Writerly Experimentation in Architecture: The Laboratory (not) as Metaphor

  • Willem de Bruijn Arts University Bournemouth (AUB)

Abstract

Within the last two decades, the use of the term laboratory or ‘lab’, as it is often abbreviated to, has become widespread in both the profession and
in education. ‘Spacelab’, ‘Arch LAB’, ‘Laboratory of Architecture’ – these are but some of the names given to architectural practices today. Also, no self-respecting academic institution today lacks a ‘research laboratory’ or ‘lab’ of some kind, often set up in parallel to the conventional studio, but sometimes also as a substitute for it. In a more recent development, the laboratory has also been adopted as a place for exploring architectural themes through writing, as exemplified by the ‘Writing Labs’ set up at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. This development that has seen the laboratory become the very paradigm of conceptualizations of practice and research in architecture revolves, I argue, around a renewed interest in the notion of experiment and the spaces of experimentation. The question I want to raise in this article concerns the role of the laboratory as a metaphor in constructing spaces for writerly experimentation. For, outside the domain of science, how can a laboratory be understood as anything other than a (mere) metaphor?

References

Barbara E. Ascher, ‘The Bauhaus. Case Study Experiments in Education’, in AD: Architectural Design, 85, 2 (2015), 30-33

Elias Ashmole, Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum (London: Brooke, 1652).

Willem de Bruijn, Book-building: A Historical and Theoretical Investigation into Architecture and Alchemy, unpublished PhD thesis (London: University of London, 2010).

Peter Galison and Caroline A. Jones, ‘Factory, Laboratory, Studio. Dispersing Sites of Production’, in Peter Galison and Emily Thompson (eds.), The Architecture of Science (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), 497-540.

Walter Gropius, Scope of Total Architecture (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1956)

Carl Gustav Jung and Richard F. C. Hull (transl.), Psychology and Alchemy (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968)

Michael Maier, Tripus aureus (Frankfurt: Lucas Jennis, 1618)

Bruce T. Moran, The Alchemical World of the German Court: Occult Philosophy and Chemical Medicine in the Circle of Moritz of Hessen (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1991).

Hans U. Obrist and Barbara Vanderlinden (eds.), Laboratorium (Antwerp: Dumont, 2001).

Walter J. Ong, Interfaces of the Word: Studies in the Evolution of Consciousness and Culture (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977)

Helmar Schramm, Ludger Schwarte and Jan Lazardzig (eds.), Kunstkammer, Laboratorium, Bühne. Schauplätze des Wissens im 17. Jahrhundert (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2003).

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (London: Penguin, 2003), 48.

Brett Steele, ‘The AADRL. Design, Collaboration and Convergence’, in AD: Architectural Design, 76, 5 (2006), 58-63

Urszula Szulakowska, The Alchemy of Light: Geometry and Optics in Late Renaissance Alchemical Illustration (Leiden: Brill, 2000)

Hereward Tilton, The Quest for the Phoenix: Spiritual Alchemy and Rosicrucianism in the Work of Count Michael Maier (1596-1622) (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 2003)

Dalibor Vesely, Architecture in the Age of Divided Representation (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004), 298-99.

Rainer K. Wick, Teaching at the Bauhaus (Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz, 2000)

Frances A. Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (London: Routledge, 2002)

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/architecture/events/2017/nov/writing-labs [Accessed 19 February 2018].

Author Biography

Willem de Bruijn, Arts University Bournemouth (AUB)

Willem de Bruijn is an artist and academic with an interest in the crossovers between architecture, philosophy and the visual arts. He obtained an MSc in architecture from Delft University of Technology and a PhD in history and theory of architecture from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. He is currently senior lecturer in architecture at the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB), where he runs the Contextual Studies programme. He has published several articles relating to his doctoral thesis in journals such as The International Journal of the Book (2005, 2007), Library Trends (2012) and Footprint (2012). He has also been involved in various editorial roles for publications such as The Arcadian Library: Binding and Provenance (2014), Sigmund Freud’s Desk (Ro Spankie, 2015) and, most recently, Black Mirror: Magic in Art (2017), a book he also designed. Willem’s current research revolves around the role of the image in visualisations of history and theory.

How to Cite
DE BRUIJN, Willem. Writerly Experimentation in Architecture: The Laboratory (not) as Metaphor. Writingplace, [S.l.], n. 1, p. 48-58, apr. 2018. ISSN 2589-7691. Available at: <https://journals.library.tudelft.nl/index.php/writingplace/article/view/2070>. Date accessed: 23 may 2019. doi: https://doi.org/10.7480/writingplace.1.2070.
Published
2018-04-09