Time and Space - Beyond Boundaries

The above illustration, Tableau II, is a painting by the abstract artist of the early twentieth century Piet Mondrian. He along with other abstract artists like Malevisch, Theo Van Doesburg etc. taught at Bauhaus School, where, an atmosphere, that led the world away from the regular outdated ‘standardisation’ of ideas in architecture towards the new futurist era of abstraction and deconstructivism in all art forms and eventually architecture, was created. In Tableau II, Mondrian expresses the constraint experienced through simple basic geometric forms as in straight lines and eventual rectangles, each of a different category and identity, a unique character and own space. Yet, most of the elements leading outward take a right-angled turn parallel to the boundary just before exiting the canvas, thus creating a confined atmosphere for each rectangle to exist. Such a move fixes the function of each space defined by the straight lines, without leaving a potential towards evolution. As against this, Mondrian’s second painting titled as Composition 2 encompasses a composition of similar geometric forms where each and every element of the composition has been given a unique identity, depth, weight and perspective of existence. Each element goes out of the canvas thus finding no constraint and showing complete potential to expand and evolve. Both the paintings have similar colour schemes and elements yet portray two completely contrasting ideas.
As Patrik Schumacher states in his paper ‘The concept of space in Architecture: Emergence, Hegemony and Transcendence’, the initial intellectual impetus for the art historians of the space was given by Kant’s striking idea that the Euclidean logic of space – alongside a series of other fundamental principles like time, substance, cause and effect which together seem to structure the external world – derives its inviolate universality from the constitution of the perceiving/experiencing subject and therefore cannot be attributed to the world itself. Euclidean space is again an idea of a very confined geometrical space in which a position can be defined to an absolute value. This was the theory on which most of space design used to take place, until the early twentieth century where the thought of establishment of emotions during space design took place leading to a new era in the history of architecture. The design based on Euclid’s logic could be simply compared to Tableau II, where each element has its constraint and an insufficiency towards growth, while the space design developed later could be compared to Composition 2, where every element possesses an exponent of experiential growth thus leading to evolution of that space through passage of time. This was merrily witnessed in the late twentieth century where architecture captured time in space and set it flowing through the space instead of making it static due to bordering it into a confined Euclidean manner. Those who envisioned this had thus already realised the relativity experienced in the concept of space and hence stressed upon philosophical statements such as “Time is space”. However, to me, space and time are both individual metaphysical concepts that exist on their own equal positions that can be correlated and connected through architecture. The fact that certain activities take place in a defined space itself shows that designing of space involves formulating and shaping of time to be experienced in the space. Hence, while designing, architects need to naturally consider all the aspects involving time and give them utmost importance. Showing high sensitivity towards ‘time through the space’ being designed, during the process of design, leads to a successful future identity of the space designed due to the experiential time through architecture.

Ojas Basargekar