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A spatial encyclopedia: the architecture of Paul Otlet’s archive

Tunçbilek, Gonca Zeynep
This dissertation is a critical assessment of the museum as a knowledge space. Starting with Paul Otlet’s ‘World City’ as a source of classification of knowledge in the urban framework, this thesis focuses on the hierarchical ‘order’ model on several scales: urban museum, museum, hall, room, cabinet, catalog drawers, and index cards, respectively. The classification of knowledge is the subject of study; Otlet’s ‘Mundaneum’ is the tool of research, and the museum architecture as a classification form is the epistemological framework of this dissertation. In order to comprehend the boundaries, dimensions and necessities of ‘universality,’ the Mundaneum is discussed, as a source of classification of knowledge, consisting of three primary architectural forms: the library, the university, and the museum. By concentrating mainly on museums, this thesis evaluates the dialectic relationship between knowledge classification and its architecture, since museum architecture has a powerful impact on the definition, production, dissemination and order of knowledge. This thesis mainly discusses the differences and continuities between Otlet’s universalist vision of the 20th century and the 21st century’s universalist tendencies on architecture. Thus, this study suggests a specific understanding of the museum classification by reconsidering it as a ‘system’ rooted in the urges and challenges of historically, theoretically, and conceptually defining the 21st century museum ideas. This dissertation aims to describe and clarify the characteristics of the ‘Encyclopedic Museum’ as a new museum category of the 21st century, since it has capacity to promote knowledge and its new classification that integrates its practical and theoretical dimensions.