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Beating a Path: Designing in the Posture of Body

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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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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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