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The Desire called typological images from the Analogous City desig-

nate the original, dening status of man[the


Architecture Analogous City] concerns the collective imaginati-
on, Rossi said; it is a synthesis of a series of [soci-
al and architectural] values.
While Rossis typological, analogical obsessions
K. Michael Hays
seem to be a way of constantly conrming the
determinate presence of the traditional European
cityrefracting its historical logic of form through a
neo-Enlightenment lens in contingent, contradic-
tory, and quasi-surreal waystheir peculiar mne-
monic function also makes it possible to see in
them a new beauty in precisely that which is va-
Architectural discourse in the 1970s famously deve- nishing. The originality of Rossis work may well be
loped a structuralist model of architectural signi- its capacity to convey, alternately with melancholy
cation. But the most advanced architecture in this or unblinking disenchantment, that the traditional
age of discourse could never be explained by the practice of architecture itself is being forever lost.
very model it helped generate. For example, lingui- Dieses ist lange her is the title of one of Rossis most
stics-based interpretations could not account for enigmatic drawings. It is a perfect picture of the
the brooding, melancholy silence of the work of desiring eld which is the Architectural Imaginary.
Aldo Rossi; the radically reductive decompositi- No one has grasped the radical anachronicity of
ons and archaeologies of Peter Eisenman; even less the Analogous City better than Peter Eisenman.
the carnivalesque excesses of John Hejduk; or the Eisenman characterizes Rossis work as signifying
cinegrammatic delirium of Bernard Tschumi. I the impossibility of meaning in our own time:
want to suggest that a more adequate interpretati- Incapable of believing in reason, uncertain of the
on of the architecture of the neo-avant-garde must signicance of his objects, man [has lost] his capaci-
account for the complex machinery of Architec- ty for signifying The context which gave ideas
tures Desire. Marks of desire form a pattern in the and objects their previous signicance is gone.
works, a structured eld, which I will summarize Then he writes, Rossis rationalism consists in
here. the combination of logicthe consciousand the
Desire arises from the Lacanian triad, Imaginary- analogicthe shadow Rossis conscious images
Symbolic-Real. Since issues of perception, subject exist only as a key to their shadow imagery. It is
formation, language, image, and code are funda- their intrinsic, often unconscious content which
mental both in the architecture theory of the 1970s confronts the more problematic and perhaps funda-
and in Jacque Lacans discourse, and since those mental reality of the cultural condition today.
two discourses are almost exactly contemporaneous, The passage rather precisely invokes the La-
it is not arbitrary that we start here. canian Real, what Eisenman calls the shadowy
It is perhaps easiest to think of Lacans three unconscious of the ana-logic, which is behind the
orders as force-elds which operate in every experi- Imaginary. The Real is what exceeds Imaginary
ence or act (including architectural experiences and identicationsall that typology fails to include. It
acts), each one bringing its own particular characte- is something that persists only as failed, missed, in
ristics and inuence and possibilities. They are three a shadow, and dissolves as soon as we try to grasp
turns in a Borromean knot (Lacans metaphor), it in its positive nature. This Architectural Real is
three laminates of a single reality, but they can be the place of the void opened up by the Imaginary
broken apart and used as a system of classication. exclusion of the polymorphous wealth of architec-
The Imaginary Order comprises parts that are ture beyond what can be imagined and identied
innitely substitutable for one anotherwhat Lacan as a type.
called objets petit autre. These are the objects of Lacans Symbolic Order, then, designates the
desire, or better analogs for the single object of endeavor to bring to light something about the
desire, L' Autre, or the big Other, that has been lost Real, but backwards, as it were, not through images
and cannot be recovered directly. Aldo Rossi called but from its structural effects. The Symbolic Order
the Other of architecture the Analogous City. is the realm of language and the law, of authority
Rossis architectural types, which arise inthe Ana- and its exchanges. And Eisenmans work around the
logous City, can be placed in the Architectural 1978 project for Canarregio is Symbolic is exactly
Imaginary. Rossi understood architectural types as this way.
entities, analogues of the social text itself. Types Eisenmans early work was concerned almost
operate mimetically, which is a characteristic of the exclusively with isolating and elaborating architec-
Imaginary made vivid by Lacans mirror image tures symbolic elements and operations that would
model. And like the objects in the Imaginary, the ensure autonomy and self-reexivity of the archi-

