Spatial Design / Architecture
posted by: Christian Teckert
Architect Christian Teckert has been invited to develop architectural scenarios for Europe (to the power of) n.
The Architecture Scenario for the Europe project deals with three conditions of contemporary spatiality, which coexist in a way that could be described as integral to today’s idea of territory. The question of whether Europe is a concept based on a specific territory, or is instead based more on certain cultural bonds, is still being negotiated and has been left open up until now. But it is exactly this process of ongoing negotiation about how to define Europe’s identity that could be a crucial point of departure in a discussion on the spatial dimension within the context of this project. In such a debate there are three conceptions of space that figure prominently.
First of all, there is the space of “flows” – as Manuel Castells called it – a de-territorialised network of infrastructures, transport routes, and material and immaterial goods. It represents the non-space – a more or less globalised type of space. Nevertheless, it can be observed that within this seemingly transgressive spatiality, new forms of boundaries, thresholds, and borderlines are emerging. The notion of the nation state may have lost its importance in some respects by becoming porous as a result of technology, as well as through the migration and mobility of individuals, but for a majority of people, borders have multiplied due to new systems of surveillance, and intensified controls that – sometimes brutally – separate those who have access to certain zones from those who do not.
Secondly, there is the space of “heterotopias” – as Michel Foucault called it – an archipelago of islands representing localised identities, regional qualities, or specific communities, which construct their identities by holding claim to a regional bond of a certain territory as the basis of these identities. This is the re-territorialising dynamic at play in movements as diverse as ecological food production, community-based activities, the creation of regional trademarks, as well as in separatist and nationalist movements that mostly try to reinstall territorial boundaries in the name of ethnic monocultures.
Thirdly and maybe most significantly, there is the emergence of “thirdspaces” – as Homi Bhabha or Edward Soja have called them – hybrid realms of articulations, which do not belong to any one specific space, culture, or identity. It is about the emergence of hybrid identities, which are located in in-between spaces or established by transcultural practices. These “improper” spaces are usually overlooked by the hegemonic discourses on the question of Europe’s form, identity, or culture.
These three conditions might not necessarily be specific to Europe, but they could allow for a framework of developing tools in the form of scenarios that try to utilise the logic of these three spatial characteristics, in order to be able to negotiate and address some basic conditions of Europe’s spatiality and to ask the question of what role the institutions of artistic production, display, and discourse play in this heterogeneous and contradictory spatiality of “Europe”.
The following three scenarios each address, respectively, one spatial concept after the other, backed by the idea that none of them are able to represent the “true”, “best”, or “original” model for this project to be determined. Rather, they form three constitutively co-existent modes of spatiality. It is only altogether that they form a toolbox for the spatial dispositif of this project and its “exhibition architecture”.
posted by Christian Teckert