The Collapse of the Domestic Space and the Rise of Co-op Architecture: Second In-progress Ph.D. Presentation

PhD in-progress presentation 2011-2012
Friday March 23 from 18.00 to 20.00 – J.J.P. Oud room
Second presentation session with Bernardina Borra and Platon Issaias

Platon Issaias shows the collapse of the petty bourgeois domestic space in the 2000s Greece. On the ashes of the old subjectivity, is it possible to think the architect as a collective design agent? Bernardina Borra tries to answer this question analyzing the architecture of Hannes Meyer.

On Co-operation: from a Political Category to a Design Tool

Bernardina Borra

Within cognitive capitalism architects have a chance to help overcome contemporary capitalist limits to economic and (re)productive life. The paper will attempt to critically retrieve from Hannes Meyer’s legacy on Co-op design the professionality and tools needed in today’s society to overarch this impasse.­

Within modernist culture Hannes Meyer can be seen as a paradigmatic example in the attempt to establish co-operation no longer as a political category, but as a design tool. In particular, his work can be regarded as a harbinger to put into crisis the cognitive status of the autonomous vision and the centered self. This is a key concept to outline the potential of our profession today, as well as to understand the multitude in its actual status and possible future developments.

Meyer deconstructs the work of architecture into its material determinants and the social conditions of its making. For him, architecture tries to disappear. This entails acknowledging that design is collaborative and our profession is based on the re-appropriation and re-signification of existing built matter in the city. The professional task is designing the use and the meaning of the city rather than exclusively focusing on form tout court: in particular, reorganizing an organized form of existence by co-operating among individuals.

Individuals could then redeem a subject-object relationship to the city, and regain on the one hand the agency to affect and on the other the capacity to be affected by their space and environment. Such process casts a new light for a possibility to shape an active agency that has a reciprocal relationship to spatial issues. Hereby the result would not be a transposal into built matter of an already constituted meaning that exist outside and before architecture and planning. But rather, an organization of process, a set of operations, a co-production of certain effects not available without design performance.

War within Four Walls: A City in Crisis and the Collapse of the Domestic Archetypes

Platon Issaias

The paper analyzes two significant feature films of the last decade, “Matchbox” (2003) and “Dogtooth” (2009), which were both presented by two young Greek directors, Yannis Economides and Yorgos Lanthimos.

Dealing with different subjectivities–the first with the urban petit bourgeoisie and the second with the suburban middle class–the films proceeded with a brutal critique of the cultural and ideological prejudices and stereotypes of the native society. These were exposed as pathogeneses of an illusionary and disorienting social consensus, an institutional prerequisite during the decades of economic development. However ordinary, paradigmatic and exemplarily familiar, characters, situations, everyday life, language articulation and content, spaces and objects are depicted to their extremes.
What makes these two projects significant in the discipline of architecture is the way the artists relate all of the above with the collapse of the domestic archetypes of the city: the typical apartment of the generic Athenian block, and the self-built suburban villa of rural Attica. In both cases, space is of fundamental importance, primarily because the plot is developing only within interior and introverted settings, with barely any reference to the surrounding city and landscape. By being ordinary and typical, they manage to further estrange the reality of the protagonists.

The aim of the paper is to explore the relation of these two significant films with the city’s contemporary condition. This will allow elaborating on and arguing the hypothesis of the research, which is the bond of the profound economic and political collapse of Greece with a particular spatial crisis that preceded it.