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The Project is Present: Minimal Art and its Contribution towards the Definition of a Nonrepresentative Architectural Medium

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Abstract

Every architectural project entails an opposition between the designer's normative role with regard to future occupants and the attempt of these latter to fulfill their specific needs. Nevertheless the present paper argues that this gap cannot be bridged through the engagement of affected subjects during project conception, because their needs, especially in the case of complex projects, are divergent and contingent: they cannot be met on paper but only in situation. Therefore future occupants' contribution to the definition of the project must be promoted directly during its situated fruition in terms of the inventive uses they are allowed to enact. Architects must adopt new tools addressing the realm of sensation rather than representation if they want to consider the project as defined through situated fruition rather than during its abstract conception. Indeed representation is information prepackaged by the architect who expresses his particular viewpoint in a transposed moment with respect to the scenario he addresses, thus missing both the contingent and plural characters of fruition, which are instead met by sensation, i.e. raw physical stimuli expressing no single viewpoint and occurring alongside the event which physically stimulates occupants. The nature and usability of such tools addressing sensation is the research focus of this paper: which media can represent, or better present, the sensory dimension where uses arise? This question is better answered in the artistic domain, especially in Minimal Art. Robert Irwin provides us with a model describing the production of representations from sensation which will be used for understanding how to invert the process in order to address sensation directly. Nevertheless the adoption of concepts derived from artistic practices in the architectural field requires a disciplinary adaptation which will be discussed in the conclusion.
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