Bernard Tschumi Paul L. Cejas Eminent Scholar
Spring 2008 Cejas Eminent Scholar Graduate Seminar
February 1 LECTURE 1:
Opening slides: the confusion following the stagnation of modernism. Architecture 1968-1975.
In order to identify how architecture works (going forward), one must define architecture:
There is no architecture without event.
Space and Movement:
Choreography, Warfare, Sports, Performance, Pageantry
Notation gives the architect clues on how to understand the relationship between space
and activity.
The role of the architect as provocateur: relationship of indifference, reciprocity, conflict.
Paradox of architecture: product of the mind vs. product of experience: limits, transgression,
Advertisements for Archtiecture: architecture as a series of provocations
The architect does not create architecture so much as sets the conditions from which it springs.
Analogies to film theory, philosophy, literature: architecture, in order to remain relevant, must
question its foundations. How space/event/movement are interrelated:
Screenplays techniques of cinema and their relationship to architectural space:
sequencing. Dissolve, hierarchy of action, superimposition, linear space and time.
Manhattan Transcripts architecture follows event. Narrative structure and
architectural space. Archetypes (characters protagonist vs. antagonist: or the park,
the street, the tower).
Applying the themes onto real space:
Joyce’s Garden notation of space vs. actual space. Superimposing a system of
comprehension derived from a narrative.
Then, conceived as a buildable project:
Parc de la Villette
History (slaughterhouses; competition)
Conceptual strategies: Superimposition, folies, cultural park of event (active) vs. natural
park of contemplation (passive)
Summary: Architecture is not defined by how it looks, or even how it works, but by how it is
Relevant Texts: Architecture and Disjunction: “The Architectural Paradox,” “Pleasure and
Architecture” “Architecture and Limits,” “Abstract Mediation and Strategy (laVillette)”
Bernard Tschumi Paul L. Cejas Eminent Scholar
Spring 2008 Cejas Eminent Scholar Graduate Seminar
Friday February 22 LECTURE 2:
Architecture is provocative when two architectural concepts are juxtaposed or superimposed:
programmatically, formally, or temporaneously.
1. “Urban” Architecture: Provoking new events and meanings from architecturally fertile
spaces—created through programmatic or spatial juxtapositions: cross-programming, spatial
juxtaposition, or programmatic diversity within a single envelope.
 National Library of France: A running track in a library. The scholar and athlete
in the same architectural envelope: concept of circuits; meaning of information;
purpose of a library in a digital age.
 Tokyo: from the hustle and noise of the subway to the calm and silence of the stage.
 ZKM: Interior street expresses the dynamism of exchange through literal
connections between disciples.
 Kansai airport: the whole of the city in one linear space (with spatial juxtaposition
between the slab and the wave to activate interactions).
 Bridge City: Flon Master Plan: Inhabited bridges connect two sides of the valley
with programmable spaces, extending the urban fabric at pedestrian and city scale.
Eventually, master plan evolved into a transit strategy.
2. Old and New: Two autonomous architectural systems superimposed on one another—one old
and one new. The in-between is architecturally fertile space. This juxtaposition encourages
novel interactions with space and promotes extension.
 Le Fresnoy: a contemporary system that hovers over and reconsecrates an old site
with new programs.
 Columbia: the master plan is a set of constraints against which to leverage a new
strategy of juxtaoposition.
 Moma: Aggregation—a collection of precious objects and a mandate for space in an
erratic historical context. The envelope is fixed, the “style” is inherited. What is left
for the architect?
3. Orchestrated Juxtapositions (attractors/generators): Inserting “attractors” or “generators”
helps to distinguish zones of interaction and activate a structure. By placing the bulk of the
program into one architectural system, and contrasting it with the active public spaces, the
interplay creates in between zones that extend the purpose of each space.
Marne la Vallee: A school of architecture, described as two wings around a central
interior courtyard, where an isolated structure helps define and engage public parts of the
Miami School of Architecture: Same concept; different context. Different climate
allows for different treatment of enclosure, of material treatment, and connection to the
rest of campus.
The Hague: A shopping center wrapped around a core of flexible spaces devoted to
public programs and community needs.
Summary: Architecture is activated by juxtaposition.
Relevant Texts: Architecture and Disjunction: “Violence of Architecture”, “De-, Dis-, Ex-“,
“Six Concepts”; Event Cities 1
Bernard Tschumi Paul L. Cejas Eminent Scholar
Spring 2008 Cejas Eminent Scholar Graduate Seminar
Friday March 14 LECTURE 3:
For buildings with fewer constraints against which to play, the architectural strategy must rely on
different means. Activity springs from movement; movement through spaces creates vectors in
space. Sequencing is critical to engaging space with its users as it generates a relationship
between time, space, and movement. Sequences of movement constitute vectors. The rest of the
building (roof, walls, partitions) constitute the envelope. Vectors activate; envelopes define.
