Bert Olivier
Bert Olivier

How humans ‘produce’ space

Space is one of the most intimately experienced, and probably least reflected-on phenomena of the human life-world. Like time, it is presupposed in everything we do, although – living, as we do, in an era of what Lyotard and others call “accelerated” time, and therefore constantly being aware of time – we are probably less aware of space than of its temporal twin.

It is nevertheless likely that, when prompted, people would admit that it makes more sense to talk about “spaces” than “space”, given the qualitatively different spaces that we traverse in our daily activities. Domestic spaces differ from public spaces, and even within these distinctive domains, one encounters widely differing spatial modulations. I am familiar with a house, for example, where the living room, flowing into (or out of) the kitchen, is barn-like is shape, with a high ceiling following the slanted angles of the roof, and large wooden beams overhead lending it a somewhat medieval ambience. The bedrooms, bathrooms and study branch out of the central living space, so that spaces of personal privacy feed into (or out of) a communal area. The living space also yields access to a partly closed-in porch which overlooks a sparsely built-up hill, and beyond it, the sea, in this way allowing the inhabitants a satisfying experience of interlinked communal, private, public and natural spaces.

What is it in humans that enable them to come up with these “arrangements” of private and public spaces against the backdrop of a more primordial natural space? Several theorists furnish one with the means to understand these ways in which humans are spatially orientated, or – as Merleau-Ponty might say – “intervolved” with space. Henri Lefebvre, for example, has formulated a tripartite typology of historically and socially “produced” space that disabuses one of the idea that space is always “just there” in monotonously homogeneous form. In a manner that reminds one of Kant’s 18th-century description of space and time as “forms of intuition” that (together with the categories of the understanding, such as causality) constitute human “reality”, Lefebvre regards space as nothing passively given, but, on the contrary, as actively “produced” by human beings.

In his book, The Production of Space (1991: 26-27), Lefebvre claims that a particular social organisation happens via a distinctive “production of (social) space”, and remarks further that such space “…is constituted neither by a collection of things or an aggregate of (sensory) data, nor by a void packed like a parcel with various contents…” It is therefore “…irreducible to a ‘form’ imposed upon phenomena, upon things, upon physical materiality”.

This is to say that space, for Lefebvre, is never self-identically “there” throughout history, but is instead variously “produced” through the actions of human beings. Moreover, the modality of these actions changes over time, so that space must be understood as being fundamentally historical. Instead of conceiving of space as a fixed construct, we should regard it as an incomplete, tension-filled process, always subject to the effects of the (social and political) actions of humans.

From this it should already be clear that space, for Lefebvre, is richly heterogeneous – in fact, he argues (Lefebvre 1991: 33) that such historically and socially produced space may be understood as comprising three interwoven, qualitatively different kinds of spatial production, namely “spatial practices”, “representations of space”, and “representational spaces”. To be able to explain human beings’ epistemic-theoretical access to these different spatial modes, Lefebvre names three cognitive modes, correlative to the three types of produced space, namely “perceived” space, “conceived” space, and “lived” space (Lefebvre 1991: 38-39).

The first – “perceived” space – corresponds to “spatial practices” and marks the abstract spatial counterpart of the actual process of social production (and reproduction), whether this is characterised by disintegration or by cohesion and structure. “Conceived space” – the second kind – corresponds to “representations of space”, or what most people would probably intuitively regard as space in the true sense. It refers to the way in which space is conceptualised (whether it is in life-world terms, Aristotelian, Newtonian, Kantian or Einsteinian relativity theory-terms) and it stands to reason that it is via such conceptualisation (“conceived space”) that one has cognitive access to the other two spatial modes, the “perceived” and the “lived”. The last cognitive category – that of “lived space” – correlates with “representational space(s)”, which denotes not only space in the sense in which it is passively “lived” by inhabitants of space through non-verbal symbols and images, but also as it is described by philosophers and imaginatively appropriated by artists and architects.

It would be easy to relate Lefebvre’s highly suggestive contemplation of historically and socially produced modes of space to Martin Heidegger’s reflections (in “Building Dwelling Thinking”) on the “fourfold”, as well as on “world” and “earth” (contemplated in “The Origin of the Work of Art”) with their distinctive implications for space and for architecture. Briefly, while conceived space and lived space appear to flesh out, specifically in terms of social production, Heidegger’s notion of “world” (as the realm of interpretable cultural practices) and what is subsumed under it of the “fourfold” (“sky”, “mortals” and “divinities”), “perceived space” strikes one as the socially produced counterpart of Heidegger’s “earth”, given its implication of social practices that are always taking place in full view, and are yet, somehow, under the radar of conceptual or imagined appropriations of space in cognitive terms. In this respect, as in the case of Heidegger’s “earth” (and related to what Lacan calls the “real”, or that which surpasses linguistic symbolisation), the perceived space of social practices shows itself only to the extent that it resists scrutiny aimed at complete transparency.

Just as I would claim that Heidegger’s “fourfold”, together with “world” and “earth” represents a touchstone for “sustainability” against which architecture may be judged, I believe that Lefebvre’s tripartite conceptualisation of socially produced spaces further amplifies such a set of criteria. Unless architecture heeds the normative implications of these “legislative criteria”, it would fail to be truly “sustainable”, in so far as there are certain ways of producing space through social action which pervert the very notion of the social in the encompassing, normatively human sense. These include the perverse spaces that have been produced through social and political practices such as German and apartheid-fascism – think of the (anti-)social spaces of German death camps like Auschwitz and Dachau, and the “ethnically cleansed” spaces of apartheid, in both of which architecture played a major role.

On the assumption that students of architecture have chosen to qualify for this profession because they already have a receptivity for the qualitatively different spaces that humans experience at different times, they would benefit from cultivating a more nuanced sensitivity than that with which nature has endowed them, to be able to do justice to varied human spatial needs.

