— Michael Guggenheim

Tag "Change of Use"

in: Candide, Journal for Architectural Knowledge, Nr. 4, 2011. pdf


In this article, Michael Guggenheim analyzes architectural writing on the change of use of buildings published since the early 1970s. He shows that, in its sum, this literature fails its object because the process of change of use cannot be grasped in established architectural categories, categories that refer to fixed states. Guggenheim looks in detail at the metaphors and other figures of speech used to compensate this theoretical shortcoming. He concludes that architectural discourse needs to develop a processual view of buildings to more clearly differentiate between the three relevant perspectives—technological, semiotic, and sociological—in understanding the relationship between buildings and society.


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The Long History of Prototypes.
Contribution to Prototyping Prototyping, Limn, Issue 0, edited by Christopher M. Kelty, pre-publication to conference: Prototyping Cultures, organized by Adolfo Corsín Jiménez and Adolfo Estalella. Madrid 2010.

extended journal article version to come later.

A video of my talk is here, in case you want to see me.


the argument:

“Prototyping” has always existed and probably, for most of human history, has been more important than it’s opposite, orderly science and planning. But the differentiation of the functional system of science and art and the strong differentiation between experts and lay people in high modernity has obscured existing forms of prototyping. Only since the late 1960ies, as part of the “revolt of the audience” as Jürgen Gerhards has called it (Gerhards 2001), has it become possible to acknowledge prototyping as part of western society.

Such a claim rests on a notion of prototyping as laid out in the description of the conference: prototyping is not simply understood as the development of “first forms” or “first strikes” as beta-versions of products as in industrial design, but as a more general mode of doing culture: a mode that is tentative, based on bricolage, user involvement and ongoing change and improvements of products and practices, as “open innovation”, rather than on an expert in a closed lab who turns out a finished product to be used by a unknowing user.

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Image: An industrial building at the outskirts of Zürich, in which assisted suicides had to be performed, after zoning laws made it impossible to commit assisted suicide in flats. (photograph by MG)

Travelling Types and the Law. Minarets, Caravans and Suicide Hospices.
in Michael Guggenheim and Ola Söderström (eds.) Re-Shaping Cities. How
Global Mobility Shapes Architecture and Urban Form, London: Routledge.


This is how we introduce the chapter:

Michael Guggenheim looks at the law as a powerful but often neglected mediator to regulate the circulation of building types on a national scale, in his case Switzerland. His analysis of caravans, mosques, and homes for assisted suicide shows that the law is a powerful mediator that shapes the import of building types, by enforcing adaptations, changes to buildings and that serves as an arena, where conflicts about the circulation of building types become explicit.

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“Mutable Immobiles. Change of Use of Buildings as a Problem of Quasi-Technologies”
in: Thomas Bender & Ignacio Farias (eds.): Urban Assemblages. How Actor-Network Theory Changes Urban Studies.
Routledge, London.

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