Avoiding the Formally Arbitrary Through Analysis & Poetics


David Mayernik presented his paper on the invention of the "inevitable" project at the first ReteVitruvio conference at the Politecnico di Bari, Italy, on 5 May 2011. "The Inevitable Project" paper with illustrations is available as a pdf here (black and white illustrations, 709kB):



The following is an excerpt from the paper:


The methodology I am advocating begins with formal and poetic analysis of each of the four categories of Site, History, Type, and Language, as in Figure 2. Each is served by the designer’s knowledge of history, of the particulars of the site and program, but also of the larger typological and linguistic framework. While the analyses, in an academic context, are addressed independently, the goal is finding a formal response to site issues, for example, that also embodies a poetic dimension appropriate to the place. The formal analysis of the site would investigate, among other things, its geometry, the nature of the context, and the terrain; the poetic analysis might investigate the site’s history, potential narrative readings, and its allusions or references to other sites.

The synthesis of these disparate analyses should then be available in the parti, which, as the French origins of the word suggest, is a choice: the architect does not in that sense “create,” or make something out of nothing, but rather “invents,” discovers or uncovers a parti that already exists. Clearly, this depends on an understanding of type (the palazzo, for example), but also purely formal dispositions ("a bar attached to a U). What makes it an invention and not an imitation is the complexity of the response to the particulars of the problem, a choice of not one parti option but rather a resolution of several different parti types into something uniquely appropriate and “inevitable.” It is the single underlying idea or concetto that can be at once described in words and represented graphically as the generator of the architectural form. Every particular aspect of the building should follow from the parti and the concetto.




To invent is to discover.

S. Andrea al Quirinale, Rome