1. ArchDaily
  2. The City Of Culture

The City Of Culture: The Latest Architecture and News

Eisenman's Evolution: Architecture, Syntax, and New Subjectivity

Iman Ansari with Peter Eisenman in his office, New York 2013. Image Courtesy of an-onymous.com
Iman Ansari with Peter Eisenman in his office, New York 2013. Image Courtesy of an-onymous.com

In this article, which originally appeared on Architectural Review, Iman Ansari interviews Peter Eisenman about his personal views on architecture throughout the course of his career.

Iman Ansari: More than any other contemporary architect, you have sought a space for architecture outside the traditional and conventional realm. You have continually argued that modern architecture was never fully modern and it failed to produce a cognitive reflection about the nature of architecture in a fundamental way.  From your early houses, we see a search for a system of architectural meaning and an attempt to establish a linguistic model for architecture: The idea that buildings are not simply physical objects, but artifacts with meaning, or signs dispersed across some larger social text. But these houses were also part of a larger project that was about the nature of drawing and representation in architecture. You described them as “cardboard architecture” which neglects the architectural material, scale, function, site, and all semantics associations in favor of architecture as “syntax”: conception of form as an index, a signal or a notation. So to me, it seems like between the object and the idea of the object, your approach favors the latter. The physical house is merely a medium through which the conception of the virtual or conceptual house becomes possible. In that sense, the real building exists only in your drawings.

Peter Eisenman: The “real architecture” only exists in the drawings. The “real building” exists outside the drawings. The difference here is that “architecture” and “building” are not the same.

An axonometric drawing of Eisenman’s House II, (1975). Image Courtesy of an-onymous.comEisenman's unrealized Qaui Branly Museum in Paris. Image Courtesy of an-onymous.comModel of Cannaregio project with House 11a at different scales (1978). Image Courtesy of an-onymous.comThe cover of Michael Haneke's "Funny Games" (2007) with a caption from Eisenman. Image Courtesy of an-onymous.com+ 17