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"Constructing the Architecture of Anxiety"

The  use of  architecture to provoke psychological emotion is a hugely interesting concept of architectural study to me. For my dissertation I wished to explore this subject, however in regards to fictional space: in literature and film. The purely descriptive, almost cyclical narration of La Jalousie shows Alain Robbe-Grillet's influence in crafting the nouveau roman (New Novel), revolving around three characters within a house on a plantation. A plan of the house included by the author at the start of the novel drew me to explore how anxiety is woven within the architecture, both of the house and narration.

The unconventional novel shares a key similarity with Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Rear Window, in which the persona of the "spectator" can be debated. Hitchcock's protagonist is confined to a wheelchair, to witness a suspected murder by one of his neighbours, as he peeps through into the lives of others from boredom.  This creates a static viewpoint for the protagonist, and therefore the audience who watches through his eyes - however it must be highlighted that we only view what we are instructed to. 

This dissertation acknowledges the author and director's literary and visual tools to create anxiety, however also includes the reader/spectator's key involvement as the constructors of the architecture of anxiety. Notable sources include Karen Bermann's The House Behind, "the Uncanny" and the historical and social context of "modern anxiety". 

Tutor: Dr Emma Cheatle

"dE05 Writing Architecture, Writing Fiction", Stage 3 Dissertation

Karen Bermann, 'The House Behind', in Places through the Body, ed. Steve Pile and Heidi Nast, 1998.

Sigmund Freud, 'The Uncanny', in The Uncnny, 1919

Anthony Vidler, The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely, 1992.

Georg Simmel, ‘The Metropolis and Mental Life’, in The Blackwell City Reader, ed. by Gary Bridge and Sophie Watson, 2002.

Introduction, ''Constructing the Architecture of Anxiety'

"...a successful story writer and teller 'turns his reader into an architect, who keeps erecting rooms, buildings and entire cities in his imagination as the story progresses' (Juhani Pallasmaa, The Architecture of Image: Existential Space in Cinema, 1999)."

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