A couple and their child choose a sloping plot of land on which to build their house and raise their family. Their wishes stimulate two ways of living and guide three worlds: the parents’, the child’s, and a third shared one. Well removed from any identity-related consolidation, their common arrangement engages with an imperceptible future, no longer do they even try to stand apart from any social type. They aspire to become everyone in the way in which nobody can become like everybody.
This imperceptible future does not involve fleeing from the world, their alliance makes this world flee to the edge of the representations they have of it. Their desires about dwelling are expressed in gusts of words, and bits of matter and sensations. They are condensed over a set of floating things which find no explanation in the sphere of meaning. There are just passages of affects and degrees of intensity which are to be found in the present nature of the event, and this “something that is happening”.
There is an initial desire to be buried underground expressing the attraction of living in the secret of a subterranean base, Pegasus (referring to a US Comic of the 1980s). There is always a seething quality of underground life, a whole social life which runs through the world. The earth here encompasses the individual and describes an immersion in an incalculable mass. The other desire displays a suspension of the flesh in the sky. Air and light become the agents of a continuous event: something is in transition, a delicate atmosphere fills the motionless body, the souls drifts in a melancholy way without changing with the matter. The light neutralizes the matter. The idea of disappearance appears in the perception of these two desires inscribed on their bodies: disappearance in matter and disappearance of matter in order to go on living come what may.
These two desires express a novel power play: one issues from a force pushing towards the depths when an opposite vertical force seeks to occupy the atmosphere. Architecture takes these libidinal collisions as its object. It becomes an interference between these forces. Architecture exceeds a representational intention of their world and functional demands, architecture becomes the constructed arrangement of their vanishing lines.
The meaning of Gus van Sant’s film Elephant may be: social codes of a certain youth, the emergence of a destructive madness, the relation to an institutional authority all developing in the collegiate space where cohabitation is reduced to the mechanical intersecting of people who are turned in on themselves. But the rigidity of the framing on Michelle associated with the shallow depth of field introduces an extreme tension by lessening the understanding of what is going on off-screen. The events are akin to fleeting acts. We plunge into an amniotic fluid, precisely where affects diminish. Here there is a policy of the future which is not afraid of the fearsome. Intensities of matter and words ring out based on a certain fragile order which rends chaos asunder.
It is all a question of perception. The house absorbs desires based on the same intensive policy as this film. Pegasus House is fuelled by these unequal bits of propositions and things, expressions of heterogeneous forces, and redistributes them at a functional level where significant systems pursue their identity-based economies. Here and now, precisely where heroism and cynicism vie in intent. These desires form kinds of matter that are not formed, degrees of burial, disappearances and erasure which Pegasus House selects. The definition of the project proceeds via the way these differences function, at the spatial, organic and atmospheric levels.
How does this work? Chaos is that infinite speed which all the various forces reach in one fell swoop and at the same time. Architecture consists in ordering in time speeds and degrees of differences which rend infinite chaos asunder: the appearance of events defined one by one in accordance with issues stated one by one. The problem creates the events which rend chaos. By occupying chaos with an initial temporal draft, the first connections are created at the same time as the special features defined organs as yet un-formed (functional intentions). In no time, organs and connections will combine without any kind of predominant subordination. If the organs determine the connections, the connection brings on nature and organic form. In this way, we start to get close to making organic, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture: genetic growth determined by distinctive features.
White volumes of brickwork emerge from the earth. Buried organs (living rooms) are contorted in the economy of the masonry. They do not encounter any kind of extensive grid augmenting the difference on one of these frequencies. Everything here is determined on the basis of a free geometry governed by the physical restrictions of the masses of earth. In the bowels of the earth, the rooms are lengthened and become contorted. Underground, compressed spaces have found their place by occupying the smallest meanders of void and geological weakness. The passages win out over the rooms. Stairways will negotiate the slightest topographical ups and downs to link everything together, while the organs slipping between the masses cling on to these distributive innards. This organic whole is thoroughly watertight, sufficient unto itself, but ready to support other things.
