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Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment

Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment

Henri Lefebvre
Edited by Łukasz Stanek
Translated by Robert Bononno
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment
    Book Description:

    Toward an Architecture of Enjoymentis the first publication in any language of the only book devoted to architecture by Henri Lefebvre. Written in 1973 but only recently discovered in a private archive, this work extends Lefebvre's influential theory of urban space to the question of architecture. Taking the practices and perspective of habitation as his starting place, Lefebvre redefines architecture as a mode of imagination rather than a specialized process or a collection of monuments. He calls for an architecture of jouissance-of pleasure or enjoyment-centered on the body and its rhythms and based on the possibilities of the senses.

    Examining architectural examples from the Renaissance to the postwar period, Lefebvre investigates the bodily pleasures of moving in and around buildings and monuments, urban spaces, and gardens and landscapes. He argues that areas dedicated to enjoyment, sensuality, and desire are important sites for a society passing beyond industrial modernization.

    Lefebvre's theories on space and urbanization fundamentally reshaped the way we understand cities.Toward an Architecture of Enjoymentpromises a similar impact on how we think about, and live within, architecture.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4197-4
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History, Philosophy, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-2)
    Łukasz Stanek

    The Manuscript Found in Saragossais a gothic novel by Jan Potocki (1761–1815), a Polish aristocrat touring Napoleonic Europe, that recounts the story of a mysterious manuscript found in the Spanish city of Saragossa and features the adventures of Walloon soldier Alphonse van Worden who, on his way through the mountains of Sierra Morena to Madrid, meets thieves, inquisitors, cabbalists, princesses, coquettes, and many other colorful characters.¹ With Potocki’s book in mind, I arrived in Saragossa on a warm evening of September 2008 to be received by Mario Gaviria, the renowned Spanish urban sociologist, planner, and ecological activist. In...

  5. Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment

      (pp. 3-23)

      By “architecture” I understand neither the prestigious art of erecting monuments nor simply the professional’s contribution to the indispensable activity of construction.¹ In the first sense, the architect elevates himself to the status of a demiurge; in the second, he responds to an external and higher command, which authorizes him to stand in for the engineer or the entrepreneur.

      What I propose to understand by “architecture” is the production of space at a specific level, ranging from furniture to gardens and parks and extending even to landscapes. I exclude, however, urban planning and what is generally known as “land use...

      (pp. 24-31)

      This inquiry is not limited to specialized or technical questions about architecture. Its scope is broader than a purely aesthetic analysis. To use a common expression, we could say that it is philosophical, except that philosophical reflection or meditation is centered on the philosopher’s proof (experience), whereas here it is a question of social practice.

      The classical philosopher, whenever he subjects productive or creative activity to analysis—art, science, work—begins by establishing the terrain of philosophy, the scope of his inquiry, its fundamental methods and concepts. He does not examine philosophical activity in itself. He is seduced by it,...

    • 3 THE QUEST
      (pp. 32-49)

      The doorway to dreams lies ajar, a sinuous road passes through. What will I find on the other side, where, with a shiver of fear, the bold would confront monsters? The void? A voyage through the interplanetary vacuum or monsters in a land of marvels? To discover the place of enjoyment, we must enter the dream because the real has betrayed joy.

      This departure is like many others: initiatory voyages, Alice in Wonderland, Wilhelm Meister (a dangerous analogy but Wilhelm crossed the theatrical imaginary before completing his personal education). What is specific to my case is that, from the outset,...

      (pp. 50-59)

      The imaginary voyage and the oneiric exploration of the possible have turned out to be disappointing. The ability to make our way appears to have been less useful than presumed. What now? The moment has come to seriously examine the objections. Whether by order of increasing or decreasing gravity hardly matters. This moment could have come earlier; the objections could have been addressed from the start. However, they first had to be identified. Our path has led us around and over those obstacles. But now the obstacles stand before us; we must tackle them head on.

      The first objection is...

      (pp. 60-79)

      Philosophers have distinguished the nuances of affective tonalities with the utmost finesse: pleasure, sensuality, happiness, satisfaction. Every great philosopher has focused on one such quality and given it a particular meaning. Before delving further, we might ask ourselves if the philosophical breakdown of what we have referred to with a single “positive” word—enjoyment—doesn’t contain an error of some sort, that of philosophy itself.

