Sloterdijk on Apartments

gropius office 1923

Some thoughts from Peter Sloterdijk on the spatiality of apartments:

“I interpret apartment construction as the creation of a world-island for a single person. To understand this, you need to concede that the word world not only means the big whole that God and other jovial observers have before them. From the outset, worlds take the stage in the plural and have an insular structure. Islands are miniatures of worlds that can be inhabited as world models. For this reason, one must know what constitutes a minimally complete island, one capable of being a world.”

“You must understand that houses are initially machines to kill time… In other words, people initially only live in a house because they confess to the conviction that it is rewarding to await an event outside the house.”

“I claim that the apartment (along with the sports stadium) is the primary architectural icon of the 20th century. A monadology is needed to think the interior today. One man—one apartment. One monad—one world cell…”

“Modern apartment construction rests on a celibate-based ontology… the architects of the one-person apartments have enabled the mass version of a historically singular type of human being—at best it was otherwise prefigured by the Christian hermit monks.”

“Being means someone (1) being together with someone else (2) and with something else (3) in something (4)… A house is a three-dimensional answer to the question of how someone can be together with someone and something in something.”

An alternative to Heidegger’s fourfold, perhaps. Sloterdijk calls Heidegger the last rural thinker (burn). I think it would be true to say that Heidegger doesn’t find much to admire in the urban context.

Walter Gropius, Office interior, 1923



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