Regulatory spaces, physical and metaphorical: On the legal and spatial occupation of fire-safety legislation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper considers the design of the built environment as a ‘regulatory space’ [Hancher & Moran 1989] comprised of simultaneously legal and spatial opportunities for occupation. Taking a series of Acts of fire safety legislation, its studies the effects they have had on the built fabric of the City of Edinburgh, reading the city both as a history of competing govern-mentalities [Dean 2009], but also as catalogue of their un-foreseen consequences, a space through which alternative concerns emerge, and are accommodated. Focussing then on contemporary debates surrounding the promise of performance-based codes for fire-safety, it considers how architects have been involved in shaping this simultaneously legal and spatial context. Drawing on existing technical literatures [Brannigan 2000], it will suggest that the governing rationale of such codes depends upon an aesthetic connection between scientific and political notions of economy, one which obscures the fundamental goal of such standardisation - the setting of socially acceptable margins of safety. The paper concludes with a search for alternative aesthetic compacts which study the spatial side-effects of prescriptive standardisation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIndustries of Architecture
EditorsKatie Lloyd Thomas, Nick Beech, Tilo Amhoff
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Print)9781138946828
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventAHRA Annual Conference 2014: Industries of Architecture - Newcastle University, Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Nov 201415 Nov 2014

Publication series

NameCritiques: Critical Studies in Architectural Humanities


ConferenceAHRA Annual Conference 2014: Industries of Architecture
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Architecture
  • Regulatory Space
  • Risk
  • Fire Safety


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