Adam’s House Revisited

David Cohn 

“The built invariably comes into existence out of the constantly evolving interplay of three converging vectors: the topos, the typos and the tectonic.” The theme of this issue, ‘Material Poetics’, can be inscribed under the sign of Kenneth Frampton’s 1995 book Studies in Tectonic Culture, from whose introduction the quote above is taken. Frampton’s thesis was not only a corrective to the space-time paradigms of the Modern Movement. While offering a historic review of tectonic culture in the late 19th and 20th centuries, he structured the architectural problem in a way that could help guide practitioners out of the traps of postmodernism, without falling in turn into the temptations of open-ended, dematerialized formal play – Deconstructivism, blobs, Gehry and so on – that were then flourishing with the new digital technologies. The work has thus become a touchstone for contemporary approaches to the theme of materiality, and should acquire new relevance as the free-wheeling Gehry era comes to a crashing close. 

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