Architecture and the Unconscious

Friday 9 December saw the launch of Architecture and the Unconscious (Routledge 2016),  an edited collection of essays by architects and theorists of architecture, which explores the concept of the unconscious in architectural thought. Edited by John Hendrix and Lorens Holm, this project began as a paper session at the annual international conference of the Society of Architectural Historians in Austin, more than two years ago.

The book launch included a discussion between the contributors to the book and an invited panel of psychoanalysts and was hosted by Lorens Holm, University of Dundee and Jane Rendell, The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

Contributors to Architecture and the Unconscious were: Andrew Ballantyne, Kati Blom, Hugh Campbell, Emma Cheatle, Gordana Fontana-Giusti, John Hendrix, Lorens Holm, Stephen Kite, Christina Malathouni, Tim Martin, Francesco Proto, Jane Rendell, Nikos Sideris, Alla Vronskaya

Presentations were by: Emma Cheatle, University of Newcastle; John Hendrix, Roger Williams University, Rhode Island; Lorens Holm, University of Dundee; Tim Martin, Ravensbourne; Jane Rendell, The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

And responses from: David Bell, Past President British Psychoanalytic Society and Consultant Psychiatrist The Tavistock Clinic; Lesley Caldwell, Psychoanalyst BPA, and Honorary Professor UCL Psychoanalysis Unit; Patrick Lynch, Lynch Architects London, and University of Liverpool

An open discussion with the audience followed.

Architecture and the Unconscious (Routledge 2016)

John Shannon Hendrix & Lorens Eyan Holm, editors


Recent texts draw on psychoanalytic theory as an interpretative approach for understanding architecture, or that use the formal and social logics of architecture for understanding the psyche. But there remains work to be done in bringing what largely amounts to a series of independent voices, into a discourse that is greater than the sum of its parts, in the way that, say, the architect Peter Eisenman was able to do with the architecture of deconstruction or that the historian Manfredo Tafuri was able to do with the Marxist critique of architecture. The discourse represented in the present volume focuses specifically and for the first time, on the subject of the unconscious in relation to the design, perception, and understanding of architecture. It brings together an international group of contributors, who provide informed and varied points of view on the role of the unconscious in architectural design and theory and, in doing so, expand architectural theory to unexplored areas, enriching architecture in relation to the humanities. The book explores how architecture engages dreams, desires, imagination, memory, and emotions, how architecture can appeal to a broader scope of human experience and identity. This collection of papers by architects and theorists of architecture explores current, theoretical and practical, intersections of the unconscious in architecture and the city; it also discusses the historical development of the unconscious in architectural and urban discourse.