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The Proceedings of Spaces of History / Histories of Space: Emerging Approaches to the Study of the Built Environment is a repository of the papers submitted for presentation at the conference “Spaces of History / Histories of Space: Emerging Approaches to the Study of the Built environment.” The conference was held on April 30 and May 1, 2010 at the College of Environmental Design at University of California, Berkeley.

Aiming to survey and access new approaches and analytical tools for studying the history of built spaces, the conference invited papers that explore a range of questions pertaining to theory, methodology and pedagogy: How has the “spatial turn” in the humanities and social sciences transformed the ways in which history of the built environment is theorized and researched? How should we study a historical moment when certain types of evidence predominate? What are the potentials and biases in the use of particular research techniques and narrative forms? To what extent are these choices shaped by disciplinary knowledge? How might such interrogations help us conceive new pedagogies for design and planning?

The conference has attracted a diverse group of participants from ten countries, and has been recognized as a major catalyst for fostering interdisciplinary research in the field. For information of the conference program and other details, please visit the conference website: http://arch.ced.berkeley.edu/events/spacesofhistory2010

Cover page of Beyond the Spatial Turn: Architectural History at the Intersection of the Social Sciences and Built Form

Beyond the Spatial Turn: Architectural History at the Intersection of the Social Sciences and Built Form

(2010)

In the past three decades, a growing number of scholars in the humanities and social sciences have turned their attention to the spaces of the built environment as a means to understand historical and social processes, thereby dramatically affecting our understanding of the latter. Edward Soja has defined the spatial turn in the humanities and social sciences as “a response to a longstanding ontological and epistemological bias that privileged time over space in all the human sciences, including spatial disciplines like geography and architecture.” Soja thus positions spatiality against temporality, or space against history. In turn, the spatial turn in the humanities and social sciences has led to a “social turn” in disciplines that study the built environment, particularly architectural history.

In this paper, I discuss the ways in which Michel Foucault’s and Henri Lefebvre’s “spatial turn” have enabled both scholars to overcome what they understand as a disciplinary crisis in regards to the subject matters of their studies. While Foucault attempts to resolve a crisis in the study of historical object of events, Lefebvre is concerned with the limits of society as a research object for the study of capitalism.

Positioned at the intersection of the study of built space and history, architectural history has long assumed a privileged position with access to study the objects of the built environment. Yet, if the spatial turn in the humanities and social sciences was resulted from an attempt to resolve a disciplinary crisis concerning subject matters, does it imply that architectural history’s “social turn” also signifies a similar crisis in the study of architectural subject matter? How has the social science nature of contemporary research in the built environment affected the methodologies and the discipline of architectural history?

Cover page of History of Spaces as a Pivotal Tool for Planning Practice: Analyzing Fractures and Continuities with Schoolchildren for the Master Plan of Dicomano, Italy

History of Spaces as a Pivotal Tool for Planning Practice: Analyzing Fractures and Continuities with Schoolchildren for the Master Plan of Dicomano, Italy

(2010)

On the occasion of the drawing up of the new Master Plan for the Municipality of Dicomano (Tus-cany), the authorities requested not just a project from the planners, but the initiation of a process that ‘could create and develop a dialogue between inhabitants and institutions’. The dialogical planning included a one-year Laboratory with schools (for children between 8 and 11 years), which involved young generations in the discussion of urban values, sense of belonging and transforma-tion of spaces. The idea was that of valorizing children’s knowledge on city space, and their role of “multipliers” for involving their families in the planning process. A specialized team of architects and planners followed the experience, seeking to avoid the “marginalization” of results and guaran-teeing their confluence into the “adults’ plan”. Being Dicomano a city destroyed twice during the XX century (by an earthquake in 1919 and the IIWW in 1944), the first idea was to rebuild the his-tory of spaces, creating a dialogue between new and old generations. The Children Plan proposal played as a catalyst for other citizens, which then were involved in the participatory process which shaped the Structural Plan. The paper analyses some features, limits and results of this experience.

