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A Critique of Everyday Life

Henri Lefebvre’s magnum opus: a monumental exploration of contemporary society.

Critique of Everyday Life Volume One: Introduction. A groundbreaking analysis of the alienating phenomena of daily life under capitalism.

Critique of Everyday Life Volume Two: Foundations for a Sociology of the Everyday. Identifies categories within everyday life, such as the theory of the semantic field and the theory of moments.

Critique of Everyday Life Volume Three: From Modernity to Modernism. Explores the crisis of modernity and the decisive assertion of technological modernism.

Verso Books: Henri Lefebvre’s three-volume Critique of Everyday Life is perhaps the richest, most prescient work by one of the twentieth century’s greatest philosophers. Written at the birth of post-war consumerism, the Critique was a philosophical inspiration for the 1968 student revolution in France and is considered to be the founding text of all that we know as cultural studies, as well as a major influence on the fields of contemporary philosophy, geography, sociology, architecture, political theory and urbanism. A work of enormous range and subtlety, Lefebvre takes as his starting-point and guide the “trivial” details of quotidian experience: an experience colonized by the commodity, shadowed by inauthenticity, yet one which remains the only source of resistance and change.

This is an enduringly radical text, untimely today only in its intransigence and optimism.

Text and Images via Verso Books

Architectonic · Public Space · Social/Politics

The geometry of nowhere, by James Howard Kunstler

“I hate sidewalks.

When I arrived in Paris the first shock I felt was how much space there was for people to move around. Even on boulevards with little pedestrian traffic, such as Boulevard Port-Royal, space is divided equally between pedestrian standing room, in other words place, and roads for vehicles. How many modern cities offer this kind of abundance? While, like all tourists, I loved the boulevards in Paris, I also became familiar enough with the city to find out that I disliked the little streets that branched off them. At first I thought that it was their boring, ordinary architecture and emptiness, but there were some exceptions. The pedestrian streets of the Marais and Latin Quarter were full of people and shops, which I assumed was exceptional due to their historic value. (Google Street View of a typical ordinary street of Paris.)

Late in the fall I returned to Montreal sufficiently alienated from it to be once again shocked by the contrast in street design. All I felt upon stepping out on the street was terrified and exposed. The snow and ice of winter only made the experience more dangerous. Despite the streets being wider than those of Paris, I am required to walk on narrow strips of concrete, where any slip or missed step would cause me to tumble into a road where a passing car would undoubtedly decapitate me. (In fact a few Montreal pedestrians were horrifically killed this winter.) Any contact with another pedestrian involves invading their personal space and requires that someone yield to the other. This means one cannot walk side-by-side with another person, taking away all the pleasure of walking. And out in the suburbs there isn’t even the luxury of a concrete strip to stand on. Little wonder that no one wants to walk anywhere. Thinking back, I realized why I hated Paris’ little streets: they forced me onto the sidewalk to make space for a road and car parking lane. There was no perspective from which to appreciate them because there was not even standing room in them.”

Excerpt of a text written by James Howard Kunstler, at Emergent Urbanism. Continue HERE

Architectonic · Book-Text-Read-Zines · Public Space

Total Landscape, Theme Parks, Public Space – Miodrag Mitrasinovic

Total Landscape, Theme Parks, Public Space employs the theme park in identifying, dissecting and describing the properties of PROPASt – privately-owned publicly accessible space in a themed mode – a hybrid form of public space emerging in urban environments worldwide Mitrasinovic does not propose that theme parks and PROPASt are, or will ever become, desirable substitutes for democratic public space, but deliberately cuts across the theme park model in order to understand the principle of systematic totality employed when such a model is used to revitalize urban public space in the United States, Asia and Europe. In doing so, Mitrasinovic has created compelling and multifaceted inferences out of a plethora of minute details on the design and production of theme parks across continents. Mitrasinovic s central argument is that the process of systematic totalization that brings theme parks and PROPASt into the same conceptual framework is not only obvious through formal similarities, but also through systemic and symbolic analogies: through values, conditions and techniques that have been extended upon the entire social realm. By illuminating the relationship between theme parks and public space, this book offers critical insights into the ethos of total landscape, a condition that emerges from overpowering convergences of the following three domains: a/ a globally emerging socio-economic system organized upon the idea of systematic totality; b/ a material apparatus that establishes its dominance on the ground; and c/ a system of totalizing narratives -designed and operated by the media and entertainment industry- that establish its dominance in cultural imaginations across national boundaries. One of the central premises of this book is that theme parks and PROPASt are complex artifacts designed to materialize such convergences and to spatialize corresponding social and environmental relationships. Mitrasinovic builds his compelling narrative by simultaneously studying phenomena, processes, practices, and forms interwoven in the types of spatial production characteristic of the total landscape. In parallel, Mitrasinovic systematically builds the argument for the necessity of a meta-disciplinary conception of the artificial by juxtaposing and integrating a great variety of insights from both emerging and established fields. In that respect, this book is an essential guide to those interested in cities and urban futures, particularly to scholars and students of urbanism, architecture, design studies, cultural studies, media studies, geography, anthropology, sociology, economy, and marketing.

Download PDF HERE
Text via Amazon

Design · Performativity · Public Space

Street Furniture Reclaims Hamburg’s Streets for the Public

Wanting to draw attention to the commercialization of public space, Oliver Show made seating a little more comfortable and accessible to his fellow citizens in Hamburg, Germany. He says: “The interventionist and experimental approach to me is more important than the quest for a ‘perfect’ product.”

Via Architizer