The Detective Stories Studio: The Function of Fiction in Shaping Architectural Education

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


Presenting the example of the “Detective-Stories Design Studio” as a case study for a master-level course, this paper explores the role of literature and fiction in architectural education. Through selected Edgar Allan Poe short stories, the paper unpacks three distinct approaches that the studio employed in incorporating literature for the exploration of contemporary design issues.

Touching on the ongoing conversation on atmosphere and space the first approach introduces literature as an exploration of a place’s lived experience. It examines fiction’s potential to communication spatial qualities and moods, allowing us to understand how these intangible elements influence our perception and appropriation of a given environment. Based on these characteristics the design work focuses on the creation of a device that attunes students with the specific atmosphere that Poe’s short story “The Masque of Red Death” uniquely captures. The second approach touches on literature’s imaginative power to suggest unexpected and many times overlooked uses of space. Based on “The Purloined Letter,” the design-work heavily draws from the spatial investigative techniques analyzed in the short story to proceed with an unconventional site analysis. The third methodology emerges from literature’s capacity to point towards paramount sociological conditions of space, in a way that allows us to reconsider and re-evaluate our own everyday reality. Poe’s “Black Cat” tangibly confronts the issue of domestic violence in American society and the design assignment addresses this issue.

The paper concludes with a contextualization of the suggested methodological approach in relation to the renewed architectural interest in literature, as manifested the last ten years through interdisciplinary conferences and publications both in North America and Europe. The paper places “The Detective-Stories Studio” in this contemporary pedagogical and research context and evaluates its significance and uniqueness in the ongoing conversation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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