Material Cycles

October 11, 2012

water cycle

“To move beyond ideas behind this book and the physical experience of its ‘objecthood’ involves the recognition of the social and material practices in which its generation is embedded and the forces at work in the realization of objects (and their continuing lives) which range from the conceptual to the practical and technical, to the institutional.” (Lloyd Thomas 2007, p.2)

Water is embedded within the social and material practices of a generation. Its impact on our everyday lives can be seen as something that acts in a network of forces.
The continuous water exchange between the atmosphere, surface water, groundwater and plants is a cycle and force that is constantly in motion. It can give us an immediate experience, through rain fall, swimming, showering, and washing the dishes or drinking water. It also has ‘unseen’ aspects like the ones related to biology, health, pollution, tides and so on. These networks of forces and practices are always interrelated and their actions have a continued affect on the atmospheres in which they work.

A building can also be seen as a network of practices. Beyond its given physicality, such as size, colour, bonds of brick etc, a building consists of ‘unseen’ parts such as the ideas of the architects and the conditions in which their ideas have been formed. Furthermore is the hidden matter such as the tools available, the manufacturing technique, the culture of the practice, the number of interns working etc. Such factors can be considered as material parts that together with the knowledge, ideas and intentions of the architects shape the building. In other words, a building is part of a network of forces and practices that affect its making and future use.




Katie Lloyd Thomas, ed. Material Matters: Architecture and Material Practice, London: Routledge, 2007

Diana Coole and Samantha Frost, ed. New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency and Politics, London: Durham & London, 2010

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