Anyone interested in this topic can read my paper (of which this is a modified excerpt), available on SABINET: ‘Sustainable’ architecture and the ‘law’ of the fourfold. South African Journal of Art History, Vol. 26 (1), 2011, pp. 74-84.

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    • Daniella Lubbe

      Personally, space is about death of the author to me.

      In deconstructivist architecture, text is used as the object, for sake of the argument, let say the author is talking about a pencil. The individual might think of a red pencil, as its open to their own interpretation, but in the authors mind, he is thinking of a dark red pencil. The author does not dictate that you have to think of it as a red pencil but rather you interpret it subjectively. Space is exactly that, it is experienced and perceived differently by everyone, whether consciously or unconsciously, and will have different meanings.

      I might be slighty over stating this, but to me, architecture is a powerful tool in which you can enrich spaces by using certain elements relating to human proportion and nature.

    • Mwisya H h

      I fully subscribe to the article’s argument that heightens our awareness of space through architecture as a medium to critic a sustainable measure of life worthy of being human.
      Leffebvre’s understanding sets a framework for today’s world as distanced from reality characterised by “fake” space driven by capitalist consumer values and cyber technology.
      Heidegger’s classification of earth calls for a sustainable spatial expression reconcilable with the law of the earth as opposed to the current superficial entirely constituted of human design and manufacture (cyber-world) that inevitably breaks this bond.
      From a current global perspective, this resonates with the world’s increasingly dwindling natural resources and the drive towards true sustainable spatial imperatives that call for a human to earth bond.
      His sky denotes humanity’s inner ability to creatively propel themselves beyond the here and now as opposed to the current gravitational pull towards tradition and custom. This has been expressed spatially in architecture through previously incomprehensible spatial marvels i.e.; Greek temples, Egyptian pyramids and the current modern skyscrapers.
      His aspect of mortality further explores humanity’s relation to space through the use of architectonic materials with a degree of finitude e.g. red brick and stone). Their ability to peel away exposes a fragile human condition of limited time and eventual death that propels one to live a constructive life.
      From an architectura

    • Mwisya H h

      From an architectural perspective, parallels can be drawn with recent architectural theoretical perspectives. Kenneth Frampton’s critical regionalism calls for a return to “earth” bound spatial principles of topography, climate and light. This revised spatial outlook can be seen through the successful works of Jorn Utzon, Sverre Fehn, Glenn Murcutt.
      From a local perspective, South Africa is currently at a cross roads inprint of poor spatial strategie implemented through the apartheid ideology.It is therefore through a discourse like this that one can achieve a true
      In conclusion, Harries therefore sets a yardstick for a sustainable architectonic as opposed to the current scenographic spatial framework from a universally meaningful and life- enriching vantage point far from the inauthentic everydayness or as he points out, ”merely idle talk”

    • Lerys Hendricks 206008970

      As a student on the brink of entering the profession, it was very insightful to read various influential thinkers opinions or rather thoughts on the topic of space. As discussed in class on numerous occasions was the fundamental role of the architect, that is to separate space and give space character and meaning, “The vocation” as the paper suggests. What’s interesting is Lefebvre’s view of space in stating that ” space is not passively given but actively produced by human beings”. This argues that space is produced by human beings which implies space is dependent on their existence. Therefore space has to be ever changing, is incomplete, evolving and a variable and not as fixed and finite as a building often appears. Different schools of thought have different views of space which has influenced their making of space. As Heidegger has argued that the fundamental needs or laws of human existence depend on ‘fourfold’ (earth, sky, divinity and mortality )’ therefore in order to give space meaning it has to take cognisance of these fundamentals. Phenomenologists have all been influenced by the ‘fourfold’ in the experience of a building through light, time and materiality. In concluding I agree with the statement that cyberspace is the distance between humans and the earth and that it does not embody human contact with the earth the crisis of our generation. Sustainability should take cognisance of Heidegger’s ‘fourfold’ in order for it to be truly…

    • YUSHA EBRAHIM

      “Earth as the given”, the understanding statement relates to space psychologically and physically. The notion of space is repeatedly evolving around us. Implied versus, just being. The “being” aspects is the given and the “implied” relates to how us as architects interpret the “being”. Architects maintain a set of skills that psychologically and physically leads the individual to relate to and understand spaces that encompasses them. Space shouldn’t be static but rather evolving, an experience of interactions.
      The problematic aspect in the 21st century sees our lives focusing on a 2inch blackberry screen, in which creating a space within the virtual world. We block out the world and everything that surrounds us and sit within a cacoon. It’s a world that’s ever evolving and if we could only put as much emphasis on the “given” as a gift to humanity. Architects have a major role in society as do people in the “given”. architects can imply to a certain degree but its on the individual to appreciate the space thats given or implied.
      The marrying of the “fourfold” is crucial in creating space thats meaningful and appreciative. Architects needs to look on a greater level and put forward the important aspects and than give rise to the pocket. if architects can get this aspect right this could or would physichologically and physically get society to work in a well oiled chain reaction(a system that works together).

    • Net Nkosi

      I think that in the South African context it would be the more interesting if spaces are produced through the exploration of context and cultural values, than by preconception and rationalization. Meaning that if one was to design a space for a Zulu individual the space that is produced should speak to the Zuluness of that person (cultural values and way of life), and with an understanding that this space would be in deed different if one was designing for a South African individual of European decent, for his cultural values and way of life would be naturally different.

      Within the urban realm I think that this endeavour of trying to create spaces that speak to the South African condition could yield much more relevant and direct responses in terms of addressing or speaking to the important issues and concerns affecting the South African city, such as: equity, security, self-sustaining and economically viable urban spaces that negate the possibilities of blight, and also not to forget the possibilities of creating urban spaces that seek to bring people of different economic scales so that they interact (reconciliatory spaces), spaces that imbue the qualities of dignity and self-worth of the collective.