The downward thrust of the organs means that they have to be pierced to look for that light which suspends darkness. Beams of light pierce the obscurity the way Romanesque churches promote icons. The bright light of the buried rooms is very sensitive to meteorological variations, as it is to clouds passing. Any substantial variation of the brightness of the light considerably affects bodies, a new threshold of perception records time passing. At the same time, the ears bathe in an acoustic magma, an environment in which intensities of sound and timbre’d colours become blurred. The sub-basses reign: we remain alone with our breathing, space contracts in favour of the presence of a mass which envelops the bodies. The relation to outside is cut off from the ears, the sole relation to outside is the view of these silent beams of light which cut through the low sound frequencies.
The second organic set is placed on the submerged part and against the white saliences above ground. Its composition is subordinate: the international dimension of the shipping container recycled as a dwelling unit follows a logic of stacking determined by its particular structure: the eight structural corners govern the combination of inhabitable units. Self-supporting, the containers are set on the subterranean base; indestructible, they are broken up to obtain large openings, and the presence of matter fades. This effect of disappearance is increased by dissociating different layers of skins which form the envelope: the steel structure of the containers, then the wooden cladding, then the suspended frames of the black wooden structures appear by letting each one co-exist. The multiplication of these functional skins contrasts with the unity of the massive and homogeneous envelope of the first arrangement.
If using containers expresses an ecological wish, this recycling becomes a poetic recycling: the use of the container goes beyond its physical and functional properties to give a particular perceptive consistency. Open to the northern light, its brightness remains constant and even, for many hours each day. The quality of this light, without any solar direction, contrasts with the shadows which things from the south contain within them. The envelope and the matter lose their consistency, and bodies float indefinitely in the same way. The bodies are little affected by time passing. The eye perceives the tiniest rustling of the trees while the body basks in a stable field of light. The urban background noise filled with low frequencies is evened out by animal refrains now and then, which pass through this organic ensemble without altering.
The Pegasus House functions like an interface between earth and sky with its two organic ensembles. They brush against one another and with each shift from one arrangement to the other, distinctive physical features are displayed, and atmospheres follow one another on the basis of their connections.
Their number and their spatial positions have an influence on their interdependence and organic distribution. We may simply say that a form of organizational reciprocity is at work between the two spatial systems studied: the connection (circulations) and the organ (rooms). On the first establishments of a way of using organic sets and connections, a whirling growth blurs the plan. By accident, a new unpredictable thing happens between the two systems: a diagonal. In no time this vanishing line disturbs the order of vertical forces of the two organic sets. It punctuates events based on a synthetic method of decision: a loop of circulation is imposed, and organizes the house’s different rooms. Everywhere events are condensed on coordinates, connections are multiplied and stabilized permitting the organs to be attached along this loop. The rooms are scattered along this loop. This diagonal, the “musicality” of the Pegasus House, is a force line which influences the different arrangements and their frequencies based on the contingent forces that it encounters. With neither origin nor hierarchy, it dovetails the organs of the two arrangements in such a way that they depart from the original composition plans. This common denominator has no form, just a distributive and rhythmic function, a sort of functional ubiquity. Stairway for one, corridor for the other, sometimes becoming a room crossed.
Architecture programmes an operation: filtering indefinite (unconscious) desires, stimulating special features (passage of affects), then constructing places in which the affects are reversed (inhabiting). The special features expressing invisible forces find a communicable trace on the bodies. A heterogeneous atmospheric field made up of flows of light and sound, expanses and masses, recurs in a rhythmic way which is different at each moment: the strong time-frame in the submerged arrangement obtained by the ceaseless light variations echoes the luminous monotony of the upper arrangement. A succession of visual outlets in the part above ground and physical immersions below ground are developed beneath the residents’ footsteps. The same thing is reproduced for continuous acoustic variations during movements in the house.
There is a kind of urgency to live in this house. The peaceful collision of the two arrangements is fuelled by identity-related vanishing lines. Another form of contemporaneity emerges from the Pegasus House: the freedom to draw a world that one puts to flight in one’s manner of inhabiting. This manner mixes the anonymity of innards caught in the crannies of the earth and the social publicity of an invariable bubble of light. Pegasus House with its unequal degrees of permeability to the outside experiments with this form of living urgency: in the fleeting instant of what happens, imperceptible developments are tried out based on variable speeds and rhythms; the softest encounters the hardest, the slowest the most nervous. In the oblivion of the new, in search of abstract impressions suspended in the hollow of the body, Pegasus House becomes the occurrence of a multiple “taking place”, that of the event duplicating the great policy of the sign with its meaning. Wandering between chaos and flux.