Fun house ludus loci and the American home as folly

by Thomas, L. David, Ph.D., UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT DENVER, 2012, 357 pages; 3505860


While play marks both the cultural and pre-cultural spheres of human existence, the environmental design disciplines have almost exclusively compartmentalized the notions of play and fun into categories of leisure and children's playgrounds. The rhetorics of environmental design, to date, have ignored, or at best marginalized, the possibility of play outside of recreational and commercial contexts.

Still, we have abundant examples of playful architecture and fun places that stand outside of the strict boundaries of leisure, recreation and commerce including architectural follies and exotic, whimsical and fun homes.

This project conceptualizes a general notion of "fun architecture" by extracting from research on games a method of critical description of environmental fun. Core to all games is both the concept of environment—where the game takes place and how the place defines the game—and the play—the things that make the game fun. Leveraging the critical language of games, the research provides a study of the American notion of fun architecture through the development of an operational definition of "fun" and then creates a rhetorical bridge between game fun and real places through the application of game concepts to a series of American homes and domestic settings. Taken together, this research illustrates a method and explicates a broad vocabulary of environmental fun.

Case applications of the method include: · The Winchester Mystery House, in San Jose California, a classic folly turned tourist trap. · Bishop's Castle in Rye, Colorado, an expressive structure constructed in the folly tradition by a single builder and enjoyed as an anomalous spectacle. · Disneyland and the representations of home in a themepark setting. · IKEA demonstrating retail shopping as domestic fantasy. · Game designer Richard Garriott de Cayeux's Britannia Manor, a traditional residence as a place for play.

Through the application of the critical language of games filtered through environment, to specific domestic sites, this research demonstrates the consistent design and theoretical similarities in these sites as well as provides more precise descriptions as to why we understand each as a fun place, a fun house.

AdviserJoseph Juhasz
Source TypeDissertation
Publication Number3505860

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