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OSO version 0. University Press Scholarship Online. Sign in. Not registered? Sign up. Publications Pages Publications Pages. Search my Subject Specializations: Select Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. More The French Marxist philosopher and sociologist Henri Lefebvre meditates on the relationship between jouissance, space, and architecture.

He calls for an architecture of jouissance—of pleasure or enjoyment—centered on the body and its rhythms and based on the possibilities of the senses. Examining architectural examples from the Renaissance to the postwar period, Lefebvre investigates the bodily pleasures of moving in and around buildings and monuments, urban spaces, and gardens and landscapes. He argues that areas dedicated to enjoyment, sensuality, and desire are important sites for a society passing beyond industrial modernization. Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment promises a similar impact on how we think about, and live within, architecture.

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Toward An Architecture Of Enjoyment

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In the first volume of Critique of Everyday Life , Lefebvre had shown how leisure spaces had become indispensable for the reproduction of capitalism. It is this ability to discover condensed energy where others saw broken promises that most starkly distinguishes Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment from the pessimistic climate of opinion in the emerging postmodern architectural culture of the s. In spaces of leisure, the hegemonic social regime is disrupted, and Lefebvre urges us to think of this disruption not simply as a compensation for the tedium of ordinary routines, but as an instance when this regime is experienced as fundamentally incomplete.

As Lefebvre discusses these precedents, he builds a theory of an embodied jouissance, a force at odds with the shell of postwar capitalist space-time.

Benidorm, Spain, What I propose to understand by architecture is the production of space at a specific level, ranging from furniture to gardens and parks and extending even to landscapes. I exclude, however, urban planning and what is generally known as land-use planning. Why isolate the city, the urban, urbanism, and spatial planning in this way?

Are questions concerning the various levels of spatial reality unimportant? Should we erase them from the map when it comes to architectonics? On the contrary, it is at these levels that certain agents and powers intervene that are quite capable of crushing architects and their work completely, if only by putting them in a subordinate position, by confining them to the mere execution of a program.

Henri Lefebvre

Try and think for a moment, with whatever degree of seriousness you like, of the nuclear threat or any of the mechanisms of planetary destruction pollution, dwindling resources, etc. How do you stop thinking about something like that? As soon as you think of something else, as soon as you choose to live, even for a moment or two, despite the danger, you effectively put the issue on hold, thus demonstrating the power of thought over the redoubtable forces of death.

Does this mean that you deny the perils that lie in wait? No, not if you possess a modicum of perseverance. Below, I present other arguments in support of this initial but not definitive reduction. Are they better? And complementary. Today, architecture implies social practice in two senses. In the first place, it implies the practice of dwelling , or inhabiting the practice of an inhabitant or, to use a more problematic term, a habitat.

Rachael Champion

Secondly, it implies the practice of the architect himself, a person who exercises a profession that has developed like so many others over the course of history, one with its own place or perhaps without a place: this has yet to be verified within the social division of labor; a profession that produces, or at least contributes to, the production of social space if indeed it does have its own place in the production process. But there is a paradox here. By setting aside the far order, by clearly apprehending the link to practice, a consideration of the architectural work liberates the imaginary.

Such thinking can approach utopian space by avoiding abstraction and underwriting in advance the concrete nature of that utopia one that must and can reveal itself at every moment in its relation to practice and to lived experience. What illusion, what error!

Any number of dangers haunt our progress along this slippery path. To take risks while avoiding accidents is a self-evident behavioral precept. For example, today, there are architects who assign a compensatory character to the space occupied by housing the habitat.

Anton Alvarez in ‘Architecture of Enjoyment’ at Fokidos 21, Greece, October 2014

From their point of view, the bourgeois apartment becomes a microcosm. It tends to replace the city and the urban.


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A bar is installed to simulate the expansive sociability and conviviality of public places. The kitchen mimics the grocery store, the dining room replaces the restaurant; the terrace and balcony, with their flowers and plants, serve as an analogon to put it in philosophical terms of the countryside and nature. This is as true of a city or a vacation home as it is of a spacious and beautifully furnished apartment. But to what end?