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Imaginative Enclave in Maison de Verre

Lookup NU author(s): Kati Blom



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Kati Blom, Lecturer in Architecture at Newcastle University, in ‘Imaginative Enclave in the Maison de Verre’, presents research about imaginative spatial intimations of architecture. The argument for the intimation conceives a proposition for an imaginative enclave. The emphasis is on the preconscious notes on a spatial situation where we become aware of the contrasting messages signaling from the conscious and unconscious parts of ourselves. The case study is the Maison de Verre, Paris (Pierre Chareau 1928–1931), seen through Kenneth Frampton’s articles (1966, 1969) and especially scrutinising the damp, unscintillating illumination conditions as described and experienced in the flesh. A parallel phenomenological reading can be found in the Glass House by Philip Johnson (1949) seen through the artwork of Fujiko Nakaya (Veil, 2014). Frampton mentions the glass brick wall with ‘translucent Nevada lenses’ which diffuses the light and makes one experience the condition of the outdoors when indoors, for the outdoors is invisible, that is, non-phenomenal. To induce the make-believe, the owners lit the garden and front ‘flood-lights’ in the evening. The text implies that once you are in, you are in a phenomenal outdoors which in fact is not the case. What is imagined when reading the text is that this condition particularly enclaves a person within the building into a certain local atmosphere which has a quasi-objective character, which is explained using Gernot Böhme’s phenomenology of atmosphere. Existing ‘odd’ spatial objects (in the interior of the Maison de Verre) which do not have any apparent cause become partial objects (Freud, Lacan, Bollas) which evoke the imagination and intensify the surreality of the situation of the imaginative enclave. One of the odd evocative objects is the glass brick wall itself which, unlike glass in general, is perceptible as medium but surreally doesn’t reveal anything about the source of the illumination. Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s concept of vertiginous proximity to objects, Jean-Paul Sartre’s studies of images, and Gaston Bachelard’s material imagination are used to explain these ambiguous, fleeting luminous imageries where the acute moment intermingles with preconscious, associative matter.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Blom K

Editor(s): John Shannon Hendrix and Lorens Eyan Holm

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Architecture and the Unconscious

Year: 2016

Pages: 233-251

Print publication date: 28/01/2016

Acceptance date: 11/04/2014

Publisher: Ashgate/Routledge

Place Published: Farnham


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781472456472