Journal Article

Turning Architecture Inside Out: Revolving Doors and Other Threshold Devices

Laurent Stalder

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 22, issue 1, pages 69-77
Published in print March 2009 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online March 2009 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jdh/epn047
Turning Architecture Inside Out: Revolving Doors and Other Threshold Devices

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Architecture, in a historical deterministic perspective, can be viewed as a technological system that is expressed in ‘objective’ parameters such as construction, material or functional operations. Correspondingly, the history of architecture can be understood as a history of its technological development, which is focusing on innovations. Yet, architecture is not only technology but also belongs to the field of commodities. Accordingly, the technological developments not only lead to the change of the built environment but also to a change of their experience and their use. Biometric controls, motion detectors and different media of telecommunication such as the Intercom lead to an extension and change of the perception of the human environment. Nevertheless, the origin and the significance of these technological developments can only be understood within a wider cultural context, as an expression of new, real or imagined needs, or as their representation. This article uses the architecture of the threshold as an example to examine these questions. The threshold separates the public and private sphere, private and common property and self-determined and over-directed action. As an architectural element or spatial configuration, it highlights historically specific, culturally determined zones of transition, in which certain gestures and activities are performed.

Keywords: architecture; design theory; human body; modernity; technology; threshold

Journal Article.  4443 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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