Spatial Registers of Justice and the Idea of the Public Realm

Richard Patterson

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Fundamental to the principle of justice is the notion of ‘equality’, equality before the law, equal opportunities, etc., aligned with which are various spatial metaphors, e.g. ‘level playing field’. The space of justice is thus in significant ways a space without qualities, abstract, neutral, balanced and disinterested in its formal groundings. These qualities of social discourse, however, engage the spatial metaphor materially through architecture and the discourse of architecture through aesthetics. The space of justice becomes the space of the theatre of the public realm. The space of the city. This paper seeks to identify the origins of this set of correlations and translations in the development of the concept of space in the neoclassical Western tradition. It proposes a set of qualitative distinctions that characterise its developmental structure as symbolic language, imaginary identity, and ineffable potency, noting the explicit problematic posed for this tripartite construct by the advent of Modernism. The paper will conclude in noting the correspondence of competing definitions of ‘space’ with competing histories, values, and social trajectories.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2009
EventJustice and Architecture - Lincoln, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Nov 2009 → …


ConferenceJustice and Architecture
Period25/11/09 → …


  • Justice, Space, Public Realm


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