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About Space

Too often, architects jump into work without understanding what taking action in a specified context implies. In the following few lines, we will try to convince you first of the use of a precise terminology and will start to give a few definitions of terms.

For architects, the word Space is central. Its importance is probably due to the fact that there is no generally accepted definition of the term. In what follows, we will propose an explanation, one we would love for a broader audience to discuss and hopefully come to an agreement around. Let us start with our short definition.

Space is the compound of 3 components:

It is not more complicated than this, but if we do accept this initial statement, consequences are serious.

  • Space is the product of human labor and can be exchanged on the market.
  • Space can be seen or touched, or more generally perceived through our senses.
  • Space hosts, produces and is shaped by relations.

We also consider that the three components of Space overlap as shown in the following diagram:

To further extend the definitions of our 3 components, let us look at their 1-to-1 intersections:

We can see quite evidently that where Space is considered a commodity, we see emerge possibilities that we would deem negative. On the contrary, in a hypothetical scenario where this component would have disappeared, we would see an emancipatory horizon show.

Absolute scenarios like these will not be investigated further here, we consider the state of the world to be presently under the conditions of Late Capitalism. Our intent is to facilitate action under these conditions rather than to imagine an alternate realities.

Lastly, depending on our position on this map of Space (the diagram aforementioned), we acquire and abandon different roles: architect, user, client, investor, renter, etc. With these roles come possibilities of action and incentives.

It is mainly these incentives which pressure individuals into consolidating the current balance of power.

The first step to shifting this balance is to understand what Space we are inhabiting.