Bernard Tschumi (born January 25, 1944, Lausanne, Switzerland) is an architect, writer and educator, commonly associated with deconstructivism. Born of French and Swiss parentage, he works and lives in New York and Paris. He studied in Paris and at ETH in Zurich, where he received his degree in architecture in 1969. From 1977 to 1981, after his move from London to New York, Tschumi produced the ‘Manhattan Transcripts,’ designs and collages in which he tackles new forms of ‘architectonic notations’ including such ideas as ‘form follows fiction’.
The moment cinema was invented, it became part of a wave of technological innovation at the beginning of the 20th century that changed the way architects and designers conceived space — the airplane, automobile, Einstein’s general and special theories of relativity, quantum mechanics and even the bicycle, were all invented nearly coincidentally. This superseded the single-point perspective conception of space as inherited since the Renaissance, and certain architects, most notably Rem Koolhaas, Bernard Tschumi and Diller & Scofidio made a number of important investigative projects into the nature of perception, using the idea of cinema as medium as a part of their work. Hence, films formed major source of inspiration but not without socio-economic conditions. With political ideas comes ideas of organisation, and with organisation comes architecture, is what Tschumi believed.
Throughout his career as an architect, theorist and academic, Bernard Tschumi's work has re-evaluated architecture's role in the practice of personal and political freedom. Since the 70s, Tschumi has argued that there is no fixed relationship between architectural form and the events that take place within it. The ethical and political imperatives that inform his work emphasise the establishment of a proactive architecture, which non-hierarchically engages balances of power through programmatic and spatial devices. According to Tschumi's theory, architecture's role is, not to express an extant social structure, but to function as a tool for questioning that structure and revising it. This approach unfolded in his architectural practice first, by exposing the conventionally defined connections between architectural sequences and the spaces, programs and movement which produce and reiterate these sequences; and second, by inventing new associations between space and the events that ‘take place’ within it, through processes of defamiliarization, de-structuring, superimposition and cross programming.
Tschumi's critical understanding of architecture remains at the core of his practice today. By arguing that there is no space without event, he designs conditions for a reinvention of living, rather than repeating established aesthetic or symbolic conditions of design. Through these means, architecture becomes a frame for ‘constructed situations,’ a notion informed by the theory, city mappings and urban designs of the Situationist International. By advocating recombinations of program, space and cultural narrative, Tschumi asks the user to critically reinvent themselves as subjects.
“In America, it's more difficult because architects have lost a lot of power; power has fallen into the hands of the builders...the general strategy is determined by the client himself…that's a big problem. And that's what we want to avoid.”
"Any relationship between a building and its users is one of violence, for any use means the intrusion of a human body into a given space, the intrusion of one order into another." Tschumi in Architecture and disjunction
His Impact — His Projects:
The Manhattan Transcripts New York City-Manhattan, plan 1981–82
Parc de la Villette, international competition 1982–95
Interface Flon, Lausanne, Master-Plan competition; Rotterdam railway tunnel, the Netherlands 1988
ZKM - Centre for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, plan 1989
Kyoto Centre and new railway station, Japan, competition upon invitation; Glass Video Gallery, Groningen, the Netherlands 1990
Villa in Le Hague, the Netherlands 1991
National Studio for the Contemporary Arts, Tourcoing, France, international competition, first prize 1991–97
School of Architecture, Marne-La-Vallée, France (under construction); Lerner Student Centre, Columbia University, New York (under construction) 1994
Master Plan Renault, Paris, Competition upon invitation; Franklin Furnace Gallery, New York 1995
Exhibition Park in Zénith, Rouen, France 2000
Contemporary Art Museum in San Paolo, Brazil 2001
Vacheron Constantin watch factory, Geneva 2001
Museum of African Arts, New York, USA 2001
New Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece 2002
Limoges Concert Hall, France 2003–06