Unfinished Architecture: Urban Continuity in the Age of the Complete

Nicholas Temple

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


How can anything ever present itself truly to us since its synthesis is never completed? How could I gain the experience of the world, as I would of an individual actuating his own existence, since none of the views or perceptions I have of it can exhaust it and the horizons remain forever open?1
Merleau-Ponty’s meditation on incompleteness serves as an appropriate starting point in this investigation of the unfinished in building. His argument that it is impossible to gain a complete ‘picture’ of the world, on account of the inexhaustibility of our perceptions and experiences, prompts us to question the assumption of architecture’s ‘closure,’ with respect to its creative process and its experiential presence. In asserting that our horizons of experience remain forever open, Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology confronts head-on the deeply embedded instrumental precepts of contemporary culture. Among the many areas where these lay authoritative claim, the transformations of the city are perhaps the most acute and visible, with their multiple systems of management and control. These modes of urban transformation, and the broader historical background of ‘city marking,’ serve as the background to this study of the life of buildings and its influence on the creative imagination of architects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Material Imagination
Subtitle of host publicationReveries on Architecture and Matter
EditorsMatthew Mindrup
Place of PublicationFarnham, UK and Burlington, USA
PublisherAshgate Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781315555713
ISBN (Print) 9781472424587, 9781138573512
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2015


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