We can see, for example, the “hyperboles” to which the architect-monk submitted the classical code in the Cartuja de Granada, the “paradox” which Bernardo Buontalenti presents to us in the stair of the choir of Santo Stefano in Florence, the “ironies” in Giulio Romano’s Palazzo del Te, the “metaphors” of most of the work of Charles Moore, the “ellipses” of Fascist architecture, of Robert Venturi, and of Aldo Rossi. —Jorge Silvetti, “The Beauty of Shadows”
Architecture has always assumed that like language and like art, it has signs, i.e., that figuration is representational. But this idea of rhetorical figuration in architecture is not representational. A representational figure represents a thing in its absence. A rhetorical figure contains its absence, that is, it contains its openendedness. —Peter Eisenman, “Architecture and the Problem of the Rhetorical Figure”
For Jorge Silvetti, a ‘rhetorical figure’ is akin to a mannerist manipulation or transformation of an existing architectural code. For Peter Eisenman, a rhetorical figure is more generative in the sense that it does not refer to an existing architectural code or vocabulary; it invents entirely new ones. His figures of choice are said to be open-ended, non-representative, non-metaphorical.
In this project, rhetorical figures—specifically chiasmus, tmesis, and homoteleuton—are used not to critique or construct architectural languages, but rather as contextual tools to respond to a fragmented site. Figures of speech are deployed as literal design strategies that aim to resolve complex spatial problems. Here, their success is less about their visual or rhetorical effect than their contextual performance.