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Up to now, the whole concept of mobility in matters architecture has actually been always related to transit and movement infrastructures or, alternatively, to the possibilities of the portability of the architecture.
First, its should be noted that architecture is basically a program that reflects contemporary logistics and fluxes and in the process metaphorically providing a formal interpretation and explanation of such logistics. In the tradition of expressing value in which modern day art work and architectural works or cultures reveled, airports and bus or train stations interfaces were essentially characterized by an extremely fluid and dynamic plasticity-epitome of architecture.
Secondly, architecture-essentially, gets a bit closer to aspects like industrial design and is normally seen, by many, as something portable or even being able to produce prototypes with the ability to be duplicated. Due to this, in the 20th century, there was panoply of art and works of architecture that were admired by many. Clearly, this kind of panorama rather suggests an architecture, which, in essence, has moved far beyond not just the actual realm of, for instance, Vitruvean firmitas but also the prevailing idea of permanence in architecture.
Architecture is, and has always been, considered to be a special practice, which leads to the production of ephemeral and creatively thought-out concepts, and ideas that respond to a wider notion of creative mobility in the world of art and society in general. Mobility is not just looked at as something physical or simply related to matters art and architecture. It is increasingly being considered necessary in explaining political, social, and even economic needs.
Like Alain Bourdin, in ‘La Métropole des Individus’, claimsthat to be in movement of some sorts permanently, one has to be able to also freely embrace fluxes of societal aspects like fashion ,lifestyles and trendy activities. In such a scenario, work of architecture cannot run a way from the political, social, and cultural responsibility of addressing problems that arise from new, and different, forms of mobility. This was-in essence-the perception held by futurists way back in 1920’s, although loosely translated-simply, as a radical and transformative avant.
Interestingly, the physical expressions and depiction of velocity and destruction seems not to be the main concerns. During the times of futurists, the ephemeral, according to many, was a result of unrest, but today it( ephemeral) is seen as a condition of technology use and consumption. In addition, in this new context, architecture of this nature- ephemeral is seen as a very critical response to societies’ value’s mobility and the ever dynamic needs (Webster, 2012). Architecture, if well embraced, may eventually evolve away from the from the common notion that it serves static service – always related to the sluggish nature of urban construction and other forms of transformation – to something more serious like performance ,that is ,an applicable solution or response to the many problems in the contemporary society. In this sense, performance, is used to describe what architecture is used for, that is, merely responsible for a certain degree of efficiency-technical! Hence, the idea of performance must also be made to have some cultural dimension. Considering architecture in cultural perspective, its other dimensions like performance must also contribute to many other critical roles-architecture’s ability and capacity to produce social and political solutions in regard to what ails society-presently. As such, artists and architects tend to draw alt of their inspiration from historical activities relate to performance art as an activity that, starting in the recent past ,runs away from the canons of not just mankind but self. Architecture, in many ways, becomes a pretty radical not just artistic but social gesture, which goes past the production of beautiful work of art.
In today’s world, architectural discourse and even I world of academia seems to put a lot of not just meaning but premium on abstract art .Architecture is seen as the production of fixed work of art or aesthetic objects (Rose,2006). For instance, a building is considered complete, in many places, when the images and photographs are taken and presented to the architectural press, just before anyone moves in. In contrast to that kind of conventional representations of architectural consumption -which ,in many ways ,attempts to portray it as a not so positive and destructive concept when related to production-and putting in mind the ideas and concepts of leading theorists like Lefebvre, de Certeau,and even leading sociologists like Bourdieu and Bruno Latour. And not forgetting the ideas of writers who are e very passionate about architecture. Consuming Architecture defines the whole concept of consumption as a creatively dynamic act that entails not just the formation but negotiation of reasons, meanings, and also values as far as a range of various stakeholders –critics, visitors, clients, and users (Snodgrass,2005). It also requires that the intricate dynamics of which the whole process entails be clearly understood, at the same time as those that characterize its production process. developing and understanding of this ,by building on the written works of leading theorists like Oliver, De Certeau and Rapoport ,architecture draws much attention to the necessity ,for individuals ,to study –and understand ,the whole consumption process in the contemporary society’s understanding of ordinary architecture and also those monumental ones in order to provide a clear view of how buildings can be meaningful not just to those who design and make them but also to different people.
Consuming Architecture helps in positioning this perspective on matters consumption of art and architecture in the proper context of many recent works on many other related areas like what goes on buildings once they have been built, the architectural contingency and the role played by architects during the production process, the consumption of art and architecture as economic, social and political projects. Moreover, not forgetting the importance of the study of the consumerism architecture.
Many scholars have contributed greatly to the understanding of architecture. Huge contributions to this area by, for instance, Hill(1998) and Till(2009) have provided time-based approaches to the whole concept of architecture and the use, ownership and occupation of buildings as an important piece of information that architects must have. According to Till(2009), Citing Lefebvre, in his work ‘ Architecture Depends’ ,he wrote against the work of architecture being used to freeze time for the sake of creating an aesthetic moment . A side from that, writers writing about architecture like Till and Hill tend to approach the topic from the point of view of an architect, heavily focusing on the main roles and positions played by architects viewed in relation to consumers of the content as well as colleagues in the production process. This consuming Architecture tends to take quite a different position in this debate by requesting students of architecture to move a side from the self, reflect on the environment of work of architecture.
According to a cultural theorist, Miller (1995),by basically consuming what is created and produced through artistic means ,we make and propagate culture. He defines culture as a very dynamic process that requires not just creative production but also its consumption. Far away from the design and production studio, the concept of consumption is deemed as social activity and in fact, practiced everyday. It is defined as what we do when, in our natural lives, we use, change, wear out, replace and get rid of –objects. This includes buildings. The concept of consumption is considered to be the appropriation of all the commodities that come out of production, which is architecture in this case, by consumer. Contingent of consumption upon the cultural and social context or even the social relations within which it takes place not the liking of the producer is what Storey (1999) described as the very active, divers and fluid strategies which are used by people as means of transforming resources. Either purchasing at the market place not just in very expressive places does this. Consuming Architecture requests the architects and students of architecture to stop for a moment and look at how hectic lives of beautiful work of architecture fit within a complex and intricate world and to then think about how the discourse of architecture fits in with many other debates in areas that does not necessarily relate to architectural circles.
The influence brought about by ,for instance, the French cultural writer and theorists Lefebrve et al (2011), is very strong and has brought about a heavy presence in matters consuming architecture .However , initially , geographers who specialize in matter humans disagree .The works of French traditional cultural theorist like Lefebvre(2011) have sort of saturated the contemporary architectural discourse (Crysler, 2003). Just like many other Marxists, writer Lefebvre was very political, following his motivation by social inequality concerns, he looked at society and described it in terms narratives of resistance and domination. Most significantly and importantly for consuming architecture, he argued that outer space is a basically a social product, or if not an intricate social construction that is based on meanings (Stanek, 2011). In producing Space, Lefebvre (2011), proposed a certain model, which comprised of three-parts in regard to production of space. It essentially centered on some tension that existed between space-that space occupied by planners and architects ,authority , domination, and control- and that other space considered to be social –space that is used, lived , and occupied and what is called spatial practices. Lefebvre (2011) got great inspiration to come up with space production as a sort of reaction to the not just imposed but authoritarian and primitive modernist project of housing of post-war in France and also the complete absence of concerns and attention being paid to the pleas of the intended owners. In another interesting works, another Marxist cultural writer and theorist from France, (De Certeau, 2010) further claimed that social practices-daily routine carried out by people can actually be interpreted as tricks of resistance to authority. These theories essentially provide very important and useful models that should be considered when looking at what happen to architectural buildings’ once they have been occupied in regard to resistance and opposition to the imposed order or design.
The much talked about tension that exists between conceived space and social space can easily be interpreted as good or bad architecture. At this point, we are introduced to the works of yet another very influential Marxist, and sociologist Bourdieu. His writings introduced the idea of cultural production and consumption and also the social and architectural contingency of preferences and taste. For him, cultural production and its consumption are two intertwined aspects that are linked (Webster, 2011). Through him, we can actually reconfigure the Lefebvre’s Marxist ideas of oppositional tension that exists between social space and conceived space, whereby production of what he calls social space is, as far as lifecycle of the architect is concerned, designed buildings, and also consumption of that conceived space by occupants, as interpreters and appropriators.
All approaches that are discussed and the cultural consumption that are explored are in the context of art and architectural discourse (Smith, 2005). Through the essay on consuming architecture an extremely diverse and multidisciplinary and varying range of ideas come across; each one of them broadens our comprehension and understanding of the many ways in which contemporary and ordinary spaces and buildings are consumed via a variety of processes, by various groups of people, in a varying range of concepts and contexts, architects and those that are not.
According to Perez-Gomez (2000), consuming Architecture can be categorized in to three different thematic parts. First ,we have occupations, interpretations and appropriations . Each of these themes addresses different areas or aspect of a society’s social and cultural consumption works of architecture. The very first part considers the livelihoods of buildings in as afar as their usage is concerned, their occupancy or inhabitation. Occupations also tend to address the tricky question or concern of architectural contingency and how various architects normally respond –be it positively and negatively-to how individuals in society receive and consume their work. The second part of it is more concerned with the appropriation. A lot of the architecture seems to be passively appropriated by those who it is normally meant for –in the process changing its meaning and form. In this case, appropriation is accorded particular agency concerning acts of intentional physical appropriation meant for specific agenda. That is, driven purposes, which may be artistic, political, or cultural (Chase et al 2009). The third part turns from the much emphasized physical to more refined consumption-abstract architecture by means of its interpretation in other cultural practices like writing, art, film, and of course architectural nitpicking and criticism. This is a very vital cultural consumption aspect that is normally not considered together with physical forms of consumption. The Interpretations also tends to consider the architectural interpretation within the design process, hence subverting the production time line and consumption, via studies of consumption of the radical emergent practices in the drawing of architectural works or even the rendering itself. The main thread to these very last bits about consumption architecture is the understanding of the fact that as it is greatly get interpreted-again and again-and the more it gets read , architecture can only belong, in fact exclusively, to the architects themselves for a very short period of time (Scott,1990). In addition, this is not just in physical terms of artistic appropriation and occupation but also as a bunch of concepts, ideas, and debates.
The area about occupations looks at the most immediately and obvious way in which artwork of architectural variety is consumed (Barker, 2009). From office, to school, to factory, most buildings simply exist in order to be made use of by human beings; however, this specifically put much emphasis on housing and the whole concept of occupation. This due to the fact that the building or home is the centre of interest of most people in architecture, that is where they put most of their time, they also have a sense of ownership and in the process they express their sense of not just identity but ownership ; they dwell there for it is their personal space.
According to Appadurai (1986), in his published anthropological seminal work ,he held the view that all non living things too have a social life .He put forth the argument that all objects have what he called ‘social lives ‘just the same way human beings do- just the same way humans and all the other living things do. Throughout the existence of all objects on this planet earth, from the time of their inception to their ultimate end or destruction, objects also go through quite a number of various life stages and phases. Due to that, consumption via occupation must not be seen as some passive, or probably even negative, concept or process that occurs after the very intricate design process has occurred (Howard, 2008). Rather, it is an endless and complex process that is continues and very dynamic , adapt and change buildings throughout- in their lifetime. According to Ballantyne and Law(2011),this may lead to great tension between the various architect’s perspectives and their work as creative works of art-that of an object and that of say a building ,for instance or house owner’s view, constructed to respond to their concerns and needs and to express opinions freely. The examination of such tension is the connection that creates a link, which different studies and perspectives encountered in the whole occupations part of this paper. By drawing on the perspectives of most cultural writers on this architectural literature like Appadurai and Miller (1998),as well as other critical cultural theorists like de Certeau and Lefebvre , the varying voices in the very first part clearly show that works of art like buildings, and houses in particular , are not only designed for aesthetic purposes but also as social things.
According to Brand(1997),the whole concept of appropriations, seems to consider consumption of architecture as something very deliberate and as a physical act of resisting the imposed plan or order which specific architectures could have in mind or may represent to people in society . This sort of takes that particular routine, on daily basis and at some times it is unintentional, the kind of resistance that is embedded within various architects and the occupants that are discussed in the first part .What creates a links among the various studies and the varying voices that are discussed in the lived space. In the case of appropriations, life cannot simply be about drifting with it but creating meaning to it. This basically, needs both awareness and understanding the conditions in which an individual lives and a desire to freely comment on them. The architectural and artistic appropriations that are discussed here are often not just culturally but politically subversive. Be it in the well to do suburbs, the slums or places with middle class kind of lifestyles architecture is consumed and loved by all (Paddison and McCann 2012).
Interpretations always seem to take a totally different approach away from the direct, close physical relationship which individuals develop with their homes and buildings that is addressed in the first and second part, because it deals with not just the interpretation but re-interpretation, on architecture as a vital process and aspect of cultural consumption (During,1999). Starting with the very immediate and basic to the extremely critical and intellectualized , the whole concept of architecture is increasingly and continuously getting interpreted again and again ,being read repeatedly and getting manifested by individuals who are vey passionate together with groups that are dedicated to not just cultural but artistic practices. An ever increasing and changing number of creative artists like filmmakers, writers, photographers, critics and academicians seem to be so engrossed with the process of architecture consumption since they have picked upon architecture as a vital part of their lives and work. The consumption of architecture needs to be embraced by all for it is one of the very interesting areas of art. Architecture is and has always been part and parcel of our lives. Without appreciating and embracing it, we will be running away from ourselves.