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2 July 2004


 Published in the exhibition catalogue Present and Futures. Architecture in Cities. Barcelona: Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, 1996

With the Catholicism of A. W. N.Pugin in England and the Fourierism of Victor Considérant and César Daly in France, architectural theory took a step towards new moralizing objectives.1 Instead of servile response to existing needs, inscribing in ordered space, the intention of the architect was to transform the "habits" themselves of future users. In the eighteenth century architecture was to be "speaking" and acting through its form upon perception, in the nineteenth century architecture was instead to be "moralizing" and acting to reform.

Technology and its Transparency

Within the long history of the literature on housing, the texts of César Daly, the founder of the Revue générale de l'architecture et des travaux publics, a close friend of Victor Considérant and one of the brightest follower of Charles Fourier, are most innovative. Daly's writings they went beyond strictly sanitary or hygienic considerations, such as those the architect Rohault de Fleury read before the Central Health Commission of the Department of the Seine in 1832,2 or those published in 1844 by L. Vaudoyer on the effects of humidity in housing.3 It is not that the "hospital" and hygienic dimensions of the problem of housing were neglected in the Revue générale de l'architecture (R.G.A.), on the contrary it was thought appropriate that the hygienic-medical disciplines should provide quantitative and empirical data for the entirely "modern" project of the transformation of the built environment. Two examples will suffice to demonstrate how strongly the R.G.A. of Daly emphasized this theme. The first is the discussion in 1844 of René Duvoir's system for heating and ventilating hospital rooms.4 This provided a basis for reducing the problem to one of measurable functional criteria, giving data for calculating the minimum quantity of pure air per person: 20 cubic meters per bed per hour. The second example is the article concerning a "hospital of iron, at Camp Jacob, island of Guadeloupe" by the engineer-architect A. Romand.5 Having previously published a work on iron construction (in Brussels in 1842), he was comissioned with the rebuilding of the military hospital after an earthquake in 1843. The pavilions of the building were transported to the island by boat and erected up in two months; the hospital was dedicated on May 1, 1846. The framework was made of structural wrought iron members; anchored into a concrete base. The exterior was covered in plates of cast iron bolted to the structure; a covering plate masked the assemblage. The frames for doors and windows were of cast iron and the interior was covered with a layer of wood that allowed air to circulate in the space between the inner and outer surfaces of the walls.

This was not the first time that a purely technological solution was proposed for a civil building. For his notorious Panopticon (1791) with its device of a central plan which facilitated surveillance in hospitals, schools, prisons, factories, etc., Jeremy Bentham had already proposed the use of iron and glass, which would had allowed him to realize his dream of a transparent, disciplining and imprisoning architecture.6 There is also the recently disinterred text of Jean-Frédéric de Chabannes, published in Paris in 1801, which proposed "the construction of new houses, in which all calculations and particulars have procured a very great economy and many delights"; buildings of cast iron and glass, in which the air and heat, circulating through metal columns, would be able to open and close the windows or to unlock the doors by means of pneumatic mechanisms.7 These summarily presented examples reveal the existence of an affiliation between the Panopticon and all the projects for phalansteries, "familisteries", "aerodomes", etc.; all are seemingly "utopian"; all are precisely organized for what was thought to be comfort, not for the individual, but for the collective aspect of habitation. These prefigure the coming of technology for the precisely controlled environment, or environment exact, to use the phrase Le Corbusier applied to his Salvation Army Building in Paris (1929-1933). They also evoke the dream of attaining a precise partitioning of living space; the dream of perfect machines for healing, for controlling, for living. In fact, two genealogies become intertwined around 1840, that of total sanitation, leading to the exact quantification of fluids piped into buildings; and that of total technology, pointing, through its use of new materials, to precise programming and maximal utilization of all spaces.

In the R.G.A. one finds a good example of the second of the listed paradigms, technology : "One calculated", wrote one of the editors of the review in 1849 in an article on Architecture métallurgique, "that the thickness of the walls of houses in a town occupies an eighth of the habitable surface; houses of iron would occupy only one twentieth and would provide protection against fire, collapse, lightning and earthquakes, all while costing less to erect in the first place".8 It will be Sigfried Giedion himself in his Bauen in Frankreich: Eisen, Eisenbeton, (Leipzig and Berlin, 1928), cited not by chance in the Passagen-Werk of Walter Benjamin,9 who quoted an article by this same editor of the R.G.A., "Architecture de l'avenir", published in 1849. "Because glass is called upon to play a substantial role in iron and steel architecture in place of those thick walls pierced by large openings which thereby diminish the solidity and the security [of the building], our houses will be dotted with elegant and numerous openings which will make them completely permeated by light. These many-shaped openings, filled with thick glass, single or double, translucent or frosted, clear or colored as desired, will have a magical effect on the interior by day and on the exterior by night by the play of lights".10

In "Paris the Capital of the Nineteenth Century", Walter Benjamin has noted how iron and glass were avoided in dwellings while such materials come to be used in passages, covered markets, pavilions for expositions and train stations - "buildings which served transitory purposes".11 Two contrasting modes of subjectivity begin to insinuate themselves into the world of things: on the one hand, the "transitoriness" that determines one sort of man, mobile and nomadic; on the other, the old individualism of the inhabitant par excellence who defends his traditional "permanence" or "allocation". Charles Baudelaire observed: "individuality, - this little propriety..."12 It is certainly true that recent studies, for example, on the Victorian country house in Great Britain,13 or on the apartment building during the Haussmann era,14 tend to qualify Benjamin's assertion that "iron, then, combines itself immediately with functional moments of economic life".15 But it is also true that these structural metal elements were hidden within walls. In short, even if documents show a widespread use of iron in domestic construction, it remains true that it is the civilization itself which tends to check the movement towards complete transparency in domestic spaces. It is not iron and steel in themselves that aroused apprehension, but the possibility they offered to the gaze to penetrate everywhere.