      The South African climate is in itself also a product of the South African condition, therefore when one creates space this is one aspect that cannot be ignored. Therefore my opinion about this is as follows given that by in large South Africa has relatively long-hot…

    • Niel Basson – 207007406

      Heidegger’s notion on the ‘fourfold’ and Lefebvre’s ‘Production of space’ highligts the importans of responding to our suroundings. If space is produced by the actions of human beings, it is essentialy produced by whatever influences the human being. According to Heidegger’s ‘fourfold’ earth, sky, mortals and divinties.

      “This implies that, if one or more of these are absent as ‘markers’ to determine one’s ‘place’ in the world, one would not be able to claim that one is living a truly ‘human’ life, which is why Heidegger remarks that the four together comprimise ‘a simple oneness’.”

      If space is a given, and human beings shape/produce space by they’r actions, we as architects has a social responsibility in the way we react to our suroundings and the way we eventually define space, through acknowledging the cultural, socio, economic, physical and political circumstances of a spesific place. Creating an sustainable architecture that responds to the actions of the human beings at that present time and place but also creating ways for it to adapt, through acknowledging the possibilty or rather reality of change.

    • Luke M #1

      Any manner of space-making should acknowledge that both “Earth” AND “World” are involved in a “mutual life giving struggle” with neither having supreme importance over the other – some things can be explained, others are inexplicable escaping conception, they just are. Any attempt to do so may detract from our experience.

      Reconciliation of space and time should also be acknowledged in space-making – the acceptance of the passage of time is life-affirming. As well as being important in regard to sustainability. Materials age, and in so doing, root a building in time and space.

      Heidegger’s “Fourfold” along with “World” and “Earth” are a good means for young architects to orientate themselves in the present and detached world to form a strong impulse towards the creation of great and sustainable space-making.

    • Sasha Botha

      Space as I understand it, is infinite, created by the presence of people. As Lefebvre said: ”Space is never self-identically ‘there’ throughout history, but variously ‘produced’ through actions of humans”, space is undefined and never subscribed to one function through it’s life.

      As the human race changes, at a accelerated pace as Lyotard decribed it, spaces change as well. These spaces are what we make of them and reflect the social circumstances and environment of our current existence, but not much has changed if one thinks about it. The spatial layout of our homes, the transition from public to private. This has not changed since the time of the caveman, the spatial transition of the cave is exactly the same as our homes of today. The very public living spaces at the front of the cave, the fire serving as protection (our frontdoor), then the private spaces for rest and sleep at the back of the cave or house. This has not changed over millenniums telling us that space is an intuitive ‘product’.

      Ernest Dimmet said, “Architecture, of all the arts, is the one which acts the most slowly, but the most surely, on the soul”. Saying that in the infinity of space it will live on no matter what, always affecting our souls, depending on the way architects design different spaces that humans experience at different times.
      I agree, there has to be that balance of nuanced sensitivity towards spatial design in order to do justice to various spaces designed for human…

    • Jonathan Roux 208011833

      Respost with full details

      I think as architecture students it is great to be conscious of the spaces we create and be aware of the fact that as a reflection of our creative and analytic process they reflect our world-view.

      By being concious that our thinking has been translated into 3dimensional form and space therein contained, we become aware of our responsibility to have a sensitivity and cognisance of the world around us, and the fact that people all have different relationships to the space we create.

      They will ultimately accept it or reject it and if they choose the former there should be the flexibility for it to become their own, be altered in a way to allow them to use it in a way that makes sense to them.

      I do think that just being aware of that responsibility in being the creators of shared space is enough, and one does not need to theorize to the nth degree as to the meaning of the way in which space is created.

      Furthermore I would agree that a phenomenological approach to design is conducive towards a sustainable approach, and can be seen as a touchstone, however just 1 aspect of integration in a sustainable approach to creation of space.

    • Robyn Boy- 207026256

      It’s one of the first things they teach you in architecture school. It’s a lessons that tells you it’s tempting to focus on what you build (walls, floors, windows, doors) but really counts, what really drives the experience of architecture… is space.

      Space can be understood only sequentially through time. For Hillier, architecture attempts to render the non-discursive properties of configuration discursive and make them accessible to reason (1996). Spatial configuration in this way is raised from the level of unconscious to the level of conscious knowledge, from ideas we think with to ideas we think of.

      Knowing how architecture is concieved through theory, creates greater understanding to the relationship between the form and the syntax of space.
      Humans can give different shape to their ideas, but there is often an uncertain link between idea and building, and that can make architecture and space an instrument of theoretical speculation.

    • Jonathan Mac Lachlan (205042392) 01 of 02

      The realisation of space stems from the basic human need to organise the environment in which one exists, creating parameters that help define both a structured social construct and physical order for human institutions. The term “need” cannot be under emphasised, it is as basic and as fundamental as the terms ”we need to eat” or ”we need to sleep”; it is a part of us. In this sense I agree in part with Lefebvre’s argument, as I understand or interpret it, as presented in the article that space, defined as a construct in which the tangible fabric of the human sense of belonging is woven, creating a sense of place or reason, is nothing passively given, however I do feel uncomfortable with the phrase that human beings actively “produce” space.

      I would rather offer the term that we “order” it. The term “order”, at least for me, reflects the state of rationalising the sense of self and place in a given paradigm, wherever we may find ourselves. Remember, we are in a digital age where the term space begins to take on some very interesting interpretations of our perceived understanding of the concept. Thus, it is in this ordering of our “environment” and by environment, I use the term to express our physical realm of existence, that we begin to define our social spatial frameworks and resulting physically manifested space within it.