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tectural object and its structured determinants. At record of the history of its own formation, compri-
Canarregio, the grid of Le Corbusier's unrealized sing nothing more than a series of lm-like stills
Venice Hospital project operates as the absent big that trace the steps from one state of the object to
Otherthe law, the authority, the code, the archi- the nextis multiplied across the grid.
tectural unconscious, what Lacan called the Name With Canarregio, one discovers the existence of
of the Father. Le Corbusiers grid is reduced to a certain bindings and constraints: the constraints of
geometrical abstraction and replicated onto the the architectural code or grammar, and of the social
irregular fabric of the adjacent site. (And it should order, the social unconsciousin short, the structu-
be emphasized that there is no better metaphor for res of which Lacan has named the Symbolic.
the Symbolic than the grid.) Then Eisenmans own We can summarize:
previously worked out House XIaitself a formal

Rossi Eisenman

Imaginary Symbolic

parts total system, ground, inventory

analogic images digital codes

absence, loss of maternal plenitutde presence of dead father


(Name of the Father)

memory of place,identication counter-memory, tracing place

diachronic synchronic

iteration repetition

mimesis difference, alterity

Late in 1973 John Hejduk traveled to Zurich for an Chaux, Boulles cenotaph, and Piranesis Campo
exhibition of his work together with Aldo Rossis at Marzio; the latent references to the Sachlichkeit of
the eth where Rossi was teaching. In putting the Hilberseimer, Loos, Hannes Meyer; but also allusi-
works of these two architects together, the curators ons to the paintings of de Chirico and Morandi, the
probably meant to elucidate the highly reduced and lms of Fellini and Visconti, and the novels of
precise formal, geometrical research that Rossi and Raymond Chandler and Raymond Roussel (all of
Hejduk shared. But what Hejduk sawfor the rst whom, we found out later, were among Rossis
timewere Rossis provocative and haunting dra- inspirations). Hedjuk heard the multimedia babel
wings, especially for the Cemetery of San Cataldo at behind Rossis silence. The guardian spirits of the
Modena (1971). The encounter with Rossi cut a Analogous City were whispering to him. And he
crease in Hejduks career, which between 1973 and wondered about unleashing all that Rossi had sup-
1975 would fold back on itself in a reexamination pressed.
of accomplishments thus far and a reconsideration The Wall House was Hejduks only available
in the light of what Hejduk saw in Zurich. device to begin to address what he took to be a
What struck Hejduk in Rossis work was not challenge from Rossi. The Wall had the potential of
simply a typology of reduced form comparable to radical guration, and that potential would be used
Hejduks own: a limited range of single-volume ele- by Hejduk to structure a desiring eld. Hejduks
ments, geometrically precise, xed and continuous- preliminary response (in what seems at rst a sur-
ly rened. What struck him was the discrepancy prisingly tentative staking out of new territory) was
between Rossis stated intent to subsume all of the the Cemetery for the Ashes of Thought, 1975, for
architectural imagination into a nite, iterable typo- the Venice Biennale, in which Hejduk took his
logy and the dimension of Rossis work that eludes already worked-out Wall House 3, reanimated it to
or resists such enclosurethe discrepancy between stand as sentinel in a lagoon across from the old
the Imaginary and the Real. In the Modena project Molino Stucky building in Venice.1 The little house
Hejduk noticed, for example, the estrangements was colored overlooking the monochromatic, syste-
and detournments from Ledouxs ideal city of mic, European world. What I am doing is I am the

