The Projective Credibility of Fictions: Robin Evans’ Methodological Excursions
Although central to Robin Evans’ studies of history, his use of “fictions” is as novel as it is unexplored. Expanding from intensive studies of traditional architectural forms of representation (plan,elevation, perspective, photography) Evans includes paintings of human figures, novels, and plays. Ratherthan marginalizing these depictions for their fictional basis, he places them alongside, on equal footing, with their architectural counterparts.
As Evans examined the past, he used these fictional devices to project vitality into space. In so doing, Evans imbues these fictions with a type of credibility not similar, but complementary, to types of credibility at work in traditional architectural representations. He leverages the architect’s ability to read circulation, depth, and enclosure into the plan to anchor the reader while allowing fictions (narratives, paintings, conversations) to speculate about the character of social life. The overt and explicit artifice of fictions, in effect, facilitates and legitimates their use.
This paper examines Evan's use of fables, novels, courtesy books, plays, paintings, and advertisements through a selection of his most canonical articles. Although varied from article to article, Evans explicitly defines each fiction's use in relation to other more conventional source materials. Each of these uses expands upon their deployment as a projective, rather than simply documentary, device. The product of this study is a grounded, yet provisional, methodology of research as a form of architectural speculation.