Inhabiting leftovers

Architectural incursions in negative space





The question of the cultural and physical articulation of interior and exterior is far from recent. If modern Western philosophy had identified time with interiority and the spirit, leaving space in a secondary position as the realm of mutability and imperfection, almost two hundred years later this dichotomy continues to evolve. Still, as Sloterdijk recalls, we are immersed in the ‘World Interior of Capital’, which emerges as a hypertrophic system of immunity against the erratic and unreliable exterior.

With regard to architecture, this division between interior and exterior has run parallel to the relation between public and private, city and home, façade and interior architecture. However during and after the so-called spatial turn, architecture as a discipline has experienced how one of its main and almost exclusive instruments has become a transversal element shared and studied from diverse fields and perspectives. Thus, a worth exploring theoretical gap is open within the critical relation between space and architecture, and more specifically within the cultural and spatial readings of the inside and the outside.

This research paper aims at exploring the contemporary understanding of the leftover, which forms the counterpart to hegemonic spatiality, in order to suggest a transfer from the formal dichotomy interior/exterior to a multidimensional comprehension of space, following the philosophical notion of negativity. This contemporary fascination with leftovers is manifest in the work of several authors and artists, such as Slavoj Žižek’s interest in Gould and Lewontin’s ‘spandrels’, the Chapuisat Brothers’ Intra Muros, or Gregor Schneider’s Haus u r. However, these reflections also appeared almost forty years ago when the architect Steven Peterson coined the term ‘negative space’ to designate the hybrid realm in between geometrical constraints and the neutral transparency of modern space. This unmapped, but suggestive lineage suggest a transfer from the formal dichotomy interior/exterior to a multidimensional comprehension of space.




How to Cite

López Marcos, Marta. 2018. “Inhabiting Leftovers: Architectural Incursions in Negative Space”. Idea Journal 16 (1):148-63.



Design Research Paper