Autobiographical Catalyst

author Smiljan Radić
project Prism House, Conguillío, Chile
written by Alberto Sato Kotani


In general, the works of the architect Smiljan Radić suggest multiple readings. Therefore, they are ambiguous. Will they have polysemic characteristics, like works of art? Or, are they unclear, confusing and contradictory works, in the words of post-modern texts? Is it possible to extract the architect’s key ideas from a single work? Or would it be necessary to draw a route? These are the questions that arise when addressing the Prism House, one of the most recent works of Smiljan Radić.
Prism House is a small housing cluster that involves a uniform platform, on which two regular shaped solids are placed, so closed in its shape that it seems like there is nothing to add. Where there is no contradiction or confusion, and where only fruition is possible without words, but it is not the LeCorbusian pleasure, hermetic and ineffable boîte à miracles: It is a house. The statement does not want to call into question the represented object nor the architectural work; in fact, the house looks like a house and all its representations do declare it. Perhaps a text contributes when it does not seek to imitate it but to re-signify it, as writing proposes in its estrangement, defamiliarizing it, as defined by the theorist Viktor Shklovski. However, it is possible to achieve reading that does not seek ambiguity or coherence (is it legitimate to ask about what?), but to trace stories, sometimes general and others, autobiographical, in the manner of Aldo Rossi, even more when Radić makes citations or shows clues by pointing out that you are talking to someone, remembering the task of defamiliarization. Thus, analysing the Prism house by the Japanese architect Kazuo Shinohara, built in 1974 in the Yamanashi prefecture, Smiljan Radić tried a palimpsest: ... I reduced its length from 10.80 m to 7.20 m. In this way, the Prism House, in front of the Llaima volcano in Chile, is effectively a cube section, resembling the Shinohara ideal supposedly expressed in its photographic shots, and moving away from the reality of the Prism house built in Japan, being only the construction of the photographed piece of it. In this way, the house of Shinohara was the subject of correction, although the gods might be angry, said Radić as a tribute to the Japanese master who, as such, continues to thrill after 45 years of construction. There is no sign of Shinohara making a cube, because if he had wanted to, he would have done it.