Inhabiting the Informational:

Foucault’s bio-politics and the economics of the panopticon interior


  • Sarah Jozefiak University of Newcastle
  • Michael Ostwald University of Newcastle



Interior, Foucault, Interiority


In the late twentieth century Michel Foucault argued that the relationship between the interior and the economy was necessarily an intricate and contingent one. This condition was nowhere more evident than in the case of storage for medical records. Foucault explicitly drew attention to the way in which scientific records de-personalise the individual, establishing a ‘bio-political’ power structure. However, whereas the power relations implicit in some institutional buildings could be understood architecturally, the problems of bio-politics are more closely tied to issues of interiority. In particular, the connection between the body, its representation in the form of medical data, and the sequencing and storage of this data, are all problems of the interior. In response to this realisation, through the analysis of theory and design, this paper investigates the practice of storing medical records as an unexplored dimension of institutional space and as a reflection of the shift from a phenomenological way of thinking to one concerned with the economics of labour. In parallel with a proposal for a theoretical design for a medical archive, this research examines the changing nature of the interior in the wake of the institutionalisation of data that has occurred in the digital era and begins to develop a reading of the spatial implications of bio-politics.


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Author Biographies

Sarah Jozefiak, University of Newcastle

Sarah Jozefiak is a graduate of the University of Newcastle architecture program, having completed her Masters degree in 2009. With thesupport of a postgraduate scholarship, she is currently undertaking a PhD at Newcastle on Franz Kafka and the crisis of the modern interior. Sarah is an award winning photographer and designer who has presented and published papers on architectural theory.

Michael Ostwald, University of Newcastle

Michael J. Ostwald is Professor and Dean of Architecture, and an ARC Future Fellow, at the University of Newcastle, Australia. He is on the editorial boards of ARQ, Architectural Theory Review and the Nexus Network Journal: Architecture and Mathematics.




How to Cite

Jozefiak, Sarah, and Michael Ostwald. 2011. “Inhabiting the Informational:: Foucault’s Bio-Politics and the Economics of the Panopticon Interior”. Idea Journal 11 (1):8-19.



Design Research Paper