ISBN 978-3-86859-364-8

ISBN 978-3-86859-364-8


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Carolin Stapenhorst<br />

CONCEPT:<br />

A Dialogic Instrument in<br />

Architectural Design

CONTENTs<br />

Introduction<br />

0. A Notional Outline:<br />

From Aesthetic Norms to <strong>Concept</strong>ual Strategies<br />

9<br />

11<br />

PART 1<br />

Interdisciplinarity in Architecture<br />

24<br />

1.1 the Need for a Transversal Language<br />

1.2 Objectification through Collaboration<br />

1.3 Adaptable Knowledge through Lifelong Learning<br />

1.4 the Potential of Hospitality<br />

1.5 communicative Interfaces within an<br />

Interdisciplinary Field<br />

1.6 Interdisciplinarity in Design Education<br />

25<br />

31<br />

37<br />

45<br />

55<br />

59<br />

PART 2<br />

An Instrumental Definition of<br />

the <strong>Concept</strong><br />

68<br />

2.1 decision-Making in Design Processes<br />

2.2 concept as Repository of Rules, Strategies,<br />

and Criteria<br />

2.3 concept as Generator and Communicator<br />

2.4 concept as Explorer of Non-architectural<br />

knowledge<br />

69<br />

81<br />

87<br />


PART 3<br />

Generators and Depictions<br />

of <strong>Concept</strong><br />

100<br />

3.0 concept as Result of and Guideline for an<br />

Ideational Process<br />

3.1 diagrams for the Organization of Information<br />

and the Transmission of Ideas<br />

3.2 textual Generators and Communicators of<br />

design Strategies<br />

3.3 cartography as Ground Analyzer and<br />

Rule Giver<br />

3.4 A <strong>Concept</strong>ual Use of Architectural References<br />

101<br />

107<br />

147<br />

167<br />

189<br />

Apparatus<br />

Selection of Interdisciplinarily<br />

conceptualized Designs<br />


John Pawson: Monastery Novy Dvur, Dobrá Voda<br />

Herzog & de Meuron: Studio Rémy Zaugg,<br />

mulhouse<br />

Étienne-Louis Boullée: Opéra au Carrousel, Paris<br />

steven Holl: Addition to the Cranbrook Institute<br />

of Science, Bloomfield Hills, MI, and Whitney<br />

waterworks Park, Hamden, CT<br />

Alvar Aalto: Paimio Sanatorium,<br />

Patient Bedroom, Paimio<br />

gino Valle: Storage & Showroom Geatti, Udine<br />

Jürg Conzett: Traversina Bridge II, Graubünden<br />

Pier Luigi Nervi: Wool Factory Gatti, Rome<br />

Bernard Tschumi: Parc de la Villette, Paris<br />

o.M. Ungers: Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar<br />

and Marine Research, Bremerhaven<br />

22<br />

28<br />

52<br />

66<br />

78<br />

98<br />

104<br />

144<br />

186<br />

200<br />


“Finally, the most shameful moment came<br />

when computer science, marketing, design and<br />

advertising, all the disciplines of communication,<br />

seized hold of the word concept itself and<br />

said: ‘This is our concern, we are the creative<br />

ones, we are the ideas men! We are the friends<br />

of the concept, we put in our computers.” 1<br />

- Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari<br />

“In arts, and particularly in architecture, imprecise<br />

definitions have caused many errors;<br />

they have generated prejudices and nurtured<br />

wrong notions. You give a word and instantly<br />

everybody is interpreting it with a different<br />

meaning.” 2<br />

- Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc


The quotes by Deleuze-Guattari and Violett-le-Duc delineate<br />

two key points for both the motivation and the objective of this<br />

text. Diverse disciplines, in particular those around the “ideas<br />

men,” appropriated the term “concept,” and quite often the<br />

meaning of this appropriation was vague or, still worse, banalizing.<br />

Therefore, the principal aim of this text is to give one possible<br />

definition of the term “concept,” and because it is thought<br />

to be useful for the ideas men in general and the architects in<br />

particular, this definition is an instrumental, operative, and productive<br />

one. The concept in architecture is investigated for its<br />

strategic potential in decision-making processes and it is illustrated<br />

as a dialogic interface between the different professional<br />

