Tuesday 10.09.19, 10:00
Architecture as Text. Reading Group (Reading Group)

Discussion of Peter Eisenman and Rem Koolhaas's Supercritical under the guidance of Sergey Sitar and Marat Nevlyutov 






Reading Group





The era of neoliberalism and the collapse of the bipolar world gave rise to a paradoxical phenomenon called starchitecture — a system of international "star architects." Peter Eisenman and Rem Koolhaas, protagonists of the discussion that took place back in January 2006 under the arches of the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA), enjoy a unique and privileged place in this system. Their stellar reputation does derive from the provocative magnetism of the buildings they have created, but also — perhaps even more so — from the polemic texts they have written and published, as well as from other public forms of their intense intellectual activity, including curating and teaching.

Is this enough, though, to consider them to be major ideologists of the departing architectural era, bearing the main share of responsibility for its style and methodological features? Do they, as other recognized intellectual and theoretical leaders of the profession, have a keen eye for architecture development avenues of the future? Or is their interest in theory, writing, and text — the fading echo of logocentrism that distinguished the generation of their predecessors from the Modern Movement – something essentially old-fashioned?

In the first part of the seminar, reading group participants will analyze the formula "Architecture as text." Focusing on the key terms for the discussion "critical practice" and "didactic model," participants will try to reveal the internal logic of Eisenman's and Koolhaas's presentations as two types of discursive, narrative, project, and role strategies. Though fundamentally different, they are becoming less common for the New Time linguo-semiotic root.

In the second part of the seminar, participants are invited to reflect on whether there is room for "critical (architectural) practice" and "didactic model" in the modern cultural context that is determined by the effects of linguistic, pictorial, performative, digital, and network revolutions.

Sergey Sitar is the leading teacher within the Theory and History module at MARCH Architecture School, and editor of Project International magazine.

Marat Nevlyutov is a research associate of the Department of Architecture Theory at the Institute of Theory and History of Architecture and Urban Planning (NIITIAG) and a graduate of Strelka Institute (2015) and the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences.

To take part in the reading group, please familiarize yourself with the main and auxiliary texts of the attached reader (link for download) and include your written comments about the texts (up to 3000 characters or 400 words) in your application.

The main texts for compulsory reading are two dialogues (Eisenman and Koolhaas, and Somol and Kipnis) from the Russian edition of Supercritical:

  • Event > Super Criticism: Rem Koolhaas meets Peter Eisenman (pp. 13–63);
  • Comment > Two takes on Koolhaas and Eisenman (pp. 67–125).

Auxiliary texts (read if possible):

  • the same two fragments of Supercritical, but in the original English edition (pp. 2–79);
  • chapter two of Peter Eisenman's dissertation The Formal Basis of Modern Architecture, 1963 (pp. 57–83);
  • chapter six from Koolhaas's Delirious New York (1978, Strelka Press, 2013, pp. 248–299).

Applications will be accepted until September 3. For all questions, please contact workshop producer Anastasia Sinitsyna: sinitsyna@strelkainstitute.com.

The event will take place as part of the 'Architect of the Future' conference, in strategic partnership with DOM.RF, with the support of the Ministry of Construction Industry, Housing and Utilities Sector of Russia. The conference is part of a free educational program provided through architects.ru.

'Architect of the Future' is a program of lectures, discussions, and workshops, featuring representatives from leading architecture firms, design studios, institutes, and development companies from the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, Italy, Australia, and Russia.