Multiplicity and Home: Reframing Bachelard's Poetics to Connect Individual and Collective, Imagination and Engagement

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Starego, Nicole, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Putalik, Erin, Landscape Architecture, University of Virginia
Crane, Sheila, Architectural History, University of Virginia
Johnston, Andrew, Architectural History, University of Virginia

History is multiple. Experience is multiple. Identity is multiple. Within the era of knowledge production following the mass-fracturing that resulted from postmodern thought, architectural historians have begun to see that home is also multiple—tracing the epistemological lineage of this contemporary understanding from postmodernism to the philosophy of the everyday, originated by Henri Lefebvre in the 1930’s but not adopted in the academic circles of the design field until decades later. Architectural historians have followed the threads of structuralism, poststructuralism, and feminist theory through the 1960’s and 1970’s to connect these ideologies, leading to their acknowledgement of the emergence of vernacular and cultural landscape studies at the end of the twentieth century—areas of scholarship where their contributions further cemented the everyday as a critical lens that could be applied to philosophies of home within the realm of domestic architecture. Despite this augmentation in scale, and its implications on physical space, architectural history as a discipline still has not been able to reconcile notions of multiplicity with those of specificity and subjectivity—which this project asserts can, and have always, linked individual and collective together as dialectics of home. This project is original in its examination of Gaston Bachelard’s philosophies of home as a solution to the discipline’s lack of a method that addresses both the individual and community, and centers the critical evaluation of self, which is posited as the origin of recognizing others in place. Considering poetry to be the raw material of his meditations in The Poetics of Space, translated from French to English in 1964, Bachelard sets a precedent for methods we consider to be autoethnographic or self-reflective in current scholarship. His poetics offer a lens into architectural history’s future as a discipline, while simultaneously illuminating its past, shaped by the phenomenological methods developed in the mid-century; however, the incorporation of Henri Lefebvre’s notion of the everyday with Michel de Certeau’s notions of place is necessary to reframe Bachelard’s images of home. At this intersection, we find the utility of seeing home and place as one—the link between our personal and community-based identities. This project explores the methods architectural historians have turned to through time to inscribe home within the cultural imagination and evaluates their potential as practitioners to braid together individual and collective to facilitate processes of community creation and engagement.

MARH (Master of Architectural History)
Home, Place, Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, The Everyday, Community Engagement, Phenomenology, Postmodernism, Role of Architectural Historian, Autoethnography, Self-Reflective Methods, Philosophies of Home, Narrative, Historic Preservation
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