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Abstract only
Kuba Szreder
in The ABC of the projectariat
Jasmine Kilburn-Toppin

This chapter explores the ways in which adapted guild buildings shaped the experiences, identities, and behaviours of artisans and broader groups of urban inhabitants. It also considers how the performance of particular artisanal and civic activities impacted upon the meanings and significance of certain spaces. Notions of belonging, status, and hierarchy were articulated and experienced through institutional architectures. Further, conceptions of relative ‘secrecy’ and ‘openness’ were enacted and reinforced through the use and appropriation of company halls. This examination of the manifold ways in which built environments shaped guild communities, and how the users of company halls appropriated them, considers specific spaces such as galleries, parlours, kitchens, halls, assay houses, and domestic sites, as well as particular activities and cultural practices, like material testing and feasting. These highly ritualised activities derived significance from their performance in certain spaces, and in turn shaped the meanings and import of the rooms in which they were enacted. As artisanal company halls were expanded and beautified from the mid-sixteenth century, their users and visitors became increasingly conscious of how access, movement, and placement within these institutional spaces reflected upon personal and collective identities. Through their spatial organisation and ritualised uses, livery halls ordered bodies relationally according to social, gender, and generational differences. Privileged access to particular chambers, and witnessing of protected or ‘secret’ guild practices, signified and produced artisanal status. Additionally, proximity and contact with the treasured material apparatus of feasting rites worked to bolster status and hierarchies within the artisanal or mercantile guild.

in Crafting identities
Kuba Szreder
in The ABC of the projectariat
Abstract only
Kuba Szreder
in The ABC of the projectariat
in The ABC of the projectariat
in The ABC of the projectariat
Abstract only
Kuba Szreder
in The ABC of the projectariat
Jasmine Kilburn-Toppin

This chapter considers knowledge cultures on the building site. If we broaden our focus from rarefied texts of architectural theory authored by gentlemen – the customary sources used by scholars for elucidating building projects – to evidence of practice and engagement on work sites, then a very different picture of epistemologies emerges. Whereas works of architectural theory present a firm separation between the cerebral process of design and mechanical construction, records of building assessments and work on construction projects show that firm divisions between propositional and tacit knowledges were not recognised by London’s artisanal population. The evidence from the Viewers’ reports – the four master craftsmen specifically employed by the City to adjudicate upon contentious building projects – shows that evaluation of building construction, sustainability, and design was demonstrably a job for (undifferentiated) mind, body, and hand. Similarly, the citizens engaged in the major project to rebuild Goldsmiths’ Company Hall on Foster Lane in the 1630s, individually and collectively looked at the site, physically examined the building, and consulted those with specific building expertise. Artisanal knowledge was communicated on site through a range of mediums, including the spoken word, written instructions, and visual sources. ‘Plots’ (plans) composed by master mason Nicholas Stone were not definitive blueprints but works-in-progress, critically assessed by building practitioners in dialogue with the built environment. Moreover, disputes over the valuation of artisanal labour on this building site show that establishing skill and precision was not reducible to abstract theoretical principles, but subject to social negotiation between craft experts.

in Crafting identities
Kuba Szreder
in The ABC of the projectariat
Kuba Szreder
in The ABC of the projectariat