The technological innovation imposed its order, which could not but favor transparency. Under the seemingly antiquated formula used by architects in the mid-nineteenth century, it becomes necessary to know how to recognize not so much that which "prefigures" our contemporary being, but that which Benjamin called the "pre-form" (Urform); that is to say, that which makes the entire nineteenth century the "prephenomenon" (Urphänomen) of our contemporary history. It is not a question of fishing for "archaisms", nor of demonstrating prehistory (Urgeschichte) in terms of an inventory of the forms of the nineteenth century, but of making the entire epoch recognizable in such a prehistory.16 In the present case, one reads "prehistorical" effects in the transparency that technique and technology cannot avoid imposing on relationships between things and people. It is this which Benjamin himself noted in a fragment of the Passagen-Werk: "It is the peculiar property of technical forms of creation (as opposed to artistic forms), that their progress and their success are proportionate to the transparency of their social content. (Whence glass architecture)".17

The place where one lives "the house" cannot be thought of simply as the transparent cell of a panopticon where the silhouette of the user, always lit from behind, remains perpetually visible to the observer in the central tower; even less will it become the glass test tube which provides ideal conditions for the perfect reproduction of mankind, even if there are sufficient numbers of reformers who dream of nothing but reducing the "proletariat" to guinea pigs in a laboratory. Other means will have to be tried, a multiplicity of topics will be touched upon, because the house, as one might well imagine, is not reducible to a monofunctional and mono-cultural device. Nonetheless, for the entire second half of the nineteenth century and up to the time of the slogans of the so-called "modern movement" in architecture, the tendency will be precisely that of reducing the dwelling to a mere mechanism.

It has already been shown that it was precisely the architect Adolphe Lance who in 1853 proposed the idea of a "machine for living": "Would it not be possible to go further and to design our buildings or our houses as well in their relationship to the man who frequents them or lives in them, not only to determine their general disposition and distribution, but to discover also the thousands of special applications, the multiple assistances, the economies of time and energy, which the introduction into our dwellings of the results of the progress of science and of industry could furnish to domestic life? A house is an instrument, it is a machine, so to speak, which not only serves as shelter to man, but must, as much as is possible, submit to all his needs according to his actions and multiply the results of his work. Industrial buildings, factories, plants of all sorts are in this respect nearly perfect models and worthy of imitation".18

Between the mechanization of services and the new functional allocation of space, "comfort" becomes the axiom of architectural theory until the revival, in dramatic and widely publicized tones, of the theme of the "machine for living" as espoused by Le Corbusier in the Esprit nouveau of 1921. By this one confirms the hypothesis already articulated of the substantial continuity of objectives in all that contributed to the formation of the disciplinary body of architecture, from the first hygienic and technological discourses of around 1830 to their recapitulation in prescriptive and totalizing form in the Charter of Athens of 1933.19 At the center of this continuity in the politics of comfort, intrinsic to this aspect of history, appears the contradictory question of "style", which no simple dialectic can resolve. It is once again Daly, in his book L'Architecture privé au XIXe siècle sous Napoleón (1864) who asserts: "the house demands comfortableness, a quality that is not always reconcilable with that which characterizes a work of style".20

Such a reflection reveals, amongst other things, how much the Giedion of Bauen in Frankreich: Eisen, Eisenbeton (1928), follower of Heinrich Wölfflin and secretary of C.I.A.M., made his research on the nineteenth century a catalog of forms which were analogous or oppositional to those of the neues Bauen (the new building) and of the befreites Wohnen (free dwelling) without comprehending the multiplicity of politico-social processes. Nonetheless, there are aspects of his work that today possess illuminating insights; his intention to write a book on the predominant bad taste (Der Herrschende Geschmack, 1936), the creation of a section on "A Day in the Life of a Modern Man" within the Swiss National Exposition in Zurich in 1936, his research in 1937 in the libraries of London on nineteenth-century English building for a never written book entitled Konstruction und Chaos. It is true that after 1939-1940 Giedion is a social democrat who "discovers America", particularly through his contacts with Walter Gropius, Richard Neutra and Robert Moses, the creator of the network of parkways in the New York metropolitan area, the "technological pastoralism" which will be celebrated in Space, Time and Architecture (first published in 1941).

Parallel to this, his research on domestic life, carried out during his second stay in the United States from 1941 to 1945, led Giedion to concentrate on the "material history" of technology. In writing Mechanization Takes Command (published in 1948), the product of this investigation, Giedion showed himself to be inspired by the collages of Max Ernst and thus aware of the "Surrealismus" of bringing together the "delirium" of certain American patents of the nineteenth century, the dreamlike aspect of domestic technology and the enduring, dominating bad taste. There exists, therefore, a radical Giedion, one who is "radicalized" to use Benjamin's term,21 and who has taken a turn towards material culture, a frightful turn according to Le Corbusier: "... the American atmosphere [of the book] only gives it a surrealist perfume and a sense of clandestine eroticism. My God, these Americans know so little about living!" Such a radicalization will be contradicted by the successive convolutions of Giedion, whose radical heritage will be transmitted to the Reyner Banham of The Architecture of the Well-tempered Environment (of 1969) and "A Home is not a House" of 1973, writings characteristic of the neo-futurist optimism for a techno-scientific way for architecture also seen in the experimentation of the English group Archigram.22

One year after the 1848 revolution in Paris, it was decided to erect the first large Cité actually built, the Cité Napoleón, still existing in the rue Rochechouart in Paris, financed by the State and designed by the architect Veugny and the administrator Chabert. On the interior of the main building facing the street is a large gallery: a complete system of cavernous passages and vestibules stacked on top of each other, tied together by stairs and illuminated at the top by a large glazed lintern. This internal gallery, a kind of multi-floored passage, filters a light like that of an aquarium or of a greenhouse for tropical plants, onto the windows of the apartments along it. It offers a large communal space for circulation between floors; connecting the private rooms, it provides places for encounters, children's games, old people's gossip. Other "pavilions" located in the rear of the residential complex were more traditional: stairways and central corridors, narrow and dark, with apartments along either side.

