Using filmmaking and essay writing as a method, this project from 2011 – 2018 explores the role of the window in the life and work of Christian Norberg-Schulz. This specific interest resulted in my PhD thesis in Architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture, titled “Ten Windows Following Christian Norberg-Schulz: Framing, mobility and self-reflection explored through the fenestral essay film” (2018) and the book Following Norberg-Schulz: An Architectural History through the Essay Film (2022) published by Bloomsbury Publishing.
The fenestral essay film draws upon the notion of framing, mobility and self-reflectionin the essay form in film and writing, and the same key terms as they appear in literature discussing the various uses and meanings of the literal and figurative window particularly in the work of Rilke. This includes the way both cinema and windows can separate and unite sound and image, life and death, then and now. In this thesis the framing features of the camera and editing suite, are considered as an authorial voice, which can focus the viewer’s attention, or allow for self-reflection. As the window is both literal and figurative, its meaning and use shift according to context, so the fenestral essay film can leap between meanings and uses that are literal and/or figurative, through experimental editing, fissures between image and sound, divergent temporalities and alternative imaging technologies such as X-ray and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
In my work, the fenestral essay film can be considered a method of architectural history, developed specifically to explore the window in the life and theory of Chrisitan Norberg-Schulz, but with others possible uses such as the discussion of sound and image in essay film-making. This ‘fenestral’ approach engages formally, metaphorically and conceptually with the window as my object of study, but also functions as a critical tool to critique his work reliant upon my intentions as an author. As such, the fenestral essay film is meant to describe the specific methodology used in my PhD thesis, to articulate the specific techniques and meanings used in my research into ten window in (and following) the work of Norberg-Schulz, where these windows are considered as both literal and figurative.
The thesis consists of a series of films and written essays, and has been presented, screened and exhibited on various occasions. Both before and after I worked on my thesis, my interest in the window, film and architecture resulted in more projects and teaching experiences, all of which are included below.