Thoughts on the Gross

Publication Date
October 31, 2019

When architecture is a product of function, disgust is a product of its dysfunction. The gross is an architecture of failure. It is a leaking pipe and stains on the paprika carpet. It is uncanny, but it is familiar. It is architectural abjection. ­

Successful architecture functions first as Heidegger’s hammer, existing most often as ready-to-hand. Here, it functions within expectation as a hammer that can successfully accomplish the task of driving a nail. In the ready-to-hand state, the hammer operates within the subconscious, conforming to the subject-object relationship of most tools and their users. When the hammer stops functioning, it becomes present-at-hand, which forces the user to acknowledge its presence. It is at this moment that an object becomes a thing, and the user becomes concerned with the bare facts of its thingness, allowing then for it to be fully considered.[1]

Successful architecture is an architecture of the subconscious. It is ready, not present. But what, then, can be learned from an architecture of failure? If we don’t consider a pipe until it leaks, what does that say about our relationship to the pipe? Are we still the subjects, or are we its objects?

[1] Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time.
United States: Stellar Books, 2013.

Publication Date
October 31, 2019
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Adam Thibodeaux
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786 words