Raimund Abraham: The profanation of solitude (March 3, 2010)

Eric Owen Moss welcomes Raimund Abraham as a man without allegiances, “the platonic smithy from everywhere … before he disappears out the door.”

Abraham begins by discussing his participation with a dwindling group who intended to break with convention and rally against celebrity and spectacle in architecture. He sees his architecture as unrelated to time, as one cannot possess time, and stresses writing, drawing, and modeling architecture over building.

Abraham presents his own home in Mexico, describing his walks around the site, and how the climate influenced the design. The building consists of a large roof structure that covers both interior and exterior spaces. Abraham intended to emphasize the weight of the roof itself both for its stability and in hopes of increasing awareness of the architecture. He presents the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York, describing the building as three towers: a stair tower, a core, and a glass tower which combine in an unusually tall and narrow site.

Abraham concludes with a discussion of the Music House near Düsseldorf. He describes the site and a nearby art museum as well as his intent to create a building that would function as a pivot for the site to rotate around. The building is comprised of a suspended roof plate in combination with a monolithic structure. Abraham explains the formal organization as an intersection of a vertical void cylinder and tilted cylinder on the landscape. The opening between the roof and monolith are used to establish a horizontal view of the site. Abraham ends his talk with both a warning against slaving in a corporate office or worshiping celebrity architects, and some encouragement: “All you need is a piece of paper, a pencil and a desire to make architecture.”

(Tragically, this was Abraham’s last public appearance; he died after the lecture, later that same evening.)

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