Kissing Disciplines – Relational Architecture

Writings and Lectures Writings

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 the analytic dyad in which analyst and patient together construct the analytic space of healing.

In the field of architecture there has been a long-standing reluctance to see design as anything but the independent creation of the lone architect. In this view of history, the creative process and the reality of the architectural design exclude a wide range of innovative processes which arise from the inevitable messy interaction the architect will have with the building’s physical surroundings, the clients and the many other participants in the design and construction process (Sperber, 2013).

In this chapter I use Aron’s ideas, raised in his “Mutual Vulnerability: An Ethic of Clinical Practice” (Chapter 2 of this volume), to expose a previously hidden aspect of the architectural practice. I suggest an overlapping sensibility between the psychoanalytic understandings of vulnerability as Aron describes it, and a resistance to accepting the mutuality and vulnerability inherent in the work of the architect and the field of architecture. I also point to a particular manner in which two disciplines—architecture and psychoanalysis—can meet and affect one another, while maintaining their own unique identity. This manner of interaction may be seen as a kiss, an idea influenced but Lavin’s book Kissing Architecture (2011).

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The Ethical Turn: Otherness and subjectivity in contemporary psychoanalysis

Edited: David Goodman and Eric Severson, Routledge

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