Taste Untold: Performance as Taste Narrative in Architecture
Central Saint Martins
This research is a theoretical inquiry into the field of taste in architecture, sustained by a tailored research-practice on everyday performativity, situated on Granary Square - London. The project questions how such inquiry could contribute towards more open, negotiated and critical taste narratives and spatial practices, set within the public realm. It explores the agency of performance and performativity in the construction of new understandings of taste within architecture.
The starting point of the thesis is the fact that in architecture, taste has generally been naturalised and made visually recognisable to architects and publics alike within the logic of formal styles, such as classicism, modernism, postmodernism, etc. The research argues, however, that the story line of taste, as offered by sequential changes in style, has left unexplored spaces in connection with a field wider than that of architectural form. The thesis proposes taste as a distinctive internalised system by which architects embody and perform architecture, differentiating themselves as a professional clan.
With this in mind, the project sets out to test contemporary perceptions of taste outside formal cannon. It aims at negotiating distinctions between architects and the larger society in the construction of taste narratives for the profession. Using performance as a method, the project explores how notions of taste play out in the public realm, by focusing on everyday use and cultural programmes. The investigation aims at understanding how notions of style and architectural design, cultural programming and maintenance structures intersect on site, and explores how these intersections affect the construction of taste narratives on chosen locations. The project argues that key constitutive aspects of taste such as class distinctions and power structures, might be visually masked by an accepted and palatable emphasis on formal and stylistic components of architectural taste. It investigates how to enable the temporary visibility of these supressed aspects, through performance.
The location for research-practice, Granary Square, is a privately owned public space (POPS) in London. Performative interventions are set to explore the functional realm and taste narratives in this location, working alongside its stage-managed power structures. The interventions are focused on common acts and gestures such as washing, brushing, sleeping, sitting, standing, reading and drawing. The emerging field of performance architecture provides a base for exploring taste in connection with performativity and performance in architecture, with taste being an issue not yet addressed within the field.