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anrhored firmly in the ground.

They make the imprcssior~o f trring not try to conrincr and impress like project drawings. They seem to
a self-evident part of their surrnundings and t h ~ yseen) to be say- he saying: "This is exactly how it will look."
ing: "1 an, as you see me and 1 h ~ l o n ghere.'' Working drawings are l i k ~anatomical drawings. They reveal

~ 1 have a passionate desire to desigrr such buildings, buildings something of t h r secrpt innpr tension that the firiishrd architecto-
that, in time, grow naturally into being a part of the form ;tnd his- ral body is reluctant to divulgc: thc art ofjoining, hidden geomrtry,
tory ol'their place. the friction of materials, the inner forces of hearing and holding,
Every new work of a r c h i t e r t u r ~intervenes in a slrecifio historical the human work which is inherent in man-made things.
situation. It is essential to the quality of the intervention that Per Kirkeby once did a brick sculpture in the form of a house
the new building should cmhracr qualities which can enter into a for a D o c u m ~ n t aexhibition in Kassrl. T h e house had no mtranc?.
meaningful dialogue with the existing situation. For if the intrrvrn- Its intprior was inaccessible and hidden. It remained a srcrrt,
tioa is to find its place, it must make 11s set, what already exists in which added a n aura of mystical depth to the scolpturr's other
a npw light. We throw a stone into the water. Sand swirls rip and qualities.
settles again. T h e stir was necessary. 'The stone has found its placo. I think that the hidden strrlctrjrrs and constructions of a house
But the pond is no longer the same. should bt, organized i n such a way that they endow the body of the
I brlievr that buildings only he accrptcd by their surroundings if building with a quality of inner tension and vibration. This is how
they have the ability to appeal to our emotions and minds in vari- violins are made. They remind us of the living bodies of nature.
ous ways. Since our feelings and understanding are rooted in the
past, our sensuous connections with a building must respect t h r
process of remembering. But, as John Berger says, what we remem- Unexpected truths
ber cannot be compared to the pnd uf a line. Various possibilities In my youth I imagined poetry as a kind of colored cloud made up
lead to and meet in the act of remembering. Images, moods, forms, of more or lrss diffuse metaphors and allusions which. although
words, signs or comparisons open up possibilities o f approach. Wk they might b r enjoyable, wpre difficult to associate with a reliable
I
must construct a radial system of approach that rnahlrs us to see view of the world. As an architect, I have learned to understand
the work o l architecture as a focal point from diffrrpnt angles that t h r opposite of this youthful definition o f poetry is prohahly
simultaneously: historically, a~sthrtically.functionally, personally, closer to th* troth.
If a ~ , o r kof architecture consists of lhrms and contents which
c o m h i n ~to create a strong fundan~rntal mood that is powerful
enough to affect us, it may pussess the qnalities of a work of art.
This art has, however, nothing to do with intrresting configurations

II Amurig all t h drawings


~ protluced hy architects, my f a v u r i t ~ sare
thc working drawings. !%'orking drawings are detailed and ol>,iec-
live. Created for t h r craftsmerl \+'l~o
are to give t h imagincrl
~ ohjc.ct
o r originality. It is ronc~.rncdwith insights and understanding, and
above all with troth. Prrtiaps poetry is unexpected truth. It livcs in
stillness. Arvhiterturr's artistic task is to girz this still expectancy a
a material forrn. they are frcv of assnr:iativ? manipulation. They du form. The huildirlg itsrll' is never poptic. At must, i t rnay possess

18
buhtlr q u a l i t i ~ swhich, $11 certain moments, p ~ r m i us
t to ondrrstand Composing in space
something that we were n<-vrrablp to understand in quite this w;ty (;enmetry is about t h c lt~wsof linrs, plane surlaccs. and t h r ~ r -
1,cfort.. dimrnsional hodics in sp;gcc. Geometry ran help us untivrstand
how to handle spare in architecturc.
