Manor Lessons: Commons Revisited. Teaching and Research in Architecture
An urbanistic investigation of the English manor house and how the Manorial System can serve as testing ground for a modern understanding of landownership in the capitalist age.
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Our contemporary condition, governed by the abstract apparatus of the capitalist market, demands a critical reading of the distribution, ownership, and use of common resources such as land. This is especially true in Britain with its long history of privatisation stemming from land enclosure. The latest research campaign of Laboratory Basel (laba), a satellite studio of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, investigated the English manor house and how it can serve as a testing ground to reassess Britain's complex and ongoing relationship with the countryside.
The south-west of England, the most rural region of one of the more densely populated countries in Europe, reflects all the absurdities of a globalised country under pressure to develop economically, physically and environmentally. Highly protected landscapes, both natural and composed, form the backdrop to historic seats of political power and wealth, whilst sites of intense modern productivity are neatly concealed behind natural veils.
Manor Lessons: Commons Revisited, the concluding volume of laba's Teaching and Research in Architecture series, explores the lessons that can be learned from the compound history of the Manorial System, whose forgotten feudalistic origins were once rooted in the idea of the land, not as private property but as common ground.