2013: Spatial Agency with Tatjana Schneider
Dr. Tatjana Schneider, Sheffield University ran a workshop with us in March 2013. Working in groups of 4 across both M.Arch years, this project challenged us to consider the position and potential action of different actors from the perspective of a given theoretical context and situated in a chosen site.
Each group was given an essay or extract of a book which typically focused on participatory architectural practices and spatial agency; an actor (eg. citizen, feminist, urban activist, historian…) and an action (eg. dreaming, altering, caring, destroying…). We were asked to come up with a profile for our given actor, and after reading the text and using the given action, perform an intervention in a site of our choosing. Lastly, we were asked to write a response and present all of this with an image that represented our action and theoretical position.
Here are some of the projects from the workshop….
Group 1: The Porous Gateway:
Kostas Ipeirotis, Sotiria Sary, Sonja Peshkoff, Lee Cheetham
Text: Harvey D., ‘The political economy of public space’
Actor: Urban Activist Action: Dreaming
In reference to last night’s hosting of Plymouth Respect Festival (07/03/13) at the ground floor of Plymouth University’s Roland Levinsky Building we are responding and challenging the Vice-chancellor’s statement:
“Our staff and students make a hugely positive contribution to the cultural diversity of Plymouth, and a key opportunity here is to reach out and sustain mutual respect throughout our community.’’
Students in the city are regarded overall negatively due to their position and detachment in the urban fabric. There isn’t a healthy relationship between students and overall Plymouth City. The stairs to the main entrance of the University has been designed by urban planners to be a ‘gateway’ to the University, although literature conquers that the very notion of steps creates a strong hierachal boundary.
The intention of this urban activist exercise was to facilitate the public to draw their eyes up the stairs. The urban activist would be acting on behalf of the public, to lure or encourage movement up the stairs, diminishing the barrier.
‘What is so remarkeable is not only the way in which the contensted character of public space and the inherent porosity of the boundary between the public and private, but how it generates a sense of space where ambiguities of proprietorship, of aesthetics, of social relations; class and gender in particular and the political economy of everyday life collide.’ (Harvey D., ‘The political economy of public space’)
Group 2: The Universal Toilet:
Jaimie-Lynne Li How Cheong, Adam Adamopoulos, Sarah Morgan, Suzanne O’Donovan
Text: Petrescu, D. ‘Losing Control Keeping Desire‘ in Blundell-Jones, Petrescu & Till, Architecture + Participation, 2005
Actor: Feminist Action: Altering
Female graduates, on average, earn less than their male counterparts – even if they studied the same programme at the same university and received similar grades. This recent study
illustrates that the pay disparity between male and female starts much sooner than what is generally perceived to be a motherhood tax. Is this de-valuing pre-emptive, or is it based on an ingrained cultural attitude? We considered how culturally the sexes are segregated from birth – blue/pink, cars/dolls – and in the case of the Roland Levinsky Building, in particular from the fourth to the seventh floors, both sexes are equally discriminated against through single sex toilets alternating on floors (Bad planning is a discussion for a different day).
This intervention considers the semiotics of space as a means of behaviour control and challengs the assumptive signs of female and male – signs that ignore transgender, transvestite, women with short hair, wearing trousers, long haired men etc. These signs and spaces are re-appropriated into a more universal symbol. RLB’s single sex toilets were reterritorialised and challenged users to think about how these spaces worked/failed for how the building is used.
“As in bricolage, in participative projects, the process is somehow more important than the result, the assemblage more important than the object, the deterritorialisation is more important than the construction of territories” (Petrescu, 2005: 45)
More projects and images will be uploaded soon…