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People, Places and Possessions


Edited By Antony Buxton, Linda Hulin and Jane Anderson

Central to human life and experience, habitation forms a context for enquiry within many disciplines. This collection brings together perspectives on human habitation in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, social history, material culture, literature, art and design, and architecture. Significant shared themes are the physical and social structuring of space, practice and agency, consumption and gender, and permanence and impermanence. Topics range from archaeological artefacts to architectural concepts, from Romano-British consumption to the 1950s Playboy apartment, from historical elite habitation to present-day homelessness, from dwelling «on the move» to the crisis of household dissolution, and from interior design to installation art. Not only is this volume a rich resource of varied aspects and contexts of habitation, it also provides compelling examples of the potential for interdisciplinary conversations around significant shared themes.

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2. Uncertain Futures, Obscure Pasts: The Relationship between the Subject and the Object in the Praxis of Archaeology and Architectural Design (Jane Anderson)


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2 Uncertain Futures, Obscure Pasts: The Relationship between the Subject and the Object in the Praxis of Archaeology and Architectural Design


This chapter identifies the relationship between subject and object as being of significance to the praxis of archaeology and architectural design. Insight into the complexity of this relationship is important because it furthers our understanding of the relations between humans, architecture and the wider world. Gell explains that objects can have agency and influence us. This makes it possible for us to conceive of buildings as subjects. Buchli describes the architectural object as existing in different material registers that can be tangible or intangible and that these differences enable us to use or be influenced by objects to facilitate social relations. Lefebvre conceives of space as a practicing agent. The generation of spatial phenomena is therefore not wholly dependent on the will of individual designers. These theories are tested through practice-based research conducted via two live projects undertaken by the author with year one students of the Oxford Brookes School of Architecture (OB1 LIVE). These projects were created in collaboration with the Story Museum, Oxford and with Archeox, a community archaeology project in East Oxford. A case study follows which looks at the written and built work of contemporary Japanese architects and academics Atelier Bow Wow who use the ambiguity between subject and object to sensitise us to the richness of the imaginative and design potential of...

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