Mechanism of Suspension – Infrastructure and Legislation for free Camping
Research and design project exhibited in the Greek pavilion ‘Tourism Landscapes: Remaking Greece’ at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia: ‘Fundamentals’.
Mechanism of Suspension is a collective project launched in March 2014, exhibited in the 14th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia as part of the Greek Participation. The commissioner required the design of a tourist accommodation unit in an idyllic, non-existent coastal landscape, to which the proposal replied with three complementary elements.
The first consists of an alternative legislative framework against the privatisation of the coast, and in support of free access to the commons and the definition of communal use, with an emphasis on the conceptual categories of need and self-negation. The second invents the exemplary Udamou Beach (Nowhere land) and finally the third, constructs a field and an infrastructure for free camping.
The project is a machine that reconfigures a coastal landscape to function as a field for outdoor free accommodation. It attempts to curate logistically and legislatively the territory that supports this possibility. Precondition for the existence of this infrastructure is the radical modification of the current legal framework that would guarantee and protect free camping and the free use of the commons. The landscape that derives from this process performs as an expanded field of different zones, spatial definitions, activities, and forms of living. It does not have an owner, a fence or a monitored entrance and it cannot be appropriated. It is free, reversible, and offers access to common utility networks without compensation, while any productive activity, supply or provision concerns the needs of users and inhabitants – not profit.
The infrastructure is not a building but an exposed machine. A field that measures and produces energy, collects, and provides water, organises basic hygienic facilities, water supply and an irrigation network, manages waste, produces, stores, and disposes food, while it materialises fundamental architectural arrangements defining the territory. The living units do not unfold in relation to the infrastructure but occupy the field. Lightweight tents, fabrics, and other temporary arrangements construct the various units of accommodation.
The relation between infrastructure, dwelling and landscape intensifies the paradox of an otherwise free camping site designed as an open machine for living. The often hidden parts of a building – cables, pipes, tanks, boilers, storage, cranes, refrigerators, kitchens, toilets, basins and faucets – are uncovered “in the middle of nowhere”, exposing the sheer size of all things considered as the minimum necessary. How can we expose the limits – political and social – of the ruthless exploitation and privatisation that the current economy and way of life enforce?