Recently, I’ve been digging through some old work in a bid to put a new portfolio together and in doing so I’ve come across this unpublished article I wrote back in the summer of 2014. The article is a continuation of some ethnographic research I did with a squatting community in North London, earlier that year. It has a very strong polemic narrative throughout, which in hind-sight I regret a little but it is, at least, a good reflection of where my head was at during this time… (that is, alone in a French country house surrounded by stacks of Marxist theory - so it was to be expected).
“[S]ocialist planning is grasped as imposing an unwanted order on human life, in contrast to which capitalism becomes celebrated as a place of freedom, a kind of jungle playground of consumption, with plenty of interstices for those who want to drop out the system. Clearly, it is an opposition ill calculated to measure the degree to which late capitalism is a form of standardisation, and a lifeless application of grids and prefabricate forms.” 
Here the noun: “occupation”, holds two definitions and subsequently fashions two individual readings of the essay’s title. The initial definition and its corresponding reading refer to the occupation (or job) of architecture within society, for it is employed just as its occupants are. This essay, therefore, begins with an exploration into the role of architecture under the logic of late capitalism and the consequential determinism of abstract space on the nature of everyday life. The second (yet principle) definition and reading, in conjunction with the preceding parenthesis, refers to the action of occupying space illegally. Here, the illegal occupation of non-domestic space for a domestic program, is observed as establishing a practical utopia within present society; at once subverting and redirecting the homogeneity of abstract space through an aikido-like reversal of power. Liberated from these conditions, architecture encourages the emergence of diverse and socially oriented lives that are independent of consumer culture and conventional domestic practices.
1. The Occupation of Architecture
The occupation of architecture within late capitalism is an administrative position, responsible for relaying the inherent logic of this system onto society. It may thus be better described as a vocation, yet this may inaccurately suggests an indifference between it and its principle beneficiary, the state. The apparent autonomy of architectural form and space creates an “illusion of transparency” that makes the observation and appreciation of such a relationship difficult. Yet this is precisely what makes it so instrumental. The administrative duties of architecture are divided between the symbolic and the spatial, with greatest responsibility towards the latter. Symbolically, architecture has a substantial role within the ideology of capitalism, presenting a common aspiration within society that in turn seeks to perpetuate the means and lengths of labour sought to acquire it. The ownership of property, along with its size and location, consequently becomes a consensual indicator for the relative success of an individual, influencing the ruthless accumulation of capital we observe today. Space, unlike symbolism, which has briefly flirted with opposing ideology, has maintained a heady, yet reductive, course towards its final conclusion – that of complete homogeneity and fragmentation. Cartesian conceptions of space strip it of its most significant and complex construction, society. Understood only in reductive terms of classification and measurement, space becomes subject to indiscriminate specialisation and sub-division as it takes it place neatly within the commodities market. Abstract space holds an apparent neutrality through such reductive conceptions that make it so vulnerable to use within the structural and organisational agenda of the state and its institutions; consequently reinforcing the “division of labour active in society”, through the dissolution of political space. To observe the resulting isolation of the individual in society, one need only spend an afternoon within England’s great capital London, where millions exist divided in space. A tangible microcosm of this is visible on the city’s notorious “tube”, where carriages filled with hundreds of people remain silent through the self-imposed isolation of the individuals on-board. Aside from the overarching destruction of political space, and with that, the repression of the collective in western life, we can, upon switching to a micro-lens, come to appreciate its implications for the individual within everyday life. The most significant sphere for such a focus is, of course, the home.
The home holds a delicate position within contemporary society, acknowledged by many sociologists as a unique place of sanctuary for the individual, sheltering them from the uncertainty and instability of modern life outside their door. Architect Philip Tabor clearly demonstrates the sensitivity of this relationship through the intelligible example of home burglary and its resultant psychological distress; often induced not over the absence of ones possessions but over the perceived violation of ones body (of which the home represents an extension). Curiously, therefore, to what extent do the conditions of contemporary society rest on this symbolic role of the home – a temple of western life; a place of quasi-religious worship and laborious pilgrimage, and at the same time, a place of acute weakness, perhaps capable of bringing the entire political body crashing down. Paradoxically, the uncertainty and fear of the outside world is one that was created, in part, by domestic space itself, thus it is at once the cause and the solution of the modern condition. In the fallout of industrialisation, the gregarious nature of society began to shift noticeably towards one of increased privacy and isolation and in parallel, domestic space too began to change, most significantly with the introduction of the corridor. Up until the middle of the 17th Century, the home very much reflected the carnal nature of society at the time: with cellular collections of interconnecting rooms, large and eclectic groups of inhabitants and many contrasting events and activities. The corridor reconfigured the relationship between space and in-turn between people, creating privacy where previously there had been none. The ever-turning cogs of capitalist logic have since continued their ceaseless push towards the complete isolation of society, gradually bringing us to the highly dependent relationship between space and events that exists today. A number of architects and theorists have, over the years, scrutinised the functionalism of contemporary domestic space to one extent or another. Gunther Feuerstein, member of the Situationist International, saw it as nothing more than “domestic Taylorism” and thus sought to design space that was inherently dysfunctional. In a similar vein, Peter Eisenman designed his infamous House VI, that sought to “question the idea of inhabiting, or habitation as habit”. Notoriously, the house incorporated a feature within the inhabitants’ bedroom that prevented them from sleeping in the same bed and thus undermining their previous practice. This feature remained in place for 14 years before it was finally removed and the inhabitants returned to their prior level of nocturnal intimacy. House VI explicitly demonstrates the determinate relationship, or “violence”, that exists between space and events. On this occasion, Eisenman determined the intensity of this “violence”, yet the home, in almost every case across the western world, is subject to the single-minded logic of abstract (capitalist) space and the rapacity of the marketplace. To what extent therefore do these conditions influence the design of the domestic environment and consequently, the nature of domestic life?