 K-Polis: A convoluted vector intersecting the grid of a department store.
1. Glass Envelopes: The envelope may be as simple as a glass curtain. The glass house is the
modern wigwam; the simplest expression of architecture using contemporary materials. A
minimum of space must contain a diversity of program.
 Groningen: A glass house, tilted and canted, for viewing video installations. Black
box of seats vs. transparent corridor of pure movement.
 The Hague Villa: Glass box paired with an opaque box, connected by a
“crankshaft” of movement vectors that mediates between public and private.
 Urban Glass House: The same design, but with the private program inserted inside
the glass envelope. A strategy that uses transparency to respond to the vibrancy of
the city, and is replicable.
 BLUE: NYC zoning code and strict commercial requirements. The envelope itself
is contradictory: transparent but distinctive; expressive but deferential.
2. Double Envelopes: With buildings concerned with singular programs: (concert halls,
galleries), the vector/envelope relationship is enhanced by doubling the envelopes and inserting
circulation in between. The vectors describe and define the building’s public space and insulate
the interior, creating a buffer zone between the diversity of the city or campus and the primacy of
the program.
 Rouen: Double envelope design is derived from exurban site for sound insulation.
 Limoges: Same strategy, different context. A wooded site suggests different
treatment, but the concept remains the same.
 Vacheron: One envelope, but two spaces: a continuous plane connects different
functions of a watch factory.
 Carnegie: New Envelope protects and enlivens old, adding novel spaces that are
more flexible and reflect the changing needs of a science education center.
 MAA: Double envelope for defies the logic of Fifth Avenue’s strict code. A glass
envelope maintains the code, but allows for an expressive, inner envelope that
responds to the collection of a museum of carved and woven objects.
 EMPAC: Double envelope mediates between topography of a dramatic site, with
broad views, and a program that demands spaces that are isolated from light and
 MAC: Double envelope creates a glass processional that connects galleries, while
tying the contemporary collection into the city that provokes it.
Summary: There is no architecture without activity; vectors of movement help to define
and channel activity; envelopes can express and mediate with the outside world.
Relevant Texts: Architecture and Disjunction: “Sequences”; Event Cities 2
Bernard Tschumi Paul L. Cejas Eminent Scholar
Spring 2008 Cejas Eminent Scholar Graduate Seminar
Friday April4 LECTURE 4:
Concepts give meaning and coherence to a building. Concepts organize and define how
architecture functions; context is the geographical, historical, cultural, or political
conditions of a project. The synthesis of context and concept are what defines the content
of a project. Context and content may relate as follows through indifference, reciprocity,
or conflict.
1. Site-Driven Projects: the context provides the constraints against which to leverage
the conceptual strategies that yield the most advantage.
 UCAC: A tight site located near the heart of campus demanded a rigorous
structural strategy that gives the building its muscular appearance.
 Alesia: Two buildings separated by nearly a kilometer, relate to each other and
the hallowed ground on which they stand, the site of a Roman-era battle in
France, by blending into the landscape through materials and standing out in their
simple, circular geometry.
 New Acropolis Museum: The new museum mediates between the ancient city,
the contemporary city, and the Acropolis above by means of a three-level strategy
in which each tier responds to its era in a specific way and defines a narrative
circulation route through the collection of objects found at the Acropolis.
2. Project-Driven Sites: What if the “generator” is an entire project? The project is the
generator of events at an urban scale. The concept is designed to expand the project
beyond its set envelope or program.
Is it possible for urban design to be less intrusive than social manipulation and yet more
than the mere orchestration of services?
 Chartres Master Plan: Office Park in France that is built of three
interconnected, superimposed systems.
 Factory 798: A million square feet of housing hovers over, rather than replaces,
a vibrant arts community in China.
 Tri Towers Of Babel: Pure concept, irrespective of context. Each location gives
new meaning to an architecture that transcends geographic location.
 Dubai Opera House: An opera house on a man-made island builds off the
Tokyo scheme of 25 years prior. Waves define architectural space, landscape,
and urban design.
 Shiekh Zayed National Museum: A ring of shops defines an urban plaza for a
new cultural zone in Abu Dhabi. The ring gives prominence to the Museum.
 IFCA Master Plan: A city in the wilderness. 1 billion dollars and 5000 acres.
How does the design interact with the natural environment in a way that doesn’t
destroy or overwhelm it, while still responding to the developer’s needs?
Summary: architecture is not defined by styles, but by concepts.
Relevant Texts: Event Cities 3
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