The Social Production of Interiority:
an Activity Theory approach
Keywords:Spatialisation, Interiority, Spatial design
Postmodern transformations in philosophy, the humanities and the social sciences have led to new ways of interpreting the social production of space and the spatialisation of social and cultural phenomena. Emergent discussions about interiors and interiority typically emphasise the social nature of space, while related research examines the complexities of socio-spatial phenomena. This paper contributes to this growing body of literature by introducing an alternative view of interiority. More specifically, the phenomenon of interiority is viewed as a by-product of the processes of the social production of space and the appropriation of space through instrumental activities and symbolic interaction. Interiority is seen as first emerging with considerations for comfort and convenience; later branching out to embrace concerns related to experience, productivity, and efficiency. More concretely, interiority can be viewed as providing the necessary conditions for social agents to undertake their activities, as well as protecting them from undesirable influences. Activity is perceived as the major mechanism for the appropriation of space and also for endowing it with the quality of interiority. By interpreting interiority this way, it becomes possible to dematerialise it and liberate it from the constraints of structures, building shells, and technical systems, as well as the problems associated with them. This alternative approach will facilitate the incorporation of knowledge and methodologies developed in the social sciences and cultural studies for the purpose of producing knowledge in the areas of design research, programming/briefing, and space planning.
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