Rethinking about the theme and considering the changes in the world, Tschumi makes reference to the domination of image within the architectural experience. Architecture students, adapted as they are to the new technologies, rarely have the sensory experience of the buildings they are designing. The question of materiality is largely discussed during the classes but the real experience is not achieved. What students learn is mostly how to represent the materiality, but the understanding could just be achieved with the sensory experience. The first time he thought about the possibility of architecture being produced not just by the architects desire, but by what happens to it after completion, through inhabitation or decay for example, was during a visit to the decayed Villa Savoye. It made he think about exploring transgression in architecture.
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The chapter Space violating bodies establishes the basis of such a postulate. However Tschumi does not elaborate on the political implications of such a control but rather attempts to distinguish a Dionysian dimension of architecture out of it. Space Violating Bodies But if bodies violate the purity of architectural spaces, one might rightly wonder about the reverse: the violence inflicted by narrow corridors on large crowds, the symbolic or physical violence of buildings on users.
A word of warning: I do not wish to resurrect recent behaviorist architectural approaches. Instead, I wish simply to underline the mere existence of a physical presence and the fact that it begins quite innocently, in an imaginary sort of way. The place your body inhabits is inscribed in your imagination, your unconscious, as a space of possible bliss. Or menace. What if you are forced to abandon your imaginary spatial markings?
A torturer wants you, the victim, to regress, because he wants to demean his prey, to make you lose your identity as a subject. Suddenly you have no choice; running away is impossible. The rooms are too small or too big, the ceilings too low or too high. Violence exercised by and through space is spatial torture. You walk through one of its axes, and as you cross the central space and reach its other side you find, instead of the hillside landscape, the steps of another Villa Rotonda, and another, and another, and another.
The incessant repetition at first stimulates some strange desire, but soon becomes sadistic, impossible, violent. Such discomforting spatial devices can take any form: the white anechoic chambers of sensory deprivation, the formless spaces leading to psychological destructuring. Steep and dangerous staircases, those corridors consciously made too narrow for crowds, introduce a radical shift from architecture as an object of contemplation to architecture as a perverse instrument of use.
At the same time it must be stressed that the receiving subject -you or I- may wish to be subjected to such spatial aggression, just as you may go to a rock concert and stand close enough to the loudspeakers to sustain painful -but pleasurable- physical or psychic trauma. Places aimed at the cult of excessive sound only suggest places aimed at the cult of excessive space. The love of violence, after all, is an ancient pleasure. Why has architectural theory regularly refused to acknowlege such pleasures and always claimed at least officially that architecture should be pleasing to the eye, as well as comfortable to the body?
This presupposition seems curious when the pleasure of violence can be experienced in every other human activity, from the violence of discordant sounds in music to the clash of bodies in sports, from gangster movies to the Marquis de Sade. Violence Ritualized Who will mastermind these exquisite spatial delights, these disturbing architectural tortures, the tortuous paths of promenades through delirious landscapes, theatrical events where actor complements decor?
The architect? After all, the original action, the original act of violence -this unspeakable copulation of live body and dead stone- is unique and unrehearsed, though perhaps infinitely repeatable, for you may enter the building again and again.
The architect will always dream of purifying this uncontrolled violence, channeling obedient bodies along predictable paths and ocasionally along ramps that provide striking vistas, ritualizing the transgression of bodies in space. Or the reverse: it is a solid that forcibly channels the movement of bodies. The original, spontaneous interaction of the body with a space is often purified by ritual.
Petersburg, for example, are ritualistic imitation of spontaneous violence. Endlessly repeated, these rituals curb all aspects of the original act that have escaped control: the choice of time and place, the selection of the victim… A ritual implies a near-frozen relationship between action and space. It institutes a new order after the disorder of the original event.
When it becomes necessary to mediate tension and fix it by custom, then no single fragment must escape attention. Nothing strange and unexpected must happen. Control must be absolute. Bernard Tschumi.
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Architecture and transgression by Bernard Tschumi (Essay Sample)
The chapter Space violating bodies establishes the basis of such a postulate. However Tschumi does not elaborate on the political implications of such a control but rather attempts to distinguish a Dionysian dimension of architecture out of it. Space Violating Bodies But if bodies violate the purity of architectural spaces, one might rightly wonder about the reverse: the violence inflicted by narrow corridors on large crowds, the symbolic or physical violence of buildings on users. A word of warning: I do not wish to resurrect recent behaviorist architectural approaches.
Architecture and Transgression
The imperative of how to "question the nature of space" in the form of concepts, theory, design, and "at the same time, make or experience a real space"  was a fundamental challenge facing architects. Where sensuality is the pure pleasure of the senses, eroticism incorporates sensuality, but includes an additional element, an excess. This excess is essentially conceptual, held in the mind, and relates to given historical and social meanings, limits, and taboos around sexuality. The existence of these limits, and their skirting or transgression are necessary for a merely sensual experience to achieve the level of the erotic. Tschumi maps this notion onto architecture, and the two sides of the architectural paradox—the immediate, sensual experience of space, and the conceptualism of architectural history, theory and design. Architecture, by its very nature, is transgressive. In doing so, it was allowing time, use, the elements—all of those facets of a building that architects seek to keep at bay—to assert themselves, bringing the physicality of the rotting Villa into contact with the historical and conceptual idealism of the building.
# ARCHITECTURAL THEORIES /// Space violating bodies by Bernard Tschumi
Tschumi is a permanent US resident. Over his almost forty-year career, his built accomplishments number over sixty, including theoretical projects. After school and prior to winning the Parc de La Villette competition, he built his reputation as a theorist through his writings and drawings. Additionally, academic teaching positions have been held at Princeton University, Cooper Union, and the Architectural Association in London.