Selected Publications

(2011). Off the Grid. Infrastructure and Transformational SpaceAccess, 30. pp.45-57.

Concepts of space underlie and structure design practices involved in the production of human environments, such as architecture, landscape design, urban planning, industrial design and civil engineering, for example. The implicit nature of concepts of space, and their close link to interpretations of self and world make them appropriate candidates in the pedagogy of these fields for a discussion of “threshold concepts” as proposed by Meyer and Land (2006). This paper contrasts the dialectical concept of space as a container and the non-dialectical concept of networked space, conceptualised here as threshold space and transformational space. It asks how the latter could shift understandings of a complex interdisciplinary spatial design problem, namely infrastructure, the physical systems of mobility, communication, and environmental control that underpin human environments (Bélanger, 2008; Varnelis, 2009). To address this non-dialectical concept, it examines firstly the nature of infrastructures, arguing, as proposed by Varnelis (2009), that they are “networked ecologies” or “hyperobjects” according to Morton (2011): open networks of effect rather than closed collections of equipment or fixed territories. Secondly, it considers the implications of this model for what is depicted as a world-view, adducing Morton’s rejection of the idea of Nature (2007), and Harman’s interpretation of Heidegger’s analysis of tools (Heidegger, 1962; Harman, 2006). It concludes by advocating that a critical position termed here as being off the grid—encountering secondary or what Harman terms “withdrawn” (2006) aspects of infrastructural systems—should be sought as a transformative position in the education of designers, planners, and policy-makers.

(2009). Afternoon House II. Radical / Conservative. Architecture NZ, 6, Nov/Dec. pp.60-61.

(2009). Previous Enrolments.

(2009). Contract, Crowd, Corpus and Plasma. Architectural and Social Assemblages. Interstices, 10. pp. 97-108.

In On Adam’s House in Paradise (1981), Joseph Rywert notes a correlation between Laugier’s Essay on Architecture (1753) and Rousseau’s Social Contract (1762). In this paper, I develop Rykwert’s observation and describe an implicit theory of assemblage that underlies the two. I then move forward to consider 19th century theories of crowds as implicit theories of assemblage, and advocate Gabriel Tarde as a thinker who can help unfold these theories.

(2007). Barricades and Boulevards. Material Transformations of Paris 1795-1871Interstices, 8. pp. 31-42.

Large-scale urban violence is a tumultuous, messy, and distressing affair. The materials and patterns of everyday life are disrupted. Amongst death and disarray, however, it would be easy to overlook some of the important spatial operations that take place in urban conflict. This paper examines the construction of street barricades in Paris between 1795 and 1871 as a transformation of the city. This transformation is described as an instance of what Rancière calls the ‘redistribution of the sensible’. According to Ranciere’s argument the materials and spaces of the city do not simply bear the imprint of politics. The city is not a neutral surface which is inflected politically by means of certain loaded marks. Instead, the very perception of there being a city – what a city is, how it is assembled, who inhabits it – is the result of “a distribution of spaces, times, and forms of activity.” [The Politics of Aesthetics, 12] The subject of Haussmann’s Paris was the middle-class individual. The sensible structures of the city priveleged those who shopped in the arcades, visited l’Opéra and had leisure to stroll the boulevards.The existence of mobs or crowds was an affront to this priveleged individuality. The collective is unthinkable in Haussmann’s city. The sensible elements of Paris, including the materials of the city, are distributed to assign places to individuals. The ephemeral architecture of the barricades effects a redistribution of of the sensible, a material politics that is not merely the mirror of an abstract politics which happens elsewhere.

(2007). Accident + Emergency. Risky Intervals in the Design Studio. In C. McCarthy and G. Matthewson (eds.), Inhabiting Risk. Proceedings of the 3rd conference of the Interior Design / Interior Architecture Educators Association. Wellington: WelTec, Victoria University and Massey University. pp. 44-51.

This paper concerns the role of accidents and generative processes in design. It discusses two studio projects carried out at the University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning in 2006. ‘Accident’ called for the design of a vehicle depot as a place for chance meetings and failures to connect. ‘Emergency’ called for the design of an emergency facility. Both projects were intended to provoke students to consider the unintentional, serendipitous and disastrous aspects of designing. In initial discussions, accidents were commonly understood as exceptions to the norm, failures of a system, or loss of control. Against this view, students were presented with concepts from emergence theory, and Paul Virilio’s argument that accidents are inherent in systems. In response, students opened up what this paper describes as ‘risky intervals’, strategies for exposing their design to the unintentional.

(2006). Recalcitrant Figures. Delineation and the Archaeologist’s Encounter with the Ground. Fabrications, 16(2). pp. 44-58.

Between 1850 and the First World War, archaeological practice was changing rapidly. Archaeologists went from writing narrative experiential accounts to systematic reports on the archaeological corpus. The archaeological plan went from being just one artefact among many to the fundamental repository of archaeological knowledge. This paper considers “ground” as a problem of representation in the context of these changes. The archaeological site is described as a figure-ground problem. Resolving the site as a clear image depends on being able to resolve it as a distinct figure against a ground. This task is complicated because on an archaeological site the ground is never consistent or neutral. Ground cannot be simply “represented”, because it is a necessary condition of representation itself. This paper offers readings of four drawings from archaeological publications: An engraving of the excavations in the mound of Nineveh by Austen Henry Layard; plans of the Palace at Knossos by Arthur Evans and Theodore Fyfe; and Wilhelm Dörpfeld’s plan of the theatre at Olympia.

(2006). Latecomers. Interstices, 7. pp. 34-44.

Authorship and authority, originality and influence are genealogical concerns, arising in the relationship between a maker and his or her precursors. Influence is traditionally understood as the extent to which one’s work is attributable to another. There is a common critical mode in which influence is employed as a mechanism to establish inter-generational debt. This paper is written against this type of economic analysis. Instead, it presents a criticism which describes genealogy as actively antagonistic, rather than as a process of passive inheritance. Two theorists who discuss the anxiety of being a latecomer are presented: Harold Bloom, who writes of the poetry as constituted in the struggle of a latecomer with his or her significant precursors; and Sir Thomas Browne, who describes the anxiety of inhabiting a degenerating world. Both theorists describe the need for the latecomer to clear a space (literal or figurative) in which to work. Two architectural relationships are offered as examples of this anxiety, and this need to clear space. The relationship between Adolf Loos and K. F. Schinkel is shown to be not quite how Loos describes it; and the Roman Emperors Hadrian and Augustus are shown to contend for authority in the construction of their respective mausolea.

(2004). Architecture of the Archaeological Excess. Sir Arthur Evans’ Reconstructions at Knossos. (Unpublished master’s thesis) University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.