Bachelard Poetics Of Space

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Prolific French philosopher Henri Lefebvre once wrote that the tendency to reduce space ‘to parcels, to images, to facades that are made to be seen and to be seen from’, is a tendency that degrades the very notion of it. Architecture inhabits space, the concept of which, albeit difficult to grasp is made possible through the interpretations of those who populate it. It is even possible to say that there are as many places as people in a space. This concept is central to the discourse of Phenomenology, a school of thought that first developed around the end of the 19th century but gained significant traction in the years of the 20th century. It was first conceived as a ‘return to things’, a critical response and reaction to centuries of rational …show more content…
Gaston Bachelard, in his influential book, The Poetics of Space discusses the idea that a person’s house is their ‘first universe’ and that the various dwellings we inhabit over the course of our lives have a lasting impact on our memories and spatial perception. He writes of the differing tonality in memories we have of home and those of the outside world – the result of a home’s main purpose, to shelter daydreaming. The emotions that Bachelard writes about, however, tend to be overwhelmingly positive, focusing on a sense of nostalgic comfort that he believes is found only in our home: ‘the space we love’. In her review of The Poetics of Space, Joan Ockman writes of Bachelard’s overly idealistic and detached ‘reverie of a maternal, womblike, and stable home’, one, which is ‘sheltering and remote’. A criticism of phenomenology has always been it’s tendency to favour the bourgeoisie, given their affluence and privilege that allow them to worry about how a space will feel, rather than it’s basic ability to accommodate fundamental human needs. Neither the typology of social housing nor the average working class home is adequately represented in phenomenological literature or even in architectural projects that explore the school’s tenets. The notion of the working-class dwelling was especially relevant in the 1950s with post-war reconstruction leading to a period of experimentation in this field that has been referred to as the “golden age of social housing”. In projects like the Unité d’habitation in Marseille and the Park Hill estate in Sheffield, we see a far more rationalised approach to social housing, one that favours a more Maslowian ideology that prioritises hygiene and a building’s ability to provide adequate enough shelter from the elements. In his text “Building,

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