Reima Pietilä and Gesture in Research-by-Design: The Finnish Embassy in New Delhi, 1962–1982

Dorian Wiszniewski

Abstract


This paper will discuss Reima Pietilä’s Finnish Embassy (Suomen suurlähetystö) in New Delhi, India, in relation to the interplay of gesture and gesturality in the architect’s design process. It takes theoretical impetus primarily from Giorgio Agamben and Vilém Flusser, who both write extensively and insightfully on gesture and each promote philosophical trajectories from ontology-as-being towards ontology-as-becoming. The research-by-design inflection of this paper directs the ontology of gesture through a small selection of drawings from the Pietilä Archive,1 from the first and second phases of the building’s production, and photographs taken on site by the author in 2014.
 
The paper will offer a view not only of how gesture and gesturing lie at the heart of Reima Pietilä’s design process, but also how the communicative dynamic of the gestural feeds speculation into and pursuit of understanding through architecture. Therefore, beyond framing a number of Reima Pietilä’s design methods and ways of thinking, the paper will also address how gesture constitutes a core communicative principle in Reima Pietilä’s research-by-design methodology, ultimately suggesting that this methodology holds relevance for contemporary architectural design and research.


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