We often relate the Deconstructive Architecture with the works of world famous architects like Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Coop Himmelb (l) au, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Bernard Tschumi, Daniel Libeskind. But before labeling an Architect as ‘Deconstructive’ let us understand the Philosophy behind –
The term Deconstructivist Architecture was first used in 1988 as the title of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, curated by Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley. Seven architects assembled beneath this ambiguous banner, they were – Peter Eisenman, Daniel Libeskind, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Koolhaas, Tschumi, and Coop Himmelb(I)au-and were unambiguously seen as “theoretical”. They were criticized by both proponents of various “postmodernisms” and conservative anti-intellectuals. Any idea that “Deconstructivism” was a movement with substance beyond this exhibition was rejected. Yet nearly twenty years later these so called theoretical architects have developed themselves as major practitioners on a global scale. Still theoretical in formal and programmatic stance, they are much more than theoretical in practice, since it is apparent in some of the most significant cultural commissions of the late twentieth century.
As is admitted by its practitioners, deconstruction aims to take form apart – to degrade connections, symmetries, and coherence. This is exactly the opposite of self-organization in complex systems, a process which builds internal networks via connectivity. Extra binding energy is required to hold components together. Natural morphogenesis unites matter, establishing multiple connections on different scales and increasing the system’s overall coherence; whereas deconstruction undoes all of this, mimicking the decay and disintegration of form. For this reason, deconstructivist buildings resemble the severe structural damage such as dislocation, internal tearing and melting suffered after a hurricane, earthquake, internal explosion, fire, or nuclear war!
“This is an architecture of disruption, dislocation, deflection, deviation and distortion, rather than of demolition, dismantling, decay, decomposition, or disintegration. It displays the structure instead of destroying it.”
The deviation from the structural order, threatening the former values of harmony, unity and stability, is therefore isolated from the structure, and can thus be considered as an adornment. The qualities of unity, harmony and balance arise from the geometry of purity and strict composition. The merging of such pure forms adhere compositional rules which do not allow one geometry/form to conflict with another and therefore the overall harmony is maintained. But form is no longer pure with Deconstructivism. It becomes adulterated by some variety of ‘alien’…
“The alien is an outgrowth of the very form that it violates; the form distorts yet does not destroy itself.”
The nature of the word proposes a reversal of construction, thus architecture which seems to take ‘knock down’ a structure, is being called Deconstructive. However Deconstruction is not the dismantling or disassembling of constructions! The imperfections, or ‘contamination’, do not result in the total collapse of structure. Deconstruction, as per Wigley, is a challenging of the values of harmony, coherence and balance. It suggests a new interpretation of structure; that the imperfections are inherent to the structure, and therefore can’t be removed. The flaws are structural!
A Deconstructive architect is therefore not one who dismantles buildings, but one who locates the inherent dilemmas within buildings!