Tag Archives: Hejduk

The Hejduk loophole

I was looking at Hejduk references on Google (precisely “Hejduk wall house”) and ended up back to the blog after scrolling down a bit.


I found it amusing, so I decided to do a post so that another person  looking for Hejduk, will see a post of someone looking for Hejduk.

PS : I voluntarily mistyped the name of Hejduk in the tags to increased the chance of dragging someone here.

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Unfolding Box / Genealogy


Explanation: Each house-level provides a clue to John Hejduk’s oeuvre and his Diamond House. It will be presented backwards, that is, I begin with Level 5 and as my presentation goes on, I reveal each house, each clue, until I finally reach the Diamond House. The presentation will be in form of a large wooden model, which I will begin to craft tomorrow. Because of the limited space each building can contain, I will be working on the façade as my primary way of expressing the character of the building. The houses will fold open like a book, revealing the inner house as well as the section of the opened house.

Level 0: The Diamond House. The last point in the succession, the child of the buildings that envelope it, born into their heart with the hope of one day giving birth to my project. Like I situate myself in the middle of the Diamond House, the house finds itself in the middle of previous houses. Like later architects, it takes what it needs to make its own identity.

Level 1: The House that is an Art Museum. Overlooked by the looming pictures of the van Doesburgs and the Mondrians, the Diamond House sits opaque on a plinth; it is the only artefact on display, all the others have been stolen. (Modern architecture is of no value, anymore.) The floor is clean; at least the janitor comes everyday to wipe away his own footprints, muddy from the St. Jude storm.

Level 2: The House that is a Church. Statues of angels adorn the path towards the catafalque, by which side the Art Museum has placed itself. To be buried here are the remains of a man who committed suicide by burning himself on a public square in Czechoslovakia, to protest against the invasion of his home country. This event affected the Art Museum deeply; its colours have changed because of it, from bright red and yellow to solemn blue and brown.

Level 3: The House that is a Poetry Slam Evening Festival. The church is put in the middle of the audience, it watches the architects on the stage as they battle it out by presenting their “poetic spaces” to the general public. The words make the space. Four students stand on stages surrounding the audience, reciting their poems. From the gibberish that ensues, one of the students’ voices rise above the others, and shouts out the story of an automated fast-food grill in New York, a clue, like others, to the building within.

Level 4: The House that is a School of Architecture. Endless arrays of laptop screens, with the poetry slam-house stuck in the middle in generic form-explorations of what a computer can do. A jury is on display in the far away corner of the house, the final Dip 9 jury, the one that decides whether you pass the year or not. It is a place of ideas, a good portion of fantasy and crude mistakes we make that are overlooked for the sake of an enthusiastic youth.

Level 5: The House that is a Quarantine. The school of architecture is accused of being infected with the sickness of formalism, hence it must be kept away from the wider built environment. Architecture is not architecture without an idea, an intention, a reading. The Quarantine is located on a field of Highway 42 between Austin and Dallas. In a no-man’s land, a space of transit and movement, it becomes a goal.

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Entrance to Metropolis


Stuck far too long in rendering experiments.
Maya refuses to snapshot my motion path.
Time is running away.

Floating borders; what is a strong demarcation between houses?
What does it mean to traverse one edge condition into the next?

The Labyrinth hides The Diamond. It is shy (like me).
There is not one door, but many. There is no right perspective, except the plan.
The larger I become, the more rooms I find that challenge me to be inhabited.

Unlike Hejduk’s Diamond, there is no stacking.
There is just the flow of one floor plan, with one glass roof.
In need of a context; thinking of the Serpentine pavilion.
What is there that is temporary about the Diamond?

Soundtrack: Detroit Techno Classical

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Building Stories

diamond-3d-big copy

To build has to be to build for one like us, we reveal ourselves
in the process of design, our prejudice, our leanings, as much
as we try to think of what would be appropriate, through discussion.
Only that which is living is worthy to be contained, it was said, but what then
of the dam, the elevator service room, the electrical powerplant, the pyramid?
To contain only the living is to devalue that which is needed to support the living
perhaps it is even wrong to think of it as “support”, as it should be valued
for its own being, for its consequences as well as its unfamiliar manifestation.
No-one lives in the roof, but the roof is home to our lights, to our chimneys
and no-one lives in the technical basement, where pumps and servers
buzz on through night and day. Is this not the house? Is this not form?

