Raimund Abraham (March 6, 1991)

Michael Rotondi introduces Thom Mayne who, in turn, introduces Raimund Abraham.

Abraham discusses his work in terms of memory and tactility, and seeking mysteries in a world that needs mysteries more than solutions.

Abraham describes practicing architecture as a discipline which has less to do with building than the solitude of his studio. He characters his work as based on the idea of the origin of architecture as a disruption of the site that produces the horizon. His Nine Houses series are examples of an attempt to create a new architectonic vocabulary while redefining commodified habitation as a ritual. The House Without Rooms stresses site intervention over program.

Abraham discusses the importance of solitude, stating that when complexity in architecture simply mirrors the complexity of life, it becomes a tool of that complexity. He see his work as continuous experimentation, but is also focused on eliminating speculation. He discusses his Times Square Tower and Berlin Wall Church.

Having decided to stop building in the 1960s, Abraham describes his 1982 reentry into the profession as traumatic. After winning a competition with his fragmented wall entry that remembers the layout of old Berlin, the project was moved to a site across the street from the one given in the competition. The final built project simultaneously connects and cuts between two fragments of the past, forming an accessible landscape. His second place entry for the Jewish Museum in Berlin consists of a variety of rooms for contemplation and is based on the idea that this moment in German history could never be resolved. His winning entry for a plan for public housing in Vienna is also treated as a city fragment, recalling typologies from old cities and continuing the Austrian tradition of creating new city fragments to house factory workers.

Abraham presents a stair project he did for a house near Innsbruck as an example of his belief that poetry is hidden in the ordinary and must be dug up to be found. He explains his entry for the Acropolis Museum Competition as exceptional because unlike his other competitions, he does not see this project as outside of his personal work. He feels the winning project is symptomatic of our times in which great losses such as the destruction of the New York MoMA are justified by the commodification of museums as art. He closes by reading a statement about the importance of the role of solitude and silence in architecture.

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