This social largesse of the Prince-President Louis-Napoleón, the future Napoleón III, was much discussed. In the press liberal positions such as that of the lawyer Alphonse Grün, editor in chief of the Moniteur universel and promoter of State intervention;23 and conservative positions such as that of Amédé Hennequin (published in Le Correspondant in 1848), defender of "domestic liberty" and proponent of a company of private individuals instead of coercive prescriptions of the State,24 were opposed to one another. If for the Fourierist Victor Meunier (1817-1903), author of scientific articles for Republican newspapers during 1848 revolution and the Second Empire, the Cité Napoleón was to be welcomed as a blessing graced by "heated greenhouses for the flowering of socialist seeds",25 for the conservative Villermé, doctor, hygienist and social reformer, they could not "but excite socialist folly" amongst young workers and "the economy, which would come about for them, would be transformed into an orgy [sic]".26

According to Villermé, the plan of the Cité on the rue Rochechouart prevents the family from isolating itself: nothing is done to "obstruct communication" or "prohibit conversation". He adds with pessimistic realism: "one knows that such idle chatter distracts the neighbors from the care of the house, creating disorder, argument, hostility and habitual laziness".27 Amongst the other dangers he denounced were promiscuity, single workers were there "to spy, waiting for the opportunity to weaken the moral principles of young women";28 and the threat of political sedition (the slogans of 1848 remained in the minds of all): "Must it not be feared that the Cités, which hold between their great walls large numbers of workers, isolate them even more from society in general, and thereby reinforce jealousy against those we call the rich to whom they attribute imaginary wrongs?"29 Since the nineteenth century, the reformer's objectives seem to be highly contradictory: on the one to open the house to the four winds for hygienic reasons, making the dwelling transparent to light and to the gaze; but on the other, intercepting communication and obstructing visibility to counter political and moral contagion.

Architecture of Dream

Sigfried Giedion perceptively noted in Bauen in Frankreich (1928) - a passage not by chance cited in Walter Benjamin's Passagen-Werk -30 "The nineteenth century: remarkable penetration of individualistic and collectivist tendencies. Like hardly an era before it affixes to all actions the label 'individualistic' (Myself, Nation, Art); underground, however, in despised everyday territory it has to create, like in a delirium, the elements for a collective creation... We have to accept these raw materials: with gray buildings, market halls, warehouses, exhibitions". The "delirium" to which Giedion allude is translated in dreams - the past as a collective dream - recovered by Benjamin: "Not only that we cannot deny the manifestations of the collective dream of the nineteenth century" writes the latter, "not only that they mark it much more clearly that anything of that which has passed - they are also, seen in the right light, of extremely practical importance. [They] let us recognize the ocean which we sail on and the shores from which we embark".31

The resistance of reformers such as Villermé to the practical consequences of transparency, which nonetheless became universally dominant in the commerce of things and people in this period, is similar to the bourgeois resistance to technology as evoked in another of Benjamin's fragments: "Against the armature of glass and iron, wallpaper art defends itself with its textiles".32 That which will be denied to the worker in the Cités due to the paranoia of the reformer and that which the bourgeoisie rejects for his living room already exists in its pre-form (Urform) in the big city: the transparency of the gaze through the windows of houses creates precisely the conditions for a metropolitan poetics which did not escapes Benjamin's observation: "Why does the view into stranger windows always catch a family while eating or a lonely man under a ceiling light at a table busy doing some mysterious nothing? Such a view is the original cell of Kafka's work".33 And, one might add, of many cinematographic works of the twentieth century.

Between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, at the bottom of thousand of proposals for housing, one may detect the fixed idea of the circulation of goods and of people, the imperatives of mobility and decentralization. It is worth the trouble to recall the project of the same period by an anonymous author, perhaps from the circle of the architect Jacob Ignaz Hittorf (1792-1867), the designer of the beautiful Gare du Nord of Paris of 1863. This unknown party submited to public opinion the idea of Cités de chemins de fer, or "Railway Palaces".34 Built concomitantly with the national railroad network, these settlements were proposed to resolve a series of problems: primarily, that "unlimited mobility" and the migration of the population; further, that of always offering a "complete, permanent, domestic installation to each family obliged to move; finally, that of remedying the "malaise afflicting the middle classes today", their inability to travel (a luxury reserved up to this point for a small wealthy class). The railway Cités were of various types: they ranged from "simple houses", that is to say, a "detached element" to serve as the station of a village, to Cités of the first class, "the chain of which will encircle, like a tiara, the brow of glorious Paris".35 The Cités would dissolve into the territory of the old badly formed and unhealthy urban agglomerations, tied to an old system of locomotion, and would transform them into a huge circuit where, with a typical biological metaphor, "the plentiful circulation of cleansed blood and the free movement of life" would flow.36

In such an urbanism, mobile and "dreamlike", the conception of architecture may only be "railroad-like" or in the manner of the Universal Expositions: "The genius of architecture", continued the anonymous author, "suffocating within the walls of the city, will have a clear path to battle together with the new ideal that the modern spirit begins to perceive;... in the conception of its plans it will be free to use boldly the accidents of nature". Imagine, he suggests, "a sloping plane of beautiful countryside before our eyes", such as Lake Leman; the Cité, "spreading outward from a central building located at its summit, descends down both sides of a vast amphitheater of grassy fields and gardens, encircled by a line of small free-standing houses facing the view. ...while domes of crystal which serve as roofs of these buildings underline from on high the general plan with a stream of light rising on both sides like sparkling stairs as if to support the transparent cupola of the central edifice".37