competences participating in architectural design.<br />

This publication outlines the theoretical shifts in design history<br />

that induced the appearance of the term “concept” in common<br />

architectural discourse. It illustrates the designing architect’s<br />

changing professional field as increasingly characterized<br />

by the necessity of multidisciplinary collaboration—which is a<br />

challenge—but a field that nevertheless contains the potential<br />

for productive knowledge transfer leading to explorative and<br />

inventive design principles. This publication approaches the instrumental<br />

definition of the concept as a common repository of<br />

directions and rules for the design process, as a processor of<br />

heterogeneous requirements, and thus as a structuring element<br />

of teamwork. It illustrates a selection of possible manifestations<br />

of the concept, which function as efficient representations of<br />

selected information that enables a shared understanding and<br />

thus augments the quality of decision-making in architectural<br />

design.<br />

The text is accompanied by an apparatus of design examples<br />

that differ widely in their architectural expression, but have in<br />

common being conceived via the strategic use of non-architectural<br />

knowledge—they are Interdisciplinarily <strong>Concept</strong>ualized<br />

Designs.<br />

1 Gille Deleuze and<br />

Félix Guattari, What is<br />

philosophy? (London:<br />

Verso Press, 1994), 10;<br />

original edition: Qu’estce<br />

que la philosophie?<br />

(Paris: Les éditions de<br />

Minuit, 1991).<br />

2 Eugène Emmanuel<br />

Viollet-le-Duc:<br />

Dictionnaire raisonné de<br />

l’architecture française<br />

du XI e au XVI e siècle.<br />

Style, 1856, (Paris: Morel<br />

editor, 1868); translation<br />

Carolin Stapenhorst<br />

(CS) from the German<br />

edition: M. Düttmann<br />

(ed.), Definitionen. Sieben<br />

Stichworte aus dem<br />

Dictionnaire raisonné<br />

de l’architecture (Basel:<br />

Birkhäuser, 1993), 17.<br />


0<br />

A Notional Outline:<br />

From Aesthetic Norms to <strong>Concept</strong>ual Strategies<br />

“If, however, the physical reality is understood and<br />

conceptualized as an analogy to our imagination<br />

of that reality, then we pursue a morphological<br />

design concept, turning it into real phenomena,<br />

which like all real concepts, can be expanded or<br />

condensed.” 1<br />

- Oswald Mathias Ungers<br />

In order to trace the first declared necessity of strategic<br />

non-standardized approaches within the design process and<br />

the occurrence of the term “concept” in architectural discourse,<br />

the following briefly and selectively outlines a series of theoretical<br />

shifts in Western design theory. It is not the aim of this notional<br />

introduction to investigate the origin of the concept within architectural<br />

design history, because such an investigation would<br />

inevitably be fragmentary and, more importantly, not useful for<br />

the instrumentally oriented objectives of this publication. Thus,<br />

it will illustrate the appearance of the term “concept”, intended<br />

as an instrument of design, and describe its specific characteristics<br />

as it emerges from the theory construction in architecture.<br />

De Re Aedificatoria: A Process- and<br />

Problem-oriented Treatise of Design Theory<br />

One would expect to find the departure from the exclusive orientation<br />

towards aesthetic, historically approved norms applied<br />

to architectural design decisions within the scientification and<br />

Fig 01 O.M. Ungers‘<br />

compilation of images<br />

for the exhibition “MAN<br />

transFORMS”<br />

1 O.M. Ungers,<br />

“Designing and thinking<br />

with images, metaphors<br />

and analogies,” in<br />

MAN transFORMS. An<br />

International Exhibition<br />

on Aspects of Design,<br />

ed. H. Hollein (New York:<br />

Cooper-Hewitt Museum,<br />

1976), reprint in archplus:<br />

Lernen von O.M. Ungers<br />

no. 181/182 (December<br />

2006): 170.<br />


thus develop their common projects within a dialogic situation.<br />

