ARCHITECTURE IN THE SPACE OF FLOWS
We are proud to announce the publication of the edited book: ‘Architecture in the Space of Flows’. The book is coedited by Chris L. Smith and Andrew Ballantyne. Chris is an Associate Professor in Architectural Design and Techné and is the Associate Dean (Education) of the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney.
Andrew is the Professor of Architecture at Newcastle University, UK. The book is the culmination of a program of research led by Smith and Ballantyne that included an international conference (held in the UK), guest edited editions of ARQ (Architecture Research Quarterly) (Cambridge University Press) and Architectural Theory Review (Taylor and Francis). The book has been published by Routledge, London.
‘Architecture in the Space of Flows’ enables and promotes an understanding of buildings, people and settlements through a concept of flow. It is important to develop this understanding because it is what makes buildings work. Flow makes settlements work also, and indeed people. We need there to be a flow of nourishment, of energy and water. Building materials flow from quarries into buildings, and they erode into dust, while the money that pays for the buildings flows from one bank account into another, and from one medium to another, as materials are turned into energy, and work is turned into liquid assets.
Despite its importance for understanding architecture and so many other things as well, flow has been little studied. It has been more habitual to discuss the shapes of traditional geometry, on which it is easier to have a conceptual grasp. Our ways of dealing with stable shapes such as squares and circles are much more developed and architectural culture has been inclined to discuss them. Our efforts to be rational have tended to exclude things that are more difficult to isolate and pin down. Environments of purified forms have been admired and have signalled high status. However, the book ‘Architecture in the Space of Flows’ charts a huge growth in interest in various aspects of fluidity in architecture, and part of the interest is in processes that flow across traditional boundaries from the person to the building, from the sense of self to the settlement, from economics to identity, and so on.
The architecture that is represented in the essays of the book tend to belong to the realm of the everyday, rather than being glamorous high-status monuments. This is because it is in everyday circumstances that the problems of flux are being working out in the most compelling ways, but also because the culture of architecture has in general tended to give high status to highly controlled forms. This is very evident in the grand monumental tradition, that includes even contemporary complex forms that are highly defined using digital technologies. The point with this book is to try to re-focus attention on buildings and places where the phenomena are produced by non-centralized decision-making processes, that include low-level local responses to available materials, flows of energy and social conditions. These phenomena may be “formless”, or without a predetermined imposed geometric resolution. They may feel pragmatic and intuitive to the people who make them happen. But seen in a wider perspective, they are immersed in the experiences of life, and they produce things that are used to promote life.
Smith and Ballantyne write: “In all architecture that has genuine vitality these forces are always already in play, and this book argues for paying attention to them, and for valuing them enough to make them visible as the basis for vital expression.”
The essays of the book were written by architects, planners and architectural theorists from Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia and include the work of Helge Mooshammer (Research Fellow at the International Research Center for Cultural Studies (IFK) Vienna and Goldsmiths, University of London), Åsa Andersson (Kungl. Konsthögskolan, Royal Art Institute, KKH Sweden), Peter Mörtenböck (Professor of Visual Culture at the Vienna University of Technology and Visiting Fellow in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London), Marc Godts and Nel Janssens (Sint-Lucas School of Architecture, Brussels). The inspiring final chapter of the book was written by one of our own Professors of Architecture at The Univerisity of Sydney, Michael Tawa.
‘Architecture in the Space of Flows’ was released in the UK in September and is now available in Australia.