Hymn to iron, glass and the metropolitan pastoral, song to the idea of "progress", "modernity" and "mobility", this 1857 text is a genuine manifesto to the picturesque-technological "style", characteristic of that which we find in various so-called "utopias", realized or unrealized, such as the "familistery" at Guise, built beginning in 1858,38 or the least well known Cité Napoleón at Lille. This Cité was promoted by the lawyer A. Houzé de l'Aulnoit and was designed and built by the architect E. Vanderbergh in 1860, an ensemble of large pavilions with central corridors, which housed 900 to 1.000 "poor". Here an original plan solution of moveable partitions allowed the beneficiary families to divide the assigned four by four meter space as they wished.39 This same fascination for the all-technology "style" is seen again in the well known superblocks, with their internal streets, glassed-in courtyards, elevators to the eleventh floor, schools on the roof-terrace; proposed under the name Aérodômes by the engineer Henry-Jules Borie in 1865.40

Finally, the multiplication of "utopias", social or technological, for collective residences provokes a certain irritation amongst contemporaries, such as the character Sénécal of Gustave Flaubert the Sentimental Education attests: "[h]e knew... the entire cartload of socialists writers-those who demanded a life of barracks conformity for all mankind, those who wanted to entertain it in a brothel of chain it to a workbench - and, from a blend of all these theories, he had evolved his own concept of the virtuous democracy, a cross between a small farm and a spinning-mill, a sort of American Sparta, where the individual would exist solely to serve a State more omnipotent, absolute, infallible and divine than a Gran Lama or a Nebuchadnezzar".41

Genealogy (of Morals)

All these experiments led to the Universal Exposition of Paris in 1867, directed by Frédéric Le Play and visited by 11 million.42 An exhibit of model houses was built by Kranz around the Gallery of Machines in the middle of the Champ de Mars; four multistoried rental buildings for 142 residents were built by the architect Eugène Lacroix on a nearby site; a line of 41 row-houses were built in reinforced concrete of Avenue Daumesnil, designed in a neo-Renaissance style and financed by the Emperor Napoleón III himself; a double line of 19 single family houses around one long street was realized by Madame Jouffroy-Renault and the architect Hervey-Picard at Clichy at an entry in the wall of Paris, etc.: all these serve to demonstrate that the best architectural solution to the problem of working class housing outside of the major city centers is the small house. Near the model village at the Universal Exposition 769 square meters were set up for the exhibition of domestic "objects for the improvement of the masses".43

The Cité Jouffroy-Renault (still in existence today) made enthusiasts of even the most conservative, such as the Count Alexandre Foucher de Careil. After lamenting the lack of a "type" for the modern life of the working family, he found himself struck with admiration before the small suburban house: "Here, nothing more apt for the true conditions of worker's lives: nothing that resembles an Eldorado or phalanstery, an earthly paradise or the familinstère at Guise... The problem of hygiene and of architecture consists in the art of considering the transition and giving the urban worker something of the country, that is to say, a bit of lost virility and healthfulness, now disappeared. Architecture can and must help us, it can in the arrangement of quarters with a semi-rural form". The Count cynically continued, "Man, and above all the man of the first social stratum, inappropriately called the last, is halfway between the artist and the child. By this, then, he is doubly susceptible to illusions. You who wish to house him and bring him benefits, do not take from him the illusion of the hearth, symbol of the family. Give to him, if it is possible, the illusion of the fields".44

That which Foucher de Careil and his like were proposing was an acculturation of the class of minor clerks and skilled workers. In short, it is a question of creating a simulacrum of a relationship of the peasant to the land by connecting the new nuclear family to scrap of land in the city. The opposite of the progressive or "socialist" proposal, whose theories intended to speed nomadic flux and the collective life with "new" technological proposals, the objective of the conservatives was to reanchor the "home" to a small parcel of ground. The archaic quality of their architectural choice is thereby chosen, and, as one says, "political". Correspondingly, it is not a choice based on the rational analysis of "use", "needs" or any "function", but it is a choice of governance and of domination. Rejecting the solution of the "housing question" by means of a building both public and collective, the choice imposed was based on the model of the private and individual building: the only model that allowed one to monopolize and isolate familial structures, to insinuate into the worker a simulated feeling of local identity and material civility, to inculcate a sense of propriety, to stabilize the symbolic equivalent of the "home" as compensation for working life; it was the only available model able to discipline the body and to regularize practice. Foucher de Careil used the notion of "type", taken from the vocabulary of anthropology, sociology and criminology.

No functional or programmatic needs feed this compelling desire; it is the effect of strategies imposed by the modern State. It is not social needs that are the "cause" of public and private equipment created by the State, but is the State, in its various entities, that imposes equipment which determines specific needs, in its role of "serving". These needs had existed but were warped by these very provision of equipment. The subject is thus molded to the dominion and exist only for the State. Obviously, there is not a single strategy, and the strategies do not always produce the desired effects, further, it is not said that the State, when configuring and forming the "Social" by means of the division of space (city-countryside), the choice of the means of property (public-private), the individualization of the forms of consumption (individual-collective), and the classification of categories in the population (child-adult, normal-abnormal, masculine-feminine), always succeeds in conferring by these multiples strategies positive value and functionality.

There is nothing paradoxical in this description of the dominating state. Nietzsche has shown in his Genealogy of Morals that "the actual causes of a thing's origin and its eventual uses, the manner of its incorporation into a system of purposes, are world's apart; that everything that exists, no matter what its origin, is periodically reinterpreted by those in power in terms of fresh intentions..."45

The rationalization of things such as domestic objects, as with any other reform, must also lead to an "overcoming" and an "outstripping", which properly consists in a "reinterpretation... in the course of which the earlier meaning and purpose are either necessarily obscured or lost". Those who dominate will give their interpretation to the truth. "No matter how well we understand the utility of a certain physiological organ (or of a legal institution, a custom, a political convention, an artistic genre, a cultic trait) we do not thereby understand anything of its origin".46

And this serves as a warning to anyone who intends to write a history of the house as a "response to needs", as the rational planning of spaces in reaction to new ends, new functions, and new "uses": "all pragmatic purposes" continues Nietzsche, "are simply symbols of the fact that a will to power has implanted its own sense of function in those less powerful". "[T]he whole history of a thing, an organ, a custom, becomes a continuous chain of reinterpretations and rearrangements, which need not be casually connected among themselves, which may simply follow one another. The 'evolution' of a thing, a custom, an organ is not its progressus towards a goal, let alone the most logical and shortest progressus, requiring the least energy and expenditure. Rather it is a sequence of more or less profound, more or less independent processes of appropriation..." Finally, Nietzsche warns: "[w]hile forms are fluid, their 'meaning' is even more so".47

