Fachada Mascara


This house was designd to be built in the outskirts of Cuernavaca, Mexico. It has a transformation of a local house type, characterized by two parallel wings, connected with a gallery, enclosing a patio with water works that can be covered with awnings. At another level, it is a design exercise discussing two points: first, the difference between architecture and construction, and second, the facade as an element of architecture established by the notions of unicity, planarity, layering, limit, entrance, frontality and axiality. Masks are to be painted in very bright local colors; sides and back of the house are to be left unfinished, exposed bricks and mortar. The original drawings, exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in 1975, take the format of a triptych, with the masks (and a long text discussing the house) as central panel, first floor at left, and second floor at right. Marks of black ink on colorless paper: they belong to a special kind of writing known as "architectural drawing." The different pieces are ordered following a traditional format, that of the triptych is an articulated plane characterized by closing upon itself; it is a suicidal plan as it folds and folds again; it reflects; the reverse side of the triptych is not used. Once it is closed the representation can be put aside; it might even be forgotten.

This object tells a story about facades; in this fashion, each mask behaves as a kernel of the story's narrative structure; each mask is then a condensation of sense, a "peak." From mask to mask the reader-user moves (lineally, as if it were through the written page) though empty, silent space. The masks are set, strung - as lockets or precious charms - along a linear axis that is two things: metaphor - and desire - of syntagm, and principle of architectonic order, residual faithfulness to a structuring notion. This house is born out of a design act that is, at least, twofold: it is an exercise on the critical power of architectural signs, and a proposal of a poetic type. The language-object is the old, omnipresent notion of the facade, its nature, and its ideology. The proposal concerns the opposite notion of mask; as such, it will need further development. By now, it is nice to dream about the possibility of its future integration to a "different" mode for the production of built-up, inhabitable objects (yes, in spite of several contradictions...). The opposition F/M is then, the subject matter of this discourse, the theme to be elaborated upon. The theme gives the name to the house. Note: A basic rhetorical operation has been consistently carried through: only those parts of the project that allow the discussion of F/M have been architecturalized; the other parts have remained uncomposed, neutrally treated. This artifice generates two sense effect: first a most efficient demarcation of the language-object, and second, an indication of the difference between architecture and construction, here understood as distinct modes of production.

Year: 1972
Cuernavaca, Mexico

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