Vagaries: Four Short Stories on the Unbuilt

The being of a house is discovered in the building of another house, when the house becomes a house for a house. They contain one another, and are contained by one another. They speak of beauty, of dangerous admiration. We take on poverty, nature, politics, money ... and still, my paper is only a ground of speculation. My houses are only metafictional puppets.

The being of beauty is discovered in its cliché. Missing: rough concrete, and the architects who, involuntarily or not, have become the staples by which we judge our merest efforts. How long does it take for a novel move to reach zero points for originality; how soon will the latest fad sip down to the city at the edge of the atlas? Just right when we've learned to put triangles in brick on top of your windows, the avant-garde is exploring virtual transnatures (another one!) and the unit broadcasts the reaction before it has met its initial impulse. Is this a bad thing?

The being of the cliché is discovered in the theft. We are the fundamentalists! Our story is about architects *and* architecture. Either cannot exclude the other; one cannot design a work of art without designing oneself, like Warhol said: "look for me in the surface of my paintings, I’m there, nowhere else, nothing hidden." But we're taken away, we're stolen, we're destroyed ...

The being of theft is discovered in the mess, which is just another antithesis to emptiness. The mess is life. Life is a mess. It actively resists clarification, and yet allows it to find itself inside the material, which is to say, a mess is not chaos; there is not one key, but many, and as such is the glory of it, because it is *rich*; my project caters to all who wants a slice of it – it is a dinner party, not a diet.

Origins of a House

Welcome to John Hejduk's Diamond House! We begin our journey in the most formalistic of exercises, an exploration in axonometric projection and De Stijlic delicateness that begs the question: what is beautiful? The Diamond House is self-sufficient, it needs no context.

House for a House

I challenge this by means of housing the Diamond House in another house, that is, I build a house-for-a-house. The Diamond House changes scale; it becomes a mere sculpture in the presence of the museum. The Diamond House disappears, but remains at the origin of our house.


Goodbye Hejduk, hello stereotype city! After having conceived of a house-for-a-house, we move on to the city-for-a-city, a place where the origin in the house is replaced, even taken away. This exploration is a matter of cliche. The cliche needs to be reintroduced into architecture, because to deny it would be to seal off the profession to the elite, something the architect himself has always been suspiciously fond of.

I am the cliche

The tempest in the teacup makes us wonder how we can say hello to opportunity, when we simultaneously deny everything below the tip of the iceberg. While you can only hurt the one you love, the sky's the limit when we want to take our breaths away. The bottom line, my project in a nutshell, is to draw the pink elephants of architectural stereotypes, and to take nothing with a grain of salt.

City for a City

The city in front of you is a busy city. It is populated, it is free, they have been cut together from sober squares in order to become a metropolis of cliche sprawl. Like a collection of garish Bill Cosby sweaters, the cliche has become a fish out of water, but at the same time it is also a representation of a truth that is so true it has been said too many times.

Stolen Modernism

Now we must leave the cliche behind, for another point of concern: Modernism has been stolen! Since architecture was stolen, it has to exist somewhere, perhaps beyond contemporary discourse. Here we introduce the topography-less topos, the barge. Here the built is becoming unbuilt.

The Theft of The Architects

Fast-forward: to Venice 2014! The barge arrives at the Biennale, puzzling even the most seasoned of critics. It is alluring, it is the hope of restoring faith in the present again, which no architect can say no to. So they board the barge.

The Purge

We now approach the last stage of our adventure: The Purge. Suddenly, we realize that we are not only here to get rid of architecture, but of the architects as well. As long as they remain, it is impossible to make a truly radical architecture. This is the end of architecture as we know it, a phenomenal cul-de-sac. This is the end of this story.

The Mess

But every end is also a new beginning. From the mess we created by splicing the architectural references on the barge, we arrive at a new stage, that of the movement-machine. The superbarge is loaded with all the trash necessary for the cooking of new ideas. This is the world where everyone becomes an architect.

Eclectic Towers

My project is not one thing. My project is not an enclave, but rather, my project is a mess of enclaves. A contemporary architectural movement would have to regard architects as collectors, and the final proposal as a disarray of individual parts. Each story gives birth to new stories.