Bernard Tschumi Draws Architecture!

Gevork Hartoonian


Bernard Tschumi’s delineation prepared for the Museu de Arte Contemporânea provides the starting point for this essay, which discusses the historicity of drawing and highlights the horizontality and the verticality that structure architecture’s contrast with the pictorial realm. Juxtaposing a freehand sketch with the digital image of the same project, Tschumi moves to address the paradox concerning the position of the body and drawing. This drawing also speaks for the reversal in the position of the body brought about by digital reproductivity.

The reversal alludes to Tschumi’s theorization of architecture in terms of space and event. These, I will argue, are anticipated in The Manhattan Transcripts (1981) where a set of freehand drawings is used to evoke a filmic mood wherein the image is projected parallel to the spectator’s seated position. The essay goes further, suggesting that the theatricality permeating the present architecture is part of the shift from horizontality to the painterly, and yet the phenomenon is not merely a technical issue. Rather, it alludes to architecture’s dialogical rapport with painting at work since the Renaissance.

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