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Architecture Moves? Form as a Snapshot View of a Transition

Part 2 Dissertation 2012
Mascia Gianvanni
University of Greenwich, UK
What is ‘time’ in architecture?
Andrew Benjamin takes up this question in Time, Function and Alterity in Architecture, referring to Eisenman’s ‘time-space relationship': “an interruption within repetition… a staging of time.”

A contrasting repetition within objects depends on the object’s history and complex temporality. If time is considered as repetition, then a pause within the repetition explains the discontinuity and continuity in architecture, making architecture be affected by time as a dimension.
The notion of the repetition opening up function is really interesting because: “the opening up of repetition and thus the possibility of its displaced retention becomes […] the inscription of the future into the present.”
Function relates future and present. Function, formed by repetition, has a strong link to time. This can create a relation because repetition recurs and repeats itself, implying that repetition could link past to present to future. But it is not only the relationship between function and time that incorporates the repetition and explains the notion of time in architecture.

Architecture is experienced through movement within space in a time duration constraint. As time is always moving forward and anything experienced as recent becomes a matter of the past matter of the past immediately, the constant advance of time creates an imaginary loop where past and future are so close that they almost touch, and only the microscopic distance between the two is the present.

Paintings and photography have the ability to show a freeze-frame of time. They are the result of movement capture, frozen and immobile. With architecture it is different, as the time duration is part of its life. An architectural drawing or the picture of a building will always frame the architecture in a timeless dimension. Elizabeth Grosz when speaking about utopias in her essay Embodied Utopias: the Time of Architecture , after analyzing utopian ideas, from Plato’s republic to Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, discovers that this utopias are only a reflection of the past or the current socio-political situation into the future. This displaces the utopia in a still timeframe, where the only way for the utopia to exist is to have no time.

Mascia Gianvanni

Dr Teresa Stoppani
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