‘The unacceptability of the erasures’: John Hejduk’s texts for the ‘Berlin Masque’

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Engaging Hejduk’s compelling project, ‘Berlin Masque’ (1981), this paper looks into writing’s power to develop unforeseen possibilities of architectural program. In his ‘Berlin Masque’ proposal, unlike his earlier ‘Masques’, Hejduk clearly prioritizes his prose – not his small accompanying sketches – as the place where the architectural proposition is primarily portrayed. Unpacking these texts in detail will indicate how language represents spatial elements and allow one to imagine moments of spatial appropriation, thus creating original architectural images of cultural significance.

Furthermore, the paper demonstrates how Hejduk’s texts and new programmatic possibilities aspire to reconcile Berlin with the trauma of the Second World War. His proposal intends to remind the city’s inhabitants that history is not something that is limited to the past, but a development that involves new, everyday happenings and their interaction with memory. Expanding on the rituals of inhabitation for each suggested structure, as narrated in the texts, the paper outlines how the new stories proposed by the architect acknowledge the city’s existing narratives while creating the necessary space for new ones to appear.

The conclusion extracts the significance and uniqueness of the ‘Berlin Masque’ as an architectural project, as well as the significance of language for Hejduk as an architect. It discusses briefly the noted interest in architecture and language nowadays, reminding us of the value of literary imagination.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Issue number1 Special Issue #55
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

TEXT Special issue 55: Writing | Architecture


  • John Hedjuk
  • Masque
  • poetic language
  • rituals of inhabitation
  • text
  • architectural program


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