Freud for Architects  book cover
1st Edition

Freud for Architects

ISBN 9780429423253
Published November 22, 2020 by Routledge
138 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Freud for Architects explains what Freud offers to the understanding of architectural creativity and architectural experience, with case examples from early modern architecture to the present.

Freud’s observations on the human psyche and its influence on culture and social behavior have generated a great deal of discussion since the 19th century. Yet, what Freud’s key ideas offer to the understanding of architectural creativity and experience has received little direct attention. That is partly because Freud opened the door to a place where conventional research in architecture has little traction, the unconscious. Adding to the difficulties, Freud’s collection of work is vast and daunting. Freud for Architects navigates Freud’s key ideas and bridges a chasm between architecture and psychoanalytic theory.

The book highlights Freud’s ideas on the foundational developments of childhood, developments on which the adult psyche is based. It explains why and how the developmental stages could influence adult architectural preferences and preoccupations, spatial intuition, and beliefs about what is proper and right for architectural design. As such, Freud for Architects will be of great interest to students, practitioners, and scholars in a range of disciplines including architecture, psychoanalysis, and philosophy.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction.  The psyche, aesthetic experience, and architecture  Reading Freud, psychoanalytic theory, and clinical practice.  Social influence, psychotherapeutic design, wild analysis, and architectural "aeffects".  Outline of the book.  2. Freud and modernity: selfhood and emancipatory self-determination.  Freud and Vienna: modernity and culture.  Contrasting architectural preferences in fin-de-siècle Vienna.  The Interpretation of Dreams, 1900.  Psychical selfhood and self-determination.  Trauma, repression, architecture of screen memories, remembering, repeating, and working through.  Cultural screens, disconnection, negation, and affirmation.  Conclusion.  3. Aesthetic experience: the object, empathy, the unconscious, and architectural design.  Unconsciously projecting oneself and intuiting the shape or form of an art object: Semper, Vischer, Schmarsow, Wölfflin, Giedion, and Moholy-Nagy.  Stone and phantasy, smooth and rough.  Inside-outside corners, birth trauma, and character armor.  The turbulent section and the Paranoid Critical Method.  Asymmetric blur zones and the uncanny.  Conclusion.  4. Open form, the formless, and "that oceanic feeling".  Architectural formlessness, not literal formlessness.  Freud and the spatialities of the psychical apparatus.  Phases of psychical development in childhood.  The oral phase.  Repression.  Blurred zones and architectural empathy for formlessness.  Conclusion.  5. Closed-form, rule-based composition and control of the architectural gift.  The second phase of development, the anal phase, and struggles over control of a gift.  Threshold practices: isolation, repetition, procedures for handling objects, and diverting impulses.  A brief history of closed-form, rule-based composition and control of the architectural gift.  House II.  Conclusion.  6. Architectural simulation: wishful phantasy and the real.  The third phase of development, the phallic phase: a wish and overcoming prohibitions against the wish.  Simulation, wishes, and world views.  "Vertical Horizon" and the plot of phallic phantasy.  Conclusion.  7. Spaces of social encounter: freedoms and constraints.  The last phase of development in childhood, the genital phase, and the search for obtainable objects.  Open slab versus regime room: empathy for freedom versus constraint in spaces of social encounter.  Conclusion.  Conclusion. Further Reading.  References.  Index.


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John Abell, PhD, specializes in modern architectural design and urban design critical theory, particularly as these intersect with aesthetic experience, material craft, and design technologies.