Steven Young

MArch I

Alas, Poor Yorick! 

Advised by Jorge Silvetti

Koolhaas’s Villa dall’Ava is a riff on Villa Savoye? With what license does dall’Ava pervert the modern icon then? What motivates the rotations, dislocations, and truncations? Can we say they are typically postmodern exuberance, or might they be more carefully considered? The Dutch author’s villa, while obviously referencing its neighbor, responds most directly to Corbusier’s writings. See for yourself: dall’Ava hits every one of the Five Points and then avails itself of the formal freedom that is the points’ collective raison d’être. 

The authoritative text has a long tradition in Western architecture—more so than in other artforms—dating to, at the very latest, the Renaissance rediscovery of Vitruvius. Each age since has produced its own treatises, summarizing its unique architectural outlook, and for the generations that follow these texts provide both a model to be imitated and an authority to be immolated, often both in a single stroke.   

Where are the 21st century’s authoritative texts? They do not exist. Jenck’s genealogy has only further fractalized since 1977, such that today our niche conceptual “interests” bear the full burden of catalyzing rich and communicative design. Something has been lost. The authority of the text is Villa dall’Ava’s foundation, its depth in a way formal resemblance or isolated interests could never be. But now we are chasing our tail: Where might we look for our architectural texts? 

Plan with arced walls