Pier Vittorio Aureli

Pier Vittorio Aureli, The Marriage of Reason and Squalor - Drawings for Non-compositional Architecture, 2001-14 DM 2068.2 IN SET – Drawing Matter

Pier Vittorio Aureli (*1973), The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, 2001 – 2014. Pencil, pen and ink on wove paper, 500 × 500 mm.

The Marriage of Reason and Squalor is a set of drawings I’ve produced since 2001. They are an investigation into what, in the absence of a better definition, I’ve called ‘non-compositional architecture’. Since the very beginning, I’ve conceived of these drawings as something to be executed by the simplest of means, and all starting with a 50 × 50 cm sheet of paper on which I draw with pencil and ink a building with no specific programme. Each of the resulting building plans then emerges according to the following constraints: choose the simplest geometrical form (i.e., a square) and then work out its further articulation from the logic of the initial form. The organisation of plans and elevations must be the logical consequence of the first step. In addition, the spatial organisation of the proposed building must adhere in all its parts to the logic of the initial form, including its proportion, symmetries and internal relationships.


Within the tradition of architecture we could think of parallels in ancient Chinese architecture where the form of buildings or cities was deduced by the subdivision of an initial simple form (a square or a rectangle), rather than by multiplication or addition. Once a form was decided, all its further articulations were logically deduced from this initial step.

In this sense, non-compositional architecture offers a kind of paradox: on the one hand, it is the explicit result of a clear decision, and on the other, its inexorable logic erases its ‘authors’. More fundamentally, non-compositional architecture is non-functional, non-narrative and non-justifiable.

– Pier Vittorio Aureli


On Pier Vittorio Aureli's longer description of the Marriage of Reason and Squalor;  on the repetitive use of line, Kathy Prendergast; on the internal logic and systematisation of drawing, showing the author's hand in one case and eliminating it in another, Peter Eisenman's House II and House VI; and on other works by Pier Vittorio Aureli and Dogma