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questionnaire upon the question. I am the interro- tantsarchitectural troubadours, vagabonds, and
gation upon the interrogator. So when Rossi and all itinerantsthat travel in caravans from city to city
those things in Europe are going on, the totalitarian (Berlin, Vladivostok, Hanover), twisting the munda-
stuff which has to do with deep political and social ne urbanism of their sites into carnivalesque narra-
meanings, then I answer it with The Cemetery for tive events. The taking of place is the very mode of
the Ashes of Thought. being of the Masques. The Masques open the lens
Other than the Wall House and the mill, the more daringly onto architectures otherness, to
proposal is for nothing more than a courtyard de- eruptions from the order of the Real, as Hejduk
ned by low walls with holes (holes, not niches) begins to catalogue his multiple, idiosyncratic cod-
holding containers with ashes, and plaques with the ings of architectural elementshis menagerie of
titles and authors of canonic Western literature. An angels, animals, martyrs, and machines; his stylistic
existing abandoned mill, a house designed that preference for basic geometric forms and elemental
same year, a courtyardnext to nothing. And yet, biomorphism (buildings that seem to have hair,
Hejduk himself sees this project as a turning point beaks, eyes, and legs) combined with typological
in his work: People did see that [project], but variations on theaters, periscopes, funnels, traps,
baby, nobody talks about that project. The Ceme- chapels, and labyrinths; his thematic explorations of
tery for the Ashes of Thought was one mans con- falls from grace, itinerancy, passage and transforma-
frontation with that whole European condition. tion.
All of which suggests that the radical lack we Around 197576 Bernard Tschumi constructed
feel with regard to this project is quite fundamen- his Advertisements for Architecturea series of
tal. architectural montages, some of which featured
The Cemetery for the Ashes of Thought precisely photographs of the Villa Savoy he had taken in
constructs an elementary diagram of desire, accor- 1965 while a student at the eth, where he found
ding to which the unavailability or interdiction of a the squalid walls of the small service rooms on the
desired object, the Otherin this case, the Thought ground oor, stinking of urine, smeared with excre-
that is both dematerialized and made manifest in ment, and covered with obscene grafti. How
the ashesbecomes an attracting void of enormous should we read these Advertisements? When they
signicance. We recall Lacans citation of Heideg- have been read at all, they have been seen as an
ger: The vessel's thingness does not lie at all in the explicit alternative to the over-privileging of pure,
material of which it consists, but in the void that autonomous form by Rossi, Eisenman, and Hejduk
holds. It is the void at the center of the Real that (known in the 1970s as the Whites) and to Colin
organizes desire. The cemetery is a template of Rowes inuential preference for the uncorrupted,
desire. pristine esh of Le Corbusier. Surely this reading is
Lacan stresses vigorously that this particular correct as far as it goes. But Tschumi augments this
nameless Other, the void, the Thing, is the primary interpretation elsewhere, describing the Advertise-
object on which is grounded all possible subject- ments project as a notational device to trigger the
object relations, and equally, the empty site that desire for architecturean architecture of perverse
remains when entry into the Symbolic is complete. pleasure, an erotics of architectural performance.
What is more, Lacan uses architecture as a primary Tschumi: The usual function of advertisements is
example, citing the ancient temple as a construc- to trigger desire for something beyond the [image
tion around emptiness that designates the place of or form] itself. As there are advertisements for pro-
the Thing. In Hejduks cemetery, the Thing is the ducts, what not advertisements for architecture?
Thought, the central object of Western culture that The peculiar visual logic of the Advertisements
cannot be signied even as it is the event horizon corresponds, once again, to that archaic stage of
of all signication, that must be continually refo- subject production Lacan termed the Imaginary. In
und but was never there in the rst place to be the Advertisements the subject of desire is nothing
lost, (Lacan), in comparison with which all other less than architecture itself, architecture as such.
objectsthose Imaginary objects that both Hejduk Lacans so-called L Schema from crits famously
and Rossi would repeat almost obsessivelywill be constructs the subject of desire as an effect of a
more unsatisfactory substitutes. dynamic structure of internal contradictionsinclu-
Cemetery for the Ashes of Thought was for the ding a relationship between the subject (S on the
1975 Biennale. Teatro del Mondo was for the 1980 left in the graphe du dsir), the desired object (a,
Biennale. Did Rossi take something back from on the right, the objet petite autre, denizen of the
Hejduk? Imaginary), and that objects double, the ego (a
After this encounter with Rossi, Hejduk would under S), which in this case can be understand to
construct his architectural Masques. In the tradition designate the Advertisments mimicry of the com-
of the Italian maschera and the festival architecture mercialized, eroticized milieu in which they have
of Inigo Jones, the masques propose various inter- appeared. The system of desire (indicated by a) is
acting architectural characters and human inhabi- opposed to the system of identications (indicated

