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The Afterlives of Georges Perec$
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Rowan Wilken and Justin Clemens

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474401241

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474401241.001.0001

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The Architecture of Constraint and Forgetting

The Architecture of Constraint and Forgetting

(p.171) Chapter 10 The Architecture of Constraint and Forgetting
The Afterlives of Georges Perec

Sandra Kaji-O’Grady

Edinburgh University Press

Georges Perec’s importance for architecture is twofold. First, Perec was interested in architectural space and the organization of the city. In his book Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, Perec attempted a systematic documentation of buildings, of apartment dwellers and the streets of Paris. Architectural students are referred to Species of Spaces because the techniques of observing or ‘stalking’ the ordinary that Perec developed in that text yield significant insights into how built space is composed and used. Perec’s stubborn empiricism, his attention to things and spaces-as-they-are is a useful antidote to much of the sensationalist and apocalyptic writing about the city, including that of his friend, Paul Virilio. Second, Perec approached writing with the deliberation of an architect approaching the problem of design. He established geometrical frameworks, numerical constraints and structural parameters. Perec’s practice of working with predetermined constraints should be a useful model for architects yet there is little evidence of engagement with this, despite the current practice of parametric architecture. This chapter will address architecture’s engagement with Perec, both in terms of what has been and what is yet to come.

Keywords:   Georges Perec, architecture, Paul Virilio, compositional constraints, Enrique Walker, Walter Netsch, John Hejduk, Peter Eisenman, Bernard Tschumi, Doug Rickard

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