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Title: Inhabiting the Image : architecture and social identity in the post-industrial city
Author: Melhuish, Elizabeth Clare
ISNI:       0000 0004 2691 5057
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Bucks New University
Date of Award: 2007
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The research presented in this thesis is intended to reveal the layers of social and cultural meaning invested in a building conventionally regarded as a work of abstract aesthetic modernism, and one which has been evaluated, within the framework of a national heritage preservation policy, as an architectural landmark of the post-war era of urban reconstruction. By combining the research methods of architectural history (archival) and of anthropology (ethnographic) I have located and interpreted the architecture of the Brunswick within a larger social story that demonstrates how the lived experience of a particular environment exists in parallel with the more objective official discourse that invests a work of architecture or art with cultural significance. The thesis traces the architectural inception and complex evolution of the building, its critical reception, and the proposals for redevelopment that culminated in a major refurbishment and transformation of the shopping precinct in 2006. It goes on to present an ethnographic account of the Brunswick as a social, as much as an architectural space, and an anthropological interpretation of the relationship between identity and place in terms of the specific qualities of the built environment. It shows that the material environment becomes real and vivid to people as an embodiment of the social dimensions of their lives, and that the boundaries between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ – the private space of the home, and the layered sequence of public spaces extending through the building to the city beyond - are not objectively fixed, but subjectively perceived and negotiated in different ways. Although the Brunswick exerts considerable power as a unique architectural image, its boundaries do not define an integrated social space, nor a unified experience of the place as a living environment. Nevertheless, repeated interaction and sensory experience make it a tangible architectural framework for everyday and domestic life which evidently shapes the view from the inside looking out. The research aims to make a significant contribution to knowledge at a meeting-point between anthropology and architecture, which might help to inform future understanding of the interaction between people and the built habitat in modern urban societies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Buckinghamshire New University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Architecture ; Urban landscape design ; Cultural meaning of architecture ; Architectural history ; Urban reconstruction ; Brunswick ; Shopping precint refurbishment ; Anthropological interpretation