The plasticity of painting is as relevant to architecture today as it was in the 14th century, as it was in the 19th, as it was in the turn of the 20th. We have only begun to scratch the surface.

In this project, three paintings lay the groundwork for an exploration of architectural form. Here is a painting by Frank Stella.

Monochrome, matte, and rigorously metered, the composition consists of nested bands cascading across the surface of the canvas. Each band, separated from the next by a narrow unpainted gap, replicates two of the canvas edges, resolving in the shape of its own frame in the upper right corner. Here is a painting by Kenneth Noland.

A perfect diamond, free from the edges of the canvas, floats in the center of the painting’s pictorial space. The edge of the diamond is replicated within the diamond itself, but only once with exactness. In the center, a circle, a strong red figure, contests the diamond, just as the diamond contests the frame of the painting itself.

A third painting by Kazimir Malevich provides a foil to this pairing. Here, two figures float within the picture plane, seemingly indifferent to the frame.

The house, learning from painting, works within the tension between frame and figure. But, learning from architecture, the house observes its own lack of a representational plane. Thus the spatial qualities that oscillate between depiction and physicality in painting, in built form must always be physical. Architecture oscillates between drawing and building, between form and use. This, of course, is the age-old question of architecture. However, it is our intention for form and function to stand side by side. One does not follow the other, for they are both coextensive within the body of built form. We propose, then, for the perception of bivalent form, a Benjaminian paradigm. Two modes of perception—concentrated observation and habitual use—allow form to be read duplicitously because perception through habitual use reveals that use itself has form. Consequently, the geometric figures in our plans operate both as geometric figures creating spatial tension and also as domestic infrastructure. They come from both painting and from the hard truths of domestic reproduction.