Daniel Libeskind, Chamber Works: Architectural Meditations on Themes from Heraclitus, 1983.
I had a prof in school who held Daniel Libeskind (“Danny,” as he called him) in the absolute highest esteem, and worked him into any and every conversation about the ‘meaning’ and value of architecture. Though I take Libeskind’s labored transcendentalism with a grain of salt, this prof is one of the most brilliantly wise people I’ve met.
Libeskind’s Chamber Works is a set of 28 drawings produced while he was head of the Architecture Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. (Note: Academy of Art) His definition of architecture “as an index of the relationship between what was and what will be” is, perhaps, perfectly elaborated in his process for the Berlin Holocaust Museum, a project whose process is more significant than its product, I think. However, that seems also to be along the lines of the Architecture delineated by Libeskind in this excerpt. Below is printed the excerpt used by Hays in the anthology. All the drawings can be seen on Libeskind’s website, here.
“This work in search of Architecture has discovered no permanent structure, no constant form and no universal type. I have realized that the result of this journey in search of the ‘essentials’ undermines in the end the very premise of their existence. Architecture is neither on the inside nor the outside. It is not a given nor a physical fact. It has no History and it does not follow Fate. What emerges in differentiated experiences is Architecture as an index of the relationship between what was and what will be. Architecture as non-existent reality is a symbol which in the process of consciousness leaves a trail of hieroglyphics in space and time that touch equivalent deaths of Unoriginality.”
I really have very little more to say. I think the intentional poetry of this blurb is itself enough of an elaboration of Libeskind’s phenomenological, transient, immaterial Architecture. The reference to architectural “essentials” can mean both as pursued in any architectural theory, as well as phenomenological essentials, though I believe Libeskind’s reference is to the former. In that way, Libeskind’s Architecture is, essentially, anti-theory, either modernist or postmodernist; is ahistorical, to a point.