Deconstruction. The action of reducing (something) to its constituent parts in order to reinterpret it. From Latin, De-, reversal, undoing, removing. Negative form of “Construction”, the action of building something, putting up, setting up, raising, assembling, erecting.
Disruptive. Adjective, (something/someone) that causes or tends to cause disruption; that disturbs, interferes or tries to change. Also (something/someone) innovative or groundbreaking. To innovate, to question and evolve one needs to break and defy the laws of conventional. And to any action that defies conventional, comes resistance.
Deconstruction, by its very nature defies institutionalisation in an authoritative definition. The concept was first outlined in the 1960s by the philosopher Jacques Derrida in Of Grammatology where he explored the interplay between language and the construction of meaning.
Deconstructivism > Disruptive > Collage
Bare with me, this will make some sense at the end.
In the 1980’s, the term Deconstructivism starts gaining shape in architecture. Like any other form of art or architecture movement, Deconstructivism did not take the world by storm and altered architecture as we know it. It evolved in time and space being a reflection of the political and societal values of its era.
Deconstructivism is not a new architecture style, nor a hard opposition to the architectural and societal rules established by then. But instead a selective blend of principles from Russian Constructivism, Modernism, stirred with Post-modernism and Cubism. By principle, it does not follow “rules” or acquire a specific aesthetic. It is simply and foremost the unleashing of infinite possibilities of playing around with forms and volumes. Thinking outside the box.
Being inquisitive. Being playful. Being disruptive. Where the question about the practicability of the design is replaced by the question: Why not? And this is where, I believe, the clashing point with Modernism is, questioning the core value “form follows function”.
Small intro about Russian Constructivism and Modernism //
Constructivism is a form of modern architecture that developed in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s, inspired by the Bauhaus and the wider constructivist art movement emerging from Russian Futurism. Is characterised by a combination of modern technology, engineering methods and the socio-political ethos of Communism. Its short legacy is mainly due to the economical instability and insecurity that followed the 1917 Russian Revolution. There was a practical need to reconcile the economic reality of the USSR with the ambition of shaping the environment, implementing the values of the socialist utopia, building not only utilitarian social housing for the workers, as well as more monumental and innovative ones.
Modernist Architecture emerged at the same time as Constructivism, based on innovative technologies of construction as reinforced concrete, glass and steel. The principle in this movement is that “form follows function”, an approach to the functionalism of buildings, a rational use of materials that embraces minimalism, open to structural innovation and rejecting ornament.
As we can understand from this small intro, in a devastated Europe after WWII, Constructivism had no chance to compete and prevail over the minimalism and functionalism of Modernist Architecture.
Following Jaques Derrida’s theory of breaking (something) into parts to interpret its meaning, architects began exploring the idea of fragmenting a building into spaces and volumes, exploring the asymmetry of geometry (inspired by Russian Constructivism), while maintaining the core functionality of the space (inspired by Modernism). It sounds like architecture on steroids. And probably it was.
But, although characterised by a loss of symmetry or continuity and neglecting “form follows function”, somehow, the refinement and elegance of modernism remained. The structure’s skin was manipulated and altered into unpredictable geometric forms, but the building’s function was preserved.
In terms of public space and landscape architecture, the Deconstructivist movement was first noticed in the early 1980s during the Parc de la Villette competition (1982-1983), won by Bernard Tschumi and Colin Fournier. Its construction (1984-1987), was part of Paris urban redevelopment project, representing the third biggest park in the city.
According to Tschumi, the intention of the park was to create a space for activity and interaction, rather than adopt the conventional park mantra of ordered relaxation and self-indulgence, inclusive of all ages and backgrounds. This park explores architectural experiment in space, form, and how those relate a person’s ability to recognise and interact.
Experience > Feeling > Connection
The focus on analog over digital collage in this article serves to enhance the unpredictable randomness, childish and slightly naive character of analog overlapped images.
More precisely, a collage of analog photos as the sum of different frames in time juxtaposed next to each other that reveal a greater meaning than the individual parts. Or perhaps different frames, different fragments of time overlapped and revealed in the same piece of film. Its mashed up result may question our logical way of thinking and how we perceive the world. It’s surprisingly questionable, fragmented and fun.
The parallelism I’m doing here between Deconstructivism > Disruptive > Collage is that when we go back to the simplest forms, “killing our darlings”, allowing ourselves to be childish and questioning the norms, we might be facing a moment of creation, understanding and enlightenment. Tracing new possibilities.
Personal growth and every evolution comes from defying the norms, from the clash of different ideas, from opposition to traditional, conventional, to what’s established. An entropy, a moment of discomfort. It may seem like an act of rebellion if we take it personally, when it’s not. If we’re humble and drop our egos it’s an act of being true to ourselves and following our guts. It takes conflict to disrupt a system. But just like in any dynamic chemical reaction, after a disruptive conflict comes a new state of balance. And hopefully a new learning outcome.
It’s not always easy to embrace discomfort and disruptiveness in our busy jobs and lives, taking steps back, reflecting, but it always takes a little bit of both to evolve, to grow, to a greater learning and moving forward.
In Life, as in Architecture, as in Love.