The Responsibility of Form: Space and Practice in the Entry Sequences of Housing Estates

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


This paper addresses several ideas proposed in the conference description. To begin with the paper, based on a recently completed research project, will engage with ‘alternative readings of territory and a range of spatial practices'. It does this through the identification of ‘patterns of rituals of occupation' identifying how ‘daily routines and activity are curtailed, moulded and adapted to a particular environment.' It will however contest the increasingly presumed domination of human agency in spatial discourses. That is, it will test whether form is as insignificant as is suggested by Gowan's statement: ‘I can east a sandwich in any size of room.' This is done through a critical reading of the work of Lefebvre, de Certeau, and others. It will propose that de Certeau's view of the relation between spatial configurations and practices achieves a (rare) dialectical balance where neither form nor practice is privileged. As such, it identifies form as an active (but not fully determinant) participant in the formation of practices, inhabitation and meaning. The paper will sketch out the basic premises of the above authors and will identify both the strengths and gaps in applications of theories of the everyday, space and spatial practices. The paper will also highlight the difficulty (or reluctance) in translating these ideas to concrete situations. In conclusion, by reference to a mundane space and practice - the entry sequence leading to front doors in 1970s housing estates - a case will be made for how these theories can be understood on a formal level while remaining attentive to the differences of individual practices. A comparison of contemporary and historical entry sequences and individual modifications to these will suggest an arena where everyday practices, spatial form and history intersect. The aim is to suggest a way of looking at spaces that accounts for human action while acknowledging the responsibility of form.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOccupation: negotiations with constructed space
Place of PublicationBrighton
PublisherUniversity of Brighton
Number of pages1
ISBN (Print)9781905593736
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011
EventOccupation: negotiations with constructed space - University of Brighton, Brighton, UK, 2nd - 4th July 2009
Duration: 1 Jan 2011 → …


ConferenceOccupation: negotiations with constructed space
Period1/01/11 → …

Bibliographical note

© 2011 The author, University of Brighton


  • Space
  • Everyday
  • Form
  • Spatial Practices
  • Housing


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