Therefore, even if the formation of these types of unstable associations<br />

arises from a difficult occupational situation, their flexibility,<br />

which is somehow unintentional, their highly developed<br />

communication skills, and their lack of commissions produce<br />

innovative approaches to work. They are open to external specialists<br />

and accumulate knowledge in permanently changing<br />

constellations. 31<br />

31 A description of<br />

these loose collaborative<br />

networks that<br />

proliferated, particularly in<br />

the two-thousands, can<br />

be found in N. Kuhnert<br />

and Schindler, eds., “Off-<br />

Architektur,” archplus<br />

(October 2003): 14ff.<br />


1.3<br />

Adaptable Knowledge through<br />

Lifelong Learning<br />

“100 years ago you had to have a Baumeister if<br />

you wanted to build a house. Nowadays, you need<br />

a geodesist for the site measuring, an engineer<br />

for the structure, and a building physicist (for the<br />

details)…. You need a building economist …, a<br />

marketing expert, a project manager, a quantity<br />

surveyor…. You need, of course, a developer. You<br />

do not need an architect.” 32<br />

- Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani<br />

The Perpetual Problem of Legitimization<br />

Architectural theorist Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani’s provocation<br />

about architects’ professional marginalization, caused<br />

by the weight of the technical and economical competences<br />

involved in the project development, introduces an essay that<br />

goes on to ask:<br />

What should architects be capable<br />

of doing? Once, the answer was<br />

designing, planning, and attending<br />

to the construction site. However,<br />

nowadays the construction site …<br />

is exclusively attended to by experts,<br />

the planning is transferred to the<br />

specialized engineers … and the design<br />

… certainly cannot be called a<br />

growth market. 33<br />

32 Vittorio Magnago<br />

Lampugnani cited in G.<br />

de Bruyn, H. Mauler,<br />

and S. Trüby, “Vers une<br />

Architektengeneration.<br />

Zur Entwurfslehre am<br />

Institut Grundlagen<br />

Moderner Architektur,”<br />

archplus: “Architekten,<br />

ihr Anfänger!”<br />

Pop, Ökonomie,<br />

Aufmerksamkeit no.<br />

171 (June 2004): 20.<br />

Translation CS.<br />

33 Ibid., 21. Translation<br />

CS.<br />


Étienne-Louis Boullée:<br />

Opéra au Carrousel, Paris (France), 1781<br />

1 E.L. Boullée,<br />

Architettura. Saggio<br />

sull’arte, ed. A. Ferlenga,<br />

(Turin, Einaudi, 2005), 29.<br />

Translation CS.<br />

2 Ibid., 57.<br />

Étienne-Louis Boullée dedicates a great deal of consideration to<br />

the origins of architecture. One term that he introduces in this context<br />

is the “character,” which he explains as follows: “Let us look<br />

to an object! The first sensation we feel is obviously caused by<br />

the way the object impresses us. I call the effect produced by the<br />

object and that causes any kind of impression in us ‘character.’” 1<br />

The design application of the conceptual instrument of the “character”<br />

illustrates the modernity of Boullée’s way of thinking. He<br />

describes his project for an opera theater as such: “I have aimed<br />

to represent in depth the aspect of seduction that vaudeville has.<br />

Therefore, I surrounded my theater hall with a portico construction,<br />

which forms a kind of carousel.” 2<br />

When Boullée does this design, the architectural conventions in<br />

France are exclusively oriented to classical architecture. The reference<br />

to an object belonging to the sphere of popular entertainment—such<br />

as a carousel or an amusement park—is quite<br />

provocative, if not scandalous. Indeed, there is something revolutionary<br />

in Boullée’s idea: he uses a kind of freedom allowing him to<br />

search his very own working rules and principles—beyond those

already accepted and adopted. The equestrian statues, which<br />

decorate the four pedestals outside the Opéra au Carrousel,<br />

strengthen the correspondence between conceptual reference<br />

and architectural design.

