Architecture + Philosophy research seminar, ResArc, Sweden: Dr Hélène Frichot, Critical Studies in Architecture, KTH Stockholm

Month: August, 2013

Residents and Space

by annabraideeriksson

Conclusions in the colouring-in book are made on two subjects; The role of the housing market and The meaning of home.

Housing market prepossess conditions that makes major imprints on the subject of residential mobility and residential design. The situation on the housing market right now with many instigators acting with different agendas for own private causes and for a seemingly common best makes residents become wind vanes in a game where market rules. This situation influence residential design in new housing production and thus becomes a factor in my ongoing thesis work with flexible residential design and social sustainability.

Home usually is described as a place of identity and belonging, being not only the space inside our homely walls but the extended space we comprise in a daily life, the grocery shop, the neighbors, the close-by park. Today, with major distances to span to daily work and social life and with a life-world extending on the internet, the “home” becomes more fragmented and the role of physical space can be questioned. The meaning of home, how we use it and length of time span living in one residence connects to my thesis work as closely related to the residential design and flexibility issues.

I realise now, after having made conclusions, that I dwell on the edge of a large field of questions dealing with definitions of residential space. Physical and social space are two aspects of how we understand the home and the dwelling. This seems to me a wide, essential and interesting field. A study in this field might add many interesting reflections upon the subject of residences and residing.

Great Expectations V, Affect II

by sandra695

I will here try to combine the notion of affect with an investigation done on Brunnshög in February 2013. I held a workshop with students on the theme of parallel planning and submitted myself to the same task that I gave the students. I tried to explore the area with the Theory of Affordance in the back of my head. I have in my blog post on Chora written briefly about the first part of this investigation, relating to the Structure Plan of Brunnshög from 2012. I will below see if affect could constitute a reaction in a process seen as:

environment communicates affordance – individual picks it up through perception – individual creates affect as an unconscious intensity depending on its biographical/personal constitution – feeling and emotion is created and broadcast (and communicate the answer/reaction to the affordance) – individual learns from the broadcasting event by the reaction of others and oneself

The process outlined above takes more inspiration from Shouse than Thrift as it focuses on affect being related to perception and cognition rather than being a broadcast feeling used within the urban fabric. Although I do see the ability to create affect as personal as well as dependent on situation, where Shouse would see the same function as non-personal. Gregg and Seigworth outline affect as a sort of unconscious knowing (hence personal) pushing us to action or thought as a response relating to its context: “…the capacity of a body is never defined by a body alone but is always aided and abetted by, and dovetails with, the field or context of its force-relations…”(Gregg and Seigworth, 2010:3). In this accumulation of force-relations affect constitutes a potential “Affect arises in the midst of inbetween-ness: in the capacities to act and be acted upon.” (Gregg and Seigworth, 2010:1). One could see affect as the intensity that sets off an incremental response to a perceived outer stimulus, which for instance could be an affordance of some kind. In the following investigation on Brunnshög I went on a search for affordance. I will now try to high-light one of the situations and try to reconstruct the events prior to the perceived affordances and see if I can identify affect in this erratic expedition.

My aim this cold winter day was to take me to a previously decided spot on a map, and try to find the center of the not yet built European Spallation Source ring. My aim was to record my “answers” to perceived affordance during my trip.

till affect V

In the three pictures above I am on my way to the chosen spot on the map, or so I thought, as it turns out I drove too far and have to turn back.


To get lost, drive carefully on snow and ice, keep speed limit, stay on road, not crash car, arrive at destination on time, take pictures, GPS navigation and many more (e.g. the “opposite” or variations of the here stated affordances).


The quality of the road, car movement, weather, speed etc. is creating immediate bodily adjustments responding to the situation at hand; the impulse causing the adjustments could be affect. While driving I am looking at my GPS and taking pictures with my camera along my route. I let go of the GPS with my right hand and put it on the passenger seat, I grab the camera, left hand on steering wheel, checking review mirrors.
These devices must cause a great amount of affect as every interaction with them feels urgent and is performed in a hurry. Affect is possibly also what, together with my capabilities, make the body adjustments feel pressing, that tells the hands “turn the steering wheel now” (or you will drive off the road). If turning the wheel is initially caused by an emotional intensity – affect, then the turning of the wheel, at least according to Shouse, could in fact be labelled emotion or feeling. If referring to Thrift, it would instead be the displayed emotional response visible and perceivable to others that would be identified as affect: my frowning, the facial expression of anxiety and surprise, together with my clinging over the wheel, leaning forward to get closer to the windshield in an effort to try to answer the questions Where am I? What kind of place is this? How can I manage?

Melissa Gregg and Gregory Seijworth ‘An Inventory of Shimmers’ in Melissa Gregg and Gregory Seijworth eds. The Affect Theory Reader, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010.

