Spaces and Event. By Charles Holland
Article about UfSO’s Inaugural Lecture in the context of Bernard Tschumi’s conception of Space.
[…] In his essay Space and Events, Tschumi wrote: “There is no space without event, no architecture without programme.” “Architecture”, he went on to say, “could not be dissociated from the events that ‘happened’ in it”. In part, this statement was intended as a critique of the narrow functionalism inherited from Modernism. The relationship of form to function for Tschumi was far from straightforward. Event, particularly political event, had the capacity to disrupt simple causal relationships between the two, allowing the possibility that anywhere could be used for anything, at any time.
The occupation this week of a Lloyds TSB by the University of Strategic Optimism, would seem to fit into just such a dissonant notion of space disrupted by event. How many architects though would recognise the University of Strategic Optimism as a piece of design? The overlaying of one programme – lecture hall – over another – bank – is clearly only half the story.
Both ‘Bank’ and ‘University’ are typological classifications of use and not descriptions of architecture after all. Their forms may have grown up to reflect and embody the activities that occur within them – spatial representations of the social relationships involved – but they remain capable of being re-used and reoccupied for anything. The lack of fit of form to function is, in Tschumi’s terms at least, what makes the USO radical. It doesn’t belong there.
The relationship between form and function is not instrumental or straightforwardly causal. As Tschumi says, “Murder in the street, is different from murder in the cathedral”. Neither the building nor the programme are left unaffected by such radical occupations. It’s almost instantaneous dissemination via YouTube etc. though gives it a weird kind of permanent impermanence. […]