process. They immediately relate everything they see to their<br />

design work.” 89<br />

The mechanisms that characterize this kind of attitude are generated<br />

through the application of instruments that were mentioned<br />

before, as those that permit communication between the<br />

parties involved in the design process. The same instruments<br />

that build up the communicative interface between the disciplines<br />

transfer the specialist knowledge from non-architectural<br />

fields into generative principles that can induce architectural<br />

forms.<br />

89 K. Dorst,<br />

Understanding Design:<br />

175 Reflections on Being<br />

a Designer (Amsterdam:<br />

BIS Publisher, 2003),<br />

101.<br />


1.6<br />

Interdisciplinarity in<br />

Design Education<br />

“The architect after modernism is now readying<br />

him- or herself via research to clarify the architect’s<br />

role in the production process of the individual<br />

object and of urban spaces, and thus to regain<br />

control of the lost center. Design research informs<br />

him or her about strategically indispensable<br />

alliances and tactical options.” 90<br />

-Angelus Eisinger<br />

The Interdisciplinary Method of Lapa<br />

The strategic and methodical use of non-architectural contents<br />

in design can be taught. The Laboratoire de la production<br />

d’architecture (Lapa), 91 established in 2005 by architect and<br />

teacher Harry Gugger at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology<br />

in Lausanne, is a significant example of the development<br />

of interdisciplinary working models in architectural education.<br />

Lapa’s didactical approach is explorative, as the students are<br />

strongly invited to apply scientific, research-like methods to address<br />

and enrich their design processes. This is motivated by<br />

the tailspin of the architect’s role, the need to “regain control of<br />

the lost center,” just like historian Angelus Eisinger explains in<br />

his essay for the Explorations catalogue for the Swiss Pavilion’s<br />

exhibition at the Venice Biennale d’Architettura in 2008, which<br />

included Lapa’s work as one of four examples of Swiss design<br />

didactics. Lapa’s methodology booklet states, “It is the primary<br />

goal of Lapa to ensure the architect’s continued role in the<br />

planning and building process and to reinforce the architect’s<br />

position as a central, integrating and coordinating force.” 92 This<br />

90 A. Eisinger, Stop<br />

making sense, 21.<br />

91 Since 2011,<br />

Laboratory Basel (Laba).<br />

92 H. Gugger, ed., Lapa<br />

Methodology Booklet<br />

(Lausanne: EPFL/ENAC/<br />

LAPA, 2007), 3.<br />


design:<br />

Eckhart Reissinger<br />

Weekly Exercise no. 3<br />

24. - 30 06.1964<br />

Thematic binding<br />

Given:<br />

1 Program of a residential unit<br />

entrance, wardrobe + WC,<br />

access to the cellar<br />

living room<br />

study<br />

dining room<br />

kitchen<br />

storage room<br />

bedroom<br />

bedroom<br />

bedroom<br />

shower<br />

bathroom<br />

guest room<br />

8-10 sqm<br />

30 sqm<br />

15 sqm<br />

16 sqm<br />

10 sqm<br />

2 sqm<br />

20 sqm<br />

12 sqm<br />

12 sqm<br />

3 sqm<br />

8 sqm<br />

12 sqm<br />

2. The external walls should not have any openings.<br />

Sought-after:<br />

The design of a residential unit. The layout of the<br />

walls is allowed to have any form, but the walls must<br />

be continous, without any interruption apart from the<br />

entrance.<br />

Required:<br />

The entrance should be 4.75 meters above the ground.

