Isn’t architecture always a form of conflict?
If we agree on the fact that the very goal of architecture is to define spaces, it may be interesting to remind that the word “define” comes from the latin definire, literally “to trace the limits of something”. In fact, the definition of a space always coincides with the determination of its limits.
This distinction materialises through physical boundaries like walls, fences, windows etc, but it first concerns the design process, when we decide that a space must be other in relation to its existing surrounding. The word “decide” comes from the latin decaedo, where caedo means to cut, to break, to hit, to kill. The term caedo is at the origin of the Italian word "recidere" (to cut), but also "uccidere" (to kill). In french this etymon is at the roots of the word occire (to kill). Etymology suggests that the act of taking a decision implies a violence, through which we identify something by breaking and “killing” its ties with an existing reality. It is thank to this violence that things emerge from their surrounding context.
In this sense, the architectural project may be considered as will to power, as a form of conflict within and against a given reality.
I presented these reflections in order to introduce “ Paradise”, a project which investigates the “power” of architecture, or architecture as power.
The terrestrial paradise, conceived as a walled sacred garden, represents an architectural archetype which dramatically expresses all the topics evoked so far. The term Paradise comes from the Avestan word ‘pairi-daêzã’ which, as Hamed Khosravi brilliantly suggested, means “... "walled (enclosed) estate", it insists on the idea of the wall as the ‘divider of space’ when it defines what does and what does not belong to the dominant power”.
Since the 1989 falling of the Berlin wall, until the recent Donald Trump’s presidency our generation has been over exposed to the construction (or demolition) of walls. Like the walls of paradise, also political borders define what does and what does not belong to the dominant power. Borders walls are architectures designed to divide, to segregate, to exclude. Borders stand to decide the inequalities between two spaces.
The project consists of a simple wall which divides a “good” forbidden interior space from a “bad” external context. A smooth deformation of the wall suggests an entrance, but, in fact, it leads to a second closed space. Here a small fissure allows the frustrated viewer to encounter a spectacular sight: a lush garden rises toward the horizon. A mirrored cladding reflects the dense vegetation suggesting a never ending landscape.
Despite its austere simplicity, architecture would confront with its loss of nietzschean innocence: it would stand not beyond but rather in between good and evil.
The wall would exacerbate the identity of the two sides. People would be desperate to know what is hidden beyond it.
The heroic impenetrability of the wall would inspire hope, mass illusions and myths. It would become a symbol over-filled by contradictory meanings. Its banal material presence would be swept away by the complexity of collective imaginary.
As in Marcel Duchamps …étant donnés, the only fissure in the wall would have a peephole character, which would turn the viewer's ardent hope into voyeurism.