Exquisite Corpses : an architectural mystery
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
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In 1937, writing about the parallels between mystery fiction and urban dwelling, Walter Benjamin wrote, ""in times of terror, when everyone is something of a conspirator, everybody will be in the position of having to play detective." That is to say that anxieties present within the built environment often lead to a series of actions closely related to those undertaken by detectives. Using this as a departure point, this project seeks to reconstitute a discussion of meaning within architecture through the use of narrative, anachronous formal languages, and literary devices. If we are to take the dismissal of postmodern architectural discussions as a given, we can place meaning as an archaic subject matter limited to autonomous formal readings (i.e. dialogues of surface, geometric complexity, etc) and non-existent in the context of large architectural production (i.e. real estate development, efficiency in construction methods, etc). However, revisiting linguistic analogies and a nostalgia for lost artifacts and pairing them alongside contemporary concerns of urban dwelling and architectural agency, we can re-establish culture-centric modes of architectural production (ones not limited to parametric or positivistic attitudes). By embracing the fictional dimension of an architectural project, and exploring the limits of that fiction, Exquisite Corpses determines a more specific understanding of narrative architecture, one that does not dismiss or marginalize the subject matter but augments it. A fictional narrative suggests that contemporary discussions of meaning in architecture must be taken to certain limits in order to promote agitations, explore morals, and even mediate anxieties-much in the same way detective mysteries operate. While previous attempts at promoting these themes rely largely on architecture ad extremum (read: paper architecture, utopia) this project operates at the scale of the detective mystery or the parable. It sets up an allegorical framework that situates Exquisite Corpses within the lineage of real projects with heavy theoretical underpinnings (Tschumi's La Villette, Rossi's urban plazas), but also accepts the dismissive value of fiction. Ultimately, the goal is to revisit a spectral dialogue excluded from most contemporary architectural production, and suggest a probable methodology around which to have discussions of collective memory, meaning, signification, and public identity.
Thesis: M. Arch., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, 2014.Pages 160 and 161 are blank. Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology