Friday, 14 October 2011

The new CSM building: A Panoptican

One of the most influential factors in how we work comes from the built environment, which shapes and dictates our movement and our productivity. Speaking to a fashion student at the LCF about the merits of 'open-plan' offices and studios recently got me thinking about panopticism, Foucault's principle of 'a new political autonomy'. This theory is a recurrent theme in a lot of Foucault's work and underpins his essential discourse on governance in the modern state. In Discipline and Punish, a cracker of a book, he sets out his ideas on panopticism, using the Victorian prison as a case study, showing how it was designed in a panoptic shape, so that prisoners could be seen from angles. I couldn't help but think of this theory when I watched this clip on Vogue Tv today, of Prof Louise Wilson talking about the new CSM building at Kings Cross. As Foucault states, 'the seeing machine was once a sort of dark room into which individuals spied; it has become a transparent building into which the exercise of power may be exercised'. How will the glass, panoptic-like building of the CSM building influence, shape and govern the work of fashion students in years to come?

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