LW Unit10 Daria Rod

Can we consider Lebbeus Woods to be an architect? Did he have an Impact on Architecture
According to the article «Lebbeus Woods, the Experimental Architect, Dies» published on
the architectural website archdaily.com on the 31 of October in 2012 by Vanessa Quirk,
Lebbeus Woods was an architect and artist, known for his unconventional design and
experimental architecture in its most powerful and politically provocative sense. While
calling himself an architect, he was never licensed to practice architecture nor did he ever
implement any of his projects in real life. However, these facts appeared to be baseless to
exclude him from the list of architects who took part in numerous architectural conferences,
so he was constantly involved in architectural discussions with Zaha Hadid, Daniel
Libeskind, Eric Moss, Steven Hill and other architects. He always talked about his projects
as they were already «built in his drawings» and argued with anyone who would raise the
question of these projects existing in real space (Lebbeus Woods, 1991). The worlds he
created are not utopian- the cycle of projects «Terra Nova» demonstrates the architecture
that has just been released from physical and social realities. He claimed «it is possible to
engage in a dialogue of architecture through drawings, models and other means- even
through writing»(Lebbeus Woods, 1991).
As a theorist, Woods was investigating the enquires of nature disasters and war zones. He
believed, that the new type of the city is born and changed along with the society today, thus
it was another side of his studying- the modern society (Lebbeus Woods, 1997). The
projects are futuristic and aggressive towards contemporary architecture. They assume
major reconstruction of existing world with a human being in a process of looking for the
ways of survival in a new environment. Woods used the form of installation in order to
explore the new aspects of architecture. However, the biggest part of his heritage has been
left on paper.
The rhetoric above contradicts with the acknowledged definition of architecture, which
states that «the process and product of planning, designing and constructing building is an
integral part of architecture and it works in a material form of buildings»(CTI Reviews,
The realisation of any work of Woods was and still is impossible due to the lack of
technologies, budget and clients, who would invest them only because of the «believe in
idea». Speaking about his project of 1989 «Aerial Paris», he admits that his «arial structure
doesn’t fly» and while being an engineer himself, he says : «the technology is proposed. The
engineers just have to find a way» and he is sure, they will (Lebbeus Woods, 1991). He is
trapped in the limitation of frames of gravity, however he still believes in the technology
that will become fundamental for his works implementation. Coming back to the
determination of the field of architecture, an architect is «a person who is responsible for
inventing or realisation a particular idea or project» (Oxford Dictionary of English, 2010).
In accordance with these words, we can ask ourselves: is it right, that Lebbeus Woods has
passed the responsibility of building his projects to next generation? Does it mean, that our
century is only the beginning of his era, or should his drawings be interpreted only as art
and fantastic dreams? Why did everyone call him an architect, while other artists like
Edvige Faini and Robert Theodore McCall, who were creating the new utopian cities in
their drawings, remained to be just illustrators?
My dissertation will be based on studying the discipline of architecture, looking at its
canons and doctrines. I am going to explore Lebbus Woods philosophy and his key ideas,
his dialogues with other famous architects, like Steven Hill, Them Mayne, Wolf D
(Himmelblau) and others, who were taking part in Vienna Conferences in 1991 and 1992.
I am going to compare the facts about his works with other artists and architects projects,
opinions of specialists in architecture and architects themselves.
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