The Matter of the Manor

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

Description of Activity

Buildings decay and mutate, they are made of hybrid assemblages of material sourced from near and far…. ‘they are emergent mosaics of various temporalities, collages of matter characterised by an incessant becoming’. Our interest is in historic places where space, time, materials and people are intertwined in an unfolding process, where the past dwells on in the spectral traces of absent things, of past people, objects and events, of longings, desires and gestures. We investigate the disciplinary territory that lies in the overlap between interior design and conservation practice by focusing on ways of conceptualising historic interiors as unfinished sites of experience that are loaded with affective capacity.

Our work uses an uninhabited 16th-century timber-framed manor house as a case study. Here we propose that the house is experienced all the more poignantly as it hangs in a liminal state prior to any programme of restoration and reuse which aspires to implement a unifying scheme leading to a fixed and static end point. In particular, we examine the ongoing processes at work in a decaying timber floor joist and the affective capacities elicited by the natural and cultural agencies at work and the absences and presences that the timber suggests.

The work responds to the call from feminist philosophers as Elizabeth Grosz to rethink the body through its materiality and to think about it in terms of surfaces, ‘rotations, convolutions, inflections, and torsions of the body itself,’ to look at alternative modes of engaging with space which are excluded from dominant male practice. It aims to think about the representation of space from the inside out, through explorations of interiority and embodied practices and how these can be applied to the discipline of architecture.

We propose to deliver both a paper providing the context for our investigations and a workshop where participants are invited to contribute their own creative engagements with the decaying floor joist which aim to document its imaginative promptings.
Period4 Nov 20165 Nov 2016
Held atRoyal Holloway University of London, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • matter
  • representation
  • affect