Domestic space is conceived, in almost all instances, through the unholy alliance of two parties disinterested in the realities of its final occupation. Those parties include, the client/developer and the state. The former responsible for the design and construction and the latter for the adherence to overarching Cartesian planning agendas and building control. Such homes are created on mass, through the unyielding repetition of conventional typologies consisting of highly specialised and dimensionally limited space, piecemeal aesthetics (with occasional postmodern adornment) and overtly economic standards of construction. An analysis of the design process, in this context, presents an uncomfortable insight into the practical conception of domestic space - typically involving a puzzle-like exercise, whereby furniture and appliances, represented in two-dimensional form, are contained in the most economically intelligible way possible. The full complexity of human habitation is itself subjected to such reductive and representative measures, now holding equal status to a TV-set, as it’s transformed into an aerial view of a head, some shoulders and a pair of shoes. It is not difficult at this point to sympathise with the polemic position of Feuerstein and indeed this view is echoed by contemporary theorist Jeremy Till, in describing such space as, “emerging from the production line”. Yet, this reductive design process not only remains unchallenged but is in fact supported through benevolent design guidance and standards, created by the state and independent bodies alike. Each of which pertain to the classificatory and metric properties of space. It thus becomes difficult to determine whether the regulation of domestic space, through standards such as HQI (Housing Quality Indicators), makes matters better or worse. For while they prevent the construction of space, so malnourished by greed that they defy all possibility of habitation, they do present a universal set of Euclidian parameters that negate any prior conception of space held by a client, developer or architect, which may have resulted in the production of a superior quality environment. However, it is important at this point to highlight the ubiquity of abstract space within society and therefore, such prior conceptions are more likely to result in the repetition of domestic space described here, albeit from a seemingly more innocent position.
Space designed so rigidly around the pre-supposed activities and commodities of future inhabitants inevitably leads to the realisation of this in practice. Newly purchased consumer goods fit neatly into the positions identified for them and life replays the logic of the conventional domestic activities considered at the design stage. Typically, one might assume that the provision of consumer items in space is determined by the demand for them in society but it may just as easily be seen as the opposite. What makes this thought even more unsavoury is the extent to which such provisions are encouraged and even enforced through state guidance and regulations. Hill and Jean Baudrillard see the home and consumer society, respectively, as a means of domesticating and sublimating the user into a numbed state in preparation for their role in public life.[13&14] Despite the apparent logic that everyday domestic life follows the harsh spatial determinism of mass homogeneous and conventional space, it is difficult, due to the sheer proliferation of it, to tangibly observe, criticise and suggest an alternative. However, as Foucault famously said, of a not unrelated concept, “where there is power there is resistance”. Thus, one can observe the resistance to such conditions through the illegal occupation of architecture, whereby (in this context), non-domestic space is occupied for a domestic purpose, creating an independency between the logic of space and the events that take place there.