Nigel Thrift, ‘Spatialities of Feeling’, in Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect, London: Routledge, 2008.

Eric Shouse, ‘Feeling, Emotion, Affect’, in Melissa Gregg, ed. ‘Affect.’ M/C Journal 8.6 (2005). 25 Nov. 2011.

Great Expectations IV, Affect

by sandra695

blade runner 1

Affect that spans over time, and from individual through several media to philosophies blog post (Blade Runner, 1982)
While reading Eric Shouse I desperately try to determine the exact location of the phenomenon or function of affect on a procedural timeline or within my own body. How to get hold of this, at least seemingly tiny, thing called affect?

Affect “is a prepersonal intensity corresponding to the passage from one experiential state of the body to another and is implying an augmentation or diminution in that body’s capacity to act” (Shouse 2011), see also Spinoza’s claim of a body’s ability to act rising or decreasing dependent on the influx of outer stimuli (Thrift 2008:178). A capacity to produce proprioception lies within our body, proprioception being the “continuous but unconscious sensory flow from movable parts of the body” (ibid.). This is where affect, engendered as an answer to outside stimuli is supposed to add a sense of urgency or intensity. In the (adult) body this intensity then determines the body’s alertness for action (ibid.). As I understand it from Shouse, affect is prepersonal, a state at the absolute beginning of a response to an outer stimuli. The process of affect production according to Shouse would then be: affect is moving from the prepersonal, continuing through the biographical/personal (feeling) to the “other side” where it becomes consciously accessible to us and forms a response (emotion) that communicates to the “outside world” (i.e. the world more noticeably shared with others). Shouse states that affect is not personal and is non-conscious. I wonder if Shouse considers affect to be not personal because it is universal and not unique. In addition to that, personal does not have to mean conscious, even if we are not aware that something is happening to us, the event can be deeply rooted in our specific capacities and properties. Although being unthought, the production of affect could be personal in the ability to produce a reaction to the experienced affect and also in the ability to perceive the stimuli that cause the “affect reaction”. If the production of affect must include the ability to be affected (that constitutes a personal capacity) how can it not be personal?

When turning to Nigel Thrift a somewhat different account of affect emerge. Thrift points to the lack of studies of affect in relation to cities and urbanity. He holds a politically oriented ambition where he acknowledges the affective repertoire of cities and identifies the urban engineering in the creation of cities responding to the demand of exhibiting “intense expressivity” (Thrift 2008:172). With Thrift affect seems to be closer related to what Shouse would label emotion and feeling, i.e. not a prepersonal phenomenon, but the displayed result of a prepersonal phenomenon (this prepersonal phenomena can be Shouse’s affect). Thrift names fear, happiness and joy as examples of affect that emerges in city life. Each of the approaches to affect he investigates moves towards ” an ‘inhuman’ or ‘transhuman’ framework in which individuals are generally understood as effects of the events to which their body parts (broadly understood) respond and in which they participate” and considers affect as “a different kind of intelligence about the world” (Thrift 2008:175).

Thrift presents four definitions of affect: the first consider affect as “a set of embodied practices that produce visible conduct as an outer lining” (ibid.) and further “Because there is no time out from expressive being, perception of a situation and response are intertwined and assume a certain kind of ‘response-ability'” (Katz 2000 in Thrift 2008:176). The second definition is based on drive: “emotions are primarily vehicles or manifestations of the underlying libidinal drive” (Thrift 2008:176). The third is associated with Spinoza and Deleuze and concerns Spinoza’s challenging of Descartes’ model of a body ruled by will, and the world being put together of two substances: extension and thought. Spinoza here puts forward the idea of only one substance where the thinking and acting happens in parallel. The fourth definition is the Darwinian translation of affect which is based on evolution and states that emotional expression is universal and may not be exclusive to humans.

Thrift then outlines examples of how affect is used within politics: how it through media has become a visible element which targets the public with methods of affect, e.g. when using emotion and let details of it represent a whole. This works well with an increasing emphasis in Euro-American societies to let subjective emotion stand as truth, “rather than through rational judgment or abstract reasoning” (Thrift 2008:184), I do wonder what is decided to be a rational ambition here, and by whom. What might affect do then? Thrift brings elements from the four approaches to affect together and extends them into politics through the video art of Bill Viola. In Viola’s work “The intent is clearly to let facial expression or other body movements (and, most obviously, the hand), patterns of light and different spatial formations interact in telling ways, providing ‘turbulent surfaces’ in which emotional and physical shape coincide in arcs of intensity” (Thrift 2008:195). Thrift points out that movement and emotion, and how that relationship is formed in cities on screens populated by faces, have become normal means of expression (ibid.). The immediate presence of humans in cities is also acknowledged; “…the city as a sea of faces, a forest of hands, an ocean of lamentation: these are the building blocks of modern urbanism just as much as brick and stone.” (Thrift 2008:196).

