Space of iconic architecture

Autonomy Reconsidered: Ethics in Architecture, Urbanism and Landscape // Call for Papers

9-11 Juli 2014 // Delft, Netherlands

Space of iconic architecture – autonomy reconsidered 2014

Space of iconic architecture – autonomy reconsidered 2014 – Presentation


Space of iconic architecture

Keywords: iconic architecture, provocation, manifest

 Urban environment, particularly of dynamic megalopolis cities, is constantly changing in physical and metaphysical forms. Urban fragments are cleared for new construction, redesigned and built up. Buildings or urban designs, implanted in particular context, start interact in active or passive form, causing mutation and transformation of the urban fabric.

On the one hand, Manifest Architecture embodies a certain autonomy, on the other – it is aimed to disturb the tranquility. ‘Kubuswoning’ by Piet Blom, much talked-of Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, The Sydney Opera House provoked, irritated and harbored the ethics, but ethics of nihilism.

Each iconic building as less well known has a bright visual shell and receives instant fame (Jencks, 2005). They are not silent. They scream. However, what is the result? Do the authors achieve the task? Perhaps the autonomy of object should be considered as a temporary phenomenon. In this regard, code of ethics of iconic architecture changes as changes the attitude to its aesthetic content.

Counter-architecture can be counter-only in a specific context, which becomes spatial background. Postmodern assemblage is autonomous visually, but socially, economically and philosophically the object is an active communicator. Urban context is an open system, constantly exchanging information. The city is in a state of disequilibrium, as there is the mobility of environment, the fundamental instability and innovative nature (Prigogine & Stengers 1984). Environmental events (iconic architecture) are changing urban fragment; they are “order parameters”, the control parameters (Haken 2006). But environment in turn, defines the appearance and behavior of these events, then there is a ” circular causality” (Haken 2006). Urban context and architectural object influence and define each other. According to fact of matter, energy and information exchange between environment and architectural object, it is a natural conclusion that the quality of the building will be reflected in the context and will entail physical (visual) changes in the place design: the number and quality of buildings, social activity; context acquire other aesthetic values. Biography of iconic, alien architectural object and the environment, which it has changed, is the history of aesthetic and ethical mutual influence.

Iconic architecture is precisely a sign, because initially been programmed for a specific effect. Image and the impact of the museum in Bilbao and subsequent objects of this trend had powerful political and economic support as elements of general mechanism for updating the environment. Could we talk in this case about the autonomy?

Is it right that interaction between architecture, which has contrasting characteristics to the context, and the recipient-context carries a maximum possibilities to the urban development? Maybe, It will result the exchange of various information between these two elements (contrast object and context). Typical building projects, mass architecture are the main city background, context. Avant-garde, iconic, architecture, which embodies the author’s manifesto and a natural reflection of its time, is regarded as unique in the urban fabric. Charged of creativity potential buildings carry a destructive and creative infection of transformation.



Jencks, Charles 2005, The iconic building. The power of enigma, Frances Lincoln, London.

Prigogine, Ilya, Nicolis, G 1977, Self-organization in nonequilibrium systems: from dissipative structures to order through fluctuations,  Wiley, New York

Haken, Hermann 2006, Information and Self-Organization. A Macroscopic Approach to Complex Systems, Springer Series in Synergetics, Berlin, Heidelberg

Prigogine, Ilya, Stengers, Isabelle 1984, Order out of Chaos: Man’s new dialogue with nature, Batam Books, Toronto


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