The site that was only one site reveals a building which longs to be situated
in another place than the white space of the paper. It wants New York
so it claims the Empire State Building, a replica of its art deco interiors.
It wants Tokyo, so it steals the pachinko halls and the bubble massage rooms
and paint them like a cloak over its naked body. It wants London, so it takes
the pubs, the tube and the overstated football arenas. Whatever is a piece
of architecture that we want instead of purity, will be set in a place
that is unlike everything this building has seen before. It is placed
in the Nevada desert, on the Atlantic ocean, on the Persian steppes.
Eventually, it will grow into the entire planet, a point when there is
no more context, only emptiness.

The overarching narrative of the Diamond house is its craving
for difference and similarity; it takes on the same vices and virtues
that we see in ourselves, when we wake up early to a cloudy sky
or when we frown at postmodernism on show in the gallery.
The house wants dirt, it doesn’t know the joy of diving into mud.
The house wants colour, it is tired of its own monochromatics.
The house wants curves, it has seen itself in the concave mirror.
The house wants volume, it has grown scared of its own flatness.
The house wants company, it has lost its friends in the white space.
The house wants partners, it is a swinger in love with a chair.

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House for a House

Image: Staircase for a staircase.

What if the one inhabiting the reconnected Diamond is not a person
but a building? What are the dreams of a building? How does it live?
Does a building mourn the death of its inhabitants, does it become
part of a corpse? The multidimensional unfolding of the Diamond.
What does a house need? If it has stairs, it needs to walk those stairs.
If it has windows, it needs to look out through those windows.
I am the Diamond, and I walk these paths, they’re everything I am
and more. My views are an exaggeration of what I was, my body
is a surplus of information. The identity of the house is the identity
of the architect, but the house has a life of its own, it is taken
by the viewer, by the debaters, by all who wants a piece
of genius. It lives its life on paper, and multiplies itself.
It is visionary. It is clear, but it is lonely.

In order to find its own identity, the house has to situate itself;
like us, it is a mirror of its surroundings; I am not the author
but I am the student. I was carried here by eyes that saw good
in my work. Hejduk hated his house, he longed for times
when he could bring his frustration of the three-dimensional
into his wannabe painting attempts.

The Diamond House cries, for it was never recognized, it never had a visitor.
The Diamond House laughs, because it saw how it could be enveloped
by another house, that saw its potential, where it could be a “he”
rather than an “it.” Above all things, the Diamond House is still a house.
I saw myself not as a visitor to a building, but as a patron of its needs
of its fears and failures as well as its delights and successes.
I was his loyal friend, and he responded by giving me the task
of reimagining himself.

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The architect is the context

Hejduk: I didn’t know how to transform an idea into three dimensions.
I would cut away at that block and it never worked. It always looked
static and upright. That’s how it was. It just didn’t work.

A Brunelleschian memory, the late days at Cooper Union
with brief pauses to fill our stomachs with charcoal and laughter.
When the poem is written, it becomes a space, that can be realized
with speech. The Swedish Renaissance Horn & Hardart.
Lined up architects making their drawings out of chicken
bought from the walls, and in the ceiling, there hang flags
without nationality, flags without symbolism, empty flags.
We touch upon the truth of paper, in that it is flat
at any point we watch it from; the architecture
we make is deceiving us, a trick performed well.
Projection is not vision; it is an eye of the ideal.

Perhaps it is not the history of architecture
that is revealed in Figure 7, but the history
of the architect. It is a diagram of Hejduk’s life
beginning in the shady origin of birth, proceeding
through a differentiation and a sudden realization
(the flatness), after which the world closes in again
towards the certainty of death, but before that:
we have the meanderings of the Polyphilian tutor
and the seemingly random dispersals of icons.

Hejduk is not an enigma; he has exposed himself
but against the clarity of the diagram is the seduction
of the perspective, the one he never accomplished
so he settled for the intermediate stage:
the point when we, the others, realize
that we’ve been fooled, and it brings
smiles to everyone’s faces.

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