Architectures of the Unbuilt Environment

Abstract: This doctoral thesis offers a critical theorization of architecture’s shifting orientations towards the lives that it inevitably shapes and molds. The fourteen essays that comprise this thesis address a range of seemingly superficial transformations in architecture’s disciplinary landscape, which occur in Sweden in the second decade of the twenty-first century. When viewed in aggregate, these transformations point to a decisive shift in what architecture does, evidencing phases of withdrawal (through deregulations and enclosures) and facilitation (through exercises in projection and connection), ultimately suggesting the arrival of a condition that I refer to as the unbuilt environment, wherein the project replaces the building as architecture’s primary outcome. Through this doctoral research, architecture is also examined as a key technology in the neoliberal project. A discipline that is vested in the production of subjects and environments, architecture is shown here to draw, write, and dream forth a vast range of “container technologies” that enclose, move, shape, support, and produce us as subjects, facilitating certain kinds of lives and not others, from the interior out.  The research was motivated by the need to find the words to think, write, transform, and even negate what architecture was doing, when it was doing what it was doing, to lives led and to life itself, in the architectural present. My aim was always to produce thick, transformative, and essayistic theorizations of the state of things, which would be operative in a critical register. I also wanted to show, that the present constitutes a crucial site for the making of architectural theory. In running alongside and in excess of architectural practice, critical architectural theory, I argue, can produce a space for a yet-un-thought architecture: an architecture that might aspire to facilitate life at the scale of the population.