7 DESIGN RULES: a small manifesto
These days, the word “crisis” is a popular qualifier within the disciplines of architecture and urbanism – partly because it makes the advocates of this qualifier feel good about themselves, and partly because it conveys a weird sense of urgency. This logic falsely suggests that progressive architects may produce a sort of counter-counter-revolution to overthrow the past in order to shape a new professional world of theory and practice. The “crisis argument” maintains that, in the evolution of architecture and urbanism, moments of so-called “crisis” are repeated cyclically. As a consequence, and in the presence of such critical moments or upon the delivery of one of their multiple reincarnations, the disciplines of architecture and urbanism would require a complete overhaul and a revision of its most fundamental principles.
This pointless debate has been settled at the School of Miami under the “Call to Order” rubric. Instead of arguing for pointless cyclical discussions, at times of severe professional identity crises, the School of Miami proposes the fundamental rooting of our professional practice on a unitary/minimalist/metaphysical practice grounded on: sobriety, solidity, the phenomenology of spatial perception, a respect for local building and socio-political traditions, a deep concern for the cultural role of ornamentation, an exploration of the sense of meaning in architecture and cities, the reduction of aesthetic languages to their minimal and most objective expressions, a love affair with asceticism and simplicity, a deep search for the essence of form, and a brand new means for the magic-realistic transmission of ideas through post-digital representation. The different manifestations of this Miami phenomenon can be summarized, in a very preliminary manner, within the confines of 7 Design Rules achieving almost all of the orderly goals within this foundational moment:
1. GEOMETRIC EXACTITUDE: centered upon the creation of works with basic geometric forms and layouts. This ordered fundamentalism is essentially Platonic and, as a consequence, it is a derivative of Pythagorean principles of proportion and harmony. Geometric precision seeks to express a maximum formal tension with the minimum of means while avoiding pointless parametric surprises and/or blubs. As a modern proposal, its ontological roots originate in principles of Gestalt Theory.
2. SIMPLICITY AND ASCETICISM: architecture and urbanism of great austerity and composition rigor require a point of departure rooted in the metaphysics of the archetypal. Simplicity and Asceticism are basically manifested through the existence of objects of perception with no additives - where a multiplicity of individuals can later on intervene to appropriate the space for its further evolution.
3. REPETITION AND SIMILARITY: the repetition of the identical/similar is not seen here as a result of the Industrial Age or as a consequence of Neo-liberal economics but as a Gestalt tactic generating effects of proximity, completion, figure/ground, grouping, easy understanding, continuity, expressiveness, closure, and even past experience, annoyance, obsession, and/or maximum anguish.
4. TECHNICAL PRECISION AND MATERIALITY: basic forms and layouts would be paradigmatically impossible in the absence of methodological excellence; innovative technologies and material dispositions should be grounded on a new type of objectivity that simplifies and divests, with the greatest clarity, the technical processes and organizations used to deal with environmental elements, the force of gravity, and/or to simply shelter human beings in basic dwellings. This type of oblivious precision must be based on the strictly rational, on the exact, and the most precise states of mind possible.
5. PREDOMINANCE OF STRUCTURAL FORM: it is possible to achieve a new monumentality with an architecture and urbanism that transmits a sensation of eternity: to which nothing can be added and to which nothing can be changed. This is a modern re-interpretation of the idea of the Primitive Hut and the typological absolute – the tracing of the deep hidden structures in contemporary cities and buildings.
6. SCALE DISTORTIONS: situating objects of architecture and urbanism in extraneous, non-related, non-referential scales provide a sense of awe and a tremendous necessity to understand their dimensions. In this case, objects of architecture and urbanism predominate by virtue of their dimensions and their specific aesthetic qualities. Their presence is based on sheer size and/or on the treatment of their skin in relationship with their surrounding environments. This is the real achievement of Burke’s idea of the sublime.
7. PRESENTISM: objects of architecture and urbanism should not be just self-referring or anti-historical but embedded in the fundamental environment of cultural allusions and formal absolutes. Architecture and urbanism should hypnotize their users, leading them in to the purest enjoyment of the present, into an eternal primitive and sacred time frame. Presentism is a way to make the observer experience individual localities, with body and mind and with the greatest intensity possible, each moment of the day: a pure spatial, volumetric, timeless, and chromatic relation with a meaningful narrative.
In the oeuvre of the School of Miami, local figuration and transfiguration, objects of persistence, concrete textures, contextual colors rooted in the Caribbean, the subtle atmosphere of a particular place and its geometrical rhythms are elegantly applied to rational schemes with an immense degree of legibility and memorability. These works are sober, naked, ascetic, and elegant yet they are not empty nor are they silently muted by contemporary means of consumption or by real estate development practices.
These works are sublime and fundamental.
They have no beginning; nor have they ever had one.
Their presence is all there is!