Kafka's Architectures: Doors, Rooms, Stairs and Windows of an Intricate Literary Edifice by Rahmani Ayad B

Kafka's Architectures: Doors, Rooms, Stairs and Windows of an Intricate Literary Edifice by Rahmani Ayad B

Author:Rahmani, Ayad B. [Rahmani, Ayad B.]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
Publisher: McFarland
Published: 2014-12-18T16:00:00+00:00

Architecture and the Image

Architecture and the image are inextricably linked, sometimes happily and sometimes not so. In many ways the history of architecture is the history of architects proposing different ethical positions for the image. Should its exterior be detached from its interior as Adolf Loos had suggested at the outset of the 20th century and later Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown from the 1960s onward? Or should it be based on a fusion of the two: a total transparency in which the exterior is simultaneously the interior as advocated by the Bauhaus modernists and in some ways by the likes of Rem Koolhaas today?

For Loos the façade in architecture was akin to the skin of a body, mediating between two environments, which, while dependent on each other, followed two different logical trajectories. It conciliated between the private needs and personalities of those living within and those moving about outside. It worked extra hard in toning down the private pomp of an owner, who was more likely than not to be an industrialist with money, who calibrated his position next to those who were less fortunate than he but who nonetheless had constituted his social and financial well-being. “All this,” Hilde Heynen reminds us in her book Architecture and Modernity, “means that the interior is experienced as a secluded and intimate area. Nowhere does the space outside penetrate the house.” In fact “the transition between inside and outside is often modified by a flight of steps, a terrace, or a verandah.”28 For Venturi and Scott Brown, matters were less socio-politically based. Their concerns stemmed less from Marxist notions of social and economic equilibriums, and certainly less hung up by moral interests regarding, say, the homeless or housing the disenfranchised, than it was in restoring back to architecture, after years of modernist sterility, the place of the façade. Where the modernist had sought to give up the physiognomic fixation on the façade, in favor of an emaciated ethic of transparency, they wanted to unabashedly return to it. But they also wanted to do so in an unabashedly populist way, famously borrowing inspiration from the Las Vegas strip and other image-centric sources. And who could blame them: they may have been no more than simple contrarians trying to shake things up, but by the sixties the modernist image had become so ridiculously ugly and humorless, not to mention elitist, that their reaction was not entirely unexpected. One need only look at Paul Rudolph’s Art and Architecture Building at Yale University, a place Venturi and Scott Brown are very familiar with, to fully and clearly understand the extent to which their reaction was justified. (Fig. 4.5) William Curtis would describe Rudolph’s Yale building as possessing “violent contrasts of scale” and whose striated concrete piers as having a “corduroy” look29 (Fig. 4.6). A more repulsive and abrasive, Gregor-like, image one cannot imagine.30 The building can literally hurt you with its image; try leaning against it and you are likely to walk away with a torn shirt and, perhaps more effectively, torn skin.


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