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Title: 'The real beside the real' : the laboratory exhibition and the experimental production of architecture
Author: Kossak, Florian
Awarding Body: Edinburgh College of Art/Heriot-Watt University
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2008
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Peter Smithson argued that Renaissance architects used the ephemeral stage architecture for courtly masques and temporary festivals to exhibit and experiment with the new style; they were testing out the 'Real before the Real'. Architects have ever since, often in collaboration with other producers of the built environment, used the public exhibition of architecture to experiment with new spatial, technological or programmatic propositions. In fact, the architectural exhibition has been, and still is, the locale to test new forms of the production of architecture itself. In that respect, the architectural exhibition can be an experimental praxis and has a transformative and progressive role in the development of architecture. It is a praxis that is situated not only 'before the real' but is in fact concurrent part of the production of architecture. It is the 'Real beside the Real'. The thesis calls this praxis the Laboratory Exhibition. The thesis explores the general preconditions of this Laboratory Exhibition and explores the discrete historical development towards this exhibition type. The emphasis is put here on specific historical forms and locale that were created or appropriated for the experimental production and exhibition of architecture, ranging from very intimate or private spaces, such as the 15th century studiolo, to large -scale spectacles, such as the 19th century world expositions. The thesis argues here that their original intrinsic qualities as places of architectural production and experimentation continue to be of relevance for a contemporary exhibition praxis. This is substantiated through the analysis of five contemporary case studies of Laboratory Exhibitions, ranging from a small -scale, participatory exhibition to a building exhibition operating on a city scale. The thesis thus produces a triangular exploration of the Laboratory Exhibition including theoretical foundation, historical development and contemporary praxis. The original contribution of this thesis is threefold. Firstly, it identifies and defines the key characteristics of an experimental architectural exhibition praxis that the thesis coins the Laboratory Exhibition. Secondly, the thesis argues, in contrast to most architectural histories, that this praxis is of a transhistorical nature and significance which predates the 19th century and Modernism. Finally, the thesis maintains that the Laboratory Exhibition is an indispensable part of the contemporary architectural praxis in which and through which architecture can be progressively transformed. In that respect, the thesis' significance lies in the contribution to a crucial but largely absent discourse on those exhibitions that can inform the development of architecture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available