Critical Spatial Practice

Time on Site (2019)
  • Prue Chiles | UK

  • Image 1 Image 2 Image 3 Image 4 Image 5 Image 6 Image 7 Image 8
  • Memories, interests, histories and artefacts, both fantasy and reality are woven into the fabric of the buildings.

    As historical characters emerge from the shed and quiet, un-confident clients find a voice. This house and garden was an obsession of an engineer and his family that imagined it in the 1960’s and the architect interpreting their wishes then. It has been a lived in for 50 years by the same family and the next generation have inherited a period piece – and they are approaching it anew. The tacit, embedded ordinary affects and the history of the design and the building of the house are helping them inhabit their dreams and their consciousness of the architectural language of this house, built by the new owner’s father. 

    The contractor meanwhile emerges as an expert on 1960’s Californian modernism and an appreciation of the original construction on site creates both pleasure and worry on site as talks of the ‘white heat of technology’ at that time, are translated into new technologies.

    A recent turn to ‘the question of time’ is vividly explored in Lisa Baraitser’s Enduring Time. The impact of technologies accelerating time is described. This is combined with the collapse of twentieth-century modernity’s belief that we can dominate our future; instead things are rapidly becoming more uncertain and unpredictable. The energy debate and the consumption of fossil fuels are at the centre of this uncertain future and working around this with the owners there was a palpable feeling that it was ‘time to do something’. 

    Time and people are intimately wrapped around each other and this became a particular concern as a heterogeneous group of people share time together to achieve a new project.

    We are borrowing here Lisa Baraitser’s ‘temporal tropes’ of staying (image 1), maintaining (image 2), repeating (image 3), waiting (image 4), delaying (image 5), preserving (image 6), enduring (image 7), and recalling (image 8) to show practices where ‘care takes the form of an affective engagement with others’ (Baraitser, 2017: 14)  

    This project and others are part of a series of new research through design, creative practice portfolios and future publications looking at the creative and sometimes enduring relationships that make built form. 


    Prue Chiles is a teacher, practitioner and writer on architecture and the people involved ‘in doing’ architecture; and developing and supporting research through design and creative practice. 


    Prue Chiles is part of CE+CA, an architectural practice that has worked together for nearly 20 years. As teachers and practitioners we all try and embed the same ethics and care into our work and collaborations, whether a participatory neighbourhood plan, a small public building or a new or restored house. This is particularly important on site. As with all other projects, this was a collaborative effort, with particular thanks to all at CE+CA.

    Collaboration, Time & Temporality, 1960s architecture, Messy everyday processes, Transdisciplinarity, Spillover effects, Ordinary affects


    Sophie Ernst, Home: Architecture of Memory, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2012).

    Lisa Baraitser, Enduring Time, (London: Bloomsbury, 2017).

    Julia Kristeva, ‘Women’s time’, Signs 7.1 (1981) 13-35.

    Kathleen Stewart, Ordinary Affects (Duke University Press, 2007).

    Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift, Cities, Re-imagining the Urban, (2002).


    Barn, Newcastle University APL Exhibition (2019) and a portfolio on the enduring life of the barn

    Prue Chiles, and Carolyn Butterworth, ‘Field Diaries’, in Suzanne Ewing, Jérémie Michael McGowan, Chris Speed and Victoria Clare Bernie (eds.) Architecture and Field/Work, Critiques series (London: Routledge, 2010), pp. 129-137.

    Other projects:
  • not nothing (August 2019)
  • Stori Mwd (A Story of Mud), (2019)
  • Time on Site (2019)
  • Caring for Communities (2017-2019)
  • Matter of the Manor (2015-19)
  • Viscous Myths (2017/2018)
  • The Pass (October 2017–June 2018)
  • Portal Zaryadye: A Portal Not Only to Heaven, But Aslo To Hell (24 July 2018 – 12 July 2018)
  • Bamboo dialogues (2016)
  • Hanging Matters (2014)
  • Civic Pedagogy, learning as critical spatial practice (2019)
  • A Weird-Tender in progress (2019)
  • A walk in your words (25.01.2019)
  • Text-isles: sowing an idea, October (2018)
  • Objects removed for study (2018)
  • windwoundweatherwovenwirewoman [performance] (2017)
  • Request for the unrequested voluntary interlinguisticality (2017)
  • Bodies + Borders (2017 – present)
  • a place called … (Spring 2017)
  • Uppland (2016-18)
  • P | A | N – Proyecto Amasandería Nacional (2016)
  • Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces (2016)
  • Music for Masterplanning (2016-17)
  • In My Mothers’ Garden: Memories and practices of Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp (2016)
  • Having not felt like eating, but eaten, I sat down to eat / tea … (2016)
  • Alternative Arrangements: Walking the Border in Ireland (2016 – ongoing)
  • The First World Congress of the Missing Things (2014)
  • Private Choices, Public Spaces (2014)
  • A Game of Dominoes (2013)
  • Lina & Gio: the last humanists (February-June 2012)
  • Learning-through-Touring (2012)
  • Empty Words Build Empty Homes (2012)
  • Ridley’s (2011)
  • Palimpsest Performances (2010-2014)
  • Expanded Architecture (2010-2014)
  • Negotiating Conflict: Bordering Practices in a Divided Beirut (2010 – 2014)
  • Unfixing Place: A Study of Istanbul through Topographical Practices (2008)
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