INS AND OUTS

Legitimising Architectures: the ins and outs of socio-cultural values.
As you may have noticed, in the last 100 years, Architecture has been in a crisis of representation. And a crisis of the object. And of legitimisation. And autonomy.  And the current crisis of criticality, which basically just amalgamates all the other crises together. Oh, and that minor crisis of the real. Clearly something is awry: isn’t architecture about buildings? How can buildings be in crisis? Except in the event of ground shakes, surely they are the most stable and concrete facts of our lives? So why all these crises? 

I suppose this is where my research began.  Analysing the advent of ‘crisis’ in contemporary architectural texts, diagrams and projects, I’ve discovered a suspicious overuse of the terms ‘inside’ and ‘outside.’ This obsession with clearly defining the ‘space of architecture’ is a tool the discipline uses – much like a drawing pencil, in fact – to assert its own value, and to distance the discipline – or the inside – from the public – that dangerous, unstable, uneducated outside.

Continues after break.


Surely knowing what architecture is is a positive thing? Yes; but the broader implications of this mode of definition – the affect of the inside/outside dichotomy – need to be examined. Certainly, Architects today have increasingly socio-cultural agendas, and produce projects engaged with sustainability, social housing, and disaster relief (which has been high profile of late). Yet, Architecture as a discipline faces a fundamental problem in terms of the ongoing efficacy of these social engagements: that problem is how architecture is legitimised. The problem with dichotomies is that one term always dominates: the inside dominates the outside. But, Architecture can only rigorously and effectively engage in these incredibly important issues if it is legitimised both by and for the public – instead of by the self-defined exclusive inside

Exploring architecture’s insides and outsides is not the literal analysis of the facades of buildings, nor some strange dissection of architecture’s kidneys (presuming the discipline has a mechanism for flushing out the bad) Instead, it is an exploration of how architecture is valued, the ideologies it perpetuates, and the resulting legitimisation of architecture into the future.
But we can’t be so naive as to assume we can ‘erase’ the dichotomy altogether! I believe that transcending the definition is more productive. The second part of my research proposes that, in fact, legitimisation transcend rather than depends upon the inside/outside of architecture. Through my research I theorise this neither-inside nor outside- space – in both physical and psychological sense – as a site of architectural culture.

My thesis culminates in realising this theorised space in the design of an Architecture Forum. I use  three key concepts: Smuggling objects, Transgressive activities and the in-between space. Here, I suggest, is a site for critical engagement between inside and outside, a place where architecture might begin to be legitimised by its public once more.
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