Page 12 - The New ARCH Vol5 No1 (2018)
P. 12

International Journal of Contemporary Architecture ”The New ARCH“ Vol. 5, No. 1 (2018)                  ISSN 2198-7688

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    3. Within disciplinary limits, how might the            perspective and elastic space sensibilities. There is an
        interrogation from the point of view of space       isolation of elements and their disposition in a
        concepts contribute to the practice and             composition with circulation elements binding the work
        theorisation of an architecture of justice and      in a homogeneous whole and thus on the side of a
        could such an analysis contribute to making         perspective sensibility. Form relationships seem to exist
        corporeal specific institutional values during a    in an a priori state, perhaps a consequence of that
        project’s conception, development, and              mechanistic ideal which led project development. The
        realisation?                                        plan produces what can also be described as
                                                            geometrically structured and shallow space, one with
    4. Can concrete observations, whether conceptual,       little depth in any case. This might be attributed in
        historical, or methodological, be made about        Bordeaux to the absence of mass, mouldings, and deep
        architecture’s capacity to imagine or               shadow: everything is refined to thin surfaces
        reconceptualise existing or future institutions     punctuated by a grid of steel posts and vaulting
        and if so in what manner?                           members. The ambiguous shape of the flask-like court
                                                            volumes on the other hand introduces a strong figural
   2.1. Bordeaux Law Courts                                 disruption into the building. This allows Bordeaux to be
                                                            placed at the same time on the side of sensation and
The Bordeaux Law Courts were won in an international        movement, displaying a consequent number of elastic
competition in 1992 and the building opened in 1998.        or non-perspective space attributes. Such a reading
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ website – the source of    allows one to claim that Bordeaux displays an ‘art of
project documents and references - suggests that there      distributive organisation’ at the same time that it
were two parallel ambitions by the architect and their      develops through the Piranesian acrobatics seen in
client that explicitly accompanied the development of       section a civic event appropriate to a heterotopic order.
the project.[3] The first ambition was to realise a         This idea of the heterotopic adopts Colin St John
building that would ‘… through a feeling of transparency    Wilson’s interpretation of another law court project,
and openness, create a positive perception of the           with traits well aligned with aspects of Argan’s two
accessibility of the French judicial system.’ This perhaps  space concepts [4].
led to the major move to reveal the court pods - to adopt
the architect’s term -, as free-standing elements visible   The Bordeaux complex perhaps realises its full force
from outside and inside the building. The second major      when seen as a manifestation of that elastic or
organisational move was to make equally visible             scenographic space that Argan proposes as a lens for
separate circulation routes for the public,                 understanding the specificity of Palladio’s contribution.
administrators, judges, and magistrates. The office         Animations of movement result at Bordeaux in part
website describes this aim as one of ‘liberating the        from the presence of linking elements (bridges,
courtrooms from the ‘box’. A second preoccupation           corridors, elevators, stairs) comparable to ‘undulating
concerned environmental systems research. A passive         levels,’ the building above all ‘a matter of accesses and
energy strategy accompanied the whole design process        refuges, possibilities of movement and manoeuvre’
according to published statements and illustrations. The    even in the absence of use.viii Different from Argan’s
operational and symbolic brief was thus paralleled by a     reading of Palladio, animation and vibration in the
technical brief involving investigations into passive       Bordeaux Law Courts are achieved in a system of
energy according to the firm, who claim the building        unrelatedness evident in a close examination of the
form reflects ‘the environmental research that informed     section.
the whole design process.’
                                                               2.2. Palace of Justice Chandigarh
Building uses are disposed in three independent pieces:
a bar of offices and judges’ chambers, the seven            Planned, designed and built in the 1950s, the Palace of
courtroom pods, and a six-storey atrium or salle des pas    Justice by Le Corbusier is part of the capital complex in
perdus. An undulating roof surmounts the entire             Chandigarh. The building contains the high court and
complex, itself penetrated by the upper light scoops of     eight other courtrooms, the former separated from the
the courtrooms. The building is sited so that the offices   others by a four storey salle des pas perdus which
run along a main avenue with courtrooms raised above        provides entry and access through the building.
a two-storey podium with parking located in a basement      Originally conceived to be one level above the main
level. Bridges, elevated corridors, stairs and other        pedestrian esplanade around which all the major
circulation elements provide separate secure access for     institutions front, the building as built is approached at
the judges, courtroom staff, and the public.                grade between large reflecting pools from the
                                                            esplanade. The public enters the courtrooms directly off
An initial review of the Bordeaux Law Courts according      the portico. Judges and other court officials follow a
to Argan’s two space concepts reveals a mixture of

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M. Jasper: “Architectural Sensibilities: Observations on Perspective Space and Elastic Space”, pp. 1–8  4
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