Research project

Economy and Architecture

Economy and Architecture

This timely book examines the complexities of ‘Economy’ in the context of architecture.

The practices of architecture are deeply enmeshed in the economic systems which frame them. Questions of management and procurement are clearly situated here, but this study goes beyond such managerial issues, and questions of production, in seeking broader definitions of ‘economy’ – definitions that thereby engage a wide spectrum of architectural concerns. The book derives from the international conference held at WSA in July 2011 and offers twenty essays structured into four sections examining different approaches to the topic.

Economy – usually now understood in terms of abstracted systems of exchange of labour, goods and money – is capable of other definitions. Particularly important here is the recognition that the word first described the management of a household – it comes from the Greek oikonomia—oikos (house) and nemein (manage). In thinking about economy in these terms the book re-establishes links between our productive work, our ‘household’, ‘community’ or ‘family’ (at whatever scale) and the relations and spaces that this implies.

For the productive work or economic life of a family or community has a spatial backdrop – a house, a territory or domain. However abstracted an economic system might be, the life of those individuals which it aims to support is always located and – excepting some extreme situations – is usually architecturally framed. In offering an expanded understanding of the term ‘economy’ this collection reframes some of architecture’s greatest potentials, whilst elucidating some of its principle dilemmas.

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