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Having been asked to read an architecture book during reading week, I chose 'Poetics of Space' due to its interesting title and beautifully shot book cover- I know, I'm not meant to judge a book by its cover but when it comes to books like this, it is hard to judge it any other way. Given the range of other books we could choose from, this definitely was one of the more appealing ones... or so I thought. Written originally in French, the book has been translated and is split nicely into a range of different chapters, each one describing a different topic. But this is where the simplicity and organisation stops.
With a plethora of flowery language, the book sends you into a realm of architectural confusion: the thoughts of Gaston Bachelard quickly unravel to trap you within his mind's dungeon. Such as:
" I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace"
"For a knowledge of intimacy, localization in the spaces of our intimacy is more urgent than determination of dates."
"When the image is new, the world is new."
"Here is Menard's own intimate forest: 'Now I am traversed by bridle paths, under the seal of sun and shade...I live in great density...Shelter lures me. I slump down into the thick foliage...In the forest, I am my entire self. Everything is possible in my heart just as it is in the hiding places in ravines. Thickly wooded distance separates me from moral codes and cities."
Just as you thought you'd escaped from a chapter, you are plunged straight into the next, an equally mind boggling forest of doom.
As part of the assignment, we were asked to create a page outlining key points which we learnt or found interesting, which was a huge dilemna for a book you have no way of understanding. If you claim to understand it, you clearly don't and are either lying, or you've made something else up which you claim to have received it from the book. That is exactly what I did and surprisingly, it works. What is perhaps to praise about the inspired ramblings found within this book is how you interpret it and how it changes your perception.
Whilst the book itself does nothing but confuse you, what happens after you finish reading it is interesting- it makes you see architecture in a different, more poetic way. I honestly cannot recall much from the book, but I know that it made me pick up on details and see nature, dwellings and built forms with a new perspective.
I would not recommend this book if you want factual information on architecture- this is solely for the intellectually minded person who would like the challenge of completing an immersive, imaginative and poetic view on the subject, maybe. And if you do decide to get this at any time, I wish you the best of luck.