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Title: Narrative contradictions in space : an architectural study of spatial simulacra, temporal displacements and story-based reenactments
Author: Gogh, Anna Katalin
ISNI:       0000 0004 8505 7582
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2019
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In the tendentiously visual culture of our times, scholars, such as Daniel Boorstin ([1961] 2012) and Juhani Pallasmaa (1988), have called for a renewed search for identity and authentic experiences. Interestingly, when we look at our contemporary built environment, we find spatial settings, neighbourhoods or entire towns, which question or even contradict issues around authenticity of place and their contextual (spatial and cultural) environment, yet, undeniably, are tailored to create the narrative of an experience of locality, culture and identity. For instance, in the case of Thames Town that was designed to recall British urban sceneries in China; Zaanse Schans that features architectural heritages from the 1800s in the Netherlands; and the Spanish small town of Júzcar that became the reenactment of the fictional Smurf Village, creating an image and the role of narratives became intrinsic part of architectural design and urban planning practices. These narratives deliberately tell a story that is manifested in their architectural articulation and through social practices. Scholarly arguments contesting issues around topics, such as authenticity, theming and place-making, are endless (see, for instance, Boorstin [1961] 2012; Eco [1967] (1986); Relph 1976; Augé 1995). However, it can be argued, that the above-mentioned cases have left the realm of what Boorstin defined as 'pseudo-events', Umberto Eco's definition of 'hyperreality', or what Marc Augé termed as 'non-place', since these models are not theme parks or such, but are designed to be, or already are, inhabited as 'lived spaces' (Lefebvre [1974] 1991). It is argued that such 'themed experiences' have overloaded our everyday life (Gottdiener 1997) and inhabited themed environments alike, such as Disney's planned community of Celebration and Colonial Williamsburg in the USA, as well as the numerous Chinese copycat towns, have been in the focus of scholarly debates (see, for instance, Huxtable 1997; and Bosker 2013). However, these examples are only scrutinised individually, or examined in a micro-environment, such as in a particular region or country, like the United States or China, but not considered and measured as a cohesive global phenomenon. In my thesis, I examine such phenomenon, what I hereby call narrative contradictions, with the intention to untangle its complexity. By using the three above-mentioned examples as case studies, Thames Town, Zaanse Schans and Smurf Village, my research, on the one hand, aims to bring an order and define a taxonomy that can potentially serve as a reference point for future research. On the other hand, I would like to highlight the importance of narratives and the lessons that can be learnt from these places in the fields of architecture and spatial design.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral