Radical Raumplan

Invited Distinguished Professor:

Gonzalo Viallo. Morphtopia


Gabriel Esquivel,  Studio Professor

Texas A&M University


Team: Will Van Dusen and Brenden Bjerke.

The real but withdrawn qualities of the raumplan of the Muller House can be understood as the unknown excess of the object. This is the space of the architectural project that exists beyond the limits of human cognition. Although this space is finite, it is vast and abundant. Any attempt to enter into this space must be somehow framed. As a metaphor, or a vehicle to frame the unknown excess, we take in part the idea of viewing, which is epistemologically important to the raumplan. Using this framework, our project attempts to go beyond our cognitive limitations and enter into the unknown space of the architectural project. From here, we can extract new spatial phenomena that can be notated into the known layer, to be understood by the architectural audience. For us, this means using a series of metaphors to frame our exploration of the unknown and attempt to extract new phenomena that engage the raumplan independent of its relationship to a human subject. This allows us to operate in a jective framework, allowing for an understanding of the object autonomously.


As one metaphor we take the work of Francis Bacon, specifically his Study After Velazquez, understood through the Deleuzian framework of sensation. Here, the abandonment of figuration replaces the narrative and the symbolic with sensation. Sensation, in Deleuzian terms, dissolves the distinction between subject and object. The same body that gives the sensation, also receives it. This expands upon the jective framework that has already been established. The confrontation between figure and field denies familiarity. The first images we worked became the first extractions of previously unknown qualities. A series of manual models were made based on reference images. The process of making the objects revealed previously unknown qualities. Variation in degree and intensity of resolution and texture begin to develop a framework of operations that allow us to explore more of the unknown.


Moving to a digital medium allows for new qualities to emerge within the already established framework. Understanding the object further reveals the importance of scale, resolution and material effect on notating the unknown qualities. The object begins to deny spatial clues, blurring the distinction between subject and object. Additional analog studies allowed us to extract information regarding mereological relationships of part to whole as well as how this pertains to contour. This provided the ability for us to articulate a reconsideration of formal resolution and the perception of distances. This idea is developed by use of scale and organization and also is further expanded by employing techniques in material affects and the distortion of these resolutions. In summary, this is interacting with scales and views that exist at the very close, the very far, and some space between.


To understand the Muller house through the framework of viewing, we reorganized the spatial sequences as an assemblage of stages and frames. The new assemblages were then distorted as they might if a camera panned across them. This collision of human and machine viewing begins to deny the understanding of a singular privileged viewpoint, typical of the raumplan as it has been understood.


In order to engage with the object at multiple scales, similar operations were done on single frames within the assemblages. Here, the object undergoes a series of shifts, distortions, and variations of resolution within the individual parts of the frame. These operations, in addition to engaging with the concept of viewing, begin to isolate the figure and therefore operate as sensation. These operations result in a mereology of parts that include objects at varying degrees of resolution, distortion, transparency, and reflectivity. These degrees of qualities represent objects at varying states of withdrawal.


The ontological framework lends itself to the idea that a single representational style is not appropriate to a complex object. Therefore, the medium becomes an important consideration. Here, medium refers both to mode, or “means of doing something”; and to expression, or “means by which something is communicated.” By employing a multiplicity of mediums, both in the construction and representation of the object, our ability to interact with and understand the object expands.


The drawing as a medium allows for the isolation of certain qualities of the object. The elevations, for example, show the blurring of figure and field as the house and the garden become indistinguishable at some moments. Variations of intensity and degrees of resolution at multiple scales in the sections highlight the difference between spaces. In some moments, relatively clear boundaries are understood, while in others they begin to dissolve completely. Within these varied boundaries, interior multiplicities of spatial qualities are also framed. The plans argue further the ideas of multiplicity and difference in the spaces. Additionally, they begin to engage with conditions of interiority and exteriority, and the continuity between the two. The varied wall resolutions imply differing degrees of boundary, that allow for differing relationships between exterior and interior spaces. The unrolled plans provide an opportunity for us to communicate the variation in spatial qualities in the house. The drawing on the left is representing the aspect of the spatial system which is serialized and is more related to some literal quality we are able to extract from the Muller House. The drawing on the right is further exhibiting the possible qualities in the project which can be almost the exact opposite.


The rendering medium is augmented through a blending of image qualities. The resulting images illustrate the medium’s ability as both a mode and an expression. Using this medium, we can create a collision of atmospheres, acknowledging the complexity of the object and its existence in multiple affective states. The same space is here represented in different states, with each state being an equally true representation of the object.


The raumplan of the Muller House, while already a radical concept, has largely been understood through a framework that privileges the singular subject. The framework of multiplicity and differentiation established in this project leads to an object that begins to break with this concept by confusing the reading of distances and replacing the idea of a privileged viewpoint with that of a privileged area. This helps us achieve an object that possesses maximum differentiation of spaces. This is what we call a radicalization of the raumplan.