The scope of the historian will be therefore to interrogate the nature of the house in the moment in which the house becomes a collection of equipment for services. What does equipment mean? To answer such a question it will be necessary, though not sufficient, to analyze the plans of houses; but it will be also necessary to contribute to that which can be called a "genealogy of equipment", since a piece of equipment is not only an economic device. It is necessary to know how to calculate the non-economic profit, the mode of production, the induced effects. In this sense it has been said that every piece of equipment "produces a production"; that is, it produces not only goods or merchandise, but creates a sector of activity, new structures of control; it entails new administrative services, new institutions. A piece of equipment also produces new "needs", or demand; the creation of a market produces, in effect, a "consumer", with his needs, with all his requests for assistance. Finally, a piece of equipment normalizes; that is, adjusts the production of production to the production of demand, and balances these two levels, classifying, dividing, imposing regulations, and establishing limits and exclusions.


In this post-foucaultian hypothesis —quite persuasive, but debatable— to make the history of the "house" meaningful, one situates it in the midst of the genealogical history of the large "axiomatics" of modern society. These axiomatics are, for example, that of free time, which is not classical idleness; that of the perspective of lodging, which is not poetic "dwelling"; that of the school, which is not a space for children's games; and finally that of social hygiene, which is a "technology of the population" and not that which specifically guarantees the health of each individual.

There exist other approaches, "methods and procedures",48 that allow one to newly interrogate the materials on the history of the house. Amongst these approaches, one might first cite the ethnology of social space: following in the footsteps of the writings of Emile Durkheim (1858-1917), of Marcel Mauss, etc., and gaining momentum in the structural anthropology of Claude Lévi-Strauss, who attempted to explain space as a social construct: "space and time are two systems of reference that allow the thinking of social relations together or in isolation[...] These dimensions[...] have only the properties of social phenomena on which they are based".49 However, the methodological peril present in structuralism resided in that which has been defined by Pierre Bourdieu as the "realism of the structure", through which one can render systems of relations "hypostatic", transforming them into a totally already constituted outside of the history of an individual and the history of a group. In this we can detect traces of Durkheim's professions of faith in the "collective conscience" and "collective memory". This tendency was dear to French urban history and human geography, as evidenced for example in the writings of Marcel Poëte, and to a certain segment of European architectural cultural, as can be seen in the writings of Aldo Rossi.50

The aim of a "structuralist" theory of the habitat was to historically construct something that one finds (in practice) in the "practices" of actors and not in their consciences, to ultimately construct a "theory of practice". In other words, theory had to construct the mode of its generation, that is to say, the genealogy of practices. For that purpose Bourdieu introduced the notion of habitus: "The constitutive structures of a particular type of environment (i.e., the material conditions of the characteristic existence of a condition of class) that can be grasped empirically under forms of regularity associated with a socially structured environment produce habitus, or systems of tendencies that endure, structural structures, predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is to say in which a generative and structuring principle of practice and of representation that can be objectively 'regulated' and 'regular' without being in any way the product of obedience to the rule, structure objectively adapted to its role without supposing a conscious idea of the ends and the domain imposed in the operations necessary to attain them, and, this being the thing, practice or structure, collectively orchestrated, without being the product of action organized by an orchestra director".51

Recourse to the notion of habitus tended therefore to surmount the difficulties found within the various concepts of historical, social or anthropological analyses, such as those of social norm, of theoretical model, of rule, of schemes (or principles) immanent in practice. Yet one cannot escape how much the notions of "regularity" or "regime of practices" as defined by Michel Foucault have approached that of habitus as conceived by Bourdieu. When presenting, for example, the problem of the political-architectural alternative which we have previously examined the choice between the construction of the collective residential building of the single family house, a question which is acutely felt throughout Europe, particularly after 1848, and which became explicit thanks to the lucidity of Foucher de Careil. Industrial capitalism and the State have both the objective and the urgent need to create a habitat for the wage earning class in rural and mining zones and industrial cities. During the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth every "solution", every imposed norm, such as that which allowed the proposal of "techno-hygenic" architecture, will have nonetheless to take account of the difficulty, not only economic but also social and political: the refusal of the so-called collectivist life in workers' cités, the preference for the solution of small houses manifests the broad stratum of the new industrial classes of rural origins, the diverse "family culture" outside of modern society.

While this so-called habitus attempted to define a "cultural model"52 which one might observe in a traditional society through methods of ethnological investigation, it is not easy to define "objective reality", so often contradictory, in the culture of habitation of a modernized society where certain institutions impose upon social groups certain "ways of life" or "regimes of practice", often in contradiction to the cultural practices to which these groups conform.

Thus, at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, in the political context of social paternalism which has been examined, the new so-called "needs" of single family housing, of public services, of families, etc., legitimized the development of general operational systems of service equipment, disguising their origin: in fact one attributed these needs to the "person" of the inhabitants, when in reality it was a question of a moral reform imposed by dominant social relations. This is explicitly clear in the comments cited previously of Foucher de Careil. The problem is perhaps even more complex because often regimes of practice are "induced" and can even become part of a strategy of transformation imposed from the outside; for example, speculation in buildings (subdivisions of single family suburban residences); or from the inside, through the choices concerning projects taken by the "new customer", that, for example, of the "socialist" association or of the society of "social construction" (cooperatives, etc.). The same programs of such strategies of transformation can be used in certain cases as powerful arguments of advertising or sales; for example the controversy over the "style" of suburban houses in the urban periphery. Strategy in this case transforms itself simply into ideology.