2.2<br />

<strong>Concept</strong> as Repository of<br />

Rules, Strategies, and Criteria<br />

Fig 03 Wochenaufgabe<br />

by O. M. Ungers;<br />

summer term 1964 at<br />

TU Berlin<br />

“If the artist wishes to explore his idea thoroughly,<br />

then arbitrary or chance decisions would be<br />

kept to a minimum, while caprice, taste and other<br />

whimsies would be eliminated … If the artist carries<br />

through his idea and makes it into visible form,<br />

then all the steps in the process are of importance.<br />

The idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much<br />

a work of art as any finished product.” 32<br />

- Sol LeWitt, Paragraphs on <strong>Concept</strong>ual Art<br />

Judgment Criteria<br />

The description of the act of designing as a sequence of ongoing<br />

decisions that is far from linear due to the complexity of<br />

tasks and the necessity of integrative procedures, leads to the<br />

question of how this process can be structured, how its decisions<br />

can be evaluated and legitimated, how Kwinter’s “efficacity”<br />

may be obtained. With regard to this, the conceptual<br />

artist Sol LeWitt individuates a guiding idea as the element that<br />

can confer significance to every step of a creative procedure<br />

and thus value to the process as a whole. He further underlines<br />

the generative and regulative function of guiding idea when he<br />

states that “no matter what form it may finally have it must begin<br />

with an idea.” 33<br />

Christian Norberg-Schulz indicates the capacity for judgment<br />

as the basis for every kind of decision we may make and therefore<br />

fundamental to design activity. 34 This means that every design<br />

process needs a set of criteria that defines its very specific<br />

parameters of wrong and right, which help to make the decisions<br />

leading to a design solution. From the mid-nineteenth<br />

32 S. LeWitt,<br />

“Paragraphs on<br />

<strong>Concept</strong>ual Art,”<br />

Artforum International<br />

Magazine (New York:<br />

1967). Quoted in C.<br />

Harrison and P. Wood<br />

(eds.), Art in Theory.<br />

1900–1990 (Cambridge,<br />

MA: Blackwell, 1992),<br />

835.<br />

33 LeWitt’s conviction<br />

is connected to<br />

another one, which he<br />

expresses in “Sentences<br />

on <strong>Concept</strong>ual Art” a<br />

year later: “It is difficult<br />

to bungle a good<br />

idea” – “Sentences on<br />

<strong>Concept</strong>ual Art,” 0–9<br />

Magazine (New York,<br />

1969). Quoted in Ibid.,<br />

839.<br />

34 C. Norberg-Schulz,<br />

Intentions in Architecture,<br />

27.<br />


Generators and Depictions of<br />

<strong>Concept</strong><br />


3.0<br />

<strong>Concept</strong> as Result of and Guideline for an<br />

Ideational Process<br />

“For me there is quality if your concept is able to<br />

assemble a whole lot of different requirements… .<br />

The more lines you can draw, the better the<br />

concept is. Of course, these lines are not of equal<br />

thickness. You have to decide sometimes, when<br />

they are contradictory, what is more and what<br />

is less important. For me it is a good method to<br />

think: ‘let’s take this influence for a while as the<br />

most important. What could be the result? Afterwards,<br />

let’s take another influence to be the most<br />

important one.’ And sometimes, finally, the contradictions<br />

disappear.” 1<br />

Visualize to Communicate<br />

- Jürg Conzett<br />

Part 2 outlined those definitions relevant to the concept intended<br />

as effective instruments to structure the design process—<br />

such as its accompanying role within the decisional sequence<br />

of the design process, its function as generator and communicator<br />

of a set of regulative strategies, and its correlation with<br />

the contents from the external fields of knowledge. It gave a<br />

theoretical configuration, which Part 3 specifies via a selection<br />

of the concept’s manifestations that underline its instrumental<br />

potential.<br />

The introductory quote by structural engineer Jürg Conzett refers<br />

to a diagram describing a general consideration he is making<br />

about designing—it explains his personal notion of concept<br />

(figure 01). Conzett describes the concept as an instrument<br />

capable of “assembling the requirements,” and he represents<br />

these requirements on the left. Still more interesting about his<br />

diagram is something that he does not mention. The concept,<br />

placed in the center of the diagram depicting the design process,<br />

is informed by a series of requirements (site, function, con-<br />

1 J. Conzett, “Looking<br />

at my desk,” The<br />

Harvard GSD Lectures.<br />

Engineering Design<br />

series, transcription from<br />

the video registration of<br />

the lecture on October<br />

25, 2011.<br />


Fig 13 (left page)<br />

Alexander’s diagrams<br />

