Architecture. Grad School. The State of the Profession. Field Trips. Agony. Ecstasy. Life. Etc.

Architecture Addiction, The Official Blog of

unSchool of Architecture
suggested reading/bookstore
other blogs I like
my portfolio
fieldtrips & workshops*
categories | archives | search
contact | rss

“Occupying Architecture: Between the Architect and the User”
by Katy Purviance on 12/31/08 @ 12:53:51 pm
Categories: Books | 567 words | 2504 views

I have been hungering for a book like this.

In our reviews at Harvard (your school too?), the critics often fall into ideological discussions. These are interesting because they make me wonder:

What about the person who will live in our buildings?
What about the people who will live and work in our buildings? Who will have to deal with our design decisions every day?

The user never makes an appearance in their discussions. Ideological theory is king.

Why is ideologocial anything more imporant than the people who will actually use the building?

I have asked this question. I have not received an answer. I like to think that as I move through the rest of my 3.5 year program, I’ll get an answer, and maybe a better appreciation for the purpose of the ideological discussion.

But, in the meantime, I need to satisfy myself that architecture cares about the people.

I just read about this book by Jonathan Hill called “Occupying Architecture: Between the Architect and the User”

Occupying Architecture: Between the Architect and the User

Jonathan Hill “Occupying Architecture: Between the Architect and the User”
Routledge | 1998-06-05 | ISBN: 0415168163 | 253 pages | PDF | 3,3 MB

Occupying Architecture explores the relationship between the architect, the user and architecture, revealing that architecture is not just a building, but that it is the relation between an object and its occupant.
This collection discusses how and why architectural production and discourse ignores the user, and focuses on what is absent from present debates and practice. This book proposes a complete reworking of the relations between design and experience to transform practices of the architect, and ways of seeing and using architecture.

I found this book in a small bookshop in Cambridge, England, and was immediately intrigued as an architecture student whose design philosophy is based in a user-needs-come-first approach. Hill’s selection of authors, including one of his own writings, is just as varied as the authors’ individual response to the challenge of “write about architecture and the user.”

Each article varies in its dissection of the profession as practice and application. Katerina Ruedi, for example, presents her resume, then dissects it in terms of cultural, educational, and social context. Lesley Naa Norle Lokko discusses architecture and a sense of place from a cultural and racial point of view, the cultural aspects of imagery, territory, and “response-ability” as a creative source and outlet. Hill’s own article indirectly jabs at the heart of New Urbanism, as this book came out in 1998, by making the distinction between “community” and “society”; one is physical, while the other is truly a product of commonalities or/of conflict. Muf Art and Architecture records the comments of the locals in one British neighborhood and uses these to compare and contrast the spatial and civic aspects of the surroundings.

Overall, Hill’s book encourages the reader to consider the client as a different faction than the user, and to own up to the differences between those of us getting the degrees and those having to tolerate our actions upon the built environment. It was not, as I’d expected, an environmental-behavior text, but rather an analysis of social forces at-large that are at work in our surroundings. I also recommend Andrew Ross’ book on “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property Values in Celebration FL” for anecdotal relation to Hill’s article.

I’m going to check this out as soon as I return to Cambridge next week!

Bookmark and Share Send Feedback | Permalink


No Pingbacks for this post yet...

This post has 216 feedbacks awaiting moderation...

Previous post: Shaping young minds at Harvard
Next post: A great idea...but a disappointing result

our sponsors
Other Blogs I Like
GSD Blogs:
Ben in Paris
A Large Lumpy Rock
Wayfinding with Waxman
Other Blogs:
Saved By Design
Jetson Green
Core 77
Rammed Earth is for Everyone
Raw Design Build
Lloyd Kahn's blog
Form Follows You Home
Burning Down the House - Radio Architecture
Unhappy Hipsters
Design Vote
Truly Minimal Plan
February 2018
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
 << <   > >>
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28      


Me on Burning Down the House
The VERB School
August 18 2010

October 20 2010

Licensure in the USA
November 17 2010

Become One of Us...Subscribe to Architecture Addiction
Give the gift of an architecture book to Architecture Addiction
Radio Architecture
Listen live to Burning Down the House, Wednesdays 4PT/7ET
Or download the podcasts from iTunes

our sponsors
It's Finally Here
unSchool of Architecture is here. Enter your name and email below to learn more.

Architecture School Survey
Hi. My name is Katy. I like it when you write to me and tell me about the cool stuff you're doing in architecture. Yes, I write back.* I may publish your letter and my reply on the blog. If you don't want me to do that, you can just ask that I withhold your name, or if you're really serious about keeping your letter a secret, you can ask me to just not publish it at all. Of course I'll still write back to you. * I hope you'll take this opportunity to share your thoughts with our worldwide audience.

[Fields marked (*) are required]


Your Name:*

Your Email Address:*

Your Question or Suggestion:*

After you click Submit, you'll come right back to the blog!

* Unless you spam me.

Created by Contact Form Generator

places where you could probably learn more about designing and building in just a few days than I did after a year of grad school

Know of some others I can add here? Let me know. Have you already visited some of these places...or planning on it? Let me know and I will feature your story and your photos here!

I am starting a new kind of architecture school. Unlike most architecture schools, you wouldn't have to submit GRE scores or good grades or letters of recommendation. You wouldn't have to put the rest of your life on hold for 3 to 5 years. You wouldn't have to accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt. At my architecture school, anyone could come for a few weeks and learn how to build a house with their own two hands. My teachers would take skills and concepts from some of these other workshops I've listed above... except classes would be held year-round to make it easy to fit into your schedule. I would have a number of different campuses around the country that would teach building designs appropriate to the local climate. And I need your help. Can you donate land for a campus? Can you dotate books for a library? Can you teach a workshop? Can you provide start-up capital? Let me know.

suggested reading/bookstore

Need more? Visit our bookstore

where is everybody?
Locations of visitors to this page

Who's Online Now?

  • Guest Users: 40
random quote generator

Give me another

our sponsors