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by a). The shifting, reecting, doubled relationship by a movement of desire through part-objects in an
between the object and the object-effect that is the act of enunciation, an experience, a performance.
ego, is indicated in the graph by the diagonal line, But as the L Schema makes quite clear, the more
which must be read both as a vector of desire fundamental relationship that mediates all of this
owing between a and a and also as having an machinery is that between S, the subject of desire,
implicit planar dimension, which is to say that it is and a big Other, A. Reading the Advertisements
also the image-screen of Lacans mirror stage, as is through the complete L Schema forces the recogni-
made explicit by the label imaginary relation, the tion that the ows of desire structuring the viewers
interaction staged by the mirror. Written into this experience are projected from and return to the
schema the Advertisements provide the objects of locus of that Other, which Lacan calls the Symbolic
desire primarily as images, of course, immanent to (or language, or law, or the unconscious itself
the works themselvesthe morselized photogra- dened as the discourse of the Other). Architec-
phs of the Villa Savoye are nothing if not objets a, ture, the subject of desire, is not produced willfully
but so are the ropes and fatal falls and text frag- in an act of consciousness, but rather is the effect
ments (Tschumi is an absolute master at construc- of what is repressed. Note that in the graph, the
ting appropriated images, often from famous avant- image-screen absorbs the vector of the unconscious
garde architecture, lm, and photography, as inten- and blocks a representation of the unconscious,
se, but forever lost objects of desire). But the ima- even as desire is an effect of the unconscious.
ges themselves are nothing without the ow of Now, at the time of the Advertisements Tschumi
desire, which they produce but which also acts as does not give a name to A, the Other of this
their support. The eventing of the objets athe Symbolic realm. But we know it already: it City in
presentation of them as substitutes for an architec- the sense that Rossi rst introduced the relation of
ture we want but do not have, the setting up of architecture and City. This is conrmed in The
them as triggersconstrues them as signiers and Manhattan Transcripts (1977) in which it is now
mirrors them back to the viewer as marks of a Manhattan, rather than the Villa Savoy, that is the
specic, even unique and personal, affective archi- cathexis-objecta city understood as having an
tectural encounteran event: this moment of expe- erotic, transgressive, and violent programmatic
rience, this sensation of architecture condensed potential woven into its grid of streets and avenues.
here, this guring of architecture that happened for It is reconrmed in the project for La Villette,
me just now. Such is the performative dimension of which returns to Eisenmans interest in architectu-
this workto constitute the desire for architecture res total system, but now with a concern for only
out of an impossible-to-ll lack, gured by part- the effects, not the form of that system.
objects in a ash of recognition. The diagram of Architectures Desire can now
All this so far has taken place on the side of the be completed as follows:
Imaginary, where the architecture subject is elicited

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ANALOGUE (Rossi) REPETITION (Eisenman)

parts total system, ground, inventory

analogic images digital codes

absence, loss of maternal plenitutde presence of dead father (Name of the Father)

Imaginary Symbolic
Spatial, images Absence/presence

memory of place counter-memory, tracing place

diachronic synchronic

the iterable code the reiterable code

blank, white surface archeology of surface traces

realism modernism

ENCOUNTER (Hejduk) SPACING (Tschumi)

parts total system, ows

becoming gures (affects) grams, diagrams

trace of Architectures Gaze transgression of Gaze

Imaginary-Real Symbolic-Real

taking (of) place dissolution of place

diachronic, theatrical synchronic, cinegrammatic

the exorbitant image-gure the form-gure

decorative surface projective surface

modernism/postmodernism postmodernism/end-of-the-line

Note:
1 The Molino Stucky was a pasta mill and grain silo at the western end of the Giudecca designed in
late nineteenth century by Ernest Wullkopf.

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