The Labyrinthine waffle
THE LABYRINTHINE WAFFLE
Mies seems to have opened up new questions to their space making. It’s interesting to think how various branches of contemporary theory and practice resonate with Miesan work and serve for new work appropriate to our own time. But Mies seems to have disappeared from their view now. I think there is a very stark difference in the way they organize space. Mies has a certain slenderness in his plans that suggest spaces of circulation like villa Tugendhat or even the Barcelona pavilion, unlike Villa Der Bau where the set of waffle rooms are like labyrinthine waffled mazes without any connection between one another. This elimination of passageways does heighten intimacy in the domestic space but it also squanders privacy in many ways.
ELIMINATING THE WAFFLE QUADRANTS
Since the waffle anatomy contains the rational of a rigid Cartesian grid it divides the corridor into the same size as the room liberating the user to decide what space would be where what becomes habitable and what is assigned for movement. It eliminates the corridor completely and hence you no longer have to pass through the occupied territory of rooms with incidences and accidents. In Villa Der Bau the matrix of rooms are arranged in proximity with one another to bring harmony to the cacophony of domestic life rather than silencing it. But Villa Der Bau shows us a different efficiency in which these door systems are able to draw distant rooms closer only by disengaging those near at hand. Doors of any room would deliver you into a network of routes from which the nearest of rooms to furthest extremity of the house were almost equally accessible.
Since the waffle anatomy contains the rational of a rigid Cartesian grid it divides the corridor into the same size as the room liberating the user to decide what space would be where what becomes habitable and what is assigned for movement. Minimalism produces the paradox of no fixed armature, objects that can be rearranged at will (Morris). Because of this demonstrable attack on the idea that works achieve their meaning by becoming expressions of a hidden centre.
Have we finally ran out of props, of things meanings and feelings we once used to impregnateArchitecture with. Is beauty overburdened?Of movies transgressed or not, of screenplays curated or not, of music engulfed or not, of diagramsreduced or not of titanium cladded or not of strangeness performed or not of nostalgia evoked or not of modernism fictionalized or not of modernism sympathized or not of facades wrapped enough to look like social gifts or not of wilderness framed or not.
Has the flux dissolved? Have we dematerialized every aspect of architecture or do we still need tokeep going? Is architecture beyond the problem of representation yet?Is architecture ready to be reduced down to a wall or a line? Is the Cartesian the only rational way of representing true form? Is architecture ready to merely be an instrument to measure site conflicts? Is architecture ready to just frame life? Wasn’t architecture already without content?