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Situational theory of architectural typology

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Abstract
In his book The Practice of Everyday Life Michel de Certeau makes a distinction between ‘space’ and ‘place’. He defines a ‘place’ as: ‘L’ordre (quel qu’il soit) selon lequel des éléments sont distribués dans des rapports de coexistence […] Un lieu est donc une configuration instantanée de positions. Il implique une indication de stabilité‘ Whereas ‘space’ is defined as ‘l’effet produit par les opérations qui l’orientent, le circonstancient, le temporalisent et l’amènent à fonction en unité polyvalente de programmes conflictuels ou de proximités contractuelles […] A la différence du lieu, il n’a donc ni l’univocité ni la stabilité’ In this paper, I would like to use Michel de Certeau’s conceptual apparatus to reflect on the relationship between ‘politics’ and ‘design’. The designer mainly works on the material qualities of the built artefact. When a designer works on the composition of the plan, on the distribution and dimension of the different rooms in the building, when he invents the structural configuration, when he shapes the façade, opens up the interior of the building or sculpts the exterior form of the building; the designer is not – necessarily – involved with politics or with (political) ideology. His main interest is the art of building, and for instance not the political question. Thus, the designer deals with the notion of ‘place’ as defined by de Certeau, and with the stability or durability that this notion implies. Referring to post-war rationalism (of Rossi, Grassi and OM Ungers) and to their idea of the architectural type, I argue that this notion of ‘place’ articulates the architect’s autonomous position. The focus on the building and other material artefacts such as the urban fabric, the public realm, the appliances and furnishings, as well as the scientific study of the qualities of these artefacts, define architecture as a discipline. This disciplinary focus positions the designer as an ‘expert’ within the political field. By confronting the notion of ‘place’ with the notion of ‘space’, Michel de Certeau opens up this strict disciplinary definition of architectural typology. He points on the importance of the architectural event. As such he shows the importance of everyday life, of the inhabitants using the built fabric, and of the phenomenological ideal of the ‘espace vécu’ – the lived space. The subversive users, ideologically and politically reorient the first meaning of the built artefact. Users thus freely reinvent the abstract, geometric space drawn down by the architect. In this initial scheme the architect and architectural knowledge by definition are ideologically suspect. In this paper I want to contest this typical Marxist dialectic. I want to argue that architecture maintains a more complex relationship to the ‘programme’ of a building. Some of the provoking thoughts of the rationalist architects cited above are used to show how architectural knowledge (and the research based on the idea of architectural typology) can be an instrument for political action.
Keywords
Politics, Inhabitation, Design

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Chicago
Van Den Driessche, Maarten. 2008. “Situational Theory of Architectural Typology.” In Politics of Designing, Proceedings. Danish Doctoral Schools of Architecture & Design (DKAD).
APA
Van Den Driessche, M. (2008). Situational theory of architectural typology. Politics of Designing, Proceedings. Presented at the Politics of Designing : PhD conference and symposium, Danish Doctoral Schools of Architecture & Design (DKAD).
Vancouver
1.
Van Den Driessche M. Situational theory of architectural typology. Politics of Designing, Proceedings. Danish Doctoral Schools of Architecture & Design (DKAD); 2008.
MLA
Van Den Driessche, Maarten. “Situational Theory of Architectural Typology.” Politics of Designing, Proceedings. Danish Doctoral Schools of Architecture & Design (DKAD), 2008. Print.
@inproceedings{1067939,
  abstract     = {In his book The Practice of Everyday Life Michel de Certeau makes a distinction between {\textquoteleft}space{\textquoteright} and {\textquoteleft}place{\textquoteright}. He defines a {\textquoteleft}place{\textquoteright} as: {\textquoteleft}L{\textquoteright}ordre (quel qu{\textquoteright}il soit) selon lequel des {\'e}l{\'e}ments sont distribu{\'e}s dans des rapports de coexistence [{\textellipsis}] Un lieu est donc une configuration instantan{\'e}e de positions. Il implique une indication de stabilit{\'e}{\textquoteleft}  Whereas {\textquoteleft}space{\textquoteright} is defined as {\textquoteleft}l{\textquoteright}effet produit par les op{\'e}rations qui l{\textquoteright}orientent, le circonstancient, le temporalisent et l{\textquoteright}am{\`e}nent {\`a} fonction en unit{\'e} polyvalente de programmes conflictuels ou de proximit{\'e}s contractuelles [{\textellipsis}] A la diff{\'e}rence du lieu, il n{\textquoteright}a donc ni l{\textquoteright}univocit{\'e} ni la stabilit{\'e}{\textquoteright}  In this paper, I would like to use Michel de Certeau{\textquoteright}s conceptual apparatus to reflect on the relationship between {\textquoteleft}politics{\textquoteright} and {\textquoteleft}design{\textquoteright}. 
The designer mainly works on the material qualities of the built artefact. When a designer works on the composition of the plan, on the distribution and dimension of the different rooms in the building, when he invents the structural configuration, when he shapes the fa\c{c}ade, opens up the interior of the building or sculpts the exterior form of the building; the designer is not -- necessarily -- involved with politics or with (political) ideology. His main interest is the art of building, and for instance not the political question. Thus, the designer deals with the notion of {\textquoteleft}place{\textquoteright} as defined by de Certeau, and with the stability or durability that this notion implies. Referring to post-war rationalism (of Rossi, Grassi and OM Ungers) and to their idea of the architectural type, I argue that this notion of {\textquoteleft}place{\textquoteright} articulates the architect{\textquoteright}s autonomous position. The focus on the building and other material artefacts such as the urban fabric, the public realm, the appliances and furnishings, as well as the scientific study of the qualities of these artefacts, define architecture as a discipline. This disciplinary focus positions the designer as an {\textquoteleft}expert{\textquoteright} within the political field. 
By confronting the notion of {\textquoteleft}place{\textquoteright} with the notion of {\textquoteleft}space{\textquoteright}, Michel de Certeau opens up this strict disciplinary definition of architectural typology. He points on the importance of the architectural event. As such he shows the importance of everyday life, of the inhabitants using the built fabric, and of the phenomenological ideal of the {\textquoteleft}espace v{\'e}cu{\textquoteright} -- the lived space. The subversive users, ideologically and politically reorient the first meaning of the built artefact. Users thus freely reinvent the abstract, geometric space drawn down by the architect. In this initial scheme the architect and architectural knowledge by definition are ideologically suspect. 
In this paper I want to contest this typical Marxist dialectic. I want to argue that architecture maintains a more complex relationship to the {\textquoteleft}programme{\textquoteright} of a building. Some of the provoking thoughts of the rationalist architects cited above are used to show how architectural knowledge (and the research based on the idea of architectural typology) can be an instrument for political action.},
  author       = {Van Den Driessche, Maarten},
  booktitle    = {Politics of Designing, Proceedings},
  keyword      = {Politics,Inhabitation,Design},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Copenhagen, Denmark},
  pages        = {10},
  publisher    = {Danish Doctoral Schools of Architecture \& Design (DKAD)},
  title        = {Situational theory of architectural typology},
  year         = {2008},
}