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Bollas, C. (2000). Architecture and the Unconscious. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 9(1-2):28-42.

(2000). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 9(1-2):28-42

Architecture and the Unconscious

Christopher Bollas, Ph.D.

The way we plan and live our built environments reflect unconscious forms of thinking realised through architecture. Cities become holding environments that offer inhabitants differing forms of psychic engagement with the object world. The way they are planned and the types of objects they offer add up to degrees of “imageability”, an attribute of any city that could become part of a psychoanalysis of the built world, or what Bachelard termed a “topoanalysis”. Cities also play with life and death as those who inhabit built structures will be outlived by the places they inhabit, yet they enliven the inorganic spaces they construct. All buildings may, then, be forms of death brought into lived experience, and architects negotiate complex issues involving the matriculation of forms of death into human life. The “spirit” of human endeavour needs representation in the built environment and we may consider the ways in which a psychoanalysis of the built world could lead to a psycho-spiritual representation of human life.

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