Rent: Prostitution and the Irish apartment block

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    In 1974, pursuing his interest in the infra-ordinary – ‘the banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the back-ground noise, the habitual’ – Georges Perec wrote about an idea for a novel:

    ‘I imagine a Parisian apartment building whose façade has been removed … so that all the rooms in the front, from the ground floor up to the attics, are instantly and simultaneously visible’.

    In Life A User’s Manual (1978) the consummation of this precis, patterns of existence are measured within architectural space with an archaeological sensibility that sifts through narrative and décor, structure and history, services and emotion, the personal and the system, ascribing commensurate value to each. Borrowing methods from Perec, to move somewhere between conjecture, analysis and other documentation and tracing relationships between form, structure, materiality, technology, organisation, tenure and narrative use, this paper interrogates the late twentieth-century speculative apartment block in Britain and Ireland arguing that its speculative and commodified purpose often allows a series of lives that are less than ordinary to inhabit its spaces.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalField: a free journal for architecture
    Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2015


    • apartment
    • commodification
    • gentrification


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