After all, one would think that the difficulty resided in recognizing where and how this polarization developed; on the one hand, "cultural models", "regimes of practice", or "types" that were applied as norms to social groups; and, on the other, habitus, or systems of practice, historically located in a specific region or site, that would thus constitute a "truth" of habitation. This may lead to an entire series of questions to be thought of in philosophical terms, including reflections on the implicit "philosophy" that make of each "inhabitant" a "noble savage" or (although one does not exclude the other) a Nambikwara Indian, similar in his "truth" to that described by Claude Lévi-Strauss in Tristes Tropiques.53

In other words, these "critical" instruments, taken for the most part from the armament of the so-called "human sciences" (type and typology, the "cultural model", the regularity of practice, habitus, the critique of the notion of individual and collective "needs") have secured - so it seems - a firm and "objective" foundation for the definition of type in architecture. One thought to have determined by this its social and intersubjective "structure". Type in architecture presented itself thereby as "a combining of spatial-symbolic relations derived from cultural models in the form of a distributive typology of sites of practice".54

Such reflections were intended to restabilize the common "conventions" of architecture, which was to be understood as a common language; yet every convention came to be destroyed, whether through the creation of homogenized objectives of ends and of purposes (the always-the-same of Benjamin), or through the subjective individualism of the architect and of the inhabitants. In this sense, the "truth" stands as conformity with an adjustment to a communal sense of inhabitation and as a conventional means of production. The definition of this veritas, understood as omoiosis as adaequatio, quickly becomes extremely equivocal if one asks who is the one, by those authority, is the communal sense of habitation to be defined in a period that excludes every socially agreed upon consensus. Nevertheless, the determination of the communal sense of habitation was entrusted to a sort of anthropological realism, capable of adapting to the habitus of the inhabitants, making spatially concrete their own "regular" habits, taking into account "cultural models" and the means of production. The model, that is to say the conventional, acquires significance through verisimilitude. And the verisimilitude of the model confers upon it the dignity of reproducibility, imitability and "repeatability". What is a "model" if not something to imitate? The conventional roll of the model was to take on the function that the sociologist Parsons has defined as "pattern-maintenance", that is to say, "the conservation of determining cultural and institutional models [that] constitutes the heart of a social system... and assures thereby the cultural continuity necessary to the functioning of society".55 If we have truly understood this metaphor, it is a matter of restoring a "heart" that has been lost to the body of a "heartless" society which is in danger of "functioning" no longer.

A Topology of Everyday Constellations

As Gilles Deleuze has said, repetition is opposed to both the Ancient category of memory and to the modern category of habitus.56 Memory (Mnemosyne), the active synthesis of time as a pure past, organizes repetition according to a cycle of remembrance and forgetfulness. Habitus, the passive synthesis of time as living present, is the memory of practices in space. Habitus resolves repetition in conformity with a contemporary present according to a cycle of custom.57 Benjamin defined the "modern" as the new in the context of that which has always existed.58 In the sphere of capitalist production of commodities, the new, the novel, serves to stimulate demand by introducing renewed meanings. At the same time, the processes of repetition, organized for mass production, impose the always-the-same (Immer Gleich).59 In a world of stereotypes, the question is one of knowing how to tear the new from the always-the-same: "It is the unique property of dialectic experience to dissipate the appearance of permanency [the always-the-same], even of repetition in history".60 As a preliminary act, this "dissipation" or dissolving asked for by Benjamin in historical work will implicate "'humanistic' categories, such as so-called habitus, style, etc."61

To take then the "images" of the intérieur in customary, habitual rituals: after all, this fundamental experience of repetition has been described by Beckett as the "compromise which is made... between the individual and his proper organic exaltation, the guarantee of a dismal invulnerability".62 This engagement of consciousness with stereotypes imprinted with security has been explored in the Poetics of Space of Gaston Bachelard, who investigated the imaginary of domestic sites: the "nest", the "shell", the "corner", the "intimate", the "outside", and the "inside".63 Such an analysis would have undone, diluted and exploded the "regularity" of the complex topography of inside and outside, dirty and clean, full and empty, internal and external, before and behind, exposed and hidden, feminine and masculine, attic and cellar, near and far, vegetal and mineral. Custom and regularity are concretized in habits. The habitual is a mode for the perception of time, lost and refound. Habit and forgetfulness are the two extremes of not-knowing. The habitual, comforting in the guaranteed security of the nearness of things and persons, perverts the gaze. The suppression of the habitual is thus a powerful, dangerous moment of knowledge.64

In "Central Park", Walter Benjamin remarks: "Neuroses manufacture mass-produced articles in the psychic economy. There it has the form of an obsession. These appear in the household [Haushalt] of the neurotic as the always-the-same in countless number". Furthermore, Benjamin adds: "The return of everyday constellations... Nietzsche said, 'I love the short habits', and Baudelaire was already, in the course of his life, incapable of developing steady habits". As was Benjamin himself.

This investigation of the poetic would not suffice if not supported by a history of spaces, a topology of complex "everyday constellations" of society, to use Benjamin's terminology; that is to say, if one does not investigate, as the philosopher Michel Serres writes. "the accidents or catastrophes of space and the multiplicity of spatial varieties. What is the closed? What is the open?... What is the continuous and the discontinuous? What is a threshold, a limit? Elementary program of a topology. There is no more Mother Goose who reassuringly recounts all possible myths,... there is from now on the space or the spaces that are the condition of the old stories [racontars]. The spaces by which I have the chance of acquiring a new knowledge. And myths are written on them".65

The genealogy of organizational charts ("those of language, of the factory, of the family, of political parties, and so forth"),66 the means of generating regimes of cultural and social practices, the phenomenology of the values of the intimacy of interior spaces, the topo-analyses of the secret and the hidden, the stylistic classifications of built form, the cartography of the connections and linkages that the body must practice in this big family of spaces: but these instruments, are they not by chance at work already in the observations of a Victor Hugo? "Someone is demolishing at this moment, boulevard du Temple, the Fieschi house [Fieschi was the person who attempted to assassinate King Louis-Philippe]. The roof trusses are stripped of their titles. The windows without glass and without frames let one see the inside of the rooms... That which had characterized Fieschi's room seems to have been ornamented and decorated by various tenants who have since lived there. Wallpaper strewn with a delicate greenish figure covers the walls and ceiling, on which a cord, also of paper, draws a Y. This ceiling is, like the rest, already broken up and amply cracked by the pickaxes of the masons".67

