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Constructing everyday life: an architectural history of the South Bank in production, 1948–1951

Beech, N.D.; (2012) Constructing everyday life: an architectural history of the South Bank in production, 1948–1951. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis provides a new interpretation of Henri Lefebvre’s Critique of Everyday Life (1933–1981), in order to develop a new method of research that locates the critique of the historical objects and practices of construction as ‘architecture in production’. To achieve this, the thesis presents a close examination of key concepts in Lefebvre’s Critique—‘alienation’, ‘production’, and ‘critique’ itself—and uses these concepts in the investigation of a particular construction process—the production of building sites for London’s South Bank, between 1948 and 1951. The thesis is composed in three parts. Part One argues that a general concept of production is recoverable from Lefebvre’s Critique, through the Marxist concept of ‘alienation’. This concept is developed by Lefebvre in a series of different spheres —‘praxis’, ‘everyday life’, ‘space’ and ‘the state form’. In each case, Lefebvre asks how it is possible to gain critical knowledge of production through its ‘alienated expression’. Lefebvre’s response to the epistemological and methodological problems raised, are shown to operate in dialogue with select works of Karl Marx and Bertolt Brecht. Part Two argues that the epistemological and methodological problematics of Lefebvre’s Critique remain incomplete until mobilised through an investigation of the particular. Through a critical literature review, the South Bank is shown to provide a unique site for such a mobilisation—an architectural production process expressed in a range of technical literatures and archival sources. A critique and history of the early phases of construction at the South Bank (1948–1951) is developed. Practices of demolishing, stripping out, excavating, and ground exploration, are explored through a careful selection of primary sources and archives—including news items, articles and memoirs, drawings, photographs, contracts and works reports. Part Three considers these sources as ‘alienated expressions’, presenting a history of ‘architecture in production’ through their critique.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Constructing everyday life: an architectural history of the South Bank in production, 1948–1951
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School > Bartlett School of Architecture

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