From the 9th of May to the 23rd of August 2015, the S·AM (Swiss Architecture Museum) presents the exhibition “Bernard Tschumi. Architecture: Concept & Notation“. The exhibition is an adaptation of the first great European retrospective on this influential theorist and practitioner Bernard Tschumi, which was first shown in 2014 in the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Supplemented by numerous items from the archives and by film documents, the Bernard Tschumi retrospective fits into this sequence because it focuses on the architect’s early theoretical works from the seventies and eighties, and on this basis it provides access to Tschumi’s built oeuvre, ranging from the eighties to the present day.
Bernard Tschumi essentially represents an experimental (and today once again current) understanding of architecture, honed in a dialogue with disciplines such as film, art and philosophy. Born in 1944 in Lausanne, he has exerted a decisive influence as an architect and architectural theorist on contemporary architectural discourse in the past decades. Numerous drawings, sketches and collages grant a comprehensive overview of his most important buildings and projects.
Description of the exhibition
The exhibition at S AM is divided into five sections, which visitors pass through, one after the other. In these sections, the core concepts of Tschumian thinking are demonstrated, while at the same time the architect’s most important structures and projects, in latent chronological order, are linked with these concepts.
- Space and event
Tschumi does not define architecture in terms of form, but as a space for events. For these, he developed notations in early experimental projects, inspired by cinematic motion scenarios and montage techniques. This engagement culminates in his first major architectural project, Parc de la Villette in Paris (competition winner in 1983), with a structure developed from an overlaying of grids composed of points and lines, as well as event spaces. The striking red pavilions are reminiscent of Russian constructivism; Parc de la Villette is considered one of the key architectural deconstructivist works.
- Plan, juxtaposition, overlay
In the eighties and early nineties, Tschumi intensely addressed the issue of how structurally adequate forms can be found for heterogeneous usage plans and unforeseeable events. One example of this is the media centre Le Fresnoy in Tourcoing: stairs, walkways and platforms were inserted between the existing hall roofs and a new roof structure, as informally utilisable spaces for movement.
- Vectors and envelopes
Since the eighties, Tschumi has removed the term “facade” from his vocabulary. Instead, he speaks of spatial envelopes that provide space for events. The concept of the vector represents movement and usage in the interior. The dichotomy of vectors and envelopes characterises projects like the Vacheron Constantin manufacturing centre in Geneva.
- Concept, context, content
Tschumi is critical of contextual architecture that primarily orients itself towards what exists in the surroundings. Instead, he develops strategies of reciprocal referencing between building, content and surroundings, as expressed in the Acropolis Museum in Athens, for instance.
- Form – concept
With Bernard Tschumi, formal issues are never understood in an autonomous sense, but in accordance with concepts that serve as a basis for the structures. Form and concept define each other in interplay. From Parc de la Villette, the path leads to the new Paris zoo.
About the display
The exhibition architecture, developed by Bernard Tschumi, consists of modular elements that demonstrate the architect’s concepts spatially. On reference tables, supplementary material is presented: material investigations, books and writings, and sources of inspiration from literature, art, film and philosophy.
The following projects are presented in the exhibition:
– Joyce’s Garden, London, 1976-77
– Screenplays, 1976-78
– The Manhattan Transcripts, 1976-81
– Parc de la Villette, Paris, 1982-98
– New National Theatre, Tokyo, 1986
– Ponts-Ville, Lausanne, 1988-2009
– Le Fresnoy, Studio national des arts contemporains, Tourcoing, 1991-97
– Vacheron Constantin, Headquarters & Manufacturing Centre, Geneva 2001-12
– ECAL, Lausanne, 2005-07
– New Acropolis Museum, Athens, 2001-09
– Ecole d’Architecture, Marne-la-Vallée, 1994-98
– Alésia MuséoParc, 2001-12
– Parc Zoologique de Paris, Vincennes, 2008-14
– Carnal Hall, Institut Le Rosey, 2009-14
“Bernard Tschumi. Architecture: concept & notation”
From the 9th of May to the 23rd of August 2015
S AM (Swiss Architecture Museum)
In spring 2014, the exhibition “Bernard Tschumi. Architecture: concept ¬ation” was curated by Frédéric Migayrou and Aurélien Lemonier and presented at Centre Pompidou in Paris. This Basel exhibition is based on the Paris show. As the exhibition space is smaller than that of Centre Pompidou, the Basel exhibition has been redesigned by Bernard Tschumi and Hubertus Adam.
Exhibition information and images courtesy of Swiss Architecture Museum