    • Jonathan Mac Lachlan (205042392) 02 of 02

      The parallel of space and time, and the relationship in which our frame of reference in time influences space making is one of critical importance. This aspect is briefly mentioned but perhaps is of cardinal importance to the entire article. Our place in time or historical context plays a major role in how we do or don’t set about the ordering of our space. Our perceptions, mistakes, traditions, beliefs and technology will provide direction for the manner in which we try reconcile our environment and our place within it, that space that we occupy and struggle architecturally to give identity to. Perhaps paradoxically in our sub conscious seeking meaning and a sense of place in our own sub-creation? The article does question why and perhaps more importantly to what purpose do we create space?

    • Yaw Boateng 203006178 -part1

      Space by definition is the boundless expanse within which all things exist. In our context however, space is an empty area. That will be a piece of land or a space in a structure. Space in that sense means land since land is defined as the physical land and anything permanently attached to it such as buildings and the fixtures.

      Land is a fixed commodity in the sense that the physical land cannot be increased. However, land for any type of land use can be increased by appropriating land from other land uses to that particular activity. There is a fundamental saying that no two parcels of land are the same. From that perspective, land available for any activity is limited. Architecture therefore seeks to maximise the use of land avilable and considered suitable for a given activity. Regrettably, society seems not to have taken note that space is a scare item to be managed. The need to manage land or space is better captured in the Ghanaian concept of land ownership. The Akan tribe of Ghana believe that the land belongs to the dead, the living and the unborn. The belief is that the living hold, use and manage for the benefit of the living and the unborn and are accountable to the Ancestors(the dead) from whom the land was inherited.

      Human needs are complex and diverse and the use of every space is related to the whole. As a result spaces have to be planned to ensure that there is diversity, complimentarily and harmony.

    • Yaw Boateng 203006178 -part2

      One looks at the Acropolis, how the building sits on an elevated natural platform. The vertical surfaces reinforce the visual separation between it and the surrounding ground. That in itself shows the importance of the building within its context. Another example would be how depressed areas in the topography of a site can serve as stages for outdoor arenas and amphitheatres. The natural change in level benefits both sightlines and the acoustical quality of such spaces.

      Through our needs, comes the organisation of the environment in which one exists. Similar to the house described in the article, the urban framework of the city works in the same manner. Activities are grouped in different areas by urban designers and town planners. As architects, it is for us to mould buildings that perform to their potential and contribute positively to the urban environment.

      The concept of space can be viewed from another perspective. Based on Lefebvre’s ‘Production of Space’, space has a similar concept to time, no second is ever the same, so too is space, no space is identical. However, through human actions, whether it be through our instincts or culture, space is ultimately produced through our actions.

      It is amazing how even at a young age we unconsciously develop the ability to identify realms of privacy.I reacll as a child, playing ‘hide and seek’ outside the house and being able to identify spaces for hiding.

    • Hyacinthe TONGA (208022710)

      This excerpt is provides great clarity to what could be understood as “Human” and the “production” of space.

      The first part of my comment is about asking: “what do you understand by space?” We will at first be all confused!

      Why? Because we always “contextualise” space and or “perceive” space; allocate it a sort of “activity” (Social, economical and or political), a meaning behind its existence.

      We all have deeper understanding of how “space” could be define; and yes, Lefevre clearly stated those 3 interwoven of space along with their cognitive modes being:
      Space practice…………………..… perceive space
      Representation of space…..… conceived space
      Representational space………. Lived space

      Most people will be more exposed to the idea of space as “space practice”………… “perceive space” from its characteristic being “cohesive” and “structured”.

      Especially since that’s what the eyes see constantly.

      Now, regarding what the “eyes see”; does it mean that all representation will exist?

    • Hyacinthe TONGA (208022710)

      The second part revolves around architects; we create or will create sustainable architecture that would possibly respond to the actions of humans would suggest that such architecture should react as an organism; adapt and or response by acknowledging that time changes therefor things get old, out of fashion, need to be reinvented.
      Such statement would normally lead us to ask ourselves:
      A build structure capable of doing so, how would you describe it; is it beautiful? Sublime? Or would it fall under impressive? amazing?
      Since the person describing such composition may have to have the “same understanding” as the Architect that conceived the space or spaces as an organism technologic.

    • Taryn Keefer

      “Less aware of space” – Have we dehumanised architecture, have we created a sterile, calculated machine in which we force humankind to live and function, or have we cracked the code and created harmony between humankind and structure.

      The first may be said for most of what we create, yes we try to understand and divide spaces into functioning parts, but solely through this process we are already denying humankinds basic instinct, that of our connection to nature and secondly our need to interact. Do spaces provide for this, maybe? Do our cities and structures within reprogram our social logic and order, have we lost our connection to these basic elements? Do humans ‘produce’ space, only ‘time’ will tell!

    • Matt Wright

      My understanding of space is that it inherently is undefined yet temporarily we can articulate (confine) space through the production of buildings or form to serve a function. With this being said, it then only is temporal as buildings change over time and if destroyed, space then becomes undefined once again.
      What I find interesting about Lefebvre’s theory is the three cognitive spatial modes described as a resultant of the production of space. Namely; “perceived” space, “conceived” space and “lived” space. The two spatial modes, “lived space” and “conceived space”, to my understanding are spaces that can be more easily understood by a person and are produced in the “true sense” of what the architect or designer aimed to achieve.
      “Perceived space” to my understand is a more challenging task in the production of space. Shortly before reading this I read another article by Bert, “For the Love of Church Architecture”. In the article Bert describes his experience of a gothic church and what becomes apparent as one interrogates gothic architecture (and any church architecture for that matter) is the intention to create a space that makes one feel that there is something more to the space. And in my opinion is a great precedent for architects and designers to note in the production of “perceived space”.

    • chris rossouw

      Here, sustainability doesn’t refer to going green, but rather balanced world views that foster normative human existence and development. The fatal legacy of the modern world view is that ‘the human self exists as an infinitesimal island of meaning and spiritual aspiration in a vast purposeless universe.’ We cannot relate to the world today because ‘human self’ development was separated from- and overshadowed by the ‘objective non-human world’.

