On the social reception of material form and space, or, the SUV in the melee
Fitzsimons, Juan Kent
Master of Architecture
This thesis explores social representations in architecture that have been objectified by various discourses on space and human activity. Using the sport-utility vehicle (SUV) as a multifaceted object in which these representations are seen, the possibility that a single material environment can embody conflicting social roles is proposed. A trope---the melee---is introduced as a model for the reception of material form and space that is grounded in bodily experience tempered by memory and projection. Three 'tries' engage the SUV in the melee, placing its apparent fixed meanings in crisis. Formal analysis in each 'try' reveals the vehicle's various typological allusions to Land Rovers, station wagons and crew cab pickup trucks. The imagined ancestries of the SUV---rooted in conquest, domesticity, and labor---conflict with one another and with its real uses, rendering architectural and urban space unfamiliar. In this melee , the embodied mind poses itself against the fixed social representations of spatial discourse.