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Modalities of Place: On Polarisation and Exclusion in Concepts of Place and in Site-Specific Art

Publiceringsår: 2003
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 251
Dokumenttyp: Doktorsavhandling
Förlag: Department of architecture and built environment


In this thesis the notion of place is studied by way of investigating the “non-place” which is excluded or opposed, whenever a place is defined. “Non-place” is used here as a meta-concept, covering various recurring types of opposition to “place,” and it therefore represents a profoundly incoherent spect-rum of realities and concepts. Hence, a “non-place” may in this investigation appear as “leftover areas in urban planning,” as “passage,” as “site,” as “utopia,” and as “inauthentic architecture.” The study is made in relation to a set of authors and artists chosen for their influence on contemporary aesthetics of place, and for their explicitly stated dichotomies as regards architectural, geographical or social space. These dichotomies (and authors) have been studied in three parts. In Part I: Places of Preference a group of authors and artists are discussed as conveying a negative view of the modern place-forms where “placelessness” replaced a traditional and culturally dense place. In Part II: Other Places the discussion of polarised notions of place is continued, but now with authors who may be regarded as having a view of non-places as useful. Here, deviance from a normal condition is seen as a prominent theme. Finally, in Part III: The Site-Specific, the notion of place is discussed in relation to the recent historical changes of the concepts of site specificity and regionalism in art and architecture. The overall aim of the thesis is to show that when place is viewed in terms of dichotomies there is a risk of losing the perspective where social interaction, cultural multiplicity and individual activity is regarded. By focusing instead on placial variants, where the dichotomies are discus-sed in relation to a set of modalities, places may be regarded in their sociospatial and cultural diversity. The “wants,” the “needs,” the “musts,” the “wills,” i.e., the subjective or actantial influence on a spatial negotiation or an architectural realisation is then put into the foreground. To sharpen the modal approach a concentration should be held not on mere modulation of form where a house, a square or a park is given a slightly new shape, but on the significant alteration of a given comprehension, or use, of a place. This means also that several operators, on different actualising and realising levels, have to be considered when a place or a site-specific work is maintained or changed. Here, such place-formative processes have been studied as the modalities that appear in for instance exploitation, privatisation, domination and identification.


School of Architecture, Room B, Lund Institute of Technology.
  • Niels Albertsen (Associate professor)


  • Design
  • interior design
  • Architecture
  • Actants
  • Modalities
  • Place
  • Site-Specific Art
  • Arkitektur
  • inredningsarkitektur


  • ISBN: 91-973649-3-2

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