Accepted Paper:

Architecture and things: an examination of architecture's encounter with object theory in anthropology  

Author:

David Johnson

Paper short abstract:

From an overlapping terrain of material study in both fields, this paper first maps architecture's emerging encounter with anthropology's object theory and then attempts to determine the theoretical motivations as to what architecture might have to gain from a renewed theory of objects.

Paper long abstract:

As recent thing theories in anthropology continue to give voice to the underrepresented material object in human society. its audience grows ever wider to include design fields such as architecture. For the architect, what lessons might this bring? When the internationally renowned architect Renzo Piano placates us to see his recently completed skyscraper in London not as a politically controversial post-2008 £435 million building but rather as an ethereal glass object that mirrors the sky - perhaps this is what a thing theorist in anthropology might do as well To a trained architect, this way of seeing and placing value on architectural materiality and objectness might seem relatively banal, even old-fashioned and, dare we say, modernist. In both architectural practice and academia, an architectural modernism - once the standard bearer but now under other less recognisable guises - continues to propose an architecture of glass, steel, concrete, etc that speaks through its material expression. From this overlapping terrain of material study, this paper first maps architecture's emerging encounter with anthropology's object theory and then attempts to determine the theoretical motivations as to what architecture might have to gain from a renewed theory of objects.

Panel P092
Towards an architectural anthropology