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Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space explores the effect of attention on our sense of space and of place’s qualities on our attention. Bachelard writes that the house shelters daydreaming and protects dreamers, therefore contemplating home should help us understand an important intersection between our patients’ embodied psyches and their cultural experience. This presentation will reflect on the meaning of home as habitat, person, place, memory, play, projection, and sometimes prison. Read More

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How do disciplines interact? How does one field affect, question and transform another? Is knowledge from one area of study applicable to others? In this chapter I will explore a potential overlap between relational psychoanalysis and the understanding of the architectural experience, both as a creative design process and the phenomenology of inhabiting and dwelling within the architectural space. Relational psychoanalysis has brought to the fore a new attention to the mutuality of the therapy process, contending that we discover our own minds only through the intersubjective field that is shared with others; a view that exposes the interdependence of... Read More

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Originally published in Lilith Magazine "I was sitting at my office desk, Thursday morning, March 31, multitasking as usual; checking my email, drafting plans for my sister’s apartment renovation in Tel Aviv, logging data into my bookkeeping software, and (I confess) checking Facebook once in a while. I scrolled through the feed of vacation photos, op eds and political comedy when I suddenly caught my breath – Zaha Hadid had died of a heart attack, age 65. "I’ve been thinking about Hadid’s death since its startling appearance in my Facebook feed. Had you asked me on Wednesday who my architectural... Read More

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Originally published: Hillel Office of Innovation "What is a Jewish home? What makes a home Jewish and what makes a Jewish space a home? You might be thinking, “We all know what a home is, so let’s focus on the Jewish aspect,” but as an architect, I think questioning the meaning of a home is central to the topic of this salon. "When I think of my home, I think of a personal space, away from the noise of culture, a place in which I can shape my own surroundings. But a home is also always part of the fabric... Read More

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It was a pleasure to speak to Professor Paul Glassman's architecture students at Yeshiva University about designing synagogues. The class was engaged and enthusiastic and I hope that I was able to express why I find architecture to be bother fun and meaningful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Q7fMVpUD8Q&t=2s Read More

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Originally presented at the Manifesto Fest, Psychology and the Other Conference, October 10, 2015 "We live in a fast world. We eat fast, travel fast, read fragments of stories with great rapidity. And then we realize that in this haste we have lost something valuable. "The slow movement, which started with slow food in the mid-eighties, expanded to slow reading (read every word), slow travel (notice the beauty of the wild flower field) and slow schooling (respond to each child). These slow movements share an appreciation of the pleasure and connoisseurship that come with slowing down. "We can now add Slow Therapy... Read More

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In a lecture titled “Architecture and its Pasts” Mark Cousins, an architectural historian and theorist, asked provocatively why young architects need to study the history of architecture. If architecture is about finding solutions to social, technological and cultural problems - why do we care about the Greek orders or the architecture of the Quattrocento? Cousins’ goes on to compare architecture to medicine and law, two other professions that emerged in the 19th century, and wonders if anyone would suggest that the training of doctors should include learning the medical procedures of the middle ages. Like architecture, the profession of psychoanalysis... Read More

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Originally published in The New York Jewish Week "We are in the season of the High Holy Days, when many Jews will be spending significant time in the synagogue. As an architect, I have had a number of opportunities to design synagogues, forcing me to think about the spatial and phenomenological aspects of communal prayer. [Jewish Week staff writer Steve Lipman addressed some of these issues in a Sept. 11 article, “The Shape Of Worship To Come.”] "The synagogue’s primary function is what happens in its sanctuary, the space in which the congregation prays together. But there is a basic... Read More

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Originally published in the New York Times "If you listen to psychotherapists when they talk to one another, you will often hear them speak of something called the “therapeutic frame.” This term, coined by the psychoanalyst Marion Milner, refers to the set of conventions and ground rules that structure the therapeutic experience. Just as the frame of a painting defines the borders of a work of art, the therapeutic frame is the “container” in which the therapy takes place. "As an architect, I find myself curious about this frame. What are its dimensions? Where does it start and where does... Read More

