The Bartlett School of Architecture


The Inhabitable Flesh of Architecture

The Inhabitable Flesh of Architecture


Today's architecture has failed the body with its long heritage of purity of form and aesthetic of cleanliness. A resurgence of interest in flesh, especially in art, has led to a politics of abjection, completely changing traditional aesthetics, and is now giving light to an alternative discussion about the body in architecture. This book is dedicated to a future vision of the body in architecture, questioning the contemporary relationship between our Human Flesh and the changing Architectural Flesh.

Through the analysis and design of a variety of buildings and projects, Flesh is proposed as a concept that extends the meaning of skin, one of architecture's most fundamental metaphors. It seeks to challenge a common misunderstanding of skin as a flat and thin surface. In a time when a pervasive discourse about the impact of digital technologies risks making the architectural skin ever more disembodied, this book argues for a thick embodied flesh by exploring architectural interfaces that are truly inhabitable.

Different concepts of Flesh are investigated, not only concerning the architectural and aesthetic, but also the biological aspects. The latter is materialised in form of Synthetic Neoplasms, which are proposed as new semi-living entities, rather than more commonly derived from scaled-up analogies between biological systems and larger scale architectural constructs. These 'neoplasmatic' creations are identified as partly designed object and partly living material, in which the line between the natural and the artificial is progressively blurred. Hybrid technologies and interdisciplinary work methodologies are thus required, and lead to a revision of our current architectural practice.


Marcos Cruz
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Image Credits

(01) Book cover.

(02) Top row:

Matthew Barney, Drawing Restraint 7, 1993. Video still credit: © Matthew Barney, 1993. Video: Peter Strietmann. By courtesy of Gladstone Gallery.

Louise Bourgeois, Louise Bourgeois on the steps of her home in New York City in 1975 wearing the latex sculpture Avenza which became part of The Confrontation (1978, Coll: Guggenheim Museum, NYC). Credit: Photo by Peter Moore: © Estate of Peter Moore/VAGA, New York, NY Art: © Louise Bourgeois Trust/DACS. London/VAGA, New York, 2013.

Steven Gontarski, My baby likes to party, 1998. Credit: © Steven Gontarski. By courtesy of the artist.

(02) Bottom row:

Marc Quinn, No Visible Means of Escape IV, 1996. RTV 75-60 polyurethane rubber and rope. Credit: © Marc Quinn. By courtesy of the White Cube. Photograph: Steven White.

Jake and Dinos Chapman, Zygotic acceleration, Biogenetic de-sublimated, 1995. Libidinal model (enlarged x 1000). Fibreglass, resin, paint, wigs and trainers 58 13/16 x 70 9/16 x 54 14/16 in. (150 x 180 x 140 cm). Credit: © Jake and Dinos Chapman/White Cube. By courtesy of the White Cube.

Lee Bul, Sorry for suffering – You think I'm a puppy on a picnic?, 1990. 12-day performance, Kimpo Airport, Narita Airport, downtown Tokyo, Dokiwaza Theatre,Tokyo Japan. Credit: By courtesy of Studio Lee Bul.

Lee Bul, Cyborg W1, 1998. Cast silicone, polyurethane filling. paint pigment, 185 x 56 x 58 cm. Credit: By courtesy of Studio Lee Bul. Photograph Yoon Hyung-moon.

(03) marcosandmarjan, competition entry for the New Tomihiro Museum, Azuma, Japan, 2002. View of building from below. Credit: © Marcos Cruz, Marjan Colletti.

(04) Top row:

Friedrich Kiesler, Universal Theatre, 1959-61. PHO 5150/0 Universal Theatre, side view New York 1960/61. Photographer unknown. Credit: © 2012 Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation, Vienna.

Chanéac, Cellules Amphores, 1973. Model. Plâtre, métal, adhésif, carton, bois, 8 x 40 x 36 cm, inv. 999 02 130. Credit: Photograph Philippe Magnon Collection FRAC Centre, Orléans. Donation Nelly Chanéac.

Bart Prince, Price Residence, Corona del Mar, California, USA, 1983-90. Credit: Photograph Richard Dodd. By courtesy of the architect.

(04) Bottom row:

Eisaku Ushida and Kathryn Findlay, Truss Wall House, Tokyo, Japan, 1990-93. Credit: Photograph Katsuhisa Kida. By courtesy of the architects.

Lars Spuybroek, Freshwater Pavilion, H2O Expo Holland, 1997. Credit: By courtesy of NOX/Lars Spuybroek.

Greg Lynn, Embryological House, 2000. Credit © Greg Lynn Form.

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