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Beating a Path: Designing in the Posture of Body
The project Beating a Path: Design in Movement is one of a series of full-scale built investigations examining reciprocal relationships between movement and architecture. The work emerged from a concern that conventional architectural designers and architectural pedagogy work to develop spatial envelopes independent of the way that people moved in and around them. This project deliberately set out to explore how dancers moved and how to construct or evolve space generated by their movements – what John Schumacher and I have called ‘space-in-the-making’ (Schumacher and Bronet 1999). We are investigating how design in movement can motivate new ways of liberative building and inhabiting that challenge the hegemony of design in (ready-made) space. This chapter first looks at the differences between ready-made space and ‘space-in-the-making’ and then explores these parameters through a set of projects deliberately constructed for performance.
Design in space assumes that the space is already there, and that our movement is defined by it – by what it enables and what it prohibits. Design in movement is a complement to traditional architectural design in space, allowing us to experience space, through our bodies, in a way that challenges our deeply ingrained visual culture. It could also be called ‘space-in-the-making’, which refers to a condition where we would not have a ready-made design, procedure for construction, or model for occupancy. This means that any proposal would not be based on a preconceived or generic idea about the context, the project, the occupants, and so on. In many professional offices, there are often cookie-cutter methods and details in the development of any architectural project. And in many schools of design, there may be a precedent analysis of pre-existing types that becomes the foundation upon which a new proposal may be made. In a lsquo;spacein-the-making’ model, the designers would have to work intimately with the situation at hand and the design would emerge from the fullscale conditions on the site. These conditions include the acts of the designers, the physical and cultural context, and the interactions with the clients throughout the process, from initial conception to postoccupancy. This chapter will look at some examples of the extreme possibility of designing and occupying in movement or creating through the making, where the space of construction and of inhabitation cannot be fully determined without movement, without face-to-face interaction.
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The essays in this volume explore the borderland between ecology and the arts. Informed by psychoanalysis and cultural materialism, contributors to the first part, 'Spectacle: Landscape and Subjectivity', look at ways in which particular social and scientific experiments, theatre and film productions and photography either reinforce or contest our ideas about nature and human-human or human-animal relations and identities. The second part, 'World: Hermeneutic Language and Social Ecology', investigates political protest, social practice art, acoustic ecology, dance theatre, family therapy and ritual in terms of social philosophy. Contributors to the third part, 'Environment: Immersiveness and Interactivity', explore architecture and sculpture, site-specific and mediatised dance and paratheatre through radical theories of urban and virtual space and time, or else phenomenological philosophy. The final part, 'Void: Death, Life and the Sublime', indicates the possibilities in dance, architecture and animal behaviour of a shift to an existential ontology in which nature has 'the capacity to perform itself'.
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