International Competitions in Architecture
A HOUSE FOR ANTON CHEKHOV
We could call this house: The House of Subtext. Strangely, this is supposed to be a house for a man whose pseudonym at one time, in translation, meant: Man without a Spleen.
But was he really a "man without a spleen...?"
What is a "subtext?" As Stanislavski wrote "Chekhov often expressed his thought not in speeches, but in pauses or between the lines or in replies consisting of a single word… the characters often feel and think things not expressed in the lines they speak."
Could such a statement inspire us in architecture...? How would a house that "expresses" itself not through what is obvious, but through what is "underneath," hidden, "untold" look like...? How would a house whose message is "in between the lines" look like...? Would it be a house whose meaning is "blurred, interrupted, mauled and otherwise tampered with by life" as one critic described Chekhov' work...?
Or, in a more restricted way, would it be a house that is half dedicated to medicine (and what it symbolizes) and half dedicated to literature (and its larger meanings), as the very life of this great writer was...?
Or would it be a house that asks questions (but does not give answers), as he thought the task of art in essence is...?
We ask you, then, to design a "house of mood, " a house whose life is "submerged in the text," as his own work is. A house that refuses the heroics, or, to be more exact, the explicit, self-advertising forms of heroism, since there is with certainty a form of heroism in a doctor, like Chekhov, who treated the poor without charging them and who built public buildings for them, with his own money... and who refused to complain, despite the fact that he was seriously ill, of an illness that actually shortened his life significantly.
Maybe this house will be "difficult," since it will be an "inconclusive" house, as his work was (or appears to be), in Virginia Woolf's thinking... But what might appear "inconclusive" is in no way "without something to say..." Far from it and perhaps quite the opposite.