Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Heidegger's "place, space and building": the bridge and Black Forest farm

Heidegger: Building Dwelling Thinking - summary part 1 - - 3

According to Martin Heidegger in "Building Dwelling Thinking" the relation between man and space takes on the form of dwelling. A building is what allows for a sense of place in which dwelling occurs. A bridge stretched across a river, Heidegger argues, provides such a sense of space. Out of numerous possibilities along the river, the construction of a bridge was the site in which a place was constituted. For Heidegger the bridge in not just a functional object, nor is it a dual signifier of referential object and symbolic meaning. For Heidegger, a bridge is a manifestation of the fourfold which is at the base of all dwelling. A bridge collects and unites all aspects of the fourfold, earth, sky, mortals and divinities into a "thing". Such things are distinguishes form one another by the manner in which the manifest the unity of the fourfold. A bridge, in other words, allows for dwelling on account of its predetermined unification of the fourfold.

Space is therefore something which stems out of a place. The fourfold of existence can only appear in the space created by a certain place, and the place, in the case of the bridge, was created only upon it construction. Actual geometric space is only a subsequent object of human contemplation. Therefore Heidegger distinguishes physical space from place. The bridge, as a place, constitutes its own part (and whole) of the world. Space, in a sense, is something which is created before it is experienced.

Heidegger sums up "Building Dwelling Thinking" by another example of a place of dwelling: the Black Forest farm house. The example of the Black Forest farm serves to illustrate how, for Heidegger, dwelling should be carried out.

Dwelling, to simplify matters, is something like "making yourself at home". Building is a form of dwelling, and dwelling is a form of thinking. The example of the Black Forest farm shows how building allows foe dwelling which is having a sense of place. Heidegger describes the Black Forest house and illustrates how it manifests the four part of the fourfold.

Heidegger: Building Dwelling Thinking - summary part 1 - - 3


  1. useful, interesting unpacking of theory

  2. Beautiful post.
    I am working on the bridge concept as a political tool.
    cool headed it out Heideggerians - philosophy is required in this crisis.