First International Conference of Young Urban Researchers (FICYUrb)
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Bradley Braun

Architecture as social practice: the negotiation of space

Bradley Braun
Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary

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     Last modified: June 11, 2007
     Presentation date: 06/11/2007 4:30 PM in ISCTE-II C202
     (View Schedule)

Socio-spatial research has focused on the classification and systematization of the quantitative properties that define public space. Current research in this field has evolved into the creation of complex modeling programs capable of evaluating and measuring the capacity of urban space to function as spatial constructs for the facilitation of social interactions. Form and function are the primary spatial attributes for this methodology; social space is abstracted and quantified as a positivist, mathematical construct.

For Henri Lefebvre, space takes three forms which are inextricably linked. Perceived space is engaged as a physical form, that which is generated and used. Conceived space is engaged as a mental construct; the space of abstraction as understood through maps, mathematics, plans and logic. Lived space is that which is socially produced and modified over time and through its use; it is the space of symbolism and meaning, of contestation and appropriation. For Lefebvre, the production of lived, or social space occurs in both the mental and physical realm, where the abstract and the real are dynamically linked through human activities over time. This understanding situates social space as both quantitative and qualitative in its nature.

This paper will argue that architectural discourse must address the need for the development of an approach to the design of public space that facilitates its appropriation as a space of negotiation, contestation and (de)construction of social relations. The development of an understanding for the design and evaluation of public space must be both objective and subjective in its approach, while recognizing and responding to the dynamic nature of all forms of human interaction that define space itself.

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