      The PURPOSE of contemporary life is the participation and success in the economic, consumerist hegemony. But, this purpose is a product of the dominant, objective, non-human worldview of modernity, and so has no resonance with the subjective ‘human self’.

      Morpheus: Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. Do you know what I’m talking about?

      Neo: Not really, and I have to catch the train to work now.

    • Justin Braithwaite

      Should space be produced through the social actions of humankind? Are our actions and processes worthy of being mirrored in our spaces?

      Sure, most of our day to day activities are harmless and should dictate how we produce space that facilitates those particular activities. The mirroring of activities in spaces makes our lives easier. Easier to conceive the space in the first place, easier to function in it and easier to perceive the space at a subconscious level.

      When it comes to humans, however, we are not exactly perfect. For example, a lot of us are outright consumers – we buy the latest and apparently greatest items in order to keep up with the times. If this is one of activities, one of our social practices, then the space that mirrors that particular activity turns out to be ‘consumerist space’ (as established in Bert’s previous post ‘The mall as consumer architecture’)

      Bert also mentioned perverse spaces that evolved out of, well, perverse social practices – perhaps as a more extreme example of the point i’m trying to bring across. The actions of humans are not necessarily openly perverse, they are sometimes subtle as they creep in to our day to day lives and become reflected in our spaces.

    • Pieter Muller

      “Space” or “Spaces” is an dynamic concept in architecture there can be very simple solution to the formulation of space or it can become a complex riddle.We as architectural students are educated how space was created back in the day and how we should approach it in the present time. Eventually we shape our own visions and architectural frameworks of how to produce spaces, but space will always be a dynamic ever changing environment, every person is different in size and shape, the way they think and react.Impossible to produce a space that everyone will experience the same way, or even close to the vision the architect had for the space. People are unique, with a technology dominated world, experience of space is not on the levels of the historical era, distraction that technology has brought with iPods blasting in there ears, and texting friends on the cellphones, almost complete blocking of some of the senses that usually interacted with the spaces.

      Occupants in today’s world, with all the distraction don’t meander in space as they should, its a linear interaction rather than multiplicity. This does not mean all is lost in the way architect approach space and captures the interaction of the occupants but rather challenges the architect to create spaces that grapples the occupants attention to the spaces, that forces interaction with all the senses, the overpowering of the distractions and the architect has a large arsenal at hes/her disposal (Materials etc.)

    • Christopher Rensburg

      Henri Lefebvre’s arguments in his book are particularly relevant to the architectural community at this point in time, and to South Africa, in general, as a fledgling democracy.His notions of declaring space as a social product were emphasized and stressed to be affected and based on social values and meanings. In doing this, the space can be declared and perceived as “real” and of the region. Lefebvre’s criticisms of the 1920’s and 30’s Soviet Urban planners, where he lamented the opportunities missed to produce a socialist space (rather than the perpetuation of a modernist model), can serve as a warning or inspiration to the South African architectural community as a whole. Being a young democracy finding its feet while still afflicted by a myriad of social ills and societal inadequacies as a result of anti-social apartheid ideologies, the opportunity presents itself to engage the problem. If Lefebvre’s musings are to be adopted, the production of post -apartheid space needs a focus on the conflictual, contradictory and political to embrace the diverse ideological and cultural spheres evident in our society. If this is understood in the production of our space, maybe, we can declare our space ‘real’, as Lefebvre wouldput it, and deviate from the hegemonic expresion that is absolute modernism and produce spaces that are multiplicitis and reflective of our culturally diverse society. The challenge is to produce space that is appropriate and thoughtful

    • Hyacinthe TONGA 208022710

      As individual we all perceive space differently; it is a given; and we shape and produce it by our own actions. As a student of Architectural Study, my studies so far have lead me to perceive space so far as a different set of experiences that are enrich by tools such as Architecture and the Natural elements.

      We make spaces depending of: – what a demand (clients ask for) – how we have been told in our study; in term of defining and producing such space. Such would relate to a client need= a certain feeling. If you want someone to live in a space; you may have to know the person and or know the specific environment on which the space would relate to.

      We as architect know two types of Main spaces: Private and Public spaces.

      Both spaces will take in consideration internal and external factors in order to be shape.

      The public space needs to relate to everyone. This is actually the most difficult space to create since we all have different background (culture, history as well as global positioning) and that’s why to create such space, certain FACTORS (focussing on other factors to bring people together: play, live, work…) will have to be ignored (if we can say) in order for everyone to feel welcome; not cast out or having the sense of the space being design for a specific user group.

      The private space on the other hand could be design according to any needs (generally speaking) and any FACTORS (external or internal) as long as it will suit his or her user(s).

    • M van Niekerk

      The main reason why different spaces and architecture exists is because human beings exist, so surely the space produced is linked to the human activity at a specific time and place. Architecture facilitates human activity and tries to provide a better (whether more comfortable or more productive) living experience, or way of life. A specific place like a market square (if well designed) can adapt and change over time, responding to current human activity taking place and so the space produced is the product of human needs, activity, time and place.
      Sustainable architecture in this sense refers to an architecture that can adapt with time to accommodate the current human needs and so stay relevant or become timeless in a way. One can thus say that space is not static but is dynamically produced by human demands.

    • Chesney Boshoff

      The production of space by humans, as described in the above article, offers great insight into the manner in which spaces are experienced on a phenomenological level. Throughout history however the production of spaces has been conceived as the ordering of elements to structure space and facilitate various functions. This can range from mere shelter against the elements to highly specific functional spaces such as laboratories. The theories of phenomenology such as those of Juhani Pallasmaa (The eyes of the skin) offers insight into the perceptive and experiential qualities of space but fails to take into account the sense of place that is inherent to spaces. Kant’s description of space as “forms of intuition” and the understanding of causality that constitute “reality” can been seen as a better description of the way in which humans perceive space. This recognizes the fact that a given context, practice, culture, religion or various other factors influence the manner in which space is produced. These factors contribute to the identity of the space, which would be completely lost if ignored in the understanding of the production of space.

    • JP Redona

      Space is perceived by many as being empty, abstract, and only characterized by what we can see. From what I can gather Lefebvre argues, in his “Production of Space”, that space, the place where all activity occurs, is created by people and that space is unique to each society that creates it. He also suggests that space does not start out as being ready made or complete, but that it has a history which starts to produce space. For example, Port Elizabeth’s historical areas such as Richmond Hill, provides a glimpse into the past of how space was traditionally created compared to Summerstrand modernist spatial planning.

    • tracy haupt

      1 of 2…

      Architecture is all about creating or producing space, it is a common element that all individuals experience. Space must be created in a way in which individuals can relate to as well as understand these spaces in which they find themselves in. Yes it is true that the way in which people experience the space may vary from person to person, however, there is still one common element: that space still exists. Furthermore, space can only exist if humans exist, as it is humans that bring meaning, life and existence to these spaces. Without them, every ‘space’ would essentially be exactly the same, essentially making space not really existing at all. Similarly relating to the statement of Lefebvre’s view of space, ‘Space is not passively given but actively produced by human beings’ – whereby space only exists because of humans.
      Architects play a pivotal role when it comes to dealing with space. Architecture is a phenomenal tool that can be used through the use of certain elements, time, materiality, the use of natural light and the play of light and shadows to help evoke the senses and experiences within each space – either consciously or subconsciously. Space must relate to the current human activity taking place. This activity is quintessentially linked to time, human need as well as place.

    • tracy haupt

      2 of 2…

      To me sustainable architecture doesn’t always relate necessarily to the ‘green’ architecture we have come to know, but a more holistic approach in the spaces created and how these spaces can be flexible or adapt to the human needs or their activities that change over time – dynamically shaping space as need be. The way in which phenomenologist approach design and create spaces is another form of sustainable methods.

    • Q Murdoch

      Concordantly, this article illustrates the awareness of a space through architecture that is a direct tool for the sustainable measure of the quality of life for us human beings. Or rather what that quality should be. If the production of space as understood from Lefebvre, constitutes the importance of responding to our surroundings, we can understand that the production of space is the resulting factor of whatever influences the person at a given time. Therefore, spaces evolve just as influences change on the part of the individual. First-person computer games can influence a person’s reality on what he/she spatially perceives as real or physically possible therefore altering the individuals notion of “conceived space”. Spaces that inhibit the virtual world have a massive influence in how a person effectively ‘produce space’ and as a consequence whether or not an individual can act on the ‘fourthfold’. Technology, cyberspace, is becoming a delimiting factor towards this and that it embodies no human contact with the earth as a unified organism. Therefore, Heidegger’s “fourthfold” is definately a good means for architects to grasp with the art of good space-making in the face of a detached world. There must be a highly adopted sensitivity to context and the way architects go about to design. Therefore, the design will reflect the person’s own analytic process that exists in their own world view.

    • Crystal Botma

      I really enjoyed this article. For me this article is very insightful and educational. The whole time while reading, i remembered this book i read about ‘The Origin Of House’ and from prehistoric age how one space (such as the cave) evolved and developed into the complex plans accommodating multiple activities and types of behaviours. Like you stated above that spaces is always subject to social, economical and political factors created by humans and in this book i read i did find it very interesting how the role of spaces if compared to 100years back have changed and how spaces gained hierarchy through this change. A very simple example to use could be the kitchen, how it evolved from a ‘back room’ workshop where only servants would be into a ‘new family room’.

      The arrangements of spaces is instinctive ability all humans possess how we adopt to time and trend in creating new meanings for a space, Because time and space go hand-on-hand

    • Bashara Van Den Heever

      Space is the core of architecture. In order to design, it is necessary to conceive and think about architectural space surrounding us. This kind of awareness helps us to decide on the principles and concepts of our desired space. Space is more than a simple vacuum that surrounds us. As architects we design spaces which are intimately experience daily, but in this ‘accelerated’ time where people are constantly aware of time, people are now less aware of spaces. This seems wrong.

      Spaces are subjectively understood as ‘perceived’ space and ‘conceived’ space depending on their past experience and and their experience while being there. At the end of the day it is people’s perceptions of how great, or not so great, their places are that matters most. As architects we must be aware of the ways that people understand space and how to better make people aware of space and it is the human body that emanates the structural qualities of architecture.

    • J. Pretorius

      According to Wikipedia, Space is the boundless Three-dimensional extent in which objects and events have relative position and direction and in later times, TIME has been considered to form part of a boundless four-dimensional continuum.

      Architects produce space in three dimensions only – so what happens to the “fourth dimension” ? You cant see “time” , but that doesn’t mean that you cant perceive it. What if “time” is the variable, any variably! Much like an occasion or the placement of objects or furniture that can transform that space to fulfil ones needs at that specific point in time. These variables changing the gathering and movement patterns as soon as they are placed there, and the physical three-dimensional space stays exactly the same.

      So I want to be bold enough to say: The conceived space + perceived space = lived space OR in other words the physical three dimensional space (architect) together with the objects/furniture (inhabitant) will directly lead to how that space would be used.

      People and their taste differ, and that is a good thing, the way in which we experience a space and the potentials of that space also differ.

    • Dyl Monsma

      As an architecture student, we must not focus solely on the walls and physical structures we create but also on the spaces that those structure create in a secondary sense. We must be conscious of spaces and of all aspects of such. It is important to understand the relationship people have with their surrounding spaces, shared by the functions those spaces contain. These spaces should not be rigid, they should be flexible enough to allow the user to mould said space to suit their needs. The awareness of these spaces is the most important aspect in recognising them.

      With regards to sustainability, Jan Gel puts it into perspective in his experimental video installation, “Life between buildings”. In this installation he says, “Throughout history, human beings have been dedicated to creating small, intimate, safe and friendly spaces. It is only in the last century that we have built spaces in a faster and bigger way, and the human scale has been forgotten in this process. This has created a striking difference between the really big and impersonal, and the small and intimate. When we understand how the body functions we are able to create environments that fir our basic human needs.”

    • Ivana Simic

      I’m not quite sure that I fully understand what he means by the 3 types of produced space, but what I do want to say is that we (especially as architects) need to think very carefully about WHAT kind of spaces we are trying to produce, because they reflect on our values as human beings, and they have huge consequences-
      The book Rethinking Architecture by Raymond Lifchez paints a good picture of what is possible; ‘Architecture should be enabling. The architect should make it possible for people to have encounters with an environment that makes them able to do more, to know more, to experience the world in ways that augment, rather than diminish, their sense of dignity and competence and joy, and that awaken their interest in one another. Architecture can do that- the light that enters a room and washes softly across walls all through the day, the outlook that brings evidence of the seasons, a path that allows gracious movement between rooms indoors and out, the structure that allows choices between being enclosed and protected or enjoying the outlook and exposure. All these add to the course of a day. They enable us to be more aware, more confidently a part of the world than we might otherwise be.’
      Instead we very often see spaces that are distant from reality, lonely, and fake. And I think this reflects on our values, which are driven by capitalist consumerism.

    • Mcoseleli jafta

      perceived space
      conceived space
      lived space

      Interesting- this caught my attention, because very often we find architects conceptualizing yet the very person they’re conceptualizing for perceives and experiences the space differently?

      but is this a problem? how do architects avoid being misunderstood? do they spend more time with the user-group of the space or does the answer again lie in how well the architect makes an effort in getting to know the user group he’s designing the space for?

    • Zamubuntu Sipuka(206014929)

      The idea of spatial perception is a relative term and can be intimately expressed by the end-user or inhabitant.

      Leffebvre’s understanding of space sets a framework for theoretical discourse and formulates boundaries for which space can be defined and identified to serve varying purposes. Indeed a very insightful read that equips me as a student with knowledge of defining space as that which is given character and meaning by the user and the role of the architect is therefore to provide a platform where a multitude of possibilities can occur, setting ablaze an endless experiential product.

      Henri Lefebvre’s “Production of space” & Heidegger’s notion on the ‘fourfold’, highlights the relevance of responding to our surroundings. Through the knowledge of cultural, socioeconomic, physical & political activities relevant to place or place specific(a critical regionalist approach) the architect is able to define and shape the space to be experienced through perception & representation.

      Under his(the architect) capacity by mere definition of space as expressed by Lefebvre_ the architect is not only concerned with the functional & artistic end but must draw even conceptual ideas from the immediate environment(a social engineer if you will).

    • Neumbo Kadhikwa s210030208

      After reading this article once, and then reading it three more times, my interpretation of space as neutral void seems anything but insightful. In my mind space is (or was) this vast emptiness in which physical entities continue to exist with space being independent of them (I relate this to the vastness of the universe and all things that exist within it). Lefebvre, however, defines space as the product of human beings.
      Having this in mind I’m inclined to think that space is never actually anywhere unless it is defined in some way by people, animals and even plants and ultimately by nature. If there is no physical or implied boundary to it then what is there if not space?

      The fact that space does not exist absolutely in itself and is relative to the effects of humans and nature supports your notion, Bert, that space is truly ideal, since we as humans have to mould or shape it, mark it, express it etc. in order to make any sense of it. Nature does the same although with more time and evolution.
      Lefebvre’s three modes of spatial production: ‘spatial practices’, ‘representations of space’ and ‘representational space’ respective of the three spaces produced: the perceived, conceived and the lived, give further insight into the nature of spaces relative to its inhabitants. Of course, this thing of taking the emptiness in the air and actively shaping it into space can only be known as architecture.

      The psychology of architectural spaces relates to the psychologies of…

    • T.Abdol (204008875)

      We all perceive space differently and I agree with Lefebvre when he regards space as the product of human beings’ actions. In my mind, space was always ‘just there’ until and unless something gets done to it or its surroundings which converts it from being just a space to a space of meaning or place.

      The notion of spaces having more importance and hierarchy over another is only because of the human interaction and the response from humans towards it. Take for example the two different spaces, a hall vs a lobby, they are different types of spaces but the one is obviously of more importance as a preconceived idea or because of its size and hierarchical attributes but those spaces mean absolutely nothing if its empty and not interacted with by humans.

      The issue of time and space is also very important, as spaces can have various degrees of importance depending on the time when the ‘importance’ is measured. For example, the freshly built stadiums and buildings in Athens, Greece for the Olympics in 2004 were wonderful pieces of architecture at the relevant time. The buildings were spaces full of people and interaction but now, 10 years later, barren . What happened? It’s the same building in the same location but the only difference is Time. Timeless time is the goal and Human interaction is the key.

      In my opinion, one of the greatest joys for an architect is to create space which people have and will always love to interact with.

    • s211061190

      In the past, the world has always been sacred, but now we live in a secular world which has become neutral. Our fast paced, technological world no longer has space for religion & consequently with the loss of religion comes a culture which is fast becoming watered down into a culture of global “sameness”. Thus we have begun to create a world where space is neutral, although to some people who structure their life around direction space will not be neutral.
      The spaces which we create are spaces which no longer have meaning, but merely mimic other spaces. An example of this is Monte Casino in Johannesburg. One can feel Italy without actually going to the country & then again one can be in a certain part of Italy & not even know they are there, because there are no regional characteristics within the present day buildings which differentiate them from each other.
      As mentioned in class; “In the 1950’s when The Space of Flows began, people began to lose their ethos.” It is up to us as emerging architects to return the ethical function of architecture, which is to create an ethos for people; to feel a sense of purpose in the world. The whole world is becoming a global village & with that we are losing the character of our spaces, the uniqueness of place & space has been reduced to being negative as it is merely a medium in which to move, not to enjoy. We need to create places which stand out from the globalised village & stir within the user a sense…

    • http://www.koniqs.com Kounikui Karihindi 214305058

      Space does not exist on its own it has a setting and as such due diligence is necessary to incorporate as much as possible the locality ‘spatial practices’, history and the “passive spaces” of Lefebvre etc. These can become drivers that can inform the process of the generation of space. It must not however be taken for granted as an only criteria for the generation of space.

      It is inevitable that the need to do justice to human spatial needs comes at a cost or into contradiction to due sensitivity to nature and place, needed to produce sustainable the design for space. Cultivating sound ethos and ethics of good practice can be the solution to the conflict and a good architect would be one who does well to do this without necessarily ignoring the abstract.

      Lefebvre’s tripartite model, Heidegger’s “fourfold”, together with Bert’s “world” and “earth” present a good enough model to start from, I say. In order for architecture to be “sustainable” it has to in a sense totally detach itself of what it is or ‘unpick’ itself as Deridda would say i.e. the architect would have to somehow forego their intuitive instinct in his role as a designer which in real life actually would reshape the role of an architect if not nearly encroach it or open it to endless possibilities.

    • Sheree Marinus – 210014814

      Literally, space is a volume that is affected by its height, width and depth. Space is nothing, until it is defined by certain constraints, not necessarily physical. It is affected by many architectural aesthetics, such as how light enters a specific realm for example. As architecture students, we are taught from an early stage what ‘space’ is and how it contributes to the way one feels in that space. There are spaces that are formed according to its typography, for example, if one looks at the space within a church – it has certain characteristics that gives the space its spiritual essence, particularly, the space is created to make one feel that there is a greater being. This is a specific type of space that is being created, it is a space that one would perceive it to be. If one takes a look at a conceived space, it is a space that has been perceived, but it is conceived in a certain way to suit the ‘lived’, if I understand this correctly. The ‘lived’ spaces are related to what was conceptualized or represented. It is because of the ‘representational space’ that there is a ‘lived’ space that accommodates inhabitants. These three types of spaces are interlinked with one another. Space is measured through what human beings produce according to their needs. These needs change over time, therefore space cannot be seen as a fixed template, but a constant process.

    • Mario van Wyk (208042019)

      An Italian architect, Renato Rizzi talked once talked about materiality and the immateriality. The two fundamental modes in which we operate as designers. Immateriality is not bound by legal rules and scientific laws, but purely an imaginative ideology or an idea that is yet to be formalized. In order for the immateriality to become materialized, it has to pass through certain filters to become acceptable to society and the laws of physics. In our understanding of this process, it makes sense to put our efforts into understanding this complex “filtration device”. Just like photographers with different lenses for their cameras, architects should take special care in applying the respective filtration device to their immaterial universe, therefor ensuring that ideas are not inconsiderately imposed resulting in questionable space.

    • Anita Ferreira 210030119

      As architecture students we get taught to analize the context and the program of a project to create spaces which embodies the core sense of these two elements.

      Architecture is created for people, and thus the experience of these spaces, which are created, differs from person to person since each person is different and will percieve things differently.

      With all this in mind I believe we should rely not only on the theory taaught to us, but also largely on existing spaces. By analizing them we can identify where they failed and where they succeeded. Through this study we can can learn out of the mistakes and build on the success.

    • Awwal Elabor s209039098

      We all know what is meant when we say a room in an apartment, the comer of a street, a market place, etc. This is all variations of space. I accept Heidegger articulate formation of space where he states the four elements of the fourfold are earth and sky, divinities and mortals. The fourfold is a kind of fullness which is a part of dwelling. This unity of the fourfold cannot be divided into its components and each one of these can only be what it is only when the others are kept in mind.
      Space however is always contextualized, we always relate it to some programme or activity, and this goes together with social, economic and political factors created by humans.

    • s210045736

      Space is to place as time is to occasion. What is space, an uninterrupted medium that cannot be comprehended by the human mind as space has always occurred to us. Even the blind has a sense of what is around him and the awareness of being in spaces that have different spirits about them by senses other than sight. So that’s where architecture comes into place, space is a little more than just a volume, it’s an assembly of planes and surfaces, feelings, and threshold that bring about emotions of the nature they are.As humans we experience of place in space needs activity for it to thrive. There needs a sense of sort about it to give it place and character as to what it is. We contextualize and conceive spaces and allocate them a sort of activity (econmical,social, cultural,etc) and almost imbed a meaning behind its existence. By knowing how architecture is conceived or where we come from through theory, it creates a greater understanding between the syntax of spaces and the forms we wanting to be creating or recreating in fact, that is sustainable and meets the human requirements it needs to full fill in order to create spaces for people, and not a machine like capitalistic world. As architects as I got from Lefebrve’s model, was that it is our responsibility to be creating a world that educates and broadens the understanding of sustainability, and this can be done through design and the understanding of our past and future theoretical framework.

    • jared

      Lefebvre, defines space as the product of human beings. As space does not exist by itself, it is dependent on the effects of humans and nature. The nature of spaces are relative to its inhabitants, shaped by humans and nature, which mould it into an expression of meaning.
      The role of architects is the creation of spaces, and with every design, the question of how space should be produced should be asked, the architect is responsible for setting up thresholds creating the nature of spaces and the effects they have on the person who perceives them, Humans respond differently to various spaces, experience different emotional responses depending on the spaces we occupy.
      As people responsible for the creation of space, architectural students should be educated on the forms of traditional space making, as it stands as a precedent for how we should approach it in the present time.
      In the digital age of technology, there is a need for people stop and realize dehumanization of spaces, there is a loss of physical interaction between people and the spaces they inhabit. We are leading toward a globalised, universal condition, a society around placeless mega-cities, spaces are losing their sense of meaning.