Architectural Literary Studies is the name of a grant, a research approach, and the title of the book which presents its main assumptions. The essence of this research is to conduct literature-specialist and cultural analyses focused on the textual records of man’s experience of space in order to lend support to groups of decision-makers who manage space, architects, and urban planners.
The research conducted within the grant’s framework is a response to the challenges of the engaged humanities and the search for the self-agency of research, including literary research. An important inquiry concerned interdisciplinariness defined as a method used by an individual scholar who utilizes conceptions and theories from other disciplines (along with the method’s/ limitations). The next step was development of a transdisciplinary research model within the framework of actual cooperation of a team of representatives of various scholarly institutions.
The 14-person transdisciplinary research group examined two Warsaw squares regarded as the most important and largest in the city. At the same time the squares are places about which, despite numerous architectural competitions, no final decisions concerning their development have been made for decades. The actions undertaken resulted in the collective book which is neither exclusively about the space of Piłsudskiego Square and Defilad Square nor about squares in general. Instead, it is a book about how to study such places. It proposes a research model combining cognitive models and methodologies of researchers who deal with exactly the same topic. In terms of its content and layout the volume bases on an attempt to transplant the fugue’s genre characteristics onto the model of the thesis so as to show, through polyphony, harmony, and counterpoints, the emergence of the transdisciplinary model in the course of interdisciplinary work.
An important thing was to pinpoint the characteristics of the areas studied — the distinguishing features which are the reason why their development has posed problems. Places of this type are called ‘difficult places’, with this difficulty encompassing various aspects which enter the sphere of both physical and represented space. Importantly, many phenomena are situated on the border between them. It is not an analysis of space but of s p a c e – t i m e and the factors which determine the interrelation between stability and dynamism. The essence of the research — and this statement is a result of not theoretical assumptions but empirical experiences — is fluctuation of conceptions, their mutual dependency and interaction, and also a transformation of one conception into another, and not an attempt to create a common dictionary.
The research model developed can be used, transformed, and developed by other transdisciplinary research groups studying places of similar specificity.