8 March 2022

Architecture as/of Care: Spatial Meaning and Palliative Philosophies, 1970-2010

McGill University

Respondent: Samuel Holleran (University of Melbourne)

This dissertation explores the role of architecture in the provision of care in the late twentieth century. It investigates how care, as an amorphous concept, was imagined and embodied through environments designed to house and contribute to care work, and traces its lineage in architecture in order to identify architecture’s contribution to the contemporary care movement. While scholars have investigated specific typologies in isolation—be it the residential hospice or the hospital, for example—this work will present a cross-typological study, seeking to unearth a ‘typology of care’ from environments purpose-built for these relational activities: skilled nursing facilities; free-standing, residential hospices, and; pediatric hospice and respite centres.

This dissertation asks: what role has architecture played in the development and provision of care processes, and how were philosophies and practices of care expressed spatially at the beginning of the ‘care movement’? How were these roles developed through government policies and guidelines, and social and political movements at the time? How does the architecture of care environments enable, embody, and empower the ethics of medicine?


Towards a Criticism of Architectural Theory? On the Forms of Knowledge of Bernard Tschumi

Columbia University, GSAPP

Respondent: Tommaso Listo (Politecnico di Torino)

In my dissertation “The Beautiful Misunderstanding? Architecture Theory and French Philosophy 1960-2000,” I analyze the way in which French philosophy was operative in the constitution of the field of “theory of architecture” since the 1960s. By critically examining the writings of selected theorists (Alan Colquhoun, Aldo Rossi, Bernard Tschumi, Diana Agrest, Mario Gandelsonas, and Peter Eisenman), I strive to propose a “criticism of theory of architecture” and to analyze the way in which the concepts of French structuralism and post-structuralism helped these theorists to provide answers to a set of specifically architectural questions (i.e. the crisis of modernism, the critique of functionalist dogmas, the question of “meaning” and of “type”).

In this paper, I will discuss the genealogy and the methodology of my dissertation project by relying my chapter on the theoretical thinking of Bernard Tschumi as a case-study. In his writings, Tschumi has been commenting upon the dual nature of architecture, which is simultaneously a cosa mentale and an embodied experience of space. He questioned the nature of architectural practice by using concepts such as “pleasure,” “event” and by emphasizing the polysemy of meanings intrinsic to any architectural signifier – many of these concepts can be traced back to thinkers such as Roland Barthes, Philippe Sollers, Georges Bataille, and Jacques Derrida. In a Hegelian manner, Tschumi interrogated the dialectical relationship between architecture and its “excess,” between architecture and its negation. Tschumi’s unexpected winning La Villette competition 1982 marked his progressive shift from architectural theory to practice. In this shift from theory to practice, Tschumi had to live through a paradox which he had theorized earlier – namely how can one simultaneously practice architecture and criticize it? How to design objects that would include their own negation?

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