In arrhitrcturt, there are two basic possibilities of spatial com-
Desire position: the C I O S C ~ an:tjitc~turalbody which isolates space within
TI,? clear, logical development of a work of arcl~itcr:tored r p r n d s itself. and t h e open hodr which rmhraces an area o l s p a c e that is
o n rational and ohjertir* criteria. When I p c r n ~ i tsubjective and r:onnrrted with the r.ndlrss continuum. T h e r x t ~ n s i o no l space o;in
n n c o n s i d ~ r ~idpas
d to intervonr in the ot)jective course of t l ~ r he made visible through bodics such as slahs or poles placcd f r c ~ l y
design process, 1 acknowledge the significance o l pcrsonal ibt.linp or in rows in the spatial expansc of a room.

in my work. 1 d o not claim to know what space really is. The longer 1 think
When architects calk ahout their buildings, what t t i ~ ysay is often ahout it, t h r more mysterious it bvcumes. Ahout one thing, how-
at odds with the statements of the hnildings themsrlves. l'his is ever, I am sure: when we, as architects, are concerned with space,
prohallly connected with the fact that they tend to talk a good dpal we are c a n c r r n ~ dwith but a tin! part of the infinity that sorrounds
ahout t h e rational, thought-out aspects o f t h e i r work and less ahout the earth, and yet each and e w r y building marks a unique place in
the secret passion which inspires it. this infinity.
The design process is hased o n a constant interplay of feeling and With this idea in mind; I start by sketching the first plans and
reason. The ferlings, prefrrrnees, longings, and desirps that rmerge scctions of my design. I draw spatial diagrams and simple volumes.
and demand to he given a form must he controlled hy critical powprs I try to visualize them as precise bodies in space, and I feel it is im-
of reasoning, hut it is o u r f e ~ l i n g sthat tell us whether abstract can- portant to sense exactly how they define and separate a n area of
siderations really ring true. intcrior space from thespacr that surrounds them, or how they con-
To a large drgrpe, designing is hased on understanding ant1 tain a part of the infinite spatial continuurn in a kind of oppn vessel.
rstahlishing systems of order. Yet 1 believe that the esspntial suh- Buildings that have a strong impact always convoy a n intense
stance of the architecture we spek proceeds from feeling and feeling uf their spatial quality. They embrace thc mysterious void
insight. P r ~ c i o u smompnts of intuition result from patient work. called space in a sppcial way and make it vibrate.
With the suddrm emergence of a n inner image, a new line in a
drawing, t h e whole design changes and is newly formulated within
a fraction of a second. It is as if a powerful drug were suddenly Common sense
taking cffcct. Evrrything I knew helbre about the thing I am creat- Designing is invcnting. When I was still at arts and crafts school, w~
ing is llooded by a bright new light. I rxperirnce joy and passion, tried to follow this principle. Wr looked for a n e w solution to every
and something deep inside me st:ems lo aflirm: "1 want to hrrild this prohlmm. We felt it was important to he avant-garde. Not until later
house!" did I realize that there are hasically only a very few architrctr~ral
prohlrms for which a valid solution has not already hpen found.
upon which wc ran builcl and rrhich wp all sharp. 1 thus a p p ~ a for
l its body is srnsitivr ~ n o u g h ,it onn assume 8, qutality that hoars wit-
a kind ol'an:hitector~of common srnsp hased on thc fundtlmvntals ness to t h r~~ a l i t yof past life.
that ~e still know, u n d ~ r s t a n d ,and fccl. I carefully observc the
concrrt* appearance of thr, norld, and in my brrildings I try to
enhance what seems to he valuable, to corrrrt what is distorhing, S t e p s left b e h i n d
and to croato anew what wc feel is missing. V h c n I work on a dcsign I allow mysplf to hp grlidpd hy images and
moods that 1 rrrncrnher and can rrlatr to t h kind
~ of architecturp
I am looking ibr. Most of the images that come to mind originate
Melancholy p e r c e p t i o n s from my subjcrtive experience and are only rarely accompanied hy
Ettore Scola's film "I,? hal" recounts fifty years of European history a r e m e n ~ b r r e darrhitectnral commpntary. While 1 am d ~ s i g n i n g
with no dialogrrr and a complete unity of place. It consists solely of I try to find orrt what t h e w images mean so that I can learn how to
mrrsir and t h r motion of ppople moving and dancing. Wc remain in create a wealth of visual forms and atmospheres.
