Bourgeois inhabitations: Theory and the historical emergence of the interior

University of Sydney
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Architectural Theory Review, 2003, 8 (2), pp. 143 - 151
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In studying the domestic interior of the nineteenth century from within the discipline of architecture, two particular theoretical problems arise. On the one hand, turning one's attention to the domestic in architecture automatically suggests a focus on things below the level of architectural theory as classically conceived. On the other hand, to turn away from the explicitly theoretical in architecture leaves open the question of how theoretical approaches derived from other disciplines can aid us in understanding what is at stake in this very turning away. Initially this paper will look at how a concept of the interior, along with a professional practice of interior decoration, emerged historically from the beginning of the nineteenth century. In an engagement with the explicitly commercial rather than the explicitly theoretical in design terms, this historical emergence of the interior shows the limits of the concerns of architectural theory. At the same time as these limits are shown, the interior as a condition 'additional' to architecture brings to prominence the bourgeois subject who makes an interior through inhabitation. Here a new theoretical agenda opens, one which sets out an exploration of how this bourgeois subject inhabits this additional condition of the interior, created within, but apart from, architecture.
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