Thursday, September 17, 2015

OO'House. The Un-Grounding of the O'Gorman House (1956 demolished in 1969)

Mapping and Knotting the Image  

The O'Gorman House

Juan O’Gorman was an admirer of European functionalist architects, especially Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier. His early projects were essentially characterized by the use of reinforced concrete, asymmetrical exterior, and a constant search for air and light. However, thanks to the influence exerted on him by his professor, José Villagrán García, his work evolved into what has been called "New Mexican baroque." Moreover, when he designed and built his own house on the foothills of Pedregal de San Angel (1956), which was subsequently demolished in 1969, he sought inspiration from the approach described by Mathias Goeritz in his Manifiesto de la Arquitectura Emocional, and thus endeavored to design each space upholding the feeling that he wished to inspire.

The OO'House
Gabriel Esquivel and Ronny Eckels

The Problem: An Un-grounding Machine—a New Object

The problem of the O’Gorman House could be seen as an interaction between materialistic and naturalistic thought. If we think of the O’Gorman House as an undefined void with an asymmetrical parallelism between its surface and the crust or synthetic nature that envelopes it, “in which the two remain analogous and remotely connected to their common genus but where each one spawns its own different, independent operational entities and geometries,” then the problem of the void is set on the fact that it operates at two levels. One is the actual interior void of the object, and the other is the void left by the disappearance of the house. These two conditions do not necessarily synchronize the ground’s local regimes, establishing orders through the consolidated coherence of the crust; they countermine the stratification processes instead of supporting them, thus the importance of establishing an un-grounding mechanism as a way to “excavate” the ground and initiate a new production.

The argument for the new house (the OO’House) could be positioned in the relation of solid and void. There are different ways of connecting these surfaces with a void. One is the ornamental surface, which is a visible surface supporter that connects the void to a second crust or outside ecology. Therefore, the void cannot be merely reduced to an underground regime; this once again suggests the potential for devising an un-grounding machine. The other argument is the surface-transmitter or actual figures that join with undulating the line-work passing through the void, which binds the cavity to the outside where the void emerges precisely out of the ambiguity of solid and void. Negarestani notes, “The solid as an entity which is inherently possessed by the void. The only way that the solid can initialize its architectonic and compositional activities (processes for survival, development, etc.) is by letting the void in the dynamic traits of solid can only be actuated when solid is eaten, convoluted and messed up by the void.” 

As part of the void complex, at a surface level, the figure operates as a binding element where every activity of a potential solid appears as a tactic to conceal the void to appropriate it and suppress it. The void is accommodated into the economy of surfaces as a dwelling system. However, the figure is not just important at a compositional level; instead, it becomes the representational/engineering machine that will allow us to un-ground the new interpretation of the house as an image/object that extends the onticology and line-work of the first object.