Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Country House Revealed as Monument

"The balance of forces between monuments and buildings has shifted. Buildings are to monuments as everyday life is to festival, products to works, lived experience to the merely perceived, concrete to stone, and so on. What we are seeing here is a new dialectical process, but one just as vast as its predecessors. How could the contradiction between building and monument be overcome and surpassed? How might that tendency be accelerated which has destroyed monumentality but which could well re-institute it, within the sphere of buildings itself, by restoring the old unity at a higher level? So long as no such dialectical transcendence occurs, we can only expect the stagnation of crude interactions and intermixtures between 'moments' — in short, a continuing spatial chaos. Under this dispensation, buildings and dwelling-places have been dressed up in monumental signs: first their façades, and later their interiors. The homes of the moneyed classes have undergone a superficial socialization' with the introduction of reception areas, bars, nooks and furniture (divans, for instance) which bespeak some kind of erotic life. Pale echoes, in short, of the aristocratic palace or town house. The town, meanwhile, now effectively blown apart, has been 'privatized' — no less superficially — thanks to urban 'decor' and 'design', and the development of fake environments. Instead, then, of a dialectical process with three stages which resolves a contradiction and 'creatively' transcends a conflictual situation, we have a stagnant opposition whose poles at first confront one another 'face to face', then relapse into muddle and confusion"- Henri Lefebvre The Production of Space p223.

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