On October 8, 1980, New York band Talking Heads released Remain in Light, their fourth album. The album's final track, "The Overload", was written in the style of the Mancunian band Joy Division. But, at the time of recording, the members of Talking Heads knew Joy Division's music only from the record reviews they'd read about it; they'd never listened to it before. The result is a "copy" full of errors, in a way, and at the same time, one is also struck by the accuracy of certain parts or sounds. This copy is of the same order as those made by Renaissance architects seeking to build as accurately and well as the Ancients, i.e. the Romans. But archaeological knowledge in the 15th century was very incomplete and inaccurate, as we have since learned from the progress made in this field. Taking as true what was false, having to imagine what they didn't know, Renaissance architects invented a new architecture, which is an obvious echo of Roman architecture, but which is also totally singular.
For the autumn 2023 studio, we propose to make the imaginary project of the Baizo house from the real one of Le Corbusier’s Baizeau house. Students will conceive the Maison Baizo project from the description of the Maison Baizeau, built in Tunis by Le Corbusier in 1928, by the grandchildren of the house's owners as adults when they vacationed there as children. Naturally, the vision is fractional and fragmentary, as are memories, all the more so when they are distant. They will deal here more with mental images than visual ones. Our aim is to know nothing more about the Baizeau house than what the owners' grandchildren say about it. The aim is to design a house that can be described by the same fragments but which, apart from this aspect, will be far away from the original model. We'll have to learn to forget the original Baizeau house project and imagine the Baizo one. Armed with this almost total ignorance of the project, the students will design the Baizo house in the same way that the members of Talking Heads, in association with Brian Eno, wrote "The Overload", inspired by songs they had never heard.
In this way, we'll highlight the joys of induced ignorance as a means of guiding intuition from fragments of spatial devices – those described, explicitly or implicitly, in the text – which are to form part of the final project but whose status in this new ensemble will be quite different. A kind of imaginary ready-made.
Moreover, because the historical perspective is itself historicized, the project will not seek to mimic one from the 1920s and will take into account aspects of reality, such as climate change, use, or composition, in a contemporary way. The aim is, therefore, to create a totally new work based on a reasoned relationship with an existing architectural object, but one that can, in part, be described as the Baizeau house.
To underline the fact that architecture takes on multiple modes of existence and perception, the Baizo house is a copy of the Baizeau house, based on its description. Copying has long served as the cultural and pedagogical basis for architecture. This is undoubtedly still true but in a less structured and conscious way. We still need to agree on the definition of "copy"…
As part of the project's rendering, we'll be exploring a mode of representation we call "textures". At the crossroads of traditional perspective and geometrical representation, and concrete poetry, such drawings express the link between architecture and writing, or space and ideas, i.e. the way in which ideas serve to give rules to the shaping of space, but also give a singular meaning to the actual construction. And the more relevantly the ideas are able to combine distant planes of reality in this shaping process, the richer the work and the more complex its meaning.