2. The (Illegal) Occupation of Architecture
The illegal occupation of architecture (secondary reading) refers to the act of squatting, the precise legal status of which varies somewhat across the political spectrum of the western world. In the U.K., the squatting of domestic space has recently been made a criminal offence, yet commercial space remains classified as unlawful and subsequently, still subject to the protection afforded (via loophole) by the 1977 Criminal Law Act – colloquially known as “squatters’ rights”. Squatting in the U.K. now takes place solely in conjunction with non-domestic space (without being liable to criminal prosecution), thereby subjecting squatters to environments designed for commercial practices and therefore ill-suited to domestic habitation. Yet, this contrast between space and use presents, from an architectural perspective, a highly fertile and fascinating set of circumstance - creating a practical utopia within a society of determinist space. The realisation of such conditions legally, is not possible without subjection to substantial financial and regulatory restrictions, paradoxically, affording the quasi-illegal squatter, greater autonomy under present system than its most active contributors and affluent members. Illegal occupation can be seen as carrying out an aikido-like manoeuvre on the administrative duties of architecture: at once subverting and redirecting the homogenous and fracturing logic of abstract space wielded by the state. The symbolic role of architecture through squatting no longer idealises the ownership of property nor encourages the process of labour sought to acquire it. Instead, it presents a visible contradiction to this ideology, with potentially wide ranging ramifications: undermining the conventions and customs of mainstream society. Spatially, the illegal occupation of non-domestic architecture for a domestic purpose creates an independency between the logic of space and program, contrasting heavily with the determinist relationship of domestic space observed within this essay. Consequently, domestic practice is unshackled from the organisational and hierarchical logic of the state, free from the functionalism of abstractly conceived space and unguided by the rapacity of the marketplace. However, not all illegally occupied space holds such a relationship of indifference with a contrasting program and indeed, one might observe a relationship of “conflict”, whereby “sequences of events and spaces occasionally clash and contradict one another”. Such a relationship, evidently, does not result in a positive detachment from the “reciprocity” of space and program that is of interest here. Equally important to understand at this point, is that any relationship between space and program is, in every instance, uniquely "violent". Meaning, that each has its place somewhere on a scale between indifference and conflict, or liberation and oppression, yet never reaching the totality of either - for such absolutes, as acknowledged by Foucault, cannot be guaranteed by space alone. 
Pole-vaulting in the Sistine Chapel, is a vivid example of an indifferent relationship between space and events, used by Bernard Tschumi in “Architecture and Disjunction.” Through this, he demonstrates the independence of each but acknowledges the initial and powerful transgression of their existing cultural expectations. The same can be observed through illegal occupation, the indifferent relationship between non-domestic space and a domestic program causing the cultural conventions of the latter to be transgressed and subsequently questioned. In partnership with the unique cultural transgressions of squatting itself, domestic practice consequently becomes detached from the constraints of socialised customs and habits within society. Domestic lives, liberated from the prevailing spatial and mental conditions of contemporary life, demonstrate a remarkable uniqueness of cohabitation, spatial practice, domestic events, social interaction and tastes. Many instances of these were observed during a period of ethnographic research conducted by the author at an illegally occupied leisure centre in North London, in early 2014. The residing squatting collective was made up of a nine-strong group of activists, artists and travellers with a wide range of European nationalities, a near equal split of genders and ages ranging from 18 to 40. The occupants, by sharing a single sleeping environment, left the other unique spaces of the leisure centre free to host the various activities that made-up their domestic program. Aside from the more exclusive activities of the collective such as communal cooking, cleaning and semi-structured weekly meetings, many were centred on the social interaction of the wider squatting community through such events as, games, theatre groups, workshops, exhibitions and collective dining (catering up to 60 on one occasion). These events also highlighted the individuality of art and fashion that could be seen across the leisure centre and its illegal occupants. Such diversity and uniqueness of domestic activities, social interaction and tastes can be observed elsewhere in illegally occupied and indifferent spaces, such as the infamous – Torre David (Tower of David) in Caracas, where nearly 3000 residents established a cohesive vertical community reinforced by diverse collective events and Amsterdam’s industrial squats, where “abandoned factories and dockland buildings host an astonishingly rich variety of self-invented domestic and ‘live-work’ architecture”.[19&20] Each of these demonstrates an individuality and complexity of space, events and community, that holds not only a remarkable contrast to domestic life in contemporary society but a curious similarity to the dynamics of pre-industrial society and domestic life outlined earlier in this essay.
