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Part-architecture: the Maison de Verre through the Large Glass

Cheatle, EJ; (2013) Part-architecture: the Maison de Verre through the Large Glass. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

My thesis is an examination of a building, the Maison de Verre (Pierre Chareau, Paris, 1928–32), through an artwork, the Large Glass (Marcel Duchamp, Paris, New York, 1915–23).1 Starting from the fact that both are predominantly constructed from glass, I further align the two works materially, historically and conceptually. Ultimately, I challenge the accepted architectural descriptions of the Maison de Verre, providing original spatial and social accounts of its use and inhabitation in the 1930s. The Maison de Verre was designed as a gynaecology clinic and family home for Annie and Dr Jean Dalsace. Utilising a 'free-plan', it spatialised a programme for progressive female sexual health within a domestic setting. In the context of legislation criminalising contraception and abortion, the building was, perhaps by necessity, not visible from the street. The Large Glass, in contrast, is an overt narrative on unconsummated desire, and, I argue, despite being constructed in New York, is Duchamp’s response to 1910–20s Parisian sexual mores. I interrogate these ideas through a method for which I have coined the term ‘part-architecture’, developed from theories of the psychoanalytic ‘L Schema’ and ‘part-object’, after Rosalind Krauss and Jacques Lacan. Partarchitecture is an original architectural production which combines written critical theory and design operations – including fiction writing, drawing, book-arts and audio – to recover the (now invisible) historical, social and sexual interactions occurring in and between the Maison de Verre and the Large Glass. Three central chapters, structured around the materials glass, dust and air – where glass signifies looking, dust the discarded past, and air the activation of invisible registers – recover the works as new accounts. Importantly, part-architecture offers descriptions that suggest the works remain partial, open ended and contingent.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Part-architecture: the Maison de Verre through the Large Glass
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1419859
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