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The Site as Muse: Georges Perec and Walking into Topophilia

Part 2 Dissertation 2012
Tom Sykes
Cardiff University Cardiff UK
The past few decades’ renaissance in urban walking and psychogeographies has shown a movement towards the appreciation of subjective narratives of space and place, especially within the sphere of architecture, where it has been used as a tool for analysis and design (Beauregard, 2005; Burns 1991; Coverley 2010; Jacks 2004; O’Neill 2001).

It is the intention of this project to first, in Part One, investigate various modes of exploring place and secondly, in Part Two, the Excursus and the Case Study, formulate and demonstrate a methodology for creating a lasting contact and immersion with place with the help of the author and theorist Georges Perec. Part One is divided into Passages collecting pertinent writings on topophilic site analysis, connecting them to the broader history of walking, concluding with an analysis of recent movements that have used and use broadly psychogeographical techniques. The outline of a methodology will be developed in the Excursus which will suggest a further reading of the work of Georges Perec, who will be the focus of Part Two. Through formal and literary analysis of the work and subsequent architectural influence of Georges Perec, and through the lens of Roland Barthes’s mythological terminology, Part Two will offer the unrecognised potential of Perec’s thought as an ongoing stimulus through the design process.

This will be followed by a Case Study of site analysis and its impact on an architectural design project based in Birmingham, demonstrating the genesis of the ideas discussed in this dissertation, as well as offering them for scrutiny. Finally the Conclusion will present the role of Perec-ian recordings of site as a topophilia, or love of place, that can instigate and test design decisions through the full length of an architectural project.

Tom Sykes

Stephen Kite
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