The house, the product of a technology oscillating between the rule of the transparent and the deviations of the opaque, must situate itself somewhere between science, architecture and literature. Hearing its language in poetry, it will reveal itself in the openings to thought offered by the reading of Poe, Baudelaire, Valéry, Benjamin, Borges,... and of Rilke? "Houses? But, to be precise, they were houses that were no longer there. Houses that had been demolished from top to bottom. ...Near the bedroom partitions there still remained, along the whole length of the wall, a grayish-white streak; across this there crept up in worm-like spirals that seemed to serve some unspeakably disgusting digestive function. The gaping, rust-covered channel of the water-closed pipe. ...The stubborn life of these rooms had not allowed itself to be trampled out. It was still there... One could see it in the colors which it had slowly changed, year by year: blue into a mouldy green, green into grey, and yellow into a stale, drab, weary white... And from these walls once blue, and green and yellow, framed by the tracks of the disturbed partitions, the breath of these lives came forth —the clammy, sluggish, fusty breath, which no wind had yet scattered". 68


1 STANTON, Phoebe. Pugin. New York: Viking Press, 1971; and SABOYA, Marc Presse et arquitecture au XIXe siècle. In César Daly et la Revue générale de l'architecture et des travaux publics. Paris: Picard, 199, p. 336.

Daly et la "Revue générale de l'architecture et des travaux publics", Picard, Paris 1991.
2 DE FLEURY, Rohault. "Département de la Seine, Commission centrale de salubrité, Rapport sur la salubrité des habitations", January 1832.

3 VAUDOYER, Léon. Instruction sur les moyens de prévenir ou de faire cesser les effets de l'humidité dans les bâtiments. Paris: Carilian - Goeury et V. Dalmont, 1844.
4 DUVOIR, René. "Du chauffage et de la ventilation...". In Revue générale de l'architecture et des travaux publics (R.G.A.). 1884, n. 5, p. 208-214, 493-495.

5 "Note sur un hôpital en fer, construit au Camp Jacob, île de la Guadeloupe". In R.G.A. 1847, n. 7, p. 108-123.

6 See EVANS, Robin. "Panopticon". In Controspazio. 1970, n. 10, p. 4-18; Idem, The Fabrication of Virtue: English Prison Architecture, 1750-1840. London: Cambridge University Press, 1982.
7 DE CHABANNES, Jean-Frédéric. Prospectus d'un projet pour la construction de nouvelles maisons dont tous les calculs et les détails procureront une très grande économie et beaucoup de jouissance. Paris: Desenne,  1803; Idem. Projet pour la construction de maisons entièrement automatiques. 1806; Idem, "Prospectus publicitaire et brevet d'invention". In Culture technique. 1980, September 15, n. 3.

8 JOBARD. "Architecture métallurgique". In R.G.A.1849-1850, n. 8, p. 27-30, 29. The author was the director of theMusé de l'industrie belge.
9 BENJAMIN, Walter. Das Passagen-Werk, TIEDMANN, Rolf (ed.), vol. 5, books 1 and 2 of the Gesammelten Schriften, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1982. Here and throughout the section designations assigned by Benjamin. Reprinted as BENJAMIN, Walter, Das Passagen-Werk, TIEDMANN, Rolf (ed.), vol. 1 and 2, same place, same date, vol. 2, T1a, pp. 4, 700. Benjamin cites page 18 in Giedion's work.

10 JOBARD. Architecture métallurgique. N. 30.

11 BENJAMIN, Walter. "Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century", english translation, Quintin Hoare. in  BAUDELAIRE, Charles. A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism. London:  NLB, 1973, p. 159.
12 BAUDELAIRE, Charles. Oeuvres. Paris: La Pléiade, N.R.F., Gallimard, p. 949.
13 GIROUARD, Mark. The Victorian Country House.  Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971. See also FRANKLIN, Jill. The Gentleman'sCountry House and its Plan. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981.
14 GAILLARD, Jeanne. Paris, la ville, (1852-1870). Paris: Editions Honoré Champion, 1977.
15 BENJAMIN, Walter. Passagen-Werk, vol. 1, F2, p. 9, 216.
16 BENJAMIN, Walter. Passagen-Werk, vol. 1, N3a, p. 2, 579.
17 Ibid., N4, p. 6, 581; idem, "N", p. 10.
18 Encyclopédie d'architecture, may 1853, report by Adolphe Lance on an architectural treatise by M. Léonce Reynaud.
19 See HUET, Bernard. "The City as Dwelling Space: Alternatives to the Charter of Athens". In Lotus international. 1984, n. 41, p. 6-16.

20 DALY, César. L'architecture privé au XIXe siècle sous Napoléon III. Paris: A. Morel et Cie. 1864, p. 38; second ed.Architecture privé au XIXe siècle. Paris: Ducher, 1870.
21 GIEDION, Sigfried. Befreites Wohnen. Zurich: O. Füssili, 1929; idem. Mechanization Takes Command. New York: Oxford University Presss,  1948, reissued W.W. Norton and Co., New York 1969, 1975.

22 BANHAM, Reyner. The Architecture of the Well-tempered Environment. London: The Architectural Press, 1969; Idem, "A Home is not a House". New Society. 1973, June 26, extracts published in A. A. Files,1987, n. 16,  p. 36-37.
23 GRÜN, Alphonse, Etat de la question des habitations et logements insalubres. Paris: Guillaumin, 1849.
24 HENNEQUIN, Amédé.  "De l'améloration des petits logements dans les villes". In Le Correspondant, July- August 1848.
25 MEUNIER, Victor. Les Cités ouvrières, Toulon 1849.
26 VILLERMÉ, L.R. "Sur les Cités ouvrières," extract from the Annales d'Hygiène publique et de médecine légale, Paris: 1850, p. 42, 11, 
27 Ibid. 18.
28 Ibid. 

