Contradictio in Terminis

Host institution

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. ETSAM-UPM




Finalist (2016) – X PhD Thesis Competition Arquia Foundation. Barcelona, Spain

Contradictio in Terminis commits a triple act of heresy. First, it proposes a critical revision of architectural postmodernity as if it was the result of a unitary project. Second, it does so by using the ideas of ambiguity and contradiction, even though both terms are still problematic and loaded with negative connotations. And third, it uses as theoretical apparatus the work of three antagonists: Robert Venturi, Peter Eisenman and Rem Koolhaas, trying to persuade us that there are strong connections between their respective approaches.

We believe that these arguments are enough for the custodians of academic virtue and intellectual rigour to conclude their interest in the present research. We begin, in fact, by putting them at the forefront so that no one feels deceived or wasting their precious time. However, for those tempted by the abyss of heresy, serve the following lines as an official summary of the work:

… To purge repression, express anguish, show resistance to the system, deny its ability to express the truth or raise the consciousness of the sublime… A significant part of architectural production since the 60s’ seemed to find a critical way to conceptually deal with the postmodern sensibility. The uncertain condition of an artwork, explored in the modern period, evolved into the impossibility of its de-codification or reading through the use of contradiction, during postmodernity.

Dos son las hipótesis que han guiado y estructurado la investigación. Primera: la arquitectura del siglo XX ha incorporado de manera creciente la idea de ambigüedad a su discurso teórico. Segunda: la utilización de herramientas procedentes del estudio del lenguaje motivó, además, su disolución lingüística. Ambas hipótesis están estrechamente interconectadas al partir de un mismo objetivo: la destrucción de la coherencia interna de la obra arquitectónica.

More than half a century since the conceptual bases of postmodernism were formulated, several publications have offered new readings about the reasons and facts that have shaped it. This work aims to supplement them by lighting certain overlooked aspects of the architectural legacy from past decades, considering it the consequence of a fruitful relationship between architecture and ambiguity, and its provocative consummation as a contradictio in terminis.