The campsite: Lessons from the edge of architecture.
Peripheries Architectural Humanities Research Association Conference, Belfast, 2011, Queens University, Belfast, 27th - 29th October, 2011. Belfast: UNSPECIFIED
Publisher's URL: http://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/Peripheries2011Conferen...
Architecture is a physical manifestation of the essential human need to both connect and separate; to bring together and to divide. Whilst the creation of architecture is bound up with ideas of the spatial – making spaces and places is what architects do – it is the edge condition that frames that space, be it the barrier of a wall, or the implied division of a threshold. Thus the making of space is inevitably bound up with the notion of separation and edge– what (and who) is in, what (and who) is out, and what (and who) defines that edge.
This demarcation of territory is multi layered, formally constructed through the processes of land ownership and architectural production, but simultaneously overlaid with demarcations of territories that are not limited by such rules (from the turf of a street gang to the catchment areas of primary schools). However there are few opportunities where individuals and groups have the freedom to carve out their own territories, to define their own spaces and to position themselves in relation others. Open field campsites are one of the places where this is possible, and as such they offer valuable insights into notions of de- and re- territorialisation , the subtle ways in which boundaries are implied, the sequence of thresholds that partition the public from the private, and the relationship of the small unit (individual, couple, friendship or family group) to the larger group (the group of strangers who temporarily make up the campsite community).
This research paper examines the transit architectures of camps as a stimulus to thinking about more permanent architectures. Drawing on a two year funded study, the argument is constructed through drawings and photographs in combination with theoretical sources in architecture, social theory and philosophy. The visual material was gathered from three case studies during the summer of 2010, and is used both as data and illustration, to investigate notions of threshold and liminality (exploring the demarcation, the use, and experience of space) and the impacts that differing qualities of threshold have on networks of social interaction. This investigation is used to explore the underlying elements of architecture.
This study of a peripheral architecture – the architecture of camps - is abstracted and applied to central architectural concerns. The research teases out lessons from the campsite analysis to critique and inform the design of more permanent settlements. In a parallel process of de- and re-territorialization, the periphery can be seen to critically reinvigorate the centre.
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