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What Is the Value of Undefined Space?

Part 2 Dissertation 2021
Lottie Smith
University of Nottingham | UK
Inspired by research of Kazuo Shinohara’s use of “naked space”; undefined rooms intended as blank canvases for human interpretation, this paper questions historical examples of undefined space in domestic architecture and their value to inhabitants.

Analysis of Baillie Scott’s Blackwell, where the hall or “Houseplace”, a revival of the hall-house, is an “everything room”, surrounded by purposed rooms. Its lack of clear function gives the house artistic character, encouraging Medieval homelife patterns. A Houseplace generates space to feel freedom, unrestricted from prescribed social behaviours of rooms with purpose.

Luxury of flexible space is relevant to conclusive value; a contradictory example as a deliberate architectural solution is also investigated. The repetitive 19th century “Berlin Room” arose out of necessity, for circulation in courtyard apartment blocks. An alternative to a by-passing corridor, the room fills the corners of the plan, creating a transitional buffer merging the divide of formal and informal space.

The study concludes that whether a deliberate architectural feature, or a solution to an architectural problem, undefined space generates social interaction and an in-between buffer of human behaviour. Allowances for undefined space in the plan create powerful connections between architecture and inhabitancy. Reducing the need for architectural definition by function.

Lottie Smith

Katharina Borsi
Tim Collett
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