par Lefebvre, Pauline
Publication Non publié, 2017
Travail de recherche/Working paper
Résumé : This essay addresses the ambiguous relation architects maintain with the use that is made of their architecture.This relationship is complex in many respects. Architects usually design with the future users in mind; they project what use will be made of the objects or configurations they design. However, when they take this projection too seriously, they can be accused of crediting architecture with too much control over behavior; they’re reminded that they can’t predict with precision how their propositions will be appropriated. On another level, the history of architecture is full of examples in which the architects attempt to conceal all aspects of use that are beyond their projections: they control the representation of their realizations, so that it shows architecture in a pristine, idealized state, often emptied of undesirable traces of use— whether deserted, or populated with idealized figures… in any case, again, under architects’ control (Till 2009).In the case I am reporting, the architects valorize users’ appropriation in their discourse around a flexible, performative—sometimes even ‘participatory’—architecture. However, the way they document their projects reveals how they attempt to keep users’ appropriation under control: images should show enough use to prove that their design works, but shouldn’t display too much mess, so that it is proven to work well (and that ‘the architecture’ is not visually concealed by overwhelming traces of use). In this essay, decisions such as the erasure of inconvenient traces of uses during image post-processing, the carefully staged presence of ‘real’ people on photographs, or the point of view from which it is taken (or rendered) will be discussed in parallel to the firm’s valorization of users’ experience and appropriation. Four different processes will be described with regard to the tension between “use or no use”: (a) discourse—how the designers present their work and manifest their interest in users’ experience and appropriation;(b) design—how design consists largely in imagining (and even testing) future uses and how these uses are represented (or obliterated when inconvenient);(c) post-occupancy evaluation—how uses are a criterion to assess the success of a project and how the firm engages in evaluating such an achievement; (d) documentation—if and how uses are valorized when representing and communicating the project once it’s done.Departing from a series of observations collected in the firm, each of these moments will be investigated. It is mostly from their confrontation that something will come out, when ambiguities, uncertainty, disagreements, difficulties, manifest themselves: use or no use?