities and that the critical and creating methods of the avant-garde had become the only practicable ones. Idealism often only offers an anachronistic update of Modernist formal research or a new belief in the participation of architects in the advancement of science. Philippe Morel (curator), ‘Architecture Beyond Form: The Computational Turn’, Exhibition at the Maison de l’Architecture et de la Ville, Marseille, 22 February to 20 April 2007
The exhibition was a reading of the last 45 years of architecture, starting from 1963 and Peter Eisenman’s PhD thesis, ‘The Formal Basis of Modern Architecture’. As for their mathematics, they have evacuated all traces of idealism related to the ‘old search for modern certainties’. its ‘vulgar’ versions, and the correspondence between a new codified language of architecture and the general codification that has appeared in linguistics and information sciences.4
It is possible to draw up a quick genealogy of these four research directions, which were followed and encountered to varying degrees by the vast majority of architects active in the 1960s. This theorisation was partly carried out by, among others, Lynn and by Alejandro Zaera-Polo, for whom the question of form was in particular the reflection of a reading of the transformations of technological civilisation and not the imprisonment within a new mathematical idealism. The algorithms calculate the admissible deformation of the veneer wood (which is supposed to be close to zero) and propose different solutions.

Updated: 31.10.2014 — 15:10