Towards a Processual Understanding of Buildings: Temporality, Materiality, and Politics

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Drawing on a combined ethnographic and historical case study of BLOX, a landmark building in Copenhagen, this chapter advances a processual understanding of buildings by exploring the intersection between materiality, temporality, and politics. We analyze organizing processes unfolding between the material building and public, private, and philanthropic organizations. We distinguish between three dimensions of the building’s material temporality, which we analyze drawing on an event-based approach: historicizing the building through time, projecting the building over time, and enacting the building in time. While the ‘projecting’ and ‘enacting’ dimensions are inspired by prior work on material temporality, our study adds the ‘historicizing’ dimension. We develop an empirical model showing the interplay between these three dimensions. A main implication of our study is to show how the organizing effects of material buildings emerge not only from their material durability, but also from their temporal malleability. In closing, we discuss implications for a temporal understanding of affordances and propose a temporally relational view of affordances.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOrganization as Time : Technology, Power and Politics
EditorsFrançois-Xavier de Vaujany, Robin Holt, Albane Grandazzi
Number of pages27
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)9781009297257
ISBN (Electronic)9781009297288
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Materiality
  • Temporality
  • Events
  • Politics of meaning
  • Building
  • Process

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