Anterooms, Passages and Lobbies: Built Order and the Sub-Spaces of Power
Plan of the Passage, The Bank of England’s Vade Mecum, 1782.
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Lecture (for members only)

Anterooms, Passages and Lobbies: Built Order and the Sub-Spaces of Power

Maren Koehler

In 1954, Carl Schmitt proposed that it is the anteroom (Vorraum) rather than the official state room (Staatszimmer), in which power is negotiated and exercised. This suggestion draws attention to the necessary but often considered secondary sub-spaces, or architectural communications, that enable and provide access to power, rather than to the generally more visible representative spaces of power. What are the architectural implications of such a view? What was it about the sub-space that facilitated modern institutional decision making and the accumulation of power? And what are some of the primary turning points in history that register this spatial reorientation of power?

This project argues that architectural communications were critical for the governance of modern institutions and the formation of building types. The system of lobbies, passages and vestibules in the eighteenth century building of the Bank of England in London for example enabled the efficient supervision of different departments within the Bank and regulated the circulation of staff, visitors and repositories of wealth.

Ultimately, the aim of this project is to develop a critical framework that accounts for the formation of the lobby as a key component in modern banking architecture. However, the project also suggests that there is more to be said about the broader relationship between the distributive and operational properties of sub-spaces and mechanisms of power. This presentation introduces the key questions of my fellowship project, which will inform the introduction of a book manuscript with the working title Mediating Transactions: The Bank Lobby in Post-war North America.

Maren Koehler is a fellow in the LOEWE research cluster “Architectures of Order” during the 2021/22 winter semester. This presentation introduces the main themes and questions of her fellowship.