Unplanned Visitors: Queering the Ethics and Aesthetics of Domestic Space

Olivier Vallerand

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Sexuality and gender have long been influential in understanding the construction of domestic space, its meanings, often revealing a binary division of private and public, female and male. By reconstructing the foundation of queer critiques of space and by analyzing the representation of domesticity in contemporary art and architecture, Unplanned Visitors shows the blurring of private and public that can occur in any domestic space and explores the potential of queer theory for understanding, and designing, the built environment. Olivier Vallerand investigates how queer critiques, building on pioneering feminist work, question the relation between identity and architecture and highlight normative constructs underlying domestic spaces. He draws out a genealogy of queer space in theoretical discourse in architecture, studying projects by Mark Robbins, Joel Sanders, J Mayer H, Elmgreen & Dragset, Andrés Jaque, and MYCKET, among others. These works blur the traditional borders between architecture and art to emphasize the tensions between private and public and their impact on assumptions about domestic space and family structure. The challenges in moving from experimental installations to built environments suggest how designers must acknowledge and respond to the social contexts that shape architecture, rethinking how domestic spaces can be designed to allow everyone to better manage the expression of their self-identification through their living environments. Unplanned Visitors poses a challenge to traditional architectural theory and history, but also suggests a renewed and more inclusive ethics whereby designers explicitly address social and political power structures. The potential of a queer approach to architectural design, history, theory, and education is precisely to enact a method that creates more inclusive buildings and safer neighbourhoods for everyone.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Place of PublicationMontreal & Kingston
PublisherMcGill-Queen's University Press
Number of pages264
ISBN (Print)9780228001843, 9780228001850
StatePublished - May 21 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Gender Studies
  • History


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