Architecture from the Outside
Essays on Virtual and Real Space
248 pp., 5 x 8 in,
- Published: June 22, 2001
Essays at the intersection of philosophy and architecture explore how we understand and inhabit space.
To be outside allows one a fresh perspective on the inside. In these essays, philosopher Elizabeth Grosz explores the ways in which two disciplines that are fundamentally outside each another—architecture and philosophy—can meet in a third space to interact free of their internal constraints. "Outside" also refers to those whose voices are not usually heard in architectural discourse but who inhabit its space—the destitute, the homeless, the sick, and the dying, as well as women and minorities. Grosz asks how we can understand space differently in order to structure and inhabit our living arrangements accordingly. Two themes run throughout the book: temporal flow and sexual specificity. Grosz argues that time, change, and emergence, traditionally viewed as outside the concerns of space, must become more integral to the processes of design and construction. She also argues against architecture's historical indifference to sexual specificity, asking what the existence of (at least) two sexes has to do with how we understand and experience space. Drawing on the work of such philosophers as Henri Bergson, Roger Caillois, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Luce Irigaray, and Jacques Lacan, Grosz raises abstract but nonformalistic questions about space, inhabitation, and building. All of the essays propose philosophical experiments to render space and building more mobile and dynamic.
With characteristic insight and rigor, Elizabeth Grosz provides a helpful analysis of the relation between philosophy and architecture during the past decade. More important, by rethinking virtuality in relation to the body and materiality, and vice versa, she effectively moves beyond oppositional modes of analysis, which have created a critical impasse. For Grosz, the virtual opens a future in which 'the logic of invention' can operate. To follow her into this emerging space is to discover that this 'outsider' is an 'insider' with much to teach.
Mark C. Taylor, Columbia University and Williams College
It is a credit to the field of architectural theory that it is so open to its outside—to the creative contributions of other disciplines and approaches. In this illuminating series of essays, Elizabeth Grosz brings to architecture a Deleuzian philosophical perspective that complements her longstanding engagements with both the concept of space and the experience of bodies. The result casts a new light on both architecture and philosophy.
Michael Hardt, Literature Program, Duke University
Architecture's best-kept secret is that it is not only knowledge of form, but also a form of knowledge. Elizabeth Grosz's Architecture from the Outside explores that secret, revealing key contemporary concepts and ideas and opening new routes for spatial research and invention.
Bernard Tschumi, Dean, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Columbia University
Architecture's boundaries are extremely porous, and the flow of ideas between its inside and outside is surprisingly unrestricted. Elizabeth Grosz brilliantly exploits this porosity to make a space for reflections and insights. Architecture from the Outside is required reading for any architect who wants his or her work to engage the wide array of challenges confronting us today.
Ralph Lerner, School of Architecture, Princeton University