Toward a Minor Architecture

Overview

Architecture can no longer limit itself to the art of making buildings; it must also invent the politics of taking them apart. This is Jill Stoner's premise for a minor architecture.
Her architect's eye tracks differently from most, drawn not to the lauded and iconic but to what she calls "the landscape of our constructed mistakes"--metropolitan hinterlands rife with failed and foreclosed developments, undersubscribed office parks, chain ...

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Toward A Minor Architecture

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Overview

Architecture can no longer limit itself to the art of making buildings; it must also invent the politics of taking them apart. This is Jill Stoner's premise for a minor architecture.
Her architect's eye tracks differently from most, drawn not to the lauded and iconic but to what she calls "the landscape of our constructed mistakes"--metropolitan hinterlands rife with failed and foreclosed developments, undersubscribed office parks, chain hotels, and abandoned malls.
These graveyards of capital, Stoner asserts, may be stripped of their excess and become sites of strategic spatial operations. But first we must dissect and dismantle prevalent architectural mythologies that brought them into being--western obsessions with interiority, with the autonomy of the building-object, with the architect's mantle of celebrity, and with the idea of nature as that which is "other" than the built metropolis. These four myths form the warp of the book.

Drawing on the literary theory of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Stoner suggests that minor architectures, like minor literatures, emerge from the bottoms of power structures and within the language of those structures. Yet they too are the result of powerful and instrumental forces. Provoked by collective desires, directed by the instability of time, and celebrating contingency, minor architectures may be mobilized within buildings that are oversaturated, underutilized, or perceived as obsolete.

Stoner's provocative challenge to current discourse veers away from design, through a diverse landscape of cultural theory, contemporary fiction, and environmental ethics. Hers is an optimistic and inclusive approach to a more politicized practice of architecture.

The MIT Press

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Stoner's book reads as a novel, an architectural fiction. It is gentle, brilliantly precise and economical in its use of language. Sentences themselves open up new horizons for architectural reflection, in the manner of poetry."--Lindsay Bremner and Jeremy
Till
, Architectural Review

The MIT Press

"Brilliantly and poetically conceived and written, this book is necessary reading for prospective architects and for anyone troubled by the disjunction between the slickness of major architecture and the abject qualities of the postindustrial landscape." -- J.
Quinan
, Choice

The MIT Press

From The Critics
"Stoner's book reads as a novel, an architectural fiction. It is gentle, brilliantly precise and economical in its use of language. Sentences themselves open up new horizons for architectural reflection, in the manner of poetry."—Lindsay Bremner and JeremyTill, Architectural Review

"Brilliantly and poetically conceived and written, this book is necessary reading for prospective architects and for anyone troubled by the disjunction between the slickness of major architecture and the abject qualities of the postindustrial landscape." — J.

Quinan, Choice

Library Journal
Stoner (architecture, Univ. of California, Berkeley) follows in the footsteps of Jane Jacobs (The Death and Life of Great American Cities), who worked to overturn the policies of Robert Moses, the urban planner who reshaped mid-20th-century New York City. She critiques the empty malls and office parks characteristic of urban sprawl and examines how they emerged from four major mindsets still prevalent in architecture. The book's chapters examine each of these "mythologies": of architecture as contra to nature, of building as autonomous object, of the supreme importance of interiors, and of the culture of architect as celebrity. Stoner argues that underutilized buildings can be transformed through something she terms minor architecture, which is the art of reoccupying them, e.g., the current artistic reclamation of abandoned buildings in Detroit. This book reimagines architecture as a kind of literature, and Stoner is heavily indebted to the writings of French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Pierre-Félix Guattari (coauthors, Anti-Oedipus), whose theories of minor literatures she used to shape her own ideas. VERDICT Recommended for all readers interested in architecture—this should be required reading in every design school.—Peter S. Kaufman, formerly with Boston Architectural Coll.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262517645
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 3/9/2012
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 1,441,989
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Jill Stoner is Professor of Architecture and Chair of the Center for Jewish Studies at the
University of California, Berkeley. Until recently a practicing architect, she has been the recipient of numerous national and international design awards. Her first book, Poems for
Architects
, explores contemporary spatial and architectural themes through an anthology of twentieth-century poems.
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