Power & Public Space 6: André Patrão – Eisenman, Derrida, and Chora L Works (Parc de la Villette)

Matthew Blunderfield and André Patrão

Power & Public Space is a podcast from Drawing Matter and the Architecture Foundation hosted by Matthew Blunderfield. You can find the full podcast series here. Or listen now:

Parc de la Villette was emblematic of the strong ties made between the disciplines of architecture and philosophy in the 1980s, where ‘Deconstructivism’ in particular became a theoretical framework through which buildings and landscapes were both designed and interpreted. 

Visual fragmentation and conceptual links to semiotic analysis characterised this period of architecture, and originating in projects such as Chora L. Works. A collaboration between Peter Eisenman and Jaques Derrida, the unrealised Chora project was intended to stand within the Parc de la Villette complex as an ode to a dialogue between architecture and philosophy. 

In light of such pressing issues as climate change, decolonisation and spatial inequality, the formal experimentation and philosophical inquiry of Chora L Works can appear abstract and disengaged. In this episode André Patrão reflects on this period of recent architectural history and what can we learn from it.

Jacques Derrida, photocopy of a draft letter to Peter Eisenman with drawing for the chora, Project for a Garden, Parc de la Villette, Paris (Chora L Works), 1986. Reprographic copy on paper, 28 × 22 mm. Peter Eisenman fonds Canadian Centre for Architecture © Estate of Jacques Derrida.