The Production of Space was written by French philosopher and sociologist Henri Lefebvre in 1974. In this book, Henri Lefebvre seeks to bridge the gap between the realms of theory and practice, between the mental and the social. Also, art, literature, architecture, and economics serve as bridges between philosophy and reality. So, the book focuses on producing real space rather than things in space. The book is interested in situating space in its social context and production method. According to Lefebvre, space and time are socially produced. He mentions this idea in his book, The Production of Space. To understand this book better, it is important to comprehend Lefebvre’s point of view and, thus, his life.
Henri Lefebvre | Henri Lefebvre
Henri Lefebvre was a French Marxist and Existentialist philosopher and sociologist born in the south of France in 1901 and died in France in 1991. He witnessed World War II, modernisation, suburbanisation, and economic industrialisation throughout his life. These circumstances led him to Marx and Hegel’s philosophies and social criticism and ultimately to the Parti Communiste Francais (PCF). He developed a close relationship with French architects in the 1960s. Eventually, his philosophical work was produced due to the aggregation of these various topics.
He wrote over sixty books and three hundred articles in his career. He questioned the international fame of the over-specialization of academic disciplines and their division into many disciplines such as planning, geography, surveying, architecture, sociology, psychology, etc., which dealt with space and other human geography issues. He was also one of the original thinkers who established the importance of understanding behaviour in the context of everyday modern life.
The Production of Space
Even today, The Production of Space is still an enlightening and essential book that should be read not only in terms of philosophy but also in other academic fields such as urban planning, architecture, etc. Understanding the production of space from Lefebvre’s perspective is critical for making complete sense of space. Lefebvre’s interdisciplinary approach provides the reader with a new perspective on our world. The book focuses on how an understanding of space can shape a place.
According to Henri Lefebvre, lived space, perceived space, and conceived space are the three inseparable notions of the production of space. However, in scientific practices, the perceived, conceived, and lived dimensions of space are separated. Moreover, space cannot be grasped through the abstraction of different dimensions. All should be considered together. After all, he defines the production of space as a triple dialectic process, with its three different but inseparable dimensions mentioned above.
Space is neither just an abstraction nor a concrete, physical thing. It is both a concept and a reality in all its dimensions and forms. Lefebvre connects the perceived, conceived, and lived dimensions of sociality, material, conceptual, and symbolic production through spatial practice, representations of space, and spaces of representation. It thinks about space in terms of both concrete materiality and abstract concepts and experiences. Therefore, space is simultaneously individual and social. Also, Lefebvre believes dialectical space is philosophical, practical, political, and strategic.
Lefebvre argues that capitalist societies produce abstract space, characterised by the dominance of mental space over natural and social ones. The relationship between capitalism and abstract space is embodied in Bauhaus‘s homogeneous and uniform state architecture. Thinking about time and space can be linked to social practices. Such as industrial production, architecture, and urban studies. To Lefebvre, social space replaces abstract space in urban studies and architectural projects. The architect, the producer of space, reproduces the tangible world. However, this space forces the re-coding of reality. Even if the architect grasps it strongly, truth eludes him in the processes of coding and decoding by drawing. The architect confuses projection and projects a false idealism that he believes to be real.
Conclusion | Henri Lefebvre
There is no single general definition of space. Throughout history, space has been defined in many different ways. For example, distinctions such as architectural space according to architecture, space-time according to mathematics and physics, and geographical, economic, and political space defined according to the social sciences. The main theme of the book can be explained as “Change life! Change society! These precepts mean nothing without the production of an appropriate space. New social relationships call for a new space, and vice versa.” Lefebvre’s words. The way that society is perceived is altered by Lefebvre’s triple dialectic of space. The existence of space influences society. In the book, Lefebvre gives society a new perspective and various viewpoints show up to consider.
The book may not be described as fluid. Although it is sometimes tiring to read Lefebvre’s intense ideas about space, it becomes easier to read as you begin understanding the ideas. The book was published in 1974, and it has yet to lose its validity today. Anyone who wants to grasp space, especially architects, should read this book repeatedly.
Reference List :
- Henri, Lefebvre and Nicholson-Smith, D. (2013). The Production of Space. [online] Available at: https://monoskop.org/images/7/75/Lefebvre_Henri_The_Production_of_Space.pdf.
- Kurulu, Y., Gür, B., Bilsel, C., Ergut, A., Akın, E., Söyler, F., Özaloğlu, S., Koordinatörü, D., Hazırlayanlar, Y., Aygün, D., Tasarım, G., Çakmak, H., Uygulama, G. and Düzgün, S. (n.d.). TMMOB Mimarlar Odası Ankara Şubesi Adına Sahibi ve Yazı İşleri Müdürü Nimet Özgönül. [online] Available at: http://www.mimarlarodasiankara.org/dosya/dosya17.pdf [Accessed 21 Jan. 2023].
- Urban Design Group. (2021). The Production of Space | Urban Design Library. [online] Available at: https://www.udg.org.uk/publications/udlibrary/production-space.