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Bernard Tschumi. Theory and design.
Rivista compasses N° 5
di marzo-aprile, 2009
Autore: Michele Costanzo
Articoli The distinctive aspect of Bernard Tschumi’s personality is that of operating simultaneously in the field of theory and design. His numerous theoretical texts, of which we can mention here Manhattan Transcripts (1978) and Architecture and Disjunction (1998), alternate with other works, such as the three volume Event-Cities (published respectively in 1998, 2000
and 2004). In the latter he analyses his projects and built works in terms of their meaning and the methods by which the fundamental relationship between theory and design translates into a concrete architectural organism. This operation is developed through the tripartite relationship of Space, Event, Movement that Tschumi has recently modified into Concept, Context, Content, an expansion of the previous triad, with the addition of the inevitabile complexity imposed by reality. “To move from “Space, Event, Movement” to “Concept, Context, Content”», he asserts, «is by no means a negation of the first triad. [...] To bring context and content to event and movement is a way to confront them to the realities of both culture and production”1.
Thus his buildings, considered as a part of the city, become vital “open” spaces for activities, encounters and exchanges where, together with space, man becomes the primary subject.

The Richard E. Lindner Athletics Centre at the University of Cincinnati (UCAC) is a university structure (2001- 2006) located inside a vast urbanised area that includes some thirty works by important architects, including: Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, Michael Graves and Morphosis. The raison d'être of this structure is that of bringing together all of the campus’ athletic services, creating a single “home” for coaches, student athletes and administrators. It is thus a space of gathering and meeting, with services, a 350-seat auditorium, a twostorey club for professors, administrative offices for coaches and athletes, cocker rooms for athletes, a hydro-therapy and
sports medicine clinic, a health centre, a large gymnasium and a shopping centre.
The building sits on a rather narrow lot and, to quote Tschumi: “[...] that’s where the concept of contextual free form came from: in other words, the building is situated in a context and its outline is totally determined by the presence of the two existing structures next to it. At the same time, the building is completely independent of its context, generatine tensions between the existing and new”

The Ecole Cantonal d’art de Lausanne (ECAL) is an arts school (2005-2007) built inside a 1950s
industrial building renovated by Tshcumi. The project focuses on interpreting the qualities of context (an industrial area in the suburbs of Lausanne) and, at the same time, renewing the image of the existing building using contemporary materials.
The four-storey building is wrapped by a steel mesh and corrugated steel, while the entrance façade features a striking and enormous screen thathides the old façade. To bring natural light inside the new school, four shafts were cut into the structure. The use of thin strips of colour
on the exterior gives the building the image of a city hub, drawing attention to the historic role of the site as the former economic heart of the area. The same colour strategy is used on their interior to identify spaces and circulation, ideally connecting the interior and exterior.

The New Acropolis Museum, Athens (2000-2008) is located in the historic
area of Makriyannis at the base of the Acropolis. It was created to house the
most important and richest collection of ancient Greek sculpture andestablish a frank and direct dialogue with the historical monument, which can be admired in all of its splendour from the top floor of the new building. Furthermore, the museum offers a balanced and convincing response to
the question of its difficult insertion in the archaeological area, still home to ongoing excavations and research, atop which the city has stratified and developed an intricate network of narrow streets. For this reason, the museum sits on asystem of columns that free up and offer views of the archaeological area below from inside the museum. This floating plane is connected by a ramp that with the exhibition galleries. The central space contains a spectacular two-storey hall dedicated to the archaic period and framed by slender columns. The final volume is a transparent rectangle, rotated with respect to the structure below and based on the dimensions of the Parthenon. This box guarantees the ideal lighting of the sculptures, placing them in a direct relationship with the Acropolis. Light wraps the statues, reinforcing their role as protagonists. In the words of Salvatore Settis, this “[…] creates the movement of forms and a segmentation
of spaces designed around the works on display”3.



1 Cf., Twenty Years After (Deconstructivism) an interview with Bernard Tschumi, «AD n. 1», January - February 2009.
2 Cf., Bernard Tschumi on Architecture. Conversation with Enrique Walker, The Monacelli Press, New York 2006, p. 161
3 Salvatore Settis, Nella luce del Partenone,
«Il Sole 24 Ore», Sunday, November 30, 2008.




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