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Transgression: Body and space

Sara, Rachel; Littlefield, David

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Rachel Sara


The theme of “Transgression: body and space” emerges from a vigorous series of research activities, publications and events (herein entitled the Transgression project) that were undertaken between 2010 and 2014 at the School of Architecture, University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol [2]. The term transgression was conceived as a valuable lens through which to investigate architecture and culture in ways that challenge accepted practices, orders and norms. The research reached a critical point of investigation through Transgression: the 10th international conference of the Architecture and Humanities Research Association hosted by UWE in 2013 [3]. The breadth of papers from this event are summarized in the Critiques book Transgression: towards an expanded field of architecture [4].

This issue of Architecture and Culture was seen as an opportunity to investigate one emerging theme from the Transgression project in more depth. Situated within the editors’ own critical research and practice, as well as many conference presentations, was a consideration of the relationship between the body and space, and the way in which accepted relationships between the two might be transgressed, or understood through transgression [5]. This issue of Architecture and Culture is therefore presented as a series of dialogues around that theme. It draws from an international range of authors, some of whom developed their thinking at the AHRA Transgression conference, others of whom have been working independently. Research investigations include film, art, photo essay, critical essay, manifesto and polemic, which are curated to present a rich and deep reading of transgression: body and space.

Each of the authors addresses ideas of transgression/body/space in different and distinctive ways. Between them, their papers consider the body in its physical, political, phenomenological, philosophical and poetic guises, ranging from where the body (and the consciousness which resides within it) is located, to what we do with our bodies. The consequences of considering such issues are, spatially, profound – embracing both the very private/personal matters of listening and looking to the very public/collective realm of the spectacle and the power structures which govern how we deport ourselves. Through these papers we investigate the many dimensions of what it is to be human, largely around an exploration of boundaries (physical, imagined, cultural, representational) and the implications this has for architectural and spatial practice. It is no coincidence that the essays within this issue are written largely in the first person, locating the authors as a conscious, almost physical presence within the issue. This introduction concludes with a series of questions, insights and critical arguments that deepen our understanding of architecture and the culture of which it is a part.


Sara, R., & Littlefield, D. (2014). Transgression: Body and space. Architecture and Culture, 2(3), 293-302

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 19, 2014
Online Publication Date Apr 28, 2015
Publication Date Nov 1, 2014
Deposit Date Feb 13, 2017
Publicly Available Date Feb 13, 2017
Journal Architecture and Culture
Print ISSN 2050-7828
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 2
Issue 3
Pages 293-302
Keywords architecture, transgression, body, space, liminal, subjective, ambiguity
Public URL
Publisher URL


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