the same room with t h e same people throughout, while time goes After a certain time, the ohjrct 1 am designing takes on some of
hy and the dancers grow older. t h r qualities of t h e images I use as models. If I can fir111 a meaning-
The focus of the film is o n its main characters. Rut it is the hall- fbl way of interlocking and superimposing these qualities; t h e
room u,ith its tiled flour and its paneling. t h e stairs in t h e hack- ohjrct will assume a depth and richness. If I am to achieve this
ground and the lion's paw at t h e sidr whir11 creates t h e film's effect, the qualities I a m giving the dcsign must merge and blend
denst,, powerful atmosphrrr. Or is it the other way round? Is it the with t h r~~ n s t r u c t i o n a land form;ll structure uf the finished build-
people who endow t h c room with its p a r t i c ~ ~ l mood?
ar ing. Form and construction. appearance anrl function are n o longer
I ask this question because I am conrincrd that a good building separate. They helong togethcr and form a whole.
must he capable of absorbing the traces of human life and thus nf When wp look at the finished building, our eyes, g r ~ i d r dhy o u r
taking on a specific richness. analytical mind, tend to stray and look for details to hold o n to. Hut
Naturally, in this contrxt I think of t h e patina of age o n materi- t h e synthesis of the wl~ole does not become comprrhensihlr
als, of innrjmprahle small scratches on surfaces, of varnish that has through isolated details. Everything refers to everything.
grown doll and brittle, and of edges polished hy use. But when I At this mornent, the initial images fade into the background. T h e
closp my eyes and try to forgpt both these physical traces and my models, words, and comparisons that wrre necessary for t h e CTP;I-

own first associations, what rpmains is a different impression, a tion of t h e whole disappear like steps that have hren left hehind.
d e r p ~ fr e ~ l i n g- a consciousness of time passing and a n awareness T h e new huilding assumes the local position and is itst-If. Its history
of t h c human lives that have been acted out in these places and begins.
rooms and charged them with a spwial aura. At thusc moments,
architeeturc's aesthetic and practical values, stylistic and historical
signifirance are of secondary importance. What matters now is only
this feeling of deep mrlancholy. ,Architertnrr is rxposerl to life. If
' l ' h ~ point that emergps h r r e is the reduction uf the contents Say that it is a crurlc rffe,,t. black reds,
to real things. Handke also speaks, in this context, of fidelity to Pink yellows. orungc whites, too much as they are
things. I l e would likc his descriptions, he says, to be e x p e r i r n c ~ das To be anything else in the sunlight of the room.
faithlulness to the placc they dpst:ribe and not as supplt:montary
coloring. Too nirrch as they are to he changed by metaphor.
S t a t ~ m p n t sof this kind help I ~ 10
P corn? to terms with thc dis- Too actual, things that in being real
satisfaction I oftcn e v p r r i r n c ~when I vontt:mplatr recent architec- hlake any imaginings of them lesspr things.
tore. 1 frequently come across buildings that have heen dcsignecl
with a good deal of effort and a will to find a special form, and I
find I am put olf by then,. T h c architect responsible for the huild- This is the beginning o f t h e poem "Bouquet of Hoses in Sunlight"
ing is nut present, hut he talks to me unceasingly from every detail, by the American lyricist of quiet contr,mplation, Wallace Stevens.
he kceps on saying the same thing, and 1 quickly lose interest. F'allace S t ~ v e n s ,I rrarl in the introduction to his collection
Good architecture should receive the human visitor, should enahlp o f pucms, accepted the challenge of looking lung, patiently and
him to experience it and live in it, hut it should not constantly talk exactly and of dis-covering and understanding things. His poems
at him. arc not a protest or a complaint against a lost law and order, nor are
Why, I often wonder, is thp obvious hot diffierrlt solution so they the expression of any snrt of consternation, but they seek a
rarely tried? Why do we have so little confidence in the basic harmony which is possible all the same and b,hich - in his casp -
things architpcture is made from: m a t ~ r i a lstructure,
, ronstruction, can only bu that of the poem. (Calvino goes a step further along
hraring and being borne, earth and sky, and confidence in spaccs this line of thought i n a n attempt to define his literary work when
that are really allowed to he spaccs - spaem whose enclosing walls he says that he has only one defense against the loss of form that h e
and constituent materials, concavity. emptiness, light, air, odor, sers all around him: an idea of literature.)
