Spatialising Design: Architecture in the Age of Technological Capitalism

author: Jeff Malpas, University of Tasmania
published: Jan. 22, 2019,   recorded: October 2018,   views: 225

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Architecture has always stood in an important relation to power – not only because of the way governments, organisations and individuals have used built form to express and reinforce their own attempts to exert and maintain control, but because, in a deeper sense, the built forms of a society are the very forms in which the structure of power, understood as that which is productive of differentiation and order, is materialised. The relation between architecture and power appears in two ways. In one, it concerns the question of the nature of this materialisation, whether in general or in particular cases, and, since architecture can be said to name such materialisation, this also involves the nature of architecture as built form. In another, it concerns the question of how architecture as a practice participates in this materialisation – how it participates in the materialisation that is architecture as built form (which also casts the relation between architecture and power in a political and ethical light). Materialisation, of course, cannot be understood apart from notions of space and place, especially in a contemporary world dominated by a spatialised mode of ordering that is so much a part of technological capitalism. Today, the question of the relation between architecture and power is then the question as to the character of this spatialised materiality – the nature of its realisation in architecture and the extent to which architecture contributes to it. Case studies: The relation between verticality and the street, with main reference points: Pudong New District in Shanghai, La Defence in Paris and the Docklands development in Melbourne.

Jeff Malpas is an Australian philosopher and, currently, a Distinguished Professor at the University of Tasmania in Hobart. Known for his work across the analytic and continental traditions, Malpas has also been at the forefront of contemporary philosophical research on the concept of place. He has published several decisive books on space, place and landscape, such as: Heidegger's Topology: Being, Place, World (MIT Press, 2007); Place and Experience: A Philosophical Topography (Routledge, 2nd edn, 2018); Heidegger and the Thinking of Place: Explorations in the Topology of Being (MIT Press, 2012). He also edited several publications, such as Reading Heidegger’s Black Notebooks (MIT, 2016); The Intelligence of Place (Bloomsbury, 2015); The Place of Landscape: Concepts, Contexts, Studies (MIT Press, 2012); and Towards a Philosophy of the City (Rowman and Littlefield, forthcoming).

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