October 8, 2016


With Deconstructive Architecture, form is no longer pure. It has become contaminated by some sort of ‘alien’.

We often relate Deconstructive Architecture with the works of world famous architects like Frank Gehry, Vlado Milunić, Zaha Hadid, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Peter Eisenman, Bernard Tschumi, Rem Koolhaas and Daniel Libeskind.

But, before labeling an Architect as ‘Deconstructive’, let us understand the Philosophy behind Deconstructive Architecture!

As is admitted by its practitioners, deconstruction aims to take form apart – to degrade connections, symmetries, and coherence.

This is exactly the opposite of self-organization in complex systems, a process which builds internal networks via connectivity.

Extra binding energy is required to hold components together.

Natural morphogenesis unites matter, establishing multiple connections on different scales and increasing the system’s overall coherence; whereas deconstruction undoes all of this, mimicking the decay and disintegration of form.

For this reason, deconstructivist buildings resemble the severe structural damage such as dislocation, internal tearing and melting suffered after a hurricane, earthquake, internal explosion, fire, or nuclear war!

This is an architecture of disruption, dislocation, deflection, deviation and distortion, rather than of demolition, dismantling, decay, decomposition, or disintegration. It displays the structure instead of destroying it.

© Daniel Libeskind

Extension to Denver Arts Museum | by Daniel Libeskind (2003-06) | © Daniel Libeskind

An impurity, or deviation, from the structural order is regarded as opposing or rather, threatening the former values of harmony, unity and stability.

This deviation is therefore insulated, isolated, from the structure, and can thus be regarded as ornament.

The qualities of harmony, unity and stability arise from the geometry of purity, and formal composition.

The combining of such pure geometrical forms follow compositional rules which do not allow one form to conflict with another.

The overall harmony is maintained. But, with Deconstructive Architecture, form is no longer pure. It has become contaminated by some sort of ‘alien’.

The alien is an outgrowth of the very form that it violates; the form distorts yet does not destroy itself.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California | by Frank Gehry

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California | by Frank Gehry | © Gehry Partners, LLP

Deconstruction is not the taking apart of constructions. The nature of the word suggests a reversal of construction.

Thus architecture which appears to take apart a structure, by simply breaking an object, has been called Deconstructive.

Deconstruction is not demolition, or dissimulation, which suggests a total breakdown.

The flaws, or ‘contamination’, do not lead to the collapse of the structure.

Deconstruction, according to Wigley, is a challenging of the values of harmony, unity and stability.

It proposes a new view of structure; that the flaws are intrinsic to the structure, and thus cannot be removed. The flaws are structural.

A Deconstructive architect is therefore not one who dismantles buildings, but one who locates the inherent dilemmas within buildings.

Article by Amit Murao

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