      Spinoza inquired into the secret and meaning of joy. It arises from understanding, the highest form, that which grasps the (divine) substance in its unity and totality and that consequently is eternalized the moment it...

      (pp. 80-86)

      Anthropology was able to free itself of the curse laid on it by evil fairies at the time of its birth. Today, it has rid itself of a form of intellectual asceticism embodied (or, rather, disembodied) in the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss. The amateur intellectualism of analysis reduced ontological realities to nomenclatures, to words and abstract relationships among concepts. The mental absorbed the social and with it the historical (time) into an abstract space of forms and structures.

      This scientificity covered a series of illicit operations, carefully dissimulated within the envelope of structuralism. First, beneath the appearance of recognizing the...

    • 7 HISTORY
      (pp. 87-101)

      We can learn a great deal from history. Unfortunately, the general history that might contain an answer to the question exists only in cursory form. There are good histories of architecture, where we can learn of the inventions of the great masters—Palladio, Ledoux, Eiffel, Perret. However, the relationship between the architectural work and the economic, social, and political context is sometimes obscured by the history of technical innovation, the materials and techniques of construction. A theoretical development and critique are both still lacking. Respect and admiration for the architect, a mediator between gods and men, have paralyzed theoretical research...

      (pp. 102-116)

      The psychology of pleasure and pain has done little to alter the claims of philosophy. Yet psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychoanalysts have helped accentuate the lived experience of pleasure and pain, enjoyment and suffering, noting their irreducibility to representations, to knowledge, to speech about (pleasure, pain, etc.). Knowledge, philosophy, and the sciences struggle to recover the irrecoverable and reduce the irreducible. What is assumed to be essential, or claimed to be by knowledge, is turned against the existential in an attempt to abolish it. This has nothing to do with the philosophical ideology of existentialism. The discovery of the specificity of...

      (pp. 117-127)

      To begin this chapter, I assume the following statements or propositions to be self-evident. If the reader feels there is something arbitrary about these claims, I encourage him to investigate other sources, whose identity and content I leave it to him to discover.¹

      a. Language, speech, and discourse occupy a mental time-space and designate a social space, providing it with orientations and situations, by means (mediation) of various representations, primarily through the use of proper names, place names, and so on.

      b. Mental space, the space of thought and language, of reflection and representation, is bound by social space. Beyond...

    • 10 ECONOMICS
      (pp. 128-135)

      The meaning of the term “economics” has changed several times in modern scientific terminology. After encompassing the concept of household organization (the meaning of the Greek for “economy”), it came to refer to economic abstinence. In the human sciences, this meaning has recently become broader and more obscure, shedding any contact with politics. Consequently, we need to distinguish the economic in the narrow and strong sense, political economy, from the word in the broad sense. Freud and other psychoanalysts speak of psychic economy, the operation of the conscious-unconscious mind as a whole, which allowed drives to be discharged and recharged,...

      (pp. 136-145)

      Until now we have surveyed, or explored, architecture in the form of an oneiric landscape. At times it even gave way to larger questions about space, ambiguity, and so on. We need now to take a closer look at architecture and architectural discourse. In doing so, if this analysis uncovers a principle (or principles) of classification for architectural works that is related to enjoyment and the virtual space of enjoyment, the time spent on such a pursuit will not have been in vain. With that end in mind, I turn now to an examination of several architectural works and texts,...

      (pp. 146-154)

      Let us retrace the path we have taken. Following an intentionally restrictive approach, a limited investigation focused on architecture expanded into space, the relation between space and nature, between the everyday and the noneveryday, between use and exchange. But the initial question remains. For it is at the architectural level that the space of enjoyment is projected, the space of use and reclaimed immediacy. At this level, social practice does, or does not, resolve its new problematic. Here, the irreducible becomes manifest, expands, imposes itself in turn. The result is that architectural transformation moves apace with other transformations—those of...

  6. NOTES
    (pp. 155-176)
  7. INDEX
    (pp. 177-190)
  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 191-191)