The Setting and the Social Condensor – Transitional Spaces of Architecture and Psychoanalysis

Moisei Ginzburg and Ignatii Milinis, The Narkomfin Communal House, Moscow (1928-1929) (Photograph: Jane Rendell, 2012)

Le Corbusier, Unité d’Habitation, Marseilles (1947-1952) (Photograph: David Cross, 2011)

London County Council, Alton West Estate, Roehampton, London SW15 (1954-1958) (Photograph: Jane Rendell, 2011)

This essay focuses on ‘transitional’ objects and spaces – located in the overlap between inside and outside. I position next to one another textual accounts of two specific kinds of transitional objects and spaces, the setting of psychoanalysis and the social condenser of architecture, in order to create a place of potential overlap in the mind of the reader. My aim is not explain the relation between these three architectural spaces, the architects and cultures that produced them and those that inhabited them, but to position the transition from one architectural space to another, next to a sequence of theoretical insights drawn from psychoanalysis concerning the transitional spaces which exist in the relationships between a subject and his/her objects. The overlapping space between architecture and culture operates on many levels, through the triangular structures which take place between a subject and his/her object(s): perhaps between an architect and his/her imagined and/or built objects; or in the relation between one building and another in the space mediated by the user and the historian; and on the page, between the critic who writes and the reader who comes later to experience those words.

Publication Details: The Setting and the Social Condenser: Transitional Objects in Architecture and Psychoanalysis’, Adam Sharr (ed) Architecture as Cultural Artefact. (London, Routledge, 2012).

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