By making an acrobatic time jump, we can go back to the origins of our products and identify ourselves with the primordial humans: the space around us is natural, and a balance between appropriation and domination is slowly taking place. Is that primordial man aware of the product developing through his actions? 

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space in dubai_©Ugne Gelgotaite

The space we know and live in today is developed on many levels, which appear as nuanced and abstract as concrete. It’s undoubtedly physical, visible, and tangible, but it doesn’t stop there. It is semiological, which implies a structuring of the space necessary for its complete understanding. With his incredibly efficient epistemological-philosophical perspective, Lefebvre has divided space and its production into three categories: spatial practice, representations of space, and representational space. 

The spatial practice is lived before its conceptualization; it was the space before the conscious production of itself. The representations of space and the symbolic areas are the pieces of the universe we live and experience daily; connections, ideas, and awareness of space are born. In its broadest and most concrete function, space defines, unites, and separates, in a few words, categorizes. 

Categorization is a necessary prerogative for a cognitive man’s understanding. It’s the mother of the idea of inside and out, and therefore of belonging and discrimination. Man, as a mental and emotional machine, understands space thanks to the perception he has of the outside of himself: a space built around a sensory body allows the awakening of the senses, the communication between stimulus and brain, the perception of one’s own body and of what is outside. The categorization I mentioned before is the backbone of our memorization and understanding.  

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unconscious human and space interaction_©Ugne Gelgotaite

Having clarified this, is the idea of existence without space possible? 

If Lefebvre was correct in his assumptions, one should imagine a highly different man of parallel existence than our neurological man, made of thoughts and actions and highly vulnerable to his environment. Space exists because it’s a social product, a complex and continuous human product. It became mandatory to imagine an environment without space to imagine a man unable or unwilling to produce, which is extremely difficult. 

Yet there is a type of man today that has reached a productive typology, such as capable of eliminating the physical aspect, the tangible, and any authentic sensory possibilities. The internet has generated a chain effect that allows us to live without human or material contact. Like an ironic type of Damocles’ sword, we have the possibility of a metaphysical existence around the corner, far from perceptible space, a space created ad hoc to our needs. This desired area is separate from real space. 

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nature and space-making_©Ugne Gelgotaite

Until a few years ago, the closest idea of non-space we could relate to was Marc Auge’s suggestion of a non-place. It doesn’t consist of a devoid of space, it exists through a real architectural and social space, but its physical configuration passes into the background to give full room to the social production of space. In places such as airports, shopping malls, and – I would add – churches and graveyards, the materiality of the walls, floors, and decorations become completely unnoticed in front of the heavy concentration of strangers in an almost-relation to each other. The alienated sharing of a defined space is a non-place, but these are still accumulations that occur in a physical and, indeed, semiotic space. 

Architecture without space, an existence without its physical context, is quickly becoming possible due to technological improvement and creative freedom. Yet, this new possibility doesn’t respond to the urges of our complex present time. 

To be honest and alive, a context must evolve and preserve its essence and, equivalently, avoid becoming a monument; since man already has his temporal mania, it needs to highlight the present and commemorate the past through the construction of astonishing and sophisticated monuments. One space that needs careful and concrete attention now, even if it’s nearly already late, is the educational environment. School physical system, especially in European contexts, with significant evidence of those of the Mediterranean states, requires extreme care and reappropriation of its time if it wants to avoid its semiotic and material death and become a non-place firstly, and then a dead-place. 

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motion is possible due to space_s existence_Ugne Gelgotaite

Space without society exists and is the most natural imaginable, while organization without space takes on macabre and, at the same time, radically possible forms. Owing to the fundamental human characteristic of appropriating everything around, space has also had to adapt and regenerate several times during our relationship with it. This delicate and profound relationship becomes toxic when space is brutally dominated to become the mere producer of man’s desired goods. Space is the largest and most important container of economic, sociological, ecological, political, commercial, national, global, and above all, energetic objects. If we understand the narrow relation that goes through a container and what’s inside, we must also get that its care is not apparent.

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humanity and space_©Ugne Gelgotaite
what is a space without humanity_©Ugne Gelgotaite

Ugne Gelgotaite, an Italian-Lithuanian artist and student, is guided by intuition and a design-thinking approach. She sharpened her interest in urban design by studying semiotics, neuromarketing, and communication. She is developing a critical and proactive point of view about research, with structuralism and epistemological optics toward the world.