Proust Was an Architect

A lot of architects fancy themselves to be writers too, but according to Christian de Portzamparc and Philippe Sollers, architecture itself shares something fundamental with writing.

At least, I think that’s the point—or one of the points—of Writing and Seeing Architecture, a slim book that records a long, digressive conversation between Sollers, a novelist and critic, and de Portzamparc, an architect and the 1994 Pritzker winner.

Whether you find the transcript fascinating or pretentious probably depends on your tolerance for rambling discussions like the following, by Sollers:
An architect is someone who will tell me in an entirely new way what a room is, or a hallway, a staircase, a bathroom, a living room, what we used to call a dining room, and don’t forget the toilet. … And then a street, a neighborhood, an unexpected bay, water, light, the sky—something that sleeps well. That sleeps beyond the spectacle, so as to find again time lost, things past. Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past begins with sleep. And yet there’s nothing more awake, more lucid. Proust was a great architect, he starts from his bed.
Man, a neuroscientist and an architect—who knew? But if you’re wondering what really happens when writers try to play architect, let me tell you: it’s not pretty.

Categories: Bookshelf