Theoretical iterations of paraline projection from Ivan Leonidov, O. M. Ungers, and OMA

Beth George, Sally Farrah

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review


Building on a theoretical framework established previously, this paper examines key drawings and projects from the infamous Manhattan series, produced by the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), which went on to form the Appendix of Rem Koolhaas’ Delirious New York (1978). We situate their work in relation to that of two key proponents of the paraline medium: Ivan Leonidov; and Oswald M. Ungers. While the theoretical inheritances from both of these figures to OMA are well-documented, we are interested in examining the drawn lineage. To examine the Manhattan drawings is to walk through a set of drawing techniques that become increasingly estranged from these forefathers. From “The City of the Captive Globe” (1972) – an Ungers-homage in plan-oblique – to “New Welfare Island” (1975-76), a trimetric which employs Leonidovian destabilisation, the practice make forays into novel drawing construction. The “Welfare Palace Hotel” (1976-77) combines techniques resonant with Leonidov, but utterly distinct, and becomes irreverent and celebratory in a way that serves as joyful complement to the text of Delirious New York itself. While many authors have noted Leonidov’s formal and theoretical influence on Koolhaas and OMA - including Robert Maxwell (1981); Robert Gargiani (2006); Francesco Marullo (2013); and Pier Vittorio Aureli (2015) - there is a paucity of critique regarding both Leonidov’s and OMA’s unique archaic and modern methods. If the plan-oblique can be understood as an elementary form of paraline drawing, then the laborious reconstruction of the plan in trimetry and obliques, introduce both a conventional and conceptual complexity. Koolhaas’ Delirious New York, and the lesser-known writings of Elia Zenghelis, will be used as lenses in our reading of OMA drawings. Architectural and urban positions emerge from the hierarchical relationships exposed in the trimetric and elevation- oblique techniques themselves, such as the privileging of surface over tectonics; the rejection of abstraction; analogies of post- mortem and anthropomorphism; the cropping of the frame; and the role of cuteness. This paper contributes to a growing body of recent scholarship regarding the architectural drawing as mental space.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand 37
Subtitle of host publicationWhat if? What next? Speculations on Histories Future
EditorsKate Hislop, Hannah Lewi
Place of PublicationPerth, WA
PublisherSociety of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780646837253
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes
Event37th Annual SAHANZ Conference: What if? What next? Speculations on History’s Futures - University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Duration: 18 Nov 202025 Nov 2020


Conference37th Annual SAHANZ Conference
Abbreviated titleSAHANZ 2020
Internet address


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