for the Notes: each<br />

of them is the<br />

diagrammatical<br />

solution to a group of<br />

requirements<br />

Fig 14 Detail of the<br />

Smithsons’s Urban-<br />

Re-Identification Grid<br />

of mathematics are abstract, of course, and the shapes of architecture<br />

concrete and human. But that difference is inessential”<br />

57 —turns out to be erroneous. The diagram as an instrument<br />

of design thinking structures problems and generates strategies<br />

for their solution, and not for the physical expression—that is,<br />

the architectural form—of the solution. Still, Alexander’s identification<br />

of the diagram’s essential importance as an instrument of<br />

environmental planning and as medium through which scientific<br />

contents can be introduced into the design process is extraordinarily<br />

relevant for theories about rational designing.<br />

In order to substantiate their contextual planning approach,<br />

the Team 10 group introduces a number of representation<br />

modalities that differ from the conventional set of architectural<br />

drawings—for example, photographs, collages, and diagrams.<br />

In addition to conventional drawings, the Smithsons’<br />

“Urban-Re-Identification Grid” (figure 14) contains a compilation<br />

of photos of playing children, parts of collages, and a<br />

series of diagrams referring to the Smithsons’ “Golden Lane”<br />

design. Eventually, the whole grid becomes a kind of collage,<br />

which strikingly typifies an associative, absorbing, open design<br />

attitude. Furthermore, some of Team 10’s most characteristic,<br />

original ideas are presented via diagrams—such as the “scales<br />

of human association” (figure 15) created for the CIAM X at Dubrovnik<br />

and intended to replace the four functions of the Athens<br />

57 C. Alexander, Notes<br />

on the Synthesis of Form,<br />

134.<br />


for the self-confrontation Ulrich Beck requests. In this respect,<br />

the communicative power of the diagrams for the Villa KBWW<br />

design at Utrecht (figure 33), which are used in a long process<br />

of negotiating between the involved parties, and in particular<br />

between the two families who would become the inhabitants of<br />

the semidetached house, is evident.<br />

During the same period, MVRDV claims to use a multitude of<br />

statistical data to be able to manage the architectural field’s apparently<br />

chaotic working conditions. They aim to base their designs<br />

on research-like investigations, in order to legitimize their<br />

self-conception as generalists and to succeed “in preserving a<br />

certain measure of control over the project, not in a visionary or<br />

authoritarian manner, but as a manager who keeps the process<br />

on the track.” 88 The diagrammatical visualization of the processed<br />

information points towards the so-called datascapes,<br />

which MVRDV explains as follows: “Under maximized circumstances,<br />

every demand, rule or logic is manifested in pure<br />

and unexpected forms that can go beyond artistic intuition or<br />

known geometry and replace it with ‘research.’” 89 Thus, as one<br />

of many “datascape” examples, they combine the Dutch regulations<br />

regarding light exposure with sun diagrams to calculate<br />

light cones, thereby generating the figure of the “Meteorite,” a<br />

virtual building volume containing “light” and “dark” programs<br />

(figure 34). In a certain sense, the firm chooses the building<br />

legislation apparatus as one of its favorite creative catalysts.<br />

Referring to the Dutch legislation on light exposure, MVRDV<br />

outline the relations between light levels, building density and<br />

functional programs: “If we want to reach more competitive<br />

densities and maintain the byelaws, we will have to mix housing<br />

with other programs … The almost historical plea for ‘mixed<br />

use’ has been translated into an obligation!” 90 Based on the<br />

given restrictions, they explore diverse “light formulas” (figure<br />

35) and design a series of densification scenarios. The information<br />

contained in the textual legislation documents is transferred<br />

into diagrammatical representation, because the medium of the<br />

diagram is necessary to make the textual contents operative as<br />

a potential design strategy.<br />

In summary, the common architectural discourse of the nineteen-nineties<br />

identifies the diagram as a prolific instrument to<br />

Fig 35 MVRDV’s<br />

exploration of light<br />

formulas<br />

88 B. Lootsma,<br />

Superdutch, 24.<br />

89 W. Maas, J. van Rijs<br />

with R. Koek, farmax<br />

(Rotterdam: nai010,<br />

1999), 99.<br />

90 Ibid., 195.<br />


Maps-of-Rules: A Case Study<br />

The different representations, the infinity of layers into which the<br />

map can be broken down, recognize a figurative multiplicity of<br />

the object, thereby arriving at its explosion in a plurality of meanings<br />