29 Ibid. 10.
30 GIEDION, Sigfried. Bauen, 15; cited in BENJAMIN, Walter. Passagen-Werk. vol. 1, K1a, pp. 5, 493.
31 BENJAMIN, Walter. Passagen-Werk. vol. 1, K1a, p. 6, 493.
32 Ibid. I3, p. 288.
33 Ibid. I3, p. 3, 288.
34 Les cités de chemins de fer. Paris: 1857.
35 Ibid. p. 44.
36 Ibid. p. 49.
37 Ibid. p. 50-51.
38 BRAUMAN, Annick and LOUIS, Michel (eds). Jean-Baptiste André Godin, 1817-1888, le familistère de Guise ou les équivalents de la richesse. 2nd ed. Brussels:  Archives de l'Architecture moderne, 1980.
39 OHOUZÉ DE L'AULNOIT, Aimé. Des logements d'ouvriers à Lille, la Cité Napoléon, Lille: Impr. de Danel, 1863.
40 BORIE, Henri-Jules. Aérodômes, nouveau mode des maisons d'habitation à dix et onze étages, applicable aux quartiers les plus mouvementés des grandes villes. Paris: Hennuyer, 1867.

41 FLAUBERT, Gustave. L'education sentimentale. Paris: 1869, english translation, BURLINGAME, Perdita. The sentimental Education, New Yorka nd Scarborough, Ontario: New American Library,  1984, p. 134.
42 See DEVILLERS, Christian and HUET, Bernard. Le Creusot: naissance et développement d'une ville industrielle, 17821914. Seysell: Champ Vallon, 1981. On the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1867, see the reviews in the R.G.A.,1866,  n. 24, p. 221-228; 1867, n. 25, p. 158-163; 1868, n. 26, p. 64-71, 110-113, 209-213, 256-261; see also OPPERMAN Charles-Alfred. Visites d'un ingénieur à l'exposition universelle de 1867. Paris: J. Baudy, 1867.

43 MESNARD, Jules. Les merveilles de l'Exposition de 1867. Paris: C. Lahure, 1867, vol. 1, p. 39.
44 FOUCHER DE CAREIL, Alexandre-Louis. Exposition universelle de 1867, classe 93, groupe X: les habitations ouvrières. Second ed. Paris:  E. Lacroix, 1867;  with PUTEAUX, Lucien, Les habitations ouvrières et les constructions civiles.Paris: E. Lacroix, 1873.
45 NIETZSCHE, Friedrich. The Birth of the Tragedy and The Genealogy of Morals. english translation GOLFFING, Francis. New York: Doubleday, 1956, p. 209.
46 Ibid.
47 Ibid. p.210
48 See HEIDEGGER, Martin, "Die Zeit des Weltbildes". (1938), in Holzwege: Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1952; english translation, Idem "The Age of the World Picture". In The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, english
translation LOVITT,  William. New York: Harper and Row,  1977, p. 115-154.

49 LÉVI-STRAUSS, Claude.  Anthropologie structurale. Paris: Plon, 1958, p. 317.
50 ROSSI, Aldo. L'architettura della cittá. Milan: Clup, 1978; english translation GHIRARDO, Diane and OCKMAN, Joan. The architecture of the City. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1982.

51 BOURDIEU, Pierre. Esquisse d'une théorie de la pratique. Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1972, p. 175.
52 In France the concept of the "cultural model" has been discussed in DE PAULE, J.-C. and MAZÉRAT, B. (eds.). Modèles culturels-habitat. Paris: C.E.R.A., 1977. See also RAYMOND, Henri [et al.]. L'habitat pavillonnaire. Paris: Institute de sociologie,
Centre de recherche d'urbanisme, 1966.
53 LÉVI-STRAUSS, Claude. Tristes Tropiques, part 7 "Nambikwara", particularly chapter 28, "Leçon d'écriture". Paris:  Plon, 1955. On this argument, see DERRIDA, Jacques. De la grammatologie. Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1967; english translation,
CHAKRAVORTY SPIVAK, Gayatri. Of Grammatology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976.

54 HUET, Bernard. "Modèles culturels et architecture". in Modèles culturels-habitats, p. 34.
55 Cited without source in DUFRENNE, Mikel. "Arte e natura". in DUFRENNE, Mikel and FORMAGGIO, Dino (eds.) Trattato diestetica. Milan:  A. Mondadori, 1981, vol. 2, p. 34.

56 DELEUZE, Gilles. Différence et répétition. 4th ed., Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1981, p.15, 125-26. English translation PATTON, Paul. Difference and repetition. New York: Columbia University press, 1994.
57 Ibid.
58 BENJAMIN, Walter. Passagen-Werk, vol. 2, S1, p. 4, 675.
60 Ibid., N9, pp. 5, 591; Idem, "N", 21.

61 Ibid., vol. 1, N3, p. 1, 577; I­dem, "N", 8.
62 Citation from BECKETT, Samuel. Marcel Proust. Zurich: 1960, p. 15; cited in GREFFRATH Krista R. "Proust et Benjamin", in WISMANN, Heinz (ED.). Walter Benjamin et Paris. Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1986, p. 115.
63 BACHELARD, Gaston. La poétique de l'espace. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1958; english translation JOLAC, Maria. The Poetics of Space. Boston: Beacon Press,  1969.
64 GEFFRATH. "Proust," p. 115.
65 SERRES, Michel. "Discours et parcours". In LÉVY-STRAUSS, Claude [et al.]. L'identité. Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1977, p. 25-39, 29-30.
66 Ibid., p. 30.

67. HUGO, Victor. Choses vues (1830-1885).  JUIN, Herbert (ed.). Paris: Gallimard, 1972, vol. 1, p. 229.

68. RILKE, Rainer Maria. The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. English translation LINTON, John. London: Hogarth Press, 1930, p. 43-44.

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