Situated Freedom - Experiments in Architecture - Through the lens of the work of Rem Koolhaas
The conclusion that architects are so entangled with the cultural industry that there is no way out, that the situation of architecture in a neoliberal world of co-option and reiteration is completely corrupted - this all-consuming image of power - misses the opportunity to understand those glimmers of hope that open up as one moves amongst and between the techniques by which power relations attempt but never truly succeed in "holding" their pattern. The issue is to detect and to make use of these openings, to pirate them and project beyond them from within. Instead of either corruption or impossibility, this research seeks to identify, from within architecture's own zone of competence, a third option; that of 'situated freedom.' Architects and architecture operates in the world, is entangled, and subject to the power relation within it. This is what architecture practice makes possible, where the expanding local spaces of situated freedom are situated. ’Liberty is a practice' Foucault says, and it is a situated one.
In the research I investigate three situations: 1. The Domestic: the paradoxical complexity of private swimming pools. Three mediations of three private swimming pools: 'Semiotics,' 'Semi-Autonomy,' and the 'Non-Object.' The pool on the roof, the pool in the courtyard, the pool in Nature. All three, in different ways, create situated freedom through the commodity fetishism of the commodified idea of a private pool. 2. The Institutional: rethinking monumentality, the icon as representation of power. 'Modulating contradiction,' and the 'irrational tectonics' of the Central China Television Headquarters. 3. The Public sphere: 'any-space-whatever,' the public sphere of the Seattle central library. How an engaged citizenry can be staged, renewing theatricality in architecture.
The research explores the limits and potentials of architectural aesthetics. Analyses how spatial and aesthetic techniques of framing - architecture as device - at different scales – from object to city –, can create possibilities of situated freedoms.
Katja Hogenboom 2018