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Architecture from Derridean semiotics to deconstructivism

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 17:58 authored by Hosseinabadi, S
'' ... the basic problem is that architects are probably the last adherents of a discredited Platonism. That is to say, they implicitly believe in a correspondence theory of truth, and are largely unaware of the developments in modern philosophy of a reference theory of truth." (Whiteman, 1986, p.32) The rise of Deconstructivism was bound up in the architectural enchantment with philosophy. The evidence of that is an approach which transforms architecture into an entity that is designed to provoke thought, an approach which creates works with visual elements embedded with a sense of mystery or transcendence, in order to secure a reaction. The Deconstructivist movement in architecture has become an instrument of rebellious practice, attending to alienation and to forms of resistance to usual practice, and inviting a number of creative minds to generate works in order to achieve autonomous architecture. During the industrial modernisation of society, and after the Second World War, the fields of art and architecture became the prime influences in changing what were historically thought to be norms in different cultures and beliefs. Modernist thinkers strived to portray 'universal truth' through their 'spatial practice'. However the pursuit of individual aims led to the neglect of the relationship between creativity and necessity, and a postmodern era emerged from the fall of modernism (Pruitt-lgoe Housing project 1951). Although more of a condition than a style of architecture, postmodernism allowed creative expression, but not without theoretical accounts. The important oppositional text of Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966), set a firm theoretical model for postmodern and deconstructivist practitioners. Venturi argued against the minimalism and simplicity of modernism, and emphasised the richness of historical references in architecture. The postmodernist reading of this text translated into a built form where ornamentation and representation of historical elements was designed to bring beauty to architecture. On the other hand the deconstructivist interpretation of Complexity and Contradiction took a different turn. Deconstructivists dismissed the postmodern emphasis on ornamentation and past beliefs, and rather signified geometry as the main design element, aiming to dismember architecture and break away from any form of historical reference. Deconstructivists are opposed to what is historically expected of thinkers (theorists and architects) and through various frames - past and present, construction and deconstruction, presence and absence - have invented a new movement. The fragmented, non-rectilinear representation of geometrical shapes in their works demonstrates their interest is not in the functionality and aesthetics of architecture, but in creating non-building; something imperfect. This paper investigates the events that led to the development of deconstruction, particularly the work of Jacques Derrida, and examines this elusive dance between architectural forms and philosophical writings in the mid to late 20th century.


Publication title

Architecture and Writing Proceedings of the Archtheo '14/Theory of Architecture Conference


E Duyan






School of Architecture and Design


DAKAM Publishing

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Event title

Archtheo '14/Theory of Architecture Conference

Event Venue

Istanbul, Turkey

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Date of Event (End Date)


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