Anthony Morey and Duygun Inal
The meaning of a text is consistently associated with the image of the text itself; along with the form and context of the body of work. We read the dot of the - i - the crossing of the - t - and accept their truths. Understanding beyond the graphic of the letters facilitates an underlying view of the history of such effects. Words also exist autonomously from their meaning, they are a collection of graphics, presented in a pattern that is intended to convey some sense of meaning and imaging.
Architecture, in much the same vein, is consistently associated with the image of Architecture itself, with the form and context of the body of work. We read the poché of the solids in an architectural drawing, or the labels of the rooms and accept their truth and usefulness. Labels, whether they are a text or graphic, allow us to communicate, to refer back to history when necessary and to become history in the end. History allows us to remember and recall all that we have confronted and to understand the mandate of convention. Architecture relies on this eventuality. Labels, history and precedents provide architecture with its disciplinary ground. Every work of architecture has the capacity to dominate its surroundings while signifying a particular use and imposing limits on future experiences. The argument is not intended to oppose labeling and use, but to bring attention to the limitations that they create within form and the context within which they exist.
The hackneyed form of control assumed through the use of labels produces a false sense of security. History and its labels provide us with a platform to engage architecture in a manner that fosters banality by accommodating the lowest common denominator of communication. On their own, words such as house, school, museum and their constituent parts such as hallway, kitchen, bathroom, back of house and furniture, are devoid of context and meaning. These labels have a certain power in their form but are limited by their own linguistic superficiality. They exist as language itself, not as forms or shapes but rather as declarations of usage and viewpoints into history. It is not enough to reveal and dismantle the very traditions architecture habitually works within. Architecture is not solely a linguistic game, it has a profound influence on spatial, political, and cultural realms. Achieve the ultimate form of utility relies on grasping where it is no longer effective. One is compelled to synthesize new concepts, new modes of differentiation, and new formulations of historical inaccuracies.
When a long span, narrow space is puntuated by doors, it is called a hallway. This act of naming works superficially to make the space function in a particular way. It would be nearly impossible to assume that such a space would be used as a guest bedroom or a kitchen. In a world where superficial labeling is eschewed, the description of a house would never be about why a certain space is called a kitchen or a bedroom; the argument instead would be about the spatial relationships that exist between the labeled spaces. We would accept the labels and look further into the spatial relationships. This would provide us with certain facts to decide if the house under consideration fits the conventional notion of what we think a house is.
A House of Hallways?
A House of Stairs?
A House of Bathrooms?
A House of Doors?
The point where this act of naming occurs is the point where a term, its use and the function of the signified form are forced to cohere. The process precludes any ability for these separate and equally powerful entities to maintain their autonomy. What would happen if these entities were allowed to exert their own function and claim a different use? Could a house fit into a hallway? Could a bedroom become a kitchen instead or could we inversely occupy spaces without their specified, labeled use and claim them to be contrary to what they once were?
We sleep in bedrooms, cook in kitchens, park in garages and walk through doors. As we hunt for houses, we mentally hunt for words, bedrooms, bathrooms, and pools. We create the function of the house by negating anything but the label itself as the main signifier. What would act as the main signifier if we stopped labeling the spaces, instead relying on the use, benefit and value that are attached to specific architectural qualities?
The Door House. In its most conventional way, programming does not necessarily translate into physical separation in the Door House. Physical separation becomes excessive whole-ness. This is how privacy, comfort and separation are defined in the Door House. One side of the wall is programmed differently than the other side of it but there is always a transparency in the way you function within it.
The Hallway House. In its most conventional way, the hallway is not defined as a passageway to communicate with a smaller or a larger space. Hallway is the main and the only signifier. Hallway is the main functional space and in the Hallway House the function is stretched linearly and sometimes moves up or down.
The Bathroom House. In its most conventional way, the Bathroom House should be entered through a bathroom vestibule. It should be centered in the coupling of the living room and kitchen which are bathrooms as well, and the private spaces that are bathrooms are preferably hidden from public view.
What use do labels, rules or formulations of history have if they can be defied at will? Is their utility actually to be discovered in their lack of utility? Could they instead be viewed as tools that when rearranged, reread and redrawn, no longer have to identify with their historical constraints? Is the agitation of historical facts and assumptions a way for us to understand the intricacies that can be discovered within these assumptions, and to understand Architecture in a more profound way? Should a door always be destined to exist within a wall and should a hallway always lead to a door? Is architecture in fact comprised of a list of labels that symbolize it? What use would that be?
Whenever Architecture discovers a truth —a convention held in the highest regard —the impetus is to unsettle it’s supposed fixity, interrogating the tools and labels that define and present it as a truth. Despite risking the erasure of its own tradition, this approach becomes a tool for escaping the confines of stable, historical labels and breaking the strictness of interpretation, reading and implied meaning. This is the essence and intention of Architecture, if it has any.