Reversible Destiny / Shusaku Arakawa + Madeline Gins

Reversible Destiny / Shusaku Arakawa + Madeline Gins

After a suggestion from one of our readers (thanks Greg!), we were introduced to the unique architectural pair of Shusaku Arakawa (who ironically passed away a few days ago) and his partner Madeline Gins. The duo has outright declared that they have decided not to die, and have attempted to reverse the aging process and prevent death. Let’s see if you can follow their logic for creating an Architecture Against Death. The pair explains that “an ethics that fails to take a stand against what counters it must be seen to have been subverted by it. It is illogical for an ethical system that values life not to see mortality as fundamentally unethical.”

More about Architecture Against Death after the break.

To provide some background on the artists/architects/poets, Arakawa and Gins  founded the Architectural Body Research Foundation that actively collaborates with a multidisciplinary team of practitioners studying experimental biology, neuroscience, quantum physics, experimental phenomenology, and medicine.

Over the past few decades, the team has built architectural projects such as the Reversible Destiny Lofts in memory of Helen Keller.  This nine-unit dwelling is the first completed example of procedural architecture (defined as an architecture of precision and unending invention) that is focused on the residence.  ” These lofts make vivid to their residents the operative tendencies and coordinating skills essential to and determinative of human thought and behavior; which means to say, they manage, by virtue of how they are constructed, to reveal to their residents the ins and outs of what makes a person tick. ”

“By virtue of how it is constructed, through how its elements and features are juxtaposed, the Reversible Destiny Lofts – Mitaka (In Memory of Helen Keller) invites optimistic and constructive action. What could be more optimistic and constructive than a living space that in every way both prods and coaxes its residents to continue living for an indefinitely long period of time?! That is what the term reversible destiny signals loudly and clearly. Each reversible destiny loft has structured into it the capacity to help residents live long and ample lives.”

These built works, and especially the philosophies behind them (which at times seem just plain confusing), show a new take on architecture. To add to this, Arakawa and Gins have created a Reversible Destiny questionnaire – perhaps for themselves to ponder, or perhaps for their followers or people being introduced to their ways – that proposes a series of questions where “preference should be given to answers that take the form of action.”

Examples of questions include:

Every architectural surround augments the body proper to some degree.  In order to become nonmortal, the body proper needs a new degree of augmentation.  The body proper in combination with an architectural surround constitutes an “architectural body.”  What architectural surrounds promote the most long-lasting architectural bodies?

Shouldn’t cities be dedicated to the perpetuation and further invention of human life?  What if simply walking through a city you could study all you need to know and more?  Would you not like to live within surroundings specifically constructed to elicit from you a great number of possible ways – one more surprising than the next – for you to exist as a sensorium?

Do you want to live in an apartment or house that can help you determine the nature and extent of interactions between you and the universe? What lengths would you be willing to go to, or how much inconvenience would you be wiling to put up with, in order to counteract the usual human destiny of having to die?

Maybe mulling over these questions may help us actively participate in their beliefs…or, then again, maybe not.  What do you think about their approach to architecture?

About this author
Cite: Karen Cilento. "Reversible Destiny / Shusaku Arakawa + Madeline Gins" 28 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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