Juan Almarza Anwandter
About continuous surfaces in contemporary architecture
Contemporary architecture exhibits a certain predilection for continuous surfaces. Volumes are conceived not in tectonic-additive terms, but rather as continuous, seamless envelopes without joints. These are conveniently (and deceptively) hidden, giving the impression that the transition between elements like walls and windows is just a subtle change of materiality within a continuous surface. Implicit in this fashionable trend is a certain form of “progressive optimism”: we can get rid of any form of resistance, and, quoting Byung-Chul Han, of “negativity”. But we can go deeper with this critical analysis. The Kosmos, as a whole, is phenomenologically perceived as an articulation between discrete elements defined by limits. These elements are brought together as an assemblage of parts mediated by joints. The horizon is the joint between the sky and the earth. The beach shore is the joint between the sea and the land. The knee is the joint between the upper and lower portions of our legs. And so forth. The will of suppression of tectonic joints in architecture is the will of negating a fundamental trait of Nature. It stems out from an abstract, utopian-progressive conception of a world made up of a single material, without limits, without gravity, and without time. In the end, it is the will of suppressing the tragic dimension that is inherent of our experience of being-in-the-world.