‘… for what we call everydayness is not obvious but opaque: a kind of blindness or anaesthesia.’(Perec, 1974)
Society is stuck in daily routines; everyday we take the same train, we sit in the same spot at work, we are surrounded by the same people with the same opinions (Hagenaars, 2004). Unconsciously, we are lived by our expectations, led by social norms and conventions. Often we are unaware of this.
Life can be much richer if we would subvert or escape from these routines every once in a while. These routines prevent us from seeing everything that there is. Our expectations need to be subverted.
In our public space many daily routines play alongside each other. It is a place where people adapt themselves the most to social norms and conventions. For example: in the face of society we refrain from skipping, no matter how much it could improve your mood (van Luyn, 2016). However, it is also in public space where the promise of freedom is to be found, where there is room for creativity, adventure and potential beauty (Karskens, 2003). This richness can be revealed by subverting your expectations.
The subversion of your expectations can make you more aware of the public space around you. It can motivate you to use that space, it can initiate encounters, raise questions and start discussions. It can increase the feeling of collectivity.
Usually, it is reserved for artists to make people look at the world differently (Hagenaars, 2004). But precisely because architecture is much more common, much more everyday, than art, it is architecture that has the possibility to, unexpectedly, subvert our expectations and wake us up.
The architect should play a role in the subversion of our expectations. They should learn how subversion works and how it can be achieved.
Hagenaars, H. (2004). Wie een stad bouwt heeft kunst nodig. Lectoraat Art & Public Space, Gerrit Rietveld Academie. Retrieved from https://laps-rietveld.nl/?p=550
Karskens, X. (2003). Ruimte in de openbare kunst. Lectoraat Art & Public Space, Gerrit Rietveld Academie. Retrieved from https://laps-rietveld.nl/?p=545
Luyn van, T. (2016, December 17). Liever huppelen dan lopen. Volkskrant Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws-achtergrond/liever-huppelen-dan-lopen~bfe00d86/
Perec, G. (1974). Espèces d’espaces. (cite from book cover) France, Éditions Galilée. Book retrieved from https://www.scribd.com/doc/152498669/Especes-d-espaces-Georges-Perec-Galilee-1992