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Textual cities/working drawings: Rereading the space of the drawing

Banou, Sophia



Klaske Havik

Susana Oliveira

Mark Proosten

Jorge Meji?a Herna?ndez


The analogy of the text is a common one for space and the city, whether it is referred to in terms of reading, enunciating (De Certeau) or writing it (Serres). In the beginning of the 20th century, the new theories of space-time and the increasing mobility and mechanization of the world brought forward the inadequacy of architectural notation to engage with the complex interactions of movement that take place in the city. Normative representations of the city conventionally forgo the microbe-like processes that occur within it. This partial illegibility of the city (Allen) appears to refer back to the illegibility of movement, and the temporal and kinetic character of space.

This paper looks at the transcriptive operations that take place between real space and the space of the architectural drawing as an opportunity to rethink and expand the limits of architectural representation in order to embrace the complex negotiations and interactions that occur in the city. This emphasis on the infraordinary (Perec) reveals the users and their non-human counterparts as the markers of différance (Derrida) within the text of the city, bringing individual experience to the centre of this reading. In the textual city the users configure space both physically and perceptively. This paper is further concerned with the transcription of this condition into another form of writing and particularly with the transference of the effect of various agencies from one to the next.The locus of the reading is transposed from the city to the drawing that forms a new site of investigation, yet the characters remain the same.

The drawing as ‘writing’ involves a series of ‘readings’. As the architect faces the duality of being a ‘reader’ and an ‘author’, the transition from the actual to the virtual cannot be considered as being merely a transcription from experience to sign. Moreover, the author’s intentions are not just liable to the intentions of an external reader but to internal agencies such as the material procedures involved and the autonomy of the signs in use. The drawing becomes an operator in the narrative of space while the architect himself acquires the status of the ‘character’. Drawing from Roland Barthes’ opposition between the text and the literary work, this paper will conclude that the textual nature of the city should already presuppose the nature of the drawing as a site of interpretative readings, a process itself temporal and kinetic, capable of revealing the possibility of new realities.


Banou, S. (2016). Textual cities/working drawings: Rereading the space of the drawing. In J. Meji?a Herna?ndez, S. Oliveira, M. Proosten, & K. Havik (Eds.), Writingplace: Investigations in Architecture and Literature, 206-215. nai010 publishers

Publication Date Jan 1, 2016
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Pages 206-215
Book Title Writingplace: Investigations in Architecture and Literature
ISBN 9789462082816
Keywords textual cities, working drawings, rereading, space, drawing
Publisher URL