Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
Making architecture superfluous, making it disappear from our consciousness, turning to something else: when town becomes like nature. It needs no further invention. It can no longer be expanded. It is everywhere. It can no longer be copied, because it has copied itself to an end. Entropy of architecture.
What is the architecture we seek, the architecture we move towards? The architecture that drives us, pushes us forward, that wants to be discovered, to be brought out from the seclusion of our architectural consciousness, or rather sub-consciousness? The Architecture that pushes towards the light like an insect, and, when there, fulfils its inescapable fate?
But why this particular architecture and none other, although there are endless other possibilities? The architecture we fight for, the one we seek to define, or to have defined by critic-friends, those whom we browbeat or those who volunteer, so that this defined architecture can be defended and consolidated against other positions in the inexhaustible quantity of other forms, other bodies, other surfaces, other structural designs and levels of transparency.
The architecture we think, draw, imagine, describe, the architecture we photograph and capture on video, the one we define as correct, more correct, or at least more important than other, older or contemporary architectures; the architecture we love, or at least during one phase of our lives loved, the architecture we pursued, the one we accompany with the entire energy of our perception, day and night, into which we penetrate, bodily and in thought, – without us it does not exist and without it, we do not exist.
The architecture that draws us like a magnetic field. And we, who after all create this electromagnetic field for our projects? This projection surface, this plane of intersection, the almost-identity of the architecture and the architect. And we thus create this tension and are subject to it, despite years of professional experience, despite indifference, despite a passionless manner? The architectonic project is, as the name says, a projection, an intellectual thought-projection from body to body.
Architecture is the extension of the body of the architect into a new, projected outward form. It is a kind of reproduction, a copy or rather an expression of the entire sensory experience of the architect. In this it is like a film made by a film-maker or the picture by a painter, or the song of a musician. It is the physical and sensory presence of the film in the cinema and the sound from the loudspeaker (and not any biographical or entertaining component) that fascinates us, that moves us, that enables us to encounter our own physical presence.
This architecture – created by us, bound up with our lives – would therefore be a physical part of ourselves? Of our constantly planning, ever projecting selves who will soon turn away from it to new projects, unfaithfully, mercilessly, who will excuse themselves, move away from them, rejecting them like a burned out rocket stage.
And the architecture? For its part it moves away from us, its ownership long since transferred, perhaps useful and usable as a capital investment, certainly, however, having a communication value for others, notable through its own being, released from the accidental nature of our lives. It stands there, as if it created by itself, without the laughable particularity of an author, without his mark, without fingerprints of sweat stains or even injuries, such as those caused by an unsuccessful forceps delivery. The architecture is understood only by means of itself, with no aids to understanding, capable of being produced only out of architecture, not out of anecdotes or quotes of functional processes. Architecture is its own substantiality in its location.
Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron