chapter  23
Mary McLeod
‘Everyday and “Other” Spaces’
Pages 21

One of the primary preoccupations of contemporary architecture theory is the concept of ‘other’ or ‘otherness.’ Members of the so-called neo-avant-garde-

architects and critics frequently affiliated with publications such as Assemblage and ANY and with architecture schools such as Princeton, Columbia, SCI-Arc, and the Architectural Association-advocate the creation of a new architecture that is somehow totally ‘other.’ While these individuals repeatedly decry utopianism and the morality of form, they promote novelty and marginality as instruments of political subversion and cultural transgression. The spoken and unspoken assumption is that ‘different’ is good, that ‘otherness’ is automatically an

improvement over the status quo. While the formal and ideological allegiances of these advocates vary

considerably, most fall into two broad categories. The first consists of self-identified

proponents of deconstruction in architecture, who seek to find an architectural equivalent or parallel to the writings of Jacques Derrida. This group includes the so-called deconstructivists Peter Eisenman, Bernard Tschumi, Andrew Benjamin,

Geoff Bennington, Mark Wigley, and Jeffrey Kipnis.1 The second category is a diverse group of critics and theorists without any collective identity but who are all adherents of Michel Foucault’s notion of ‘heterotopia.’ These include Anthony

The desire for ‘otherness,’ shared by these two groups, raises a series of questions concerning theory’s political and cultural role that have been largely

unexplored in recent architectural debate. To what extent is this preoccupation with ‘otherness’ a product of critics’ and practitioners’ own identity and status? Does it elucidate or support groups considered socially marginal or ‘other’? Are there positions

in architecture outside these two tendencies that address concerns of ‘otherness’ relevant to ‘ordinary’ people-those for whom the avant-garde has little significance?