Sebastian Messer

Sebastian Messer is an Architect, Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University and is undertaking a Practice-based PhD in the tactics of appropriation. His Masters students at Northumbria University are investigating Northern identity in the context of English devolution and he is particularly interested in uses of narrative in design. He enjoys collaboration, and has worked with a wide variety of people from geographers to artists, skateboarders to a circus school.

“An incomplete taxonomy of urban archetypes” – A Talk

Archetypes are symbols used in literature to represent universally-recognisable figures, actions or settings. Their characterisation is secondary to an idea or narrative in which their role is expositional. At the beginning of the 20 th Century Walter Benjamin distilled from 19 th Century poet Charles Baudelaire a number of new archetypes or ‘allegories’, most famously the figure of the Flâneur, as metaphors of modern urban life. Those allegories are fluid, they elide into one another. In Benjamin’s essays the Flâneur reluctantly becomes Detective; both a disguise for apparent idleness and justification for detached observation, whilst his poetry is gathered from the street just as the Ragpicker gathers up what others discard. The Ragpicker is an unwelcome reminder to the bohème of their precarious place in the modern city.