SCAN | Architecture Fiction

Posted on 05/05/2013


I’ve just been writing a project proposal. Now taking a break before turning to the next thing on the ‘to do’ list, which turns out to be another proposal. I often learn something out of the questions my proposals attempt to ask or respond to. For both the proposals which need to be completed today, architecture fiction and place writing come into play. The reading and scanning has been rather enjoyable as a map of some key figures in this speculative architecture/architecture fiction space is forming: Bruce Sterling, JG Ballard, Ray Bradbury, Geoff Manaugh, Mark Dery, Pedro Gadanho and others. Most of these names appear regularly in my twitter stream, so somehow I have already come to track this path.

In Places Journal, Rob Walker describes architecture fiction as referring “to stories inspired by, or imposed upon, buildings and the built environment … those buildings or environments don’t have to be real, and the stories don’t have to be a series of words: They can exist as plans, schematics, models, renderings.” It’s an easy definition that draws in the speculative, representational, hypothetical, material and real. I’ve often regarded planning as the creation of fictions, a meeting place of stories and the unravelling of narratives. I particularly liked Walker’s discussion of the real estate sign as a kind of urban fiction or storytelling reclaimed by the Hypothetical Development Organization. I’ve appropriated this idea for one of my proposals, recognising too, the work of SquatSpace in Sydney who also appropriated the ‘for sale’ trope for other ends. But what I like about using this kind of signage is how it brings the multiplicity of the word ‘speculation’ into play.

However, in scanning these literatures and writings about architectural fictions and sketching out this map, there’s no mention (yet) of Jorges Luis Borge: his library, his labyrinth and his garden, for example, are among the most stunning of architectural speculations. Perhaps, however, that is just an indication of the depth of my scanning and there is a need now to transition from scan to search …

Posted in: architecture, fiction