“The art of the epic theatre consists in producing astonishment rather than empathy… Instead of identifying with the characters, the audience should be educated to be astonished at the circumstances under which they function.” – Walter Benjamin on Bertolt Brecht
We invite you to leave aside our consumerist society that privileges profit and the individual above everything else and follow us to a land built on dreams of experimentation, self-management, socialism and cinema. This land is deeply conflicted with recent histories of war, natural disaster, genocide, corruption, pollution, and rampant neo-liberalism yet these epic conditions have not overwhelmed its citizens but rather stimulated them to activism, to develop new forms of social relationships based on the commons and to reject neo-liberalism. The empty husks of the city are full of traces and possibilities for a new definition of what architecture can be.
We will situate our search for astonishment in the city of Zagreb, unpacking the recent past, mapping tendencies and future trajectories to develop new strategies and structures that can interrupt and inhabit the fabric of the city. We will focus on the notion of Free Space as a radical alternative to conventional city building and living. Building on the ruptures and disjunctions within the city and its evident fragility, your interventions will start without programme, your search for astonishment will define this.
Lebbeus Woods worked in Zagreb during 1991 at the start of the Croatian war of independence, developing his speculative Cybernetic Circus and his notion of a network of Free Zones across the city through a body of drawings, collages and physical models. We will also study the work of Zagreb’s great visionary architect and artist Venceslav Richter, and precedents such as John Hejduk, Constant’s New Babylon and Marjan Teeuwen.
Cinema is something that