and shapes. Furthermore, thanks to its particular spatiality,<br />

its layered nature, its capacity to weave together figures and<br />

backgrounds, the coexistence of differently scaled shapes—the<br />

diagrammatical nature of its figures—the map has the potential<br />

to represent a scientific basis for architectural design, capable<br />

of guiding its decisions. A map, as historian Axel John Wieder<br />

points out, “helps to define our position and to recognize what<br />

is happening and thus actually to decide what to do.” 165 He<br />

specifies that cartography, a non-architectural discipline, can<br />

essentially be understood as an architectural proceeding intending<br />

to describe spatiality in a “sharpened way.” 166<br />

The operations of analysis, synthesis, and design rarely overlap<br />

so strongly as in the elaboration of cartographic maps in the<br />

field of architecture, and it is often difficult to determine which<br />

maps are analytical and preparative, and which are already precise<br />

indications for the planning. Giancarlo Motta explains this<br />

close-knit relationship between map and architectural project<br />

as follows: “A map … is not an object but … an entity of devices<br />

structured each by its own logic. As in the architectural<br />

project, a map is always an answer to a multitude of problems<br />

which find their equation within a single representation.” 167 In<br />

the end, the decisive difference between map and project is<br />

the diagrammatical nature of the first, which does not indicate<br />

computed forms, but rules and guidelines for their definition. It<br />

is due to this fact that cartographic elaborations can be defined<br />

as a conceptual instrument.<br />

Since the late nineteen-nineties, a research group directed<br />

by Giancarlo Motta has carried out extensive work on the<br />

“cartographic machine.” 168 Within this work, three types of<br />

maps were defined: the basic map, the thematic map, and<br />

the “map-of-rules” (carta delle regole). The basic map is still<br />

focused on “pure” analysis and constitutes the most neutral<br />

representation of specific cartographic facts (figure 54), while<br />

the thematic map is already characterized by a high degree of<br />

intentional subjectivity, which is still dedicated to the existing<br />

Fig 54 Basic Map on<br />

the savannah of Bogotá<br />

highlighting its lagoonlike<br />

conformation,<br />

Politecnico di Torino,<br />

DAD<br />

165 A.J. Wieder,<br />

“Methode Kartographie,”<br />

in archplus: “Architekten,<br />

ihr Anfänger!”<br />

Pop, Ökonomie,<br />

Aufmerksamkeit no. 171<br />

(2004): 9. Translation CS.<br />

166 Ibid. Translation CS.<br />

167 G. Motta, “La<br />

cartografia come ‘forma<br />

simbolica,’” in Cartografia<br />

e Progetto (Bergamo:<br />

Tecnograph, 2003), 16.<br />

Translation CS.<br />

168 The cartographic<br />

research was directed by<br />

Giancarlo Motta at the<br />

Polytechnic School of<br />

Turin, 1999–2014.<br />


Fig 61 (left page)<br />

Unger’s Baukasten,<br />

closed<br />

Fig 62 Baukasten and<br />

developmental<br />

trajectories of roomgenerating<br />

structures<br />

nisms of productive abstraction and his personal definition of<br />

“type,” which he illustrates in the chapter “What Abstraction Is”:<br />

“A container concept is the set of attributes by which a kind<br />

of entity can be identified. A type is the structural essence of<br />

such a kind of entity. The abstraction characteristic of productive<br />

thinking are rather types than containers.” 185 Donald Schön<br />

defines “types” similarly and adds more detail to their generative<br />

function:<br />

Types should be seen as particulars<br />

that function in a general way, or<br />

as general categories that have the<br />

“fullness” of particulars … Because<br />

of their “fullness”—the richness of<br />

imagery, ideas, and commonplaces<br />

associated with them—types such<br />

as these can generate sequences of<br />

moves and guide designs. 186<br />

This specific conception of “type” recalls the didactical device<br />

of the Baukasten that Oswald Mathias Ungers employs in his<br />

first series of lectures in Berlin. Ungers defines diverse categories<br />

of buildings—for example, the “directionless one-roombuilding”—which<br />

are compared using morphological sequences<br />

in order to distill the compositional rules of each of them<br />

and ultimately convert them into a structured developmental<br />

trajectory. 187 Each developmental trajectory of this encyclopedic<br />

process is introduced by the constructive manipulation of<br />

185 R. Arnheim, Visual<br />

Thinking, 174.<br />

186 D. Schön,<br />

“Designing. Rules, Types<br />

and Worlds,” 144.<br />

187 E. Mühltaler, ed.,<br />

archplus: Lernen von<br />

O.M. Ungers, 20ff.<br />


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