• Wandering In the Open Plan
    Brian Hatton

Wandering in the Open Plan explores the origins, development, and implications of the "open plan" in architecture. The "free plan" was affirmed by Le Corbusier as one of his "5 Points of Modern Architecture," but the open plan seems to have received no such canonic definition. Many accounts of twentieth-century architecture cite the open plan as a key feature of modernist space, and as the term became current even in the popular language of interior design, it remained surprisingly underexamined in architectural history and theory. This is all the more striking given the philosophic ground of such examples as the Barcelona Pavilion, which embraced to the Romantic link between freedom and wandering in open landscape. These and other implications have recently been reinvested and extended through the "scaping" of continuous planes and topologic forms enabled by computerized design procedures. To trace these premises and implications, then, presents a timely undertaking.

Brian Hatton has been interested, throughout his work, in the relations between art and architecture. He has written on both fields, and emphasized their interactions in his teaching, especially at the Architectural Association since 1983. While some aspects of this topic feature in his earlier studies and writings, his interest took sharper focus during work on a paper "The Problem Of Our Walls," published in The Journal Of Architecture (4.1, 1999). There, reflecting on the purpose of the wall in the open plan, he began to think about the life and movement of the subject in such plans. In an essay for the 2008 Liverpool Art Biennial, he included reflections on the "wandering subject" in the open plan of exhibitions, but later realized that this was a special case related to a much larger theme which has not yet been fully explored.