WRT
Essay
WARSAW: ZACHĘTA — NARODOWA GALERIA SZTUKI

Territory as a Project

Preface for the catalogue of Trouble in Paradise – Polish National Pavilion at the 17th Venice Biennale, edited by PROLOG +1. Warsaw: Zachęta — Narodowa Galeria Sztuki, 2000. Platon Issaias with Hamed Khosravi.

Team
Platon Issaias
Hamed Khosravi
Categories
Ecology, Environment, Landscape, Territory, Theory

In recent years, many architects, urbanists, planners, geographers, political theorists, philosophers, curators, cultural and economic institutions of power, have been occupied, one could say obsessively, with the challenge to ‘redefine the countryside’. It seems that in the context of climate emergency and planetary genocide, and with urgent demands for alternative forms of production and modes of human and non-human existence, social and physical spaces that seem to present a counter-paradigm to the dense, metropolitan environment of continuous growth, have been placed (again) to the centre of our attention. Genuine efforts have been made to dismantle the over-insisting ideological diagram of western modernity that approaches the rural paradigm as a problem.

Since the birth of the modern nation state and the rise of imperialist, colonial powers, the countryside has been treated as an outdated and pre-capitalist, pre-modern ruin, within which, the polarised and polarising schema ‘centre’-’periphery’ has been intensifying the already asymmetrical power relations and never-ending exploitation of rural and indigenous populations. And yet, it seems that this trend is often exhausted into two alternative outcomes: historisation, ie. a quest for a genealogy of the countryside and ‘rurality’ as political forms, or re-conceptualisation, an attempt to revisit the dialectical opposition ‘urban’-’rural’ in favor of the latter as a critical project. There are two problems that emerge with the above, which our short intervention, but also the Polish Pavilion in the 2020 Venice Architectural Biennale as a whole, have tried to address. The first, has to do with the value and instrumentality of a ‘general theory of rurality’. Can we imagine an alternative that allows for a multiplicity of experiences, struggles, differences, historic and contemporary, to emerge?

Here, the importance of diverse case studies is essential. These would not only bring neglected examples to the forefront, but most importantly, would challenge the dominant Eurocentric, western historiography. Secondly, the ‘urban’-’rural’ dichotomy could also lead to a series of confusions that has to do with the way the latter is defined in opposition to the former. It seems to us that quite often spatial and social typologies and diagrams of rural, suburban, peri-urban, remote, indigenous forms of habitations are mixed into one and unified ‘non-city’ modes of living and topologies. When this happens, we end up replicating, if not intensifying, the violent asymmetries that have produced these categorisations in the first place.

Collage with the use of photos by Michał Sierakowski, archive of Trouble in Paradise exhibition in the Polish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, 2020.

[link to the publication]

About

Fatura Collaborative – Research & Design Practice, was founded in 2009 and is developing projects across a wide range of scales, from intimate objects and performance, to architecture, urban design and planning. We are interested in architecture as social infrastructure, in developing collective equipments, in the design of spaces of care, empathy and welfare. We design and research expanding new problematics about ecology, the domestic, everyday life and the city.

Members

ELISAVET HASA
ARCHITECT

is an architect and researcher based in London. She studied architecture in Patras, Greece, and currently is a PhD candidate at the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art in London. Her research focuses on the intersections between social movements and the state apparatus, and centers around the ad-hoc infrastructures created for welfare provision during periods of crisis. She has practiced architecture in the UK and worked in the housing, healthcare, and education sectors in collaboration with public authorities and established architectural practices. Prior to London, Elisavet gained experience as an architect in Athens and Madrid.

PLATON ISSAIAS
ARCHITECT

is an architect, researcher, and educator. He studied architecture in Thessaloniki, Greece, and holds an MSc from Columbia University and a PhD from TU Delft and The City as a Project research collective. He is the director of Projective Cities MPhil programme at the Architectural Association, where he is also teaching Diploma Unit 7 with Hamed Khosravi. Previously, he has taught at the Berlage Institute (Netherlands), in the MArch Urban Design programme at the Bartlett, the RCA, Syracuse University and the University of Cyprus. His research interests explore urban design and architecture in the relation to the politics of labour, economy, law and labour struggles. He has written and lectured extensively about Greek urbanisation and the politics of urban development.

THEODOSSIS ISSAIAS
ARCHITECT

is an architect and educator, and recently joined the Heinz Architectural Center at the Carnegie Museum of Art as Associate Curator. He earned his diploma of Architecture at the National Technical University of Athens and an SMarchS degree from MIT. Since 2009, he has been practicing as a founding member of Fatura Collaborative, an architecture and research collective. His PhD dissertation, “Architectures of the Humanitarian Front” (Yale University), explores the nexus of humanitarian organizations and architecture and their relation to conflict, displacement and the provision of shelter.

GIANNANTONIS MOUTSATSOS
ARCHITECT

is an architect based in Lund, Sweden. He graduated in 2010 from the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens and holds an MSc in Energy Efficient and Environmental Building Design from the School of Architecture of Lund University (2015). He has practiced architecture as a freelance architect in Greece and currently in Sweden (eg. Tengbom architects), where he works on a wide range of projects including small houses, larger residential complexes as well as care, educational and industrial facilities.

ALEXANDRA VOUGIA
ARCHITECT

graduated in 2007 from the School of Architecture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. She holds the MSc in Advanced Architectural Design from GSAPP, Columbia University (2008). In June 2016, she was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the Architectural Association. Her thesis dealt with the transition towards abstraction in art and architecture during the end of 19th and early 20th centuries, with an emphasis on interwar architectural modernism in Germany. Alexandra has been teaching at the AA since 2012, where she is currently a studio master in the First Year Studio of the Experimental Programme and a Programme Coordinator and Course tutor in the MArch Architecture & Urbanism (DRL) programme. She has practiced as an architect in New York and Athens.