offices for architects

the dream of Space and Light, but mostly Space (but Light is good too).

The most important Design project that an Architect will ever undertake is the design of his Office.  Even more important than the House he will design for his Mother (the publication of which gives him the credibility to serve on Design Juries at Ivy League schools and also something “real” to include in his portfolio), the Office Space is a pure opportunity to achieve a full visualization of the essence of Architecture itself, whereupon in which and wheretofore he may indulge in the essence of himself, free from constraints of bowing to the pedestrian taste of a [insert withering exasperation] “client.”  It is the very self-made womb in which he creates his own reality, in which he completely exercises the translation of cogitation into praxis.  It is a space of reverence and, ideally, a La Pavoni Europiccola.

It is essential that the Architect design his office in a manner suitable to the sanctity of the activities that will take place in this Space.  Space, indeed, is the goal, for that is the Duty and Calling of the Architect: the creation of Space.  The Architect does not suffer those who foolishly wag their arms around in the air, asking, what’s all this: is this not space?  Such idiocy is not deserving of a response from the Architect.  It is not Space until the Architect says so.  It is not Space until the Architect articulates the enveloping membrane that separates one void from another, separates light from dark, and creates the potential for haptic experience and manipulations of illumination.  The Architect’s office, the sacred garbhagriha of design, uterine chamber of creativity, must be about, above all else, Creation of Space.  Space and Light.  Light comes second.  Space is first.

To give full unbridled rein to his sacred duty of creation, the Architect must suffer no bounds.  He dreams of Space and pursues it in cosmic purity and spatial freedom and holistically organic contexts that small minds call “nature.”  The power and magnitude of the Creative Act is so awesome that it may threaten the stability of the nonmanmade world, threaten its very existence.  The power of this ritual is best left to the wide-open reaches of uninhabited world.  Even in enclosed Space, the Architect perceives limitless boundaries; the Architect sees all, and requires little more than a creative dwelling-land like this:

or like this:

as long as there’s a cell phone signal.

Yet the bourgeoise capitalist society of materialism to which the Art of the Architect is enslaved demands a different experience, a coming to terms with “social settings” so that “business” with “other people” might be accomplished.  The Architect must sink to these unfortunate “realities,” mourning that the prophet has no honor in his own land; the poet is forever a stranger among lesser beings.  The Architect must sign a lease.

Fear not: the lease shall purchase the means to the desired end: a framework into which the Architect can pour his :Creativity:.  Finding the right tectonic assemblage promises the potentiality of juxtaposition between past and present, old and new, superstition and truth, proclaiming in the duality the hierarchy of the latter.  His Muse seeks the proper contextual setting for the propulsion of Creation by the Zeitgeist.

Thus, ideal Space will be discovered in extant structures that look like this:

or like this:

or like this:

Or other such “buildings,” similarly identified as possessing what is conventionally referred to as “beauty.”  But the Architect must remember that “beauty” or “grace” or “style” or “elegance” or “loveliness” or “exuberance” of this /historic/ architecture is a quaint nostalgic anamnesis: a lingering waft of the former self, the daydream of a youthful wonder in ornament, superfluity, and aesthetic excess that was thankfully corrected once he went to architecture school.  Now he understands them as mere tropes against which to examine, exercise, serve and celebrate the Muse.  Or was it the Zeitgeist?

The ideal workspace will be void anything that inspires such hopeless, inane longings after obsolete notions of “beauty” in favor of authentic recognition of the immediacy of the present.  It may be, like the photo at the top, an explication of clarity and precision, so perfect in its perfection that it is not yet encumbered by the regrettable necessities of desks, trash cans, water coolers or co-workers.  The Architect will celebrate this Space: awash in pristine whiteness: the precise and hygienic realization of the digital age: the battle hymn of solar reflectivity: /space/.

Alternately, the Space may be where the Architect evinces the nightmare of contemporaneity; the inherent gritty reality of nihilistic existent culture as manifest in the primeval industrial vernacular.  This is the way to go if the Architect has had to set up shop in his mom’s garage.

The Architect will be tested: he will need to reject petty, pedestrian queries like wouldn’t a few ferns brighten up the place? and the base coat looks great, when are you going to paint?  Nescient observers of pure spatiality cannot understand that the Mind needs /unencumbered/ Space to Create more Space.

Once the Architect has achieved the Dream of Space, he must struggle against the unfortunate and regrettable realities of “business” that require the scandalous annihilation of the Space, by inserting equipment and furniture.  The Architect must remember that typical nostalgic and bourgeoisie “furniture” is a tool of antiquated thinking about human “comfort” and workaday “function.”  Furniture should be chosen primarily as it relates to the Space.  Ideally, it is invisible, so as not to detract from the play of Light against Form, like this:

But unfortunately /people/, especially the “people” who may help pay the “bills,” like to sit. The Architect may attempt to cultivate an Asian aesthetic and invite “people” to sit on the floor.  This may not go over well.  In that case, The Architect must bow to the common and infantile desire for “comfort” and provide seating apparatus.  The ideal chair will make no statement other than don’t look at me, look at the Space!  Consider this near-perfect object:

It is excellently free of scale.  It may be a sofa.  It may be a business card holder.  It may house hidden compartments that reveal a mini-fridge.  Except for the vile shot of a most unfortunate “color,” it is ideal.

This is a better deployment of color:

Here, the black and white scheme is energized by the inclusion of shades of coal, ebony, chalk and snow.  It’s almost Baroque in its chromatic theatricality.  And, it serves the Function of repose in a way that minimizes overt understanding of Scale.  The problem with traditional furniture is its relationship with the human form.  As “bodies” have “scale,” they detract from the purity of Space, which should always be scale-free.  Architects hate the relative nature of the human body.

When its inclusion in a Design is unavoidable, “furniture” should be chosen for its sensory experiential possibilities.  The Architect does not invite a client to take a seat; the Architect invites a potential partner in Space-making to indulge in a phenomenological event.  Like this rather literal manifestation of the Industrial, which will engender an awareness of materiality and in turn overturn generic expectations of “comfort:”

Likewise, the seating apparatus might engender critique of balance, stability, and perhaps even gravity itself:

Better yet are elements that upset expectations concerning scale, balance, comfort, and even assumptions about “human dignity:”

Finally, another excellent element that is free from obvious scale, and offers the added advantage of trapping prospective  clients until they are released from its grasp:

This fournituresque exercise in biomimicry is potentially a bridge between the changing, mercurial, unscientific manner of “people” and the Architect’s requisite requirement for absolutes in the Space.  Ultimately, the Office Space is about control: it is the one small presence in the void, wherein the Architect can exile relativity and enthrone the absolute.   Architects dream of absolutes.  The Architect’s world is Absolute.  One day the sleepers will wake and join them in this waking dream.  //The Dream of Space//  And Light.  But mostly Space.


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