Cover page of Old Space, New Urbanism: Israeli Perspective on the Spatial Turn

Old Space, New Urbanism: Israeli Perspective on the Spatial Turn

(2010)

In 2004, the municipality of Tel Aviv initiated a New Urbanistic urban-renewal project for one of its main thoroughfares, Ibn Gvirol Street. The plan prioritizes pedestrian traffic and encourages mixed uses. It was preceded by a design for the adjacent former Arab dwelling of Someil, made in 1997. In this plan, the remains of the village along with its topography are to be demolished, making way to a new design: integrated in all aspects of the urban texture.

This place, historically extrinsic to the urban continuum, had a potential for functioning as an Other Space in the city. It is persistently different from its context within space, society, and political allusions. Its historical capacity as a place for the disenfranchised makes it a possible Thirdspace – where Henri Lefebvre locates the struggle for Right to the City. However, New Urban plans are now transforming this site towards assimilation into the city.

New Urbanism draws from the past in search for locality. In Israel, where spatial-political amnesia is prevalent, it is challenged by conflicting memories. Other Spaces may act as reminders, whose presence in the urban environment prevents elimination of history and difference. Without them, the diversified becomes uniform and the Other is excluded.

Cover page of Formless Diagrams: The Employment of Studio Methods in the History Classroom

Formless Diagrams: The Employment of Studio Methods in the History Classroom

(2010)

Efforts to cross boundaries separating history classrooms and design studios are hampered by the very different objectives of historical and design teaching. Whereas design requires synthesis and clarity, the study of history should challenge and complicate students’ assumptions about the relationships between design and culture. More importantly, studio-based considerations of historical objects—often through the study of ‘precedent’—necessarily emphasize the formal and instrumental value of a work, while historical knowledge requires instead an emphasis on the ideological and cultural underpinnings of form. This paper views the productive tensions between these differing objectives through the lens of the diagram. The potential for diagramming exercises as components of history-based learning is examined through projects completed by my students in the context of semester-long historical research assignments. These activities complement written work with less traditional procedures that apply diagramming processes to diverse non-formal problems including the evaluation of textual evidence and the mapping of ideological content.

Cover page of From Separate Spheres to Gendered Spaces: The Historiography of Women and Gender in 19th Century and Early 20th Century America

From Separate Spheres to Gendered Spaces: The Historiography of Women and Gender in 19th Century and Early 20th Century America

(2010)

How has the study of the built environment changed the historiography of gender? This paper analyzes the shifts in the historiography of women and gender in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American history. It examines the evolution from a metaphorical concept of spheres to a more complex understanding of the interactions between space and gender. In the 1960s, feminist historians introduced the concept of ‘separate spheres’ as a way to understand the history of women in the nineteenth century. When historians, in the 1970s and 1980s, began to study actual spaces it became clear that the relationship of gender and space was more complex than the dichotomies of public and private, male and female, urban and suburban, which reinforced the idea of separate spheres. The study of actual spaces demonstrates that the boundaries of everyday life were more porous than those idealized by separate spheres and spaces. Further, scholars in the 1990s were able to show how the design, spatial arrangement, and décor of spaces contributed to the construction of masculinity and femininity in relation to each other.

Cover page of Out of Conceived Space: For Another History of Architecture

Out of Conceived Space: For Another History of Architecture

(2010)

This paper discusses two processes of production of space and how historiography of architecture relates to them. The first one is based on professional design of extraordinary spaces (monuments) and is widespread during the 20th century, even in the design of ordinary buildings. We understand it through Henri Lefebvre’s ‘conceived space’: the architect’s intellectual work dominates the builder’s manual work by means of abstract concepts, tools and codes. Its products are the objects of prevailing histories of architecture reinforcing the very concepts used before. In contrast, the second process relates to Lefebvre’s ‘lived space’. It is collective and cooperative, characterized by people’s engagement and negotiation on nonhierarchical building-sites, in which design, building and use are simultaneous. It creates everyday spaces in constant change, such as Brazilian favelas. Prevailing histories of architecture do not include this second process, because there are no concepts, schools, authors or finished products to be reified, while alternative approaches, also called ‘new history’ (School of Annales, ‘history from below’, microhistory, Alltagsgeschichte), have not yet reached the academic field of architecture. Our question is how to include the production of lived space in this field, as the way of making history is crucial to define the understanding of students and professionals about their role in society.

