Focus Work
The Experiments of de Stijl: The Maison d’Artiste

Focus Work
Zi-Jian Timmy Huang


Architectural projects are often abstracted into two-dimensional media: floor plans, sections, elevations and perspectives. In addition to those media, the three-dimensional model is also used. But unlike the other representations, a model has to be photographed in a further step in order for it to be mediated. Each of the various types of representation are related to one another and summarise the thoughts of the author. Therefore, the choice of media for an architect is of particular importance in order to communicate their thoughts effectively to the audience.

This project examines the different types of representation and their relation to each other. It questions their effect on the audience and in doing so, it tries to interpret our understanding of representational techniques in a new way. As an example, the strategies of the artists' group de Stijl are analysed. As a result, the work shows how the interplay of painting, axonometry, model and photography help create a fourth dimension of time. It only becomes clearer when their exhibition ‘Les Architectes du Groupe de Stijl’ (Paris, 1923) is no longer perceived as an exhibition, but as a laboratory with the exhibited projects as experiments that summarise and demonstrate the findings of the de Stijl group. In the working process, the focus is placed on the Maison d'Artiste, designed by Theo van Dosburg and Cornelis van Eesteren.

The consideration of the Maison d'Artiste as an experiment is taken to its limits by interpreting its publication in the magazine de Stijl as a subsequent experiment. Through the floating arrangement of the three-dimensional model in two-dimensional images, van Doesburg managed to translate photography from a tool of documentation into a new meaning. Thus, the publication is neither a copy nor a documentation of the exhibition in Paris, but an experiment on the representation of time that functions autonomously.


Dr. Matthew James Wells