This paper will explore ideas in the writings of Henri Lefebvre, beginning with a summary of Dell Upton's article Architecture in Everyday Life which touches on the set of debates about what Lefebvre was suggesting in his idea of the intersection of materiality, imagination, and social boundaries in understanding the architecture and geography of cities. This will be followed with a set of theoretical explorations and applications of the idea of architecture of the everyday, where there is fluidity in the use of and/or meaning of urban space. Upton's article presents an evaluation of Lefebvre's ideas regarding the links between architecture, semiotics, the meanings of buildings and linguistics all areas of concern to Henri Lefebvre. Upton is concerned to situate Lefebvre's theories and applications in a context where the division between high' and low' culture, is erased which is one of the main issues we find in the entire discussion of post-modernism.
[...] This can include the rhythmic structure and feeling of a building, of the lakefront of a city, of the way people walk the streets in different neighborhoods, and so on, creating infinite possible patterns within the context of received meaning; our understanding individually and collectively of a particular city (with all cities, to give one example) having already highly codified, established textual representations that are in continual evolution. (Highmore: 141-142) For example Rendell's article on ‘rambling' in London, England explores the discursive meaning of ‘rambling' the city by men, and how this would be differently understood by female ‘walkers'. [...]
[...] This space is both universally understood as a set of facts: planes hit one of the key representative buildings of the capitalist corporate world, destroying this symbol, but at the same time also affecting materially and perceptually the life of anyone who was there, who witnessed it on television, and their reception of this information. The transformation of the city itself, in terms of spatial flow of people the now absent towering buildings the absence of a number of pedestrian pathways and outdoor plazas where people of all socio-economic backgrounds would meet and mingle during lunch hour, to give one example, is one change. [...]
[...] (Jacobs, 1962) As Lefebvre himself notes, our modern cities are planned in ways that create “splits explosions implosion .it is broken up into peripheries, into suburbs, some inner, some further out, into rings where workers and the excluded are relegated on the other hand it has become the centre of decision-making, of information, of authority and knowledge.” (Lefebvre: 206) One can argue that in some cities, including London, the centre is the center of commerce and information (in the news sense in globalization of the global city) but that the centre also contains the evidence of the ruptures closed up buildings, decay, out of control traffic flow, pick pockets, rappers in Paris fashion zones, etc. [...]
[...] (Fiske, 1991) How does this operate in more concrete ways, for example, in the debates within architecture about the nature of planning, or the ‘mis-use' of intended space as a fluid boundary, that ruptures the possible authoritarian or totalitarian (or alternatively liberal, social, progressive) intention build into the architectural design: of a single building, of a neighborhood, of a city and its entire ‘identity' itself? (Hughes and Sadler, 2000) As Shields writes for decades there have been debates by academics about what a city is. [...]
[...] (Upton, 2002) Is the city a set of abstracted controlled zones, or is it a place where in its organization, change is possible? Discussing Lefebvre, Christian Schmid states his primary understanding is that “(Social) space is a (social) product” (Schmid: 28) This therefore requires one to “break with the widespread understanding of space imagined as an independent material reality existing itself.” (Schmid: 28) As such this is a very philosophical and theoretical set of ideas, which in architectural discussion can become more concrete through specific case studies and examples of numerous types. [...]
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