Cover page of The Virtual (Re)Construction of History: Some Epistemological Questions

The Virtual (Re)Construction of History: Some Epistemological Questions

(2010)

In recent years, some historians started to experiment with computer-generated virtual environments as a new medium for representing spatial history beyond the written language; unfolding new potentials for understanding and representing history. The new medium introduces often neglected sensory modalities and the exposition of some aspects of history that may otherwise go unnoticed. It affords the use of phenomenology and semiotics as theoretical lenses for interpreting the past in ways not possible in traditional media. It also often employs symbolic realism (the use of perspectival constructions that emulate everyday experience) to enable new forms of individual and social engagements with the past. In doing so, it raises new epistemological questions not typically encountered by historians using traditional media. This paper aims to clarify some of the assumptions and premises at work in reconstructing the past using computer-generated virtual environments. It examines some epistemological concerns with the use of phenomenology and semiotics as theoretical lenses. It also explores the potentials and limitations of symbolic realism and its offshoots: the suspension of disbelief and the suspension of imagination.

Cover page of Historicizing the View from Below: Aerial Photography and the Emergence of a Social Conception of Space

Historicizing the View from Below: Aerial Photography and the Emergence of a Social Conception of Space

(2010)

This article seeks to reconnect the late-twentieth-century theoretical development of a social conception of space in the social sciences and urban planning with a technique that was developed in the early twentieth century, during World War I: aerial photography. As a tool of representation, aerial photography has often been linked, in the work of numerous late-twentieth-century scholars, to "top-down" urban planning programs that ignored the psychological needs of urban inhabitants on the ground. As we will see, however, the new ways of seeing offered by the airplane led, simultaneously, to the emergence of a "bottom-up" approach to urban planning that focused on the everyday experience of urban residents. The view from above, in fact, gave rise to the view from below.

Cover page of Making Plans: "Architecture Begins and Ends in Pictures"

Making Plans: "Architecture Begins and Ends in Pictures"

(2010)

This paper was prepared for the Interrogating Theories and Methodologies strand. It explores, briefly, the practical aspects of the production and keeping of architectural drawings as historical evidence of built spaces and their use in the publication of architectural research. It looks at the role that drawings have played in the constructions of histories of architecture in the field of residential design, through a series of published examples the 20th Century ‘picture books’. For architects, the case study - a written appraisal of recent building work, illustrated with drawings and photographs, - has long been the staple of professional magazines and journals.

Published studies of new buildings fuel contemporary discourse and in time form the basis of much architectural history. During the last few decades case studies have changed, in particular the carefully drawn black and white plans and sections appear far less frequently. In journals they are often replaced with the more lavish, glossy colour photographs and online, drawings are reduced to low resolution pdfs. We might have expected that the change in production from hand drawings to computers, would have made drawings much more readily available however, this is not the case and the ongoing development of digital technology poses more questions for publishers and for collectors and archivists without software skills and uncertain of the value of a ‘virtual artefact’.

Cover page of Everyday Urbanism Between Public Space and "Forbidden" Space":  The Case of the Old City of Nablus, Palestine

Everyday Urbanism Between Public Space and "Forbidden" Space": The Case of the Old City of Nablus, Palestine

(2010)

Considering the unpredictability of the continuous Israeli military invasions for most of the Palestinian cities, this study takes the Old City of Nablus as a case study to shed light on the importance of everyday life. This paper is part of an ethnographic research on the interrelationship between people and their built environment under an extremely conflicted political situation, and the households’ everyday living experiences that present their resistance and “sense of place”. It attempts to discuss the responsiveness of the everyday of the Old City of Nablus and its urban fabric competence not only to the socio-economic needs, but also to the accelerated political struggle and resistance facing the continuous invasion and occupation by the Israeli military.

To reveal the silenced stories, the paper’s structure follows an ethnographic, exploratory, and analytical approach based on the researcher’s observations, interviews, photos, and available literature. This paper serves the research on people’s everyday life and urban public space in the city of Nablus, and continues researching the interrelationship between urban and social fabric and how it impacts the function and harmonization of public space, and “forbidden space” at certain times. Similarly, it documents and introduces Palestine as a case study that represents the everyday urbanism practices under the occupying Israeli military operations, to available theories for scholars who have discussed the everyday urbanism practices and tactics in different contexts. In this sense, history is incorporated in the phenomenon of this research case study as ongoing implication on both present living experience and space.