1st Edition

Freud for Architects

By John Abell Copyright 2021
    138 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    138 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    Series editor's preface

    List of illustrations


    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


    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


    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


    Blurred zones and architectural empathy for formlessness


    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 very brief history of closed-form, rule-based composition, and control of the architectural gift

    House II


    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


    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



    Further Reading





    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.