In this podcast, Esther speaks about her path to founding Studio ST Architects, and provides an overview of the firm's notable projects, ranging from competition designs and high-end apartment renovations to affordable housing and institutional community work. Read More

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Preface In this lecture I will reflect on two seemly separate questions: Why do we pray in a communal setting as well as the design implications that follow from this specific activity?And how do we create, invent and think of new ideas? I hope I can answer these questions using my experience of designing synagogue spaces, my understanding of the architectural creative process and theories of gender and collaboration or what I like calling “Relational Creativity”. The question of Synagogue Design In the last few years I have had a number of opportunities to design synagogues. Unlike  churches or mosques,... Read More

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Esther Sperber spoke at the American Psychoanalytic Association Annual Meeting workshop on psychoanalysis. APsaA website Read More

Published in the journal Psychoanalytic Psychology Abstract: Hans Loewald’s understanding of sublimation differs radically from Freud’s use of this term. Whereas Freud saw sublimation as a change of aim, elevating drive-based desire to a higher level of art, for Loewald, sublimation is a process of linking two experiences of reality. I suggest that Loewald’s sublimation combines ideas from his two teachers—Martin Heidegger and Sigmund Freud. Using Heidegger’s terms building and dwelling, I argue that architecture is always a sublimatory product, combining a rational, functional reality of building with a phenomenological experience of inhabiting space and dwelling. I described how this concept of sublimation... Read More

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Originally published on Archinect EXCITE "Rem Koolhaas, chief curator of the 2014 Venice Biennale, managed to excite us, again forcing us to rethink the Elements and Fundamentals of architecture. For me, this is the first time I felt a real desire to visit the show, which I have always imagined to be more like an amusement park for new design. INSIGHT "So why am I, along with many others, intrigued by this year's event?  One may agree with Peter Eisenmanthat architecture is a language, while Koolhaas's exhibition presents only words, neglecting the grammar of a cultural discourse; or perhaps Libeskind's words resonate with us, calling for a... Read More

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Esther Sperber participated in University of Massachusetts Amherst's lecture series in the spring of 2014. She spoke about Studio ST's work over the past 10 years, focusing on the design and collaboration process of the firm's work. Read More

Esther Sperber spoke at The New School Philosophy Department's Hans W. Loewald Conference in February 2014. Lecture: "Sublimation - Building or Dwelling? Freud, Loewald and Architecture"Respondent: Eli Zaretsky Read the published paper Read More

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Abstract: Coming from the field of architecture, Sperber explores the processes in which buildings expand the range of human experiences. Using the nineteenth century term empathy from philosophy of art as well as current psychoanalytic notions of mentalization and the relational understanding of trauma, she contends that the building can reconnect the inhabitant to affects that have been avoided, split off or dissociated by trauma or non-reflective parenting. She further articulates the difference between architecture and the Winnicottian transitional object. While the transitional object garners its power through the child’s projection of affect to compensate for the unavailable mother, buildings... Read More

Originally Published: Lilith Magazine "After months of architectural design, bidding, negotiations and city approvals, we finally entered the site for our first weekly construction meeting. The general contractor had started the demolition, and I was excited to see the bare space, its walls and other distractions removed, and to imagine the place as we’d designed it. Richard and I entered the apartment for the meeting. Raymond, our general contractor, was late, but the new site manager was waiting for us. When he noticed us, he walked over to Richard, a graying man of around 60, shook his hand and introduced... Read More

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Published Chapter in “The Ethical Turn: Otherness and Subjectivity in Contemporary Psychoanalysis”. Routledge Relational Series. "Sylvia Lavin writes in her book "Kissing Architecture":"A kiss is the coming together of two similar but not identical surfaces, surfaces that soften, flex, and deform when in contact, a performance of temporary singularities." (Lavin, 2011) "I get a bit excited when reading Lavin's phenomenology of kissing. Not only because kissing is arousing, but, also, because Lavin employs kissing to suggest a way for two disciplines to interact...I am excited to envision a place in which psychoanalysis and its acceptance of the disorganized human mind can... Read More