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The Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies

- the research arm of the Department of Architecture

Studying at Cambridge

Alex Schweder

Performance Architecture: Spatialized Subjectivity & Enacted Renovations  

Buildings can be renovated with minimal, if any, physical changes to them by altering the ways their users construct and perform their subjectivities through them. Through this research, I have substantiated the above statement by developing a methodology whereby the architect and user work collaboratively on what I will call ‘performative renovations’ in such a way that results in greater agency for both; by outlining a history and theory of how subjectivity and space produce one another; and by describing and analysing twelve such performative renovations that I developed for this research in New York City apartments where physical alterations are often restricted by rental agreements and expense. This work combines the thinking and research found in performance art, psychology, gender studies, and sociology with that found in architecture. By doing so, I am able to make a significant contribution to knowledge by expanding the way that this field can be practiced, taught, theorized, and experienced. My conclusion of this work focuses on the participants desires for control in shaping their environments, and by proxy their own subjectivities. This agency is often contingent on people’s ability to influence interpersonal relationships that are spatialized in the environments they occupy. The performative renovations that are discussed also require a shift in how architects conceptualize their role in producing spaces, from makers of form to facilitators of agency.