Atmospheres of Converted Architecture: Technologies of aestheticising buildings in re-use


Departing from studies of gentrification, which assume that converting architecture is primarily based on political and economic factors, this analysis tenders a cultural reading of the phenomenon that primarily aims at opening up the black box of the aestheticization of converted buildings. Aestheticization is, then, not a pre-existent state that can be applied to different localities. Rather, I will zoom in on the mode of how aestheticization comes into view as a process that is made up and then held in place (or not).

In this project, architecture is understood as a ‘socius’, an artefact co-existent to the social actor, which becomes part of different programs during its lifetime. Conversion means the re-use of a building disconnected from its former typological program of use. In my view, when speaking of conversion one speaks about the processes of changing atmospheres in buildings. In fact, this process of changing atmospheres enables the process of aestheticization. Thus, conversion does not only mean the re-use of a building disconnected from its former (typological) program of use. When re-enacting empty and/or decaying buildings, they become desirable because their atmosphere changes in a specific way. Thus, when re-using buildings, they are likely to become aesthetic(ized) objects. Thinking of conversion of architecture from such point of view, I will speak of buildings in re-use as atmospheric actor networks (drawing on the work of ANT).

My ‘case studies’ depart from fleeting conversions which architecture becomes involved in, up to a temporal conversion over a certain period of time, and, considering the politics of heritage, a permanent conversion program of architecture.

  • Exzellenzcluster
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Period: 01.10.2008 – 30.09.2011