THEORIES AND MANIFESTOES OF CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE
edited by Charles Jencks and Karl Kropf
1999 Ben van Berkel & Caroline Bos
For van Berkel and Bos the diagram serves as a tool for liberating architecture from language, interpretation and signification.
Diagrams generate new, instrumental meanings and best known as visual tools used for the compression of information. The essence of the diagrammatic technique is that it introduces into a work qualities that are unspoken, disconnected from an ideal or an ideology, random, intuitive, subjective, not bound to a linear logic-qualities that can be physical, structural, spatial or technical. There are three stages to the diagram: selection, application and operation. A diagram is an assemblage of solified situations, techniques, tactics and functionings. The diagram is not a metaphor or paradigm, but an “abstract machine” that is both content and expression. This distinguishes diagrams from indexes, icons and symbols. It does not represent an existing object or situation, but it is instrumental in the production of new ones. The function of the diagram is to delay typology and advance design by bringing in external concepts in a specific shape: as figure, not as image or sign. The finding of the diagram is instigated by specific questions relating to the project at hand : its location, programme and construction.
The insertion of the diagram into the work ultimately points to the role of time and action in the process of design. Interweaving time and action makes tranformation possible. Before the work diverts into a typology a diagram, rich in meaning, full of potential movement and loaded with structure, which connects to some important aspects of the project, is found. The specific properties of this diagram throw a new light onto the work. As a result, the work becomes unfixed; new directions and new meanings are triggered.