3. False Consciousness
Under the conditions of late capitalism even the seemingly autonomous and creative products of human passion and intellect are subjected to the abstract logic of the free market. Yesterday’s revolutionary avant-garde becomes tomorrows mass-produced commodity item. Consequently, architecture, with its plethora of financially linked contingencies, becomes susceptible to appropriation under the organisational and structural agenda of the state, projecting “on the ground images of social institutions, translating the economic or political structure of society into buildings or groups of buildings”. The home in this regard is a veritable wolf in sheep’s clothing, appearing as a unique place salvation and freedom from the conditions of contemporary life, yet in truth, a platform for the blanketing subordination of society, relaying control and order onto everyday life - perhaps with greater efficiency than any identifiable institution with such associated power (police). The illegal occupation of indifferent architecture presents unique circumstances whereby the unyielding conditions of abstract space are, in an aikido-like fashion, subverted and redirected, creating a practical utopia within present society. Such circumstances provide a fascinating source of architectural and anthropological research and a tempting body of practical and conceptual spatial circumstance that may appear to hold immediate applicability in the creation of domestic space. Yet to do so would, as with House VI, achieve little more than a negligible change in the “violence” between space and events, consequently leaving everyday life still subject to the overarching hegemony of abstract space and its subsequent determinism of domestic life; for “however hard the radical architect tries to build-in subversion he can never escape the fact that in one form or another, he is always the agent of power – a bureaucrat of a spatial reality determined by others more powerful than himself”. The significance of illegal occupation therefore lies in its ability to undermine and question the present conditions of power in contemporary society. Squatting, by creating a microcosm of an antithesis reality, akin to that of pre-industrialisation, holds up a mirror to reveal the false consciousness of contemporary life. In doing so, it serves to support the existing and palpable atmosphere for social, cultural and economic change that has culminated so acutely under the recent Occupy Movement - taking place in over 950 cities in 82 countries worldwide. Until the liberative spatial circumstances identified here are reflected and supported in the overarching conditions of society, they will remain, like so much of true (r)evolutionary progress, smothered in illegality and at the periphery of political consciousness, perpetuating late capitalism’s present monopoly on the nature of everyday life.
 Frederic Jameson, “Is Space Political”, in “Anyplace”, Edited by Cyntheia Davidson, 192-205, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1995, p. 205
 Henri Lefebvre, “The Production of Space”, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1991, p. 28
 Lukasz Stanek, “Space as concrete abstraction: Hegel, Marx, and modern urbanism in Henri Lefebvre”, in “Space difference, everyday life: reading Henri Lefebvre”, Edited by Kanishka Goonewardena and others, 62-79, Routledge, London. 2008, p. 70
 Frederic Jameson, “Is Space Political”, in “Anyplace”, Edited by Cyntheia Davidson, 192-205, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1995, p. 202
 Ibid p. 201
 Philip Tabor, “Striking Home: The Telematic Assault on Identity”, in “Occupying Architecture: Between the Architect and the User”, Edited by Jonathan Hill, 126-134, Taylor and Francis, London, 1998, p. 127
 Frederic Jameson, “Is Space Political”, in “Anyplace”, Edited by Cyntheia Davidson, 192-205, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995, p. 198
 Jonathan Hill, “Actions of Architecture: architects and creative users”, Routledge, London, 2003, p. 36
 Simon Sadler, “The Situationist City”, MIT Press, London, 1998, p. 7
 Suzanne Frank and Kenneth Frampton, “Peter Eisenman's House: The Client's Response v.6”, Whitney Library, New York, 1994, p. 110
 Bernard Tschumi, “Architecture and Disjunction”, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1994, p. 122
 Jeremy Till, “Architecture Depends”, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 2009, p. 119
 Russell Hughes, “DIY BIOPOLITICS: The Deregulated Self”, in “The Funambulist Papers, Edited by Léopold Lambert, 178-182, Punctum Books, Brooklyn NY, 2013, p. 180
 Jonathan Hill, “Immaterial Architecture”, Routledge, London, 2006, p. 14
 Michel Foucault, “The History of Sexuality: Volume 1: An Introduction”, Translated by Robert Hurley, Pantheon Books, New York, 1978, p.95
 Bernard Tschumi, “Architecture and Disjunction”, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1994, p. 122
 Michel Foucault and Paul Rabinow, “The Foucault Reader”, Pantheon Books, New York, 1984, p. 246
 Bernard Tschumi, “Architecture and Disjunction”, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1994, p. 131
[19 Amy Frearson, “Why should the poor live in the slums if there are empty office towers in the city asks - Justin Mcguirk”, “Dezeen Magazine”, 2012 Available from: http://www.dezeen.com/2012/09/01/why-should-the-poor-live-in-the-slums-if-there-are-empty-office-towers-in-the-city-asks-justin-mcguirk/, [Accessed 2014 on the 2nd of August]
 David Carr-Smith, “Book Introduction - The 4 Sites”, Improvised Architecture In Amsterdam Industrial Squats and Collectives”, 2005, Available from: http://www.davecarrsmith.co.uk/D-WWW_4-SITES-Intro.htm, [Accessed 2014 on the 4th of July]
 Bernard Tschumi, “Architecture and Disjunction”, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1994, p. 6
 FAT, “Contaminating Contemplation”, in “Occupying Architecture: Between the Architect and the User”, Edited by Jonathan Hill, 43 – 55, Taylor and Francis, London, 1998, p. 53
 “False consciousness” is a hypothesis within Marxist theory, used to describe the inaccurate perception by the classes, specifically the proletariat, of their real position within society and subsequently their genuine needs and interests. It also describes the inability of social groups to recognise inequality, exploitation or oppression within capitalist society.