, the Yale School
of Architecture's annual review
of its student design, published
in its 2003/04 issue an exchange
that took place that year between Columbia architectural historian Kenneth Frampton and architect/
theorist Demetri Porphyrios.
Both had been guests of Yale — Porphyrious as a visiting professor, Frampton as a guest juror of the
work of Porphyrios's students. In
this excerpt from a conversation
that developed in the course of a student jury, Frampton was talking about architecture. He might as well have been talking about the culture
Kenneth Frampton There is an aphorism by Adolf Loos that goes as follows: “There's no point in inventing anything unless it's an improvement.” It’s an ironic remark, but also a challenge to this moment in time, where everyone seems to be losing it.
Commerce will tell you that this is ridiculous from the point of view
of architecture. Now you can say,
"Well I don't give a damn about
commerce, this is an artistic work!"
But Architecture is not...Fine Art in that sense. [Architecture] is a modus, which has to deal with certain kinds
of reality. Its poetic comes through
its transformation of reality....
The question is, What are the limits in which this transformation can take place? You have to talk to society in some way — in a way in which you can appeal to some kind of evident values. It can be money values, but also can, at the same time, can it be other values?
Otherwise it's like a conversation between the deaf and the dumb! There's no reason why we're to do anything! I could tell you to cut six more slots into this thing, and it wouldn't make a difference. It's a negative critique of the project, but
it's also a critique of the whole
You have to have a principle; otherwise you cannot communicate anything to anybody. Why should I invest my money in this, as opposed to some other project? You have to have a reason! Otherwise the architects don't even talk to the society! Don't you see that predicament?
These computer renderings
produce aesthetic affects very well, seamless, very seductive, but they
are not about anything. They are delusions! They are mirages! I'm sorry, it's very aggressive to say this, but aren't we going to start talking? It's just ridiculous to say, "OK — individual interpretations," so on
and so forth. One has to talk about something fundamental; otherwise we're never going to talk about anything anymore!
Demitri Porphyrios I'm not sure what you're talking about.
KF I'm talking about the fact that there is a total degeneration in the capacity to discuss anything.
DP Do you want some coffee?
KF No, I don't. Sorry, I don't...
DP Look, look, look. This is a disgusting situation. It's not right
to get upset.
KF It's something to get upset about! We always have polite discussions; we have to sometimes get upset, because otherwise we just don't talk about the things that matter.