The Subject of the Open Plan
Venue: Lecture Hall
In the early twentieth century the ‘open plan’ became a key site in modernist architecture. Its most extreme versions, without rooms or doors, seemed to symbolise a radical and unprecedented freedom. Moreover, in recent projects for continuous surfaces and folds, the ‘open’ has extended into topologies of section and time. Yet the question of who might be the subject of such ‘scapes’ has seldom been asked. That enquiry leads back to the eighteenth century and the romantic inception of ‘wandering’ as an image of freedom. But it also leads on to Constant’s dystopic paintings of his open-plan New Babylon, to disoriented subjects in Antonioni’s films, and to the indefinite repetitions of Rodney Graham’s loops in narrative time.
Brian Hatton is a lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, and has taught over many years at the AA. He is London correspondent for Lotus, and was 2009 Mellon Research Fellow at the Canadian Centre for Architecture.