Drawing Out the Censors' Room
Keywords:Spatial design, Psychoanalysis, Interior architecture
Psychoanalysts make a distinction between an actual space and the memory of a space; one’s house and the psychic construct of home. The latter, constructed from experiences of the childhood home(s), is a place that holds us, contains us, and is instrumental to functions of anchoring, identity and refueling1 and can be referred to as the ‘first house.’ 2 A gap exists between the actual space and the ‘first house’ as the mind distorts the relationship between actual form and the space in one’s memory; although a childhood home may still exist, it is, at the same time, unreachable. Not only do buildings and particularly their interiors evolve over time through change in use and wear and tear, but so too does the inhabitant. While there are conventions governing the drawing of the structure of a house, the topography of these other less tangible interiors is unstable to say the least and offers an absorbing but slippery territory for any attempt at representation. This paper attempts a description of a ‘first house,’ not of an individual but of an institution, the Royal College of Physicians, London, focusing in particular on a panelled interior known as the Censors’ Room. This paneling has moved with the Physicians over the years, being installed in three consecutive buildings. The proposition is that the ‘first house’ offers a useful analogy to interiority both as an intellectual construct and in the challenges it sets up in terms of representation.
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