receptivity and resonance arp handled with respect and care? For Stevens reality was the wished-for goal. Surrealism, it
1 personally like the idea of designing and huilding houses from appears, did not impress him, for it invents withoot discovering. He
which 1 can withdraw at thc end of the forming procoss, leaving pointed out that to portray a shell playing an accordion is to invent,
hehirrd a hr~ildingthat is itselr, that serves as a place to live in and not discover. And so it crops up once again, this fundamental
a part of the world of things, and that can manage perfectly well thought that I srern to find in Williams and Handke, and that I also
without my personal rhetoric. sense in the paintings of Edward Hopper: it is only between the
'To me, buildings can have a brautiful silence that I associate reality of things and the imagination that the spark of t h work
~ of
with attributes such as composure, self-evidenoe, dnrahility, pres- art is kindled.
ence and integrity, and with warmth and sensnousnpss as well; If I translate this statemrat into architectural terms, I tell myself
a building that is heing its&, heing a tiuiltling, not representing that t h c spark of the successfi~lbuilding can unly hc kintllud be-
anything, just heing. tween t h c reality of the things pertaining to it and the inlagination.
And this is no revelation to me, but thp confirmation n l ' s o m e t t ~ i n ~
1 r.ontinually s t r i v ~for in nty work, and t h e confirmation of a wish From passion for things
whosc roots seem to br. d r y inside me. to the things themselves
But to return to t h e rluestiun onr final timc: where d o 1 find t h e 1994
reality on which I most concentrate my powers ofimagir~ationwhen
attpmpting to drsign a boilding for a particular place and porpusc?
Ono key to t h e answer lies, 1 believe, in th* words .'plac~'' and
"purpose" t h ~ m s e l v e s .
In an essay entitled "Building Uwellirrg 'Thinking," Martin It is important to m e t o rcllect ahout architecttrrtx, to step hack from
Heidegger wrote: "Living among things is t h e hasic principle of my daily work and take a look at what I am doing and why I am
human existcnrr," which I understand tu mean that we are n e v r r i n doirrg it. 1 love doing this, and I think I need it, too. I rlo not work
an ahstract world hut always in a world ofthings, oven when we think. tom,ards architrctur* from a throretieally defined point of rlppar-
And, once again Heidegger: "The relationship of man to places and turr, for I am committed to making architecture, to huilding, to a n
through places to spaces is hasetl a n his dwelling in them." ideal of perfection, just as in my hayhood I used to make things
'She concept of d w ~ l l i n g ,understood in Heiclrgg~r'swide sense according to my ideas, things that had to he just right, for reasons
of living and thinking in places and spaces, contains an exact refer- which 1 d o not really understand. It was always thcre, this drcply
rncu to what reality means to me as an architect. personal feeling for the things I made for myselr, and I never
It is not t h e reality of theories detached from things, it is the real- thought of it ;as heing anything special. It was just there.
ity of t h e concrete huildingassignment relating to t h e a r t or state of Today, I a m tiwarc that my work as an architect is largely a quest
dwelling that interests me and upon which I wish to concentrate my for this early passion, this obsession, an11 an attempt to understand
imaginative faculties. It is t h e reality of huilding materials - stone, it bcttcr and to refine it. And when 1 reflect on whether I have since
cloth, steel, leather . . . - and t h e reality of t h e structures aclded new images and passions to the olcl ones, and whether I h a w
I use to construct t h e huilding whose properties I wish to penrtrate Iearnecl something in my training and practicr, I realize that in
with my imagination, hringing meaning and sensuousness to hear some way 1 seem always to ha\,? known t h e intuitivr core of new
so that t h e spark of t h e successful building may be kindled, discovrri~s.
a huilding that can serve as a home for man.
T h e reality of architecture is t h e concrete body in which forms,
volumes, and spaces come into heing. There arp n o ideas rxcept Places
I live and work in the G r a u h i i n d ~ nin a farming village surrounded
I in things.
by mountains. I sometimes wondcr whethcr this has influenced nly
work, and the thought that it probahly has is not unpleasant.
Would t h e huildings 1 design look dilfrrent if, instead of living in
Grauhiinden, I had spent the past 2 5 years in thp landscape of my
youth on t h northern
~ foothills of thp Jura mountains, with their
rolling hills and beech woods and the familiar, reassuring vicinity tern with the world and the oman;ltions of contemporary l i f ~ If
. a
of the urhane city of Hasel? work of architecture speaks only of contemporary trends and
As soon as 1 hcgin to think ahont this question, I rcaliae that my ~ o ~ h i s t i c a visions
t ~ d without triggering vibrations in its place, this
work has been influenced by many places. work is nut anchorcd i n its site, and I miss the specific gravity u f t h e
When 1 concentr;nte on a specific site or place for which 1 am ground it stands on.
going to design a building, if I try to plumh its depths. its form; its
history, and its sensuous qualitips, images of othcr places start to
invade this procPss of precise observation: images of places that Observations
I know and that once impressed me, images of ordinary or special 1 Wt: were standing around the drawing tahlr talking ahout a pro-
places that I carry with me as inner visions of specific moods and ject by an architect whom we all hold in high regard. I considered
qualities; images of architectural situations, which emanate from the project interesting in many ways. I n~entionedseveral of its spe-
the world of art, of films, theater or literature. cific qualities and added that some time prwiorrsly 1 had laid aside
Sometimes they come to me unbidden, these images of places my positive prejudice which sprang lrom my high estimation of tht.
that are frequently at first glance inappropriate or alien, images of architect and taken a n unbiased look at the project. And I had
places of many different origins. At other tirnes 1 summon them. I come to the conclusion that, as a whole, 1 did not really likc it. We
need them, for it is only when I confront and compare the essentials discussed the possihle reasons for my impression and came up
of different places, when 1 allow similar, related, or maybe alien with a fcw details m,ithont arriving at a valid conclusion. And then
elements to cast their light on the place of my intervention that the one of the younger memhers of the group, a talented and usually
focused, multifaceted image of the local essrncr of the site emerges, rationally-tllinking architrrt, said: "It is an interesting huilding
a vision that reveals connections, exposes lines of force and creates for all sorts of theoretical and practiottl reasons. T h e trouhlr is, it
excitement. It is now that the fertile, creative ground appears, and has no soul."
the network of possible approaches to the specific p l a c ~ e m e r g eand Some m,eeks later, 1 was sitting outdoors drinking coffpe with my
trigger the processes and decisions of design. So I immerse mysclf wife and discussing the issue of buildings with a sool. W'e talked
in the p l a c ~and try to inhabit it in my imagination, and at the same about several works of architucturc that we knew and described
time I look heyond it at the world of my other places. them to each other. And when we recalled buildings that had the
When I come across a building that has developed a special prrs- characteristics we were looking for and pinpointmi their special
cnce in connection with the place it stands in, 1 sometimes feel that qualities, we became aware that there are buildings that we love.
it is imhued with an innpr tension that r&rs to something over and And whereas we knew almost at once which onps belonged to the
;,hove the place itself. special category in which we were interested, we found it difficult
It seems to he part of the essence of its place, and at the same to find a common dcno~ninatorfor thpir qualities. Our attempt to
time it speaks o f the world as a whole. g ~ n r r s l i z eservnvd to roh the individual huildings of their splendor.
W'hcn an architrctural d ~ s i g ndraws solely from tradition and But the subject continoed to prpy on my mind, and I resolved to
only repeats the dictates of its site, I wnse a lack of a genuine con- try and write some hrief drscriptions of architectural situations that