"seek(s) subjectivity rather in daily experience, practices, and conduct. Habit is the common in practice: the common that we continually produce and the common that serves as the basis for our actions. Habit is thus halfway between a fixed law of nature and the freedom of subjective action- or better, it provides an alternative to that traditional philosophical binary."
HARDT and NEGRI
"We dwell in houses, neighborhoods, and cities, but we also dwell in things like writing and texts, among neighbors and strangers, and amid sensorial relations to pastness, presentness, and futurity (including all sorts of commingling of temporalities, such as when the present retains traces of the past or feels pregnant with expectation)."
The spatial practice of dwelling has been disoriented by a conflation of global and local spatiotemporalities. While this condition has been a hallmark of modernity, there is not yet a subject equipped to apprehend it and perform within it. Instead of affording a perfectly resolved spatial condition that privileges local form and space, architecture should reflect the inherent contradictions of modern dwelling and cultivate a new global-local subjectivity.
This thesis will demonstrate this through vignette studies of a new spatial condition born in a speculative future of seasonal inhabitation, where constituencies dwell on a seasonal time-share system.
Through a co-authored reading and a contemporary expansion of the Situationist strategy of détournement, the flexibility of space is manifested from flexibility of subjectivity. Détournement aims to bring forward an implication that destabilizes that of the original, thereby loosening the spatial and programmatic prescriptions that would otherwise hinder new forms of subjectivity and performance. Here, one can always feel the ghostly presence of another subject and its spatial practice.
The object itself has no hierarchy between uses, yet, the object in relation to the user does. There is a hierarchical choice to be made between multiple potential readings which results in a custom action by the reader. While, What’s Your Handle? is a designed object, the identity of the object is based on how the reader/user chooses to read and consequently act on it.
DELINEO is a furniture design study meant to explore the co-authorship between the reading and the design of an object. In this instance, the frame (continuous ¼” steel rod) performs the reading of a “sitting-thing” and therefore, suggests the action of sitting on the adjacent surface (single 16 gauge steel plate, powder coated).
The Global-Local Nexus introduces a dual school of thought of simultaneous global scale and local scale consciousness. Here, spatial practice cannot be resolved; doing so is misleadingly utopic and ignores the nexus’ inherently paradoxical nature. Being-at-home-in-the-world includes the simultaneous practice of global and local concerns, to “see the universal in the particular without permitting the latter to get lost in the former.” If we are a society estranged from global and local spheres, why not create a sense of dwelling from estrangement, to make peace with difference?
Exercising the consciousness of the global-local nexus allows architecture to engage in co-authorship. By bringing awareness to one’s spatiotemporal presence, one’s being-at-home-in-the-world, an individual’s spatial agency is foregrounded, resulting in a new subjectivity. In so doing, architecture is activated as a space both designed and chosen, evoked and created, “spatiality as simultaneously a social product (or outcome) and a shaping force (or medium) in social life.” Similar to the Situationist International’s concept of unitary urbanism, such architecture can only be successful in its continuous engagement by this newly empowered subject. However, the flexibility of space is manifested, not in moving walls and infinite physical assemblies, but rather in the flexibility of subjectivity. Spatial practice is created partially by design, the semi-intentional charging of formal cues, and partially by predisposition. Predisposition, as a composition of both freedom and commonality, creates a new subjectivity and introduces architecture as a technology of communication in its ability “act in common while remaining internally different.”
Architecture in the global-local nexus must be written with multiple architectural cues that imply some formal state of use. The state that is manifested is dependent on which cues are brought forward by the subject. Cues are not mandates, but rather opportunities. Cues are peripherally experienced by all so that any one subject, despite their predisposition, can at the very least read the ghostly suggestion of all of the formal states. In this case, architecture is multifunctional. However, multifunctionality often implies that one space, in its vagueness and neutrality, can accommodate to various uses. Instead, one must investigate multifunctional ability by addressing the specific characters of select uses and combing them in such a way that they are all present at once. This amalgamation depends on the relationships between the characteristics of each use’s formal state. The form has no hierarchy between uses, yet, the form in relation to the subject does. In fact, the success of the space relies on one formal state being brought forward above others. This is the engaging moment of the architecture. There is a hierarchical choice to be made between multiple potential readings which results in a custom action by the subject. While, the space is designed, the identity of the space is based on how the subject chooses to read and consequently act on it.
The Situationist International’s “fertile strategy in the critique of urbanism was that of deliberate distortion, the détournement. This technique presents preexisting materials or conditions in a light other than officially intended, so as to expose their fraudulent character.” The fraudulent character here is that of space read in order to yield a “correct” use. Instead of assuming one’s peripheral readings as misuse, one must note that there is no misuse in the co-authorship of space. Familiar cues (cues of habit) introduced in a distorted arrangement (scale, typology, etc.) requires the reader to acknowledge one’s assumed means of formal reading. The practice of détournement in this new urban condition can be exercised in threefold: multi-scalar motfic kitbashing as a temporal experiment of habit via memory, reflections and disorientation as a representation of the virtual self and the physical self in spaciotemporal simultaneity, and the ambiguities of the third dimension as a spatial experiment of habit via perspective.
In order to thoughtfully investigate these conditions, the studies will be conceived in a speculative future which is hyper-globalized and, consequently, characterized by a culture of seasonal inhabitation. Seasonal inhabitation encompasses the locality of inhabitation as a cyclic state and simultaneously addresses the globalized character of individuals by encouraging them to integrate into multiple niche communities regardless of geographical convenience or constraints. The micro-communities would seasonally inhabit the proposed spaces, similar to a time-share system, each exercising their own subjectivities.
It is important to note that a reevaluated concept of time-share inhabitation is required as it is traditionally, and unfavorably, one rooted in ownership and objectification. In contrast with an untethered Homelessness, Property Relation is another of Adorno’s various states of estrangement in dwelling that challenges our sense of being at home in the world. Dwelling as a subjective act is a life-long developed relationship, but in modern society dwelling as “a relational process is objectified and made to appear as a thing.” Objectifying dwelling encourages objective realities and interactions and, thus, the dissolution of being at home in the world. Modern dwelling that, instead, encourages nonexclusive inhabitation has the potential to reverse this and provide the sense of belonging that ownership failed to deliver.
1. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, "The Production of the Common," in Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (Penguin Books, 2004), 197.
2. Matt Waggoner, Adorno and the Problem of Dwelling (New York: Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2018), 13.
4. Edward W. Soja, Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory (London: Verso, 1989), 7.
5. Hardt and Negri, Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, xiv.
6. Waggoner, Adorno and the Problem of Dwelling, 115.