"What does architecture mean? Does it mean something? Where do you put it?" These are a few of the questions Jacques Herzog poses in this 1998 lecture at the Berlage Institute. Inspired by the concept that architecture is inherently a form of communication, Herzog, who co-founded Herzog & de Meuron with Pierre de Meuron, highlights nine of the firm's projects which all share similarities that feed into one another. The lecture, Herzog explains, is about using varied forms of language to create a conversation. Basel, a Swiss city bordering three countries and the home base of the firm, is characterized by many languages. Architecture, Herzog argues, is also a choreographed dance of languages, including those of art, music, light, void and mass, skin and surface, transparency and obscurity, layering and materiality.
Beginning with the Goetz Collection in Munich and describing the bands of light that cut through its cubic form, and continuing on to the play with existing urban factors and natural light to enhance the "impressive mass" of the Tate Modern, Herzog describes the poetry of design. He continues on to discuss Studio Remy Zaugg, a collaboration with Remy Zaugg for the Centre Pompidou, a psychological look at the urban study of Basel, the proposal for the MOMA Extension in New York, the Pritzker winning Signal Box, and the complex conceptual and physical layers of both the Laban Dance Centre in Deptford and the Dominus Winery in Napa. At the end, Herzog requests "critical" questions from the audience, inviting an exploratory conversation that provides insight into the design process of the architects and the experience of the users.
In answering an audience member's question, Herzog describes the mindset behind his dynamic practice: "If I knew what I'm doing, I probably wouldn't do it anymore. I wouldn't be interested in getting up in the morning, if I knew that's exactly how architecture works…it would be boring, if I knew this is my way."
Don’t miss the other lectures in The Berlage Archive series:
- The Berlage Archive: Elizabeth Diller (1998)
- The Berlage Archive: David Chipperfield (2001)
- The Berlage Archive: Luis Fernandez Galiano Theory Master Class (1994)
- The Berlage Archive: Rem Koolhaas + Kenneth Frampton (1998)
- The Berlage Archive: Stefano Boeri (2001)
- The Berlage Archive: Elia Zenghelis (2001)
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