In his work Viola shows how we through mimesis learn about our own emotions and how the display and broadcast of these emotions affect others. On his sets Viola intertwine affect with space and time: “By operating on space and time (stretching, transforming, miniaturizing etc.) they become a kind of threshing floor for the emotions from which new instinctual traffic may come.” (ibid.).

In my previous Great Expectations blog posts I have tried to apply various theoretical concepts to the Brunnshög area in Lund, which has a future associated with a patchwork of expectations. In my quest for potential on site, as well as within the process of creating and planning the area, I of course also have had great expectations of my findings. After all “expectation is inevitably a part of perception” (Hustvedt 2013). As the affect concept, among other things, addresses immediate perception, I thought it would be well suited to combine it with an investigation done on site in the Brunnshög area, and see if I can spot this, at least seemingly tiny, thing called affect. For that, see Great Expectations V, Affect II.

Melissa Gregg and Gregory Seijworth ‘An Inventory of Shimmers’ in Melissa Gregg and Gregory Seijworth eds. The Affect Theory Reader, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010.

Nigel Thrift, ‘Spatialities of Feeling’, in Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect, London: Routledge, 2008

Eric Shouse, ‘Feeling, Emotion, Affect’, in Melissa Gregg, ed. ‘Affect.’ M/C Journal 8.6 (2005). 25 Nov. 2011.

Siri Hustvedt: Art is a memory

Illustration from Blade Runner

Małgorzata Makiewicz – House, Home, Domesticity. Re – open the House

by malkoshka

In my research I am interested in three aspects connected with house: house as building, home as a state of mind and the related to it domesticity and the process of domestication of space.

The house is a multi-layered structure, on one hand it is only architecture, which is affected by the environment, natural, social and economic factors. Subsequently house, its interior is not directly designed by the same architects but is created individually with clusters of objects, smells and memories, often identified with the warmth and security. There are different ways in which we as residents of our home country create home and otherwise we create it as immigrants. The earlier fact of connecting home and domesticity with the building has changed over the past few decades.

Jesper Magnusson, Collective Space

by Jesper Magnusson

In these texts I examine if the collective space – approach can add a new or different understanding of the production of public space and public life.

Ida Sanström, Encountering Others and Elsewheres

by helenefrichot

This is the result of a series of readings I have undertaken within the PhD course Philosophies at KTH School of Architecture. Concepts, primarily from Post-humanist Philosophies, New Materialisms and Critical theory, are explored and made operative through an elaborative investigation of Superkilen – a recently opened public space in central Copenhagen. Superkilen is a project designed to celebrate the cultural diversity of Nørrebro, set in the interstitial terrain between architecture, planning and art. The principal design concept, to fill the space with more than 100 objects from around the world, has resulted in an emblematic space for co-existence that has been presented as a ‘generator for integration’.

The selection of concepts – including Cosmopolitics, Agonism, Ego-spheres, Boundary Objects and Quasi Objects – has been guided by my primary question of investigation: How does materiality affect the way relations to ‘others’ and ‘elsewheres’ are established in urban space? The work has been subdivied into two separate, but related parts. Whereas part one Encountering ‘others’ addresses the production of difference, disagreement and territorial identities at Superkilen, part two Encountering ‘elsewheres’ searches for sociomaterial strategies of transcending the local.

Struggle: driving force of extreme..?

by obannova

1st edgeR

What would be or what is a theory and definition of “extreme” or “extreme environment” term means? There are definitions based on variety of personal backgrounds or different perceptions. It turned out that people get confused when hear these terms and many have quite different opinions what they are. Those perceptions usually depend on many factors: social, cultural, behavioral, financial, political, and of course environmental with multiple characteristics included. For example, environmental factors reflect on all life aspects and at the same time depend on them. Misbalance or disturbance in one of these areas can lead to the environment become “extreme” for living or/and to a social or other “struggle” that may also lead to a bigger disturbance and creation of even more extreme conditions than before. It may also lead to deepen disagreements between people and groups of people, affecting political subjects and processes. As Jacques Ranciere says in his “Introducing disagreement”:  “Of course, there is no such thing as the simple management of common interests or the zero symbolization of the community”  – there are no such thing as “common interests” unless those interests refer to simple survival but that also depends on the size of the group and level of severity they are facing.

Understanding of relationships and influences between different facets of human society and architecture can help to find a design approach which would optimize needs and requirements for various types of people living in different environments, societies and cultures. Although most habitat arrangements in extreme environments cannot be considered “cities”, some of urban assets can definitely be applied to their planning and design practices. Social, cultural, and even political aspects have to be addressed in the overall planning and throughout a design process. Such settings present a high degree of design functionality, with a tendency to demand an adaptation from habitants to the technology. These aspects of human being are corresponded to multi facets of sustainability and of course to sustainable design and planning and architectural practices.

Human limits?

by annabraideeriksson

Spatiality / Cluster 7


Distance is a major variable in society’s development


Small distances

In the first half of 20th century the city was a cluster of individuals mostly living and working within a limited area, developing a network of social relations also within this limited area. Daily life was often characterized of short distances both for work and purchase. Social network, relatives and friends often lived nearby. The near neighborhood was practicing social control; modeling values, norms and regulations. Meaning the closest district being a controlled, physical space. The physically lived world was a fairly concentrated district/city practicing social control.




Larger distances

Urbanisation of today means people moving to live and work in the larger cities or metropoles. This means that more people live in the cities. Today also people socialising not necessarily lives in the same area, people are more spread out, commuting can mean travelling or contacts via networks. Social control, meaning knowing Your closest neighbors, is reduced. The social network, relatives and friends, place for work and the service we employ, conducts a number of physically spread out islands requiring travelling. The physically lived world is a spread out archipelago with little social control.



Unlimited distances?

With network techniques continues developing, daily life’s of many people are depending on contacts through network devices. In work it dominates the communication with colleagues or consultants. In leisure time it keeps contact with friends and relatives. It sometimes is a life-style conveyer (for ex. Face book) and it also is engaged for numerous services as queries and different type of entertainment. The network, providing possibilities of an almost limitless range in many aspects also presents entries into a larger world. Through media such as films, computer games and network-groups, possibilities of another reality can come closer and even sometimes dominate over what is the real, lived situation. Are we passing into hyperreality? The physically lived world might be without attendance, lacking social control.

Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins.



Reflection: The further distance we can span the more fractionate becomes our physically lived space and control is no longer on a local bases but maintained elsewhere.

Society with fading or altered putty?

by annabraideeriksson

Spatiality / Cluster 7

Wikipedias definition of the term society is described,

The term “society” came from the Latin word societas, which in turn was derived from the noun socius (“comrade, friend, ally”; adjectival form socialis) used to describe a bond or interaction among parties that are friendly, or at least civil. Without an article, the term can refer to the entirety of humanity (also: “society in general”, “society at large”, etc.), although those who are unfriendly or uncivil to the remainder of society in this sense may be deemed to be “antisocial”.

Used in the sense of an association, a society is a body of individuals outlined by the bounds of functional interdependence, possibly comprising characteristics such as national or cultural identity, social solidarity, language, or hierarchical organization.

In our history the building of societies has been a strong foundation providing welfare, peace and technical- and cultural development. Communication, being the meaningful exchange of information between people, can gather peoples individual skills, starting processes. Communication between civitas can be seen as the operative substance in the body of society, the tool and the glue or putty forwarding the process of development. This points at our mutual dependence. Society is a group project, developing and culturing aggregated knowledge, experiences and skills. But also a pending practice in apprehension of the other. Our possibilities to see other people and other needs than our own. Without this practice or group project, sustaining the insight of the other, society as we know it would not be possible.



Today in Europe there is an enhanced hype for appraising the individual. This can be seen in life-style magazines, advertisement, working life career and demographic statistics. Our way of living is going through radical changes. The family is no longer the obvious base in society. Statistics show single households as the most common. Our way of residing is in a constant state of flux where friendship- and collective-living is becoming more common. Sloterdijk describes the one-room apartment as an architectural and topological analogue of the individualism of modern society. He also describes “..the setting free of solitary individuals with the help of individualized home and media technologies..” as a reality.  Communication among individuals is more likely to take place through the telecommunicative integration of nonassembled people than in physically meeting other people. He puts no moral judgment into this conclusion. The apartment as living cell represents the atomic level in the field of habitat conditions. The one-room apartment with its single occupant is the cellular nucleus of a private world bubble. The single bubble forms a container for the self-relationships of the occupant. The apartment serves as the stage for self-pairing. One can ask if this means that there is less or no need for meeting other people when the single life is described as an autosymbiosis, meaning that the form of the couple is fulfilled in the individual, who relates to himself as the inner other. Does the individualism of modern society mean a progression in egocentrism? Implying a preoccupation with our own internal world, where self-relevant information is seen to be more important in shaping one’s judgments than thoughts about others and other-relevant information. The societal putty, communication and practice of interdependence of individuals, the recognition of the other, seems distant in this context.

Reversing to the one-room apartment as a living cell, the built analogue of individualism and reflecting on Churchill’s often quoted words “We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us.” Are the built, residential, one-room structures a negative agent, countering a good society or are we only facing another, differentiated way of communication and interdependence?