David Spurr – Keynote Speaker

Architecture and Modern Literature : a Persistent Dialogue

Modern literature, in its fragmentation, its ambiguity, and its exploration of the irrational, is often seen to be at odds with modern architecture, with its geometrical forms, its rational conceptions of space, and its ready adaptation to an industrial economy. In fact these two cultural forms have much in common when we consider how both evolve as reflections of the larger cultural conditions known as modernity. While architecture is the construction of space, literature testifies to the subjective and social experiences of inhabiting that space. The great writers of the age—Proust, Joyce, Kafka—engage in a continuing dialogue with the built environment. At the same time, the architecture of our cities and houses, both ancient and modern, can itself be read as a kind of writing. The constant interplay between architectural and literary works has much to tell us about the way we live now.