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The library: physicality and enactment

Patel, H. (2017) The library: physicality and enactment. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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The physical building formed at the end of a building project creates an illusion of completion. The purpose of this research is to study adaptations of a building after it was constructed, and, in doing so, to explicate a novel conception of that building. The adaptations of the University of Reading’s 50-year-old library are studied by combining ethnographic and historical methods. Rather than bracketing a building to its physicality, such boundary is doubted. Moving beyond the conception of buildings as fixed physical objects, a praxiographic approach is adopted to conceptualise a building as a series of enactments. Such approach focuses on the practices in which the physical building is involved. Three specific enactments of the library building are studied: issuing a book, using a table and making an exhibition. Enactments involve heterogeneous entities; hence, a building is heterogeneous (not merely a physical object), always in the making, always unfinished. The practices of enacting a building illustrate how overly simplified design speculations are defied. Design strategies for adaptability often assume that adaptability resides in the physicality of the building. Instead, this research suggests that adaptability resides in the relations of the physical building with heterogonous entities. Adaptations of such a building may or may not be due to the change in the physicality of the building. The building is, thus, a fluid object. Moreover, multiple versions of the library co-exist. Adaptations of a building are imbued with the ‘politics-of-what’ in prioritising one version of the library over other versions. The physicality of the building is manipulated in such politics. This has implications for renewal of building design practices to become sensitive to the ways in which multiple versions of a building may be politicised.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Hughes, W. and Tutt, D.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Construction Management and Engineering
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Architecture
ID Code:83427
Date on Title Page:2016

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