The architectural precedent and the diagram: a comparative analysis of Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye and Rem Koolhaas' Maison a Bordeaux

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2007
Küçük, Alper
The last decade of the 20th century witnessed a revival of interest in the idea of diagrams in many disciplines, including architecture. Thus, terms like 'diagram architecture' and 'diagrammatic practice' have started to dominate the architectural discourse, both in theory and practice. Although much of the contemporary work examined under the rubric 'diagram architecture' celebrate diagram's capacity to generate new ideas and forms and embrace the diagram as a tool to revolt against the authority of established architectural traditions (such as design and planning methods, typological solutions), this study, in a critical attempt, underlines diagram's role as a mnemonic tool mediating what the architectural history and tradition hand down to us. While the significance of diagram's share in the generative activities of architectural design is acknowledged, it is proposed that diagram's role as an antidote for precedence is overemphasized and misleading, and that its repetitive character in form generating procedures through the study of architectural precedents should come under scrutiny as well. To achieve a better understanding of the mediating role of diagrams as mnemonic tools in architectural design, this study presents a comparative analysis of Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye and Rem Koolhaas' Maison a Bordeaux. The idea of this comparison is borrowed from Anthony Vidler and its model is an adaptation based on the comparative formal analysis employed by Colin Rowe in his seminal "Mathematics of the Ideal Villa" to compare Palladio's Villa Malcontenta and Le Corbusier's Villa Stein. Rather than an exhaustive diagrammatic analysis, the comparison is instrumentalized to initiate a dialogue between the two buildings in an attempt to highlight the relation between architectural precedents and diagrams. The study also aims to cast light on the issues related with the contemporary architectural discourse of diagrams.

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Citation Formats
A. Küçük, “The architectural precedent and the diagram: a comparative analysis of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye and Rem Koolhaas’ Maison a Bordeaux,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2007.