The Secret Lives of Buildings: An Exercise in Building Stories

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

Abstract / Description of output

The Secret Lives of Buildings: From the Ruins of the Parthenon to the Vegas Strip, was published in 2009. The book, written by the author of this paper, is an anthology of folk tales about buildings, from the Parthenon, to the Holy House of Loreto, and the Berlin Wall.

The Secret Lives of Buildings was an experiment in narrative form. On the one hand, the structure of each of the stories sought to imitate that other narrative structure – the structure of the subject building – not only in space, but also as it developed and altered over time. This latter structure was compared to that of a folk tale that changes with every retelling; and writing the book involved developing a language and tropes that drew on the rich folk tradition, from the fairy tale to the urban myth.

This paper is an exercise in reflection. It will provide a critique of the writing of The Secret Lives of Buildings, setting the process in its critical context, and asking a very simple question: how can something as inflexible as language describe something as protean as a building?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOnce Upon a Place
Subtitle of host publicationArchitecture and Fiction
Place of PublicationLisbon
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • architecture
  • creative writing


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