An Inquiry into the Re-Creative Workings of the Unheimliche in Interior Architecture
Doctoral thesis, 2015
Often left unspecified in architectural discourse, the unheimliche (or the uncanny) emerges as a puzzling concept that operates in various disciplines throughout history and geography. The unheimliche concept continuously moves between disciplines, minds, periods and places. In so doing, the workings of the unheimliche curiously articulate them as allied together.
Four interrelated angles scanned how these transitory shifts of the unheimliche occurred in time and space. (1) The unheimliche as a discourse featured a series of unheimliche themes written by established authors who incite the reader to unsettlement and re-thinking; (2) The unheimliche as an experience surveyed how beholders received and endured an unsettling endeavour that ultimately energized them. (3) The unheimliche as a design approach devised an altered status of the designer and the discipline by investigating the faculties of the un-preferred and not knowing. (4) The unheimliche as a pedagogic approach relocated affective issues that reside within the mind and memory of learners as issued in a series of research design studios.
Whereas the first angle approached the unheimliche as a theme and discourse, the latter three perspectives explored the unheimliche as a strategy in interior architecture. By implementing the unheimliche experience as a resource for architectural design and education, I found that this experience productively deformed the beholder’s perception of time. It also affected the status of the design discipline and the resources of the designer for architectural design and education. Furthermore it strengthened the position of the learner in becoming a co-researcher and co-creator in a complex network as propelled by events, institutional forces, objects and human desires.
The re-creative workings of the unheimliche advocates interior architecture as an in-between discipline aimed at conceiving places of delight but also learning from abject realities that occur in everyday places. In so doing, the unheimliche in interior architecture does not create novelty but rather amplifies the innate powers of the existent, giving way to a disturbing yet manifold experience: the unheimliche becomes a re-creation of the pre-existent, provoking a re-thinking of the design discipline and all actors concerned.