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Territorialization of Building: from the inside out, by Carolyn Fahey

Going beyond Deleuze’s heavily theorized notion of territorialization, particularly in geography circles, this paper uses the notion of territorialization to argue that the same dynamics giving rise to geographic territorializations, are spatially manifest within individual buildings or isolated spaces.

The territorialization of buildings can be observed in notions of ownership and propriety that are motivations to defend a space, place, or building. The motivations to defend suggest that there is some kind of a line between two entities, or more simply, an us and them at play. In some cases the us and them is benign, say one family's space as opposed to another's, but in others such distinctions become hard boundaries between different interest groups. Those interest groups may be denoted in terms of ideological beliefs, the physically weak and strong, different races and cultures, and so on. An explicit example is the use of walls to divide two peoples at war. Where nationalist identity is at stake, such is the case with the Berlin Wall. The current Palestinian Wall can also be described in terms not just of nationalism, but of religious or ideological identity. Still further, buildings themselves can be considered physical manifestations of such territorializations, whether bred in notions of nationalism, religious ideology, or otherwise.

Of interest to this paper is that such boundaries play a role in collective notions of identity, such as a nation, ideology, culture, and so on. Looking to Wittgenstein’s axiom - meaning is use - it is further argued that the territories exhibited by individual buildings serve a broader purpose. The use these spaces serve give meaning, and provide the foundation for a way of life, which one could similarly describe as a cultural, religious, ethnic identity. In order to explore concretely the claim that buildings can be territorialized, the notion of threshold as discussed in Palasma’s writing on building is examined through the norms of building composition and programming. Northern Ireland's Belfast will serve as a case study.


Hillier, B; (2007) Space is the machine: a configurational theory of architecture.

Deleuze, G; (1968) Difference and Repetition.

Newman, O; (1976) Defensible Space; Crime Prevention Through Urban Design.

Wimmer, A. and Glick Schiller, N. (2002), Methodological nationalism and beyond: nation–state building, migration and the social sciences. Global Networks, 2: 301–334. doi:10.1111/1471-0374.00043

Wittgenstein, L; (1951) Philosophical Investigations.

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