‘”Surely you agree, Mr Architect, that buildings should have a base, a middle and a top?”
[The Architect replies]
“Yes, but not necessarily in that order”’
Bernard Tchumi, Architecture and Disjunction, 1996, 166
In the 1960s a second – much more severe and radical – exodus from the theatres set in. New performance venues were created in former factories, slaughterhouses, bunkers, street car depots, markt halls, shopping malls, fair centres, sports stadiums, on streets and subway platforms, in public parks and beer tents, on landfill sites, in auto garages and ruins, in cemeteries. Increasingly, preference was given to spaces that were not originally conceived as performance venues because they did not set any clear guidelines for the relationship between actors and spectators. These spaces constantly redefined performative relationships by refusing to allot a specific spatial segment to either group. In these spaces, performance itself regulated the relationship between actors and spectators and opened up possibilities for movement and perception. Performance generated spatiality.
Erika Fischer-Lichte, The transformative power of performance, p.109
This compelling example demonstrates the performing potential of architecture to “make” the event, but its overpowering presence can also subvert its original intent. Niemeyer’s Sambódromo, by formalising the public institution of the samba parade, transformed the communal ritual of carnival into a civic spectacle for public – and touristic – consumption. If architects recognise the social power of architecture as a performing art, then the question of participation must remain in the forefront. Architecture has the potential to support ephemeral events for public appropriation, but it can also become a tool of power by imposing order onto the chaotic nature of existing rituals. If we accept the premise that architecture is a performing art, it is also our responsibility to understand its full potential to avoid making it into a tool that inhibits participation in existing popular ritual and identify-defining events.
From medieval festival to modern day carnival, in: Architecture as a performing art, p.144
“The architects that we connect with famous cinquecento theater designs, including both Serlio and Scamozzi, were also festival architects for their princely patrons. They experienced for themselves the power of ephemeral performance structures to transform the city through a reordering of perceptions of space and also of time within a simultaneous awareness of the illusory and the real”
Through the lens image and illusion at play in the ideal city, in Architecture as a performance p.99