Deconstructivism

About

A term used to describe a tendency in architecture that began in the 1980s and rejected the basic premises of modern architecture. Architects who worked in this tradition spurned functionalist, anonymous aesthetics, instead focusing on complex geometries and surface treatments. Inspired in part by the theories of semiotic analysis known as “deconstruction” developed by French philosopher Jacques Derrida, they dissected standard modernist forms (such as the cube and right angles), often creating spaces with a preponderance of angles (regarding the angularity of her designs, Zaha Hadid has commented, “There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one?”). Deconstructivism is most closely associated with the architects Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, Hadid, Coop Himelblau, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Liebeskind, and Bernard Tschumi, largely due to the Museum of Modern Art’s 1988 exhibition “Deconstructivist Architecture,” which first brought them together. Most of these architects, however, reject this association because it implies a homogenous style or set of concerns. While there is disagreement as to the nature of deconstructivism, the architect Philip Johnson (co-curater of the MoMA exhibition) has summarized it by saying, “It is the ability to disturb our thinking about form that makes these projects deconstructive.”