Dina Taha (MED ‘19)
“There is no intention here to descend into an intellectual fascination with madness, but rather to stress that madness articulates something that is often negated in order to preserve a fragile cultural or social order” – Bernard Tschumi
Why must the edge of architecture be one that is rational? What is architecture beyond what we can understand? That which is illogical to us is not that which does not make sense; rather, it is what we cannot easily perceive. Designing through the lens of what we do not know might propel architecture into a more flexible realm, one where not everything is understood, nor needs to be understood. Architecture at the edge of logical formations and decisions should transcend into the realm of unknowing; one where we make room for something beyond what we can anticipate, and thus accommodate spaces of (knowing through) un-knowing and discovery.
Rei Kawakubo’s work addresses ambiguity by reconstituting the boundaries between fabric, bodies, and space. Kawakubo uses fashion as a tool to deform the body’s silhouette into one which is uncertain relative to the space it inhabits. Distorting the silhouette blurs the relationship between body and space so that one is unable to determine where limbs end and space begins. This ambiguity is reinforced through the motions of its occupant; the edge of her silhouette constantly changes with every gesture through space. One can situate the relevance of such work in its destabilization of the viewer, causing her to question the contours of that edge and project into this unaccounted gap her own imaginings. The viewer is unable to determine whether body and space are discrete elements or might form an “in-between space.”
This is suggestive of an architecture generated reciprocally between body and space, where form is constantly refigured. They establish themselves as primary figures existing independently of meaning or function, and thus allowing to become the receptacle of diverse imaginations, ones that are unanticipated and whose meaning can only be determined in a present moment.
Her work is representative of a potential shift in architecture where the edge is simultaneously also a space. The edge transforms into a defining element, but also creates ambiguity and one that frames questions for the viewer, but also leaves room for multiple interpretations. More importantly, the edge of the building becomes an active role in the dialogue between users and space.
Tschumi, Bernard. Architecture and Disjunction. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996.
November 9, 2017