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PV Aureli - redefining autonomy

form is the realm assumed to be free from social and political constraints. Yet I would argue that it is
precisely form (and not program and use) that becomes crucial in defining the political and social
dimensions of architecture.
My argument is that the formal in architecture has a central role in what we can roughly define as the
production of subjectivity.
the role of the architect is not to build architecture but to design architecture by means of a project.
The project i.e. the strategy on whose basis something must be produced - becomes the fundamental
object of architectural production.
(leading since the Renaissance to the construction of a theory of architecture as an integral concern)
PVs thesis
Since the 15th Cent arch has been part of that vast process in which power is distributed as a spatial
governmental apparatus of subject-making.
...whereas before modernity architectures persuasiveness operated mostly through symbols and
analogies, since the 15the cen, arch form has addressed the most immanent aspects of human life.
Modern architecture evolved as it began to assert that the essence of human nature is the potential for
Under the pressure of class struggle, arch and the city developed as apparatuses meant to tame and
control the generic properties of human life. To understand the core of arch it is important to reconsider
human nature as the fundamental focus of architectural space.
Chomsky VS Foucault
debate on human nature
there is a scientifically definable human nature on the basis of mans inborn species characteristics .
refutes that and the act of assuming that the biological datum of the species homo sapiens is the essence
of human nature.
There is no such thing as human nature (at least as scientific fact)
Every definition of human nature is historically constructed
problem w Cs view
The idea of reclaiming the essence of human nature by removing the institutions of power that have
repressed it seems naive.
problem w F
and yet, Fs refusal to the possibility of defining human nature is also problematic.

if F is right in criticizing C naturalist vision of the human species as an ahistorical presupposition, yet as
Paolo Virno has noted, FO si wrong in not understanding how it is precisely with the advent of capitalism
that the inborn features of human nature like those defined by C have been individuated and seized in
order to link them with the imperative of production.
Architecture and its project has been one of the fundamental apparatuses aimed at seizing and
administrating spatially the living body in order to extract from it what Marx defined as labor as
As a consequence , the project of arch focused on the very organization of space rather than on
its representation.

(the history of arch is a history of abstraction or unearthing its most generic principles, not as the
becoming aware of some ahistorical generic properties (Eisenman). But in a complex play of concrete
struggles that defined the evolution of our civilization (abstractions are always written in letters of blood
and fire)
Eisenmans definition of generic form in arch
volume, mass, surface.
The generative condition of arch is volume, since , compared to other means of plastic expression, it can
be understood only as a product of the existence of an interior and an exterior.
Generic for of arch in terms of volume and 3d grid was indeed the formal basis of modern arch, but their
coming into existence as the concrete form of arch was necessitated by the way capital governed the
human animal by addressing (and taming) humanitys most generic subjective conditions, such as the
uncertainty and unpredictability of actions and reactions,.
The development of arch form from the Renaissance to Modernism can be summarized as
an approximation of the generic conditions of form.
Arch form has made explicit how spatial governance can happen only by manipulating the most generic
properties of form.
The two most important projects that have made explicit this inherent condition of arch form are
Le Corbusier


(ie the devices through which a sense of the most general principles of arch language are brought to the
fore. See if this can fit into the argument you want to make of abstraction: maximum generic = maximum
detail - with Piranesi as a case-study)

L Holm wrote that when Brunelleschi invented perspective, he was making space, not a
Perspectival space implies that the occupant is first and foremost a viewer. With the invention of
perspective, the whole world not only becomes an image but also becomes measurable.
(think Optic / Haptic in Riegl here)
In B columns and arches were not simply structural elements but also manifestations of the geometrical
disegno of the spatial volume. His architecture is a physical diagram of space organized within the
logic of perspectival view.
The open plan (in Dom-ino) postulates an indifference of building structure to its spatial and distributive
the apparatus of the open plan derives from a definitive place of work: the factory.
Again, here it is important to stress how the lack of spatial restriction coincides with
optimization of control.
(central theme in aureli, see also criticism of Potteries thinkbelt, and its root in the Tafurian critique of
algiers etc)
Under capitalist production, the entire arch of the city was forced to become... fixed capital: the fixed
living and working infrastructure that restrains and reproduces the labor power of the workers in order to
extract value from it.
In the case of the open plan, this happens by enabling the uncertainty, unpredictability, and creativity that
characterize the human species to unfold in their infinite range of possibilities.
It is for this reason that ironically the potentiality of the open plan is fulfilled only with the advent of
creativity as the main mode of production within post industrial economies.
Bs perspective and Cs Domino are just two examples of how a specific arch project can link the basis of
arch form with the most fundamental premises of the production of subjectivity.
indeed the goal of enabling human subjects by administering the very essence of human nature has forced
modern institution of power ...to rely on the most immanent qualities of form and space. It is precisely
this condition that offers the best vantage point for reformulating the possibility of the autonomy of
architecture .

Riegls Kunstwollen (will to art) as a reaction to Sempers affirmation of the primacy of technical aspects
of art.
it is precisely be rethinking the arch project as the index and reformulation of a possible Kunstwollen that
would allow us to redefine the autonomy of arch as the possibility of autonomous collective choice. In this
way the arch project is not simply the reproduction of a given order but also the possibility of its critique
and reformulation. it operates as a guideline for a collective reinvention of the way space is organized.

Instead of reaffirming the autonomy of the discipline, a claim that in the end leaves unquestioned
precisely the conditions of the production of arch, perhaps the time has come to reaffirm the possibility of
the autonomy of arch as the autonomy of the project.
Instead of understanding arch as the design of objects, the idea of the project understands arch as
Kunstwollen, as process of production of arch form whose ultimate goal is fostering subjectivities within
and against capital .