Untimely Meditations: Decomposition and Timelessness in Select Writings of Peter Eisenman

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This paper investigates one aspect in the work of architect, educator and theorist Peter Eisenman (b 1932) through the filter of select writings from the mid 1980s. It does this by examining two texts
published in 1984, a period characterised as one of rupture if not emphatically in crisis. The writings considered are “The Futility of Objects: Decomposition and the Processes of Difference” and “The End of the Classical: the End of the Beginning, the End of the End”.
Secondary authors referenced include Robin Evans, Kenneth Frampton and Raphael Moneo. The paper conjectures that certain approaches such as Eisenman’s to materials and phenomena from architecture’s past can open new conditions of possibility for architecture today. A number of questions are asked: By what means and in what forms are Eisenman’s thinking about architecture in a moment of crisis revealed in these essays? Which architectural qualities and form generation devices does Eisenman discern in the past? How might the processes for interrogating architecture’s past as displayed in the two essays inform an approach to architecture today? The paper adds to scholarship on Eisenman, examining a little studied facet of his work in a period marked by swerves in his thinking. In a conference that seeks to identify a spectrum of disciplinary positions, the paper contributes to discussions
around conference thematic sub-stream Design Practice and Education
in its consideration of one stance vis-à-vis architecture’s past.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUltra: Positions and Polarities Beyond Crisis
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand: 38,
EditorsDavid Kroll, James Curry, Madelilne Nolan
Place of PublicationAdelaide
PublisherSociety of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ)
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9780646854434
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2022
EventUltra: Positions and Polarities Beyond Crisis: 38th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand - University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 10 Nov 202113 Nov 2021


ConferenceUltra: Positions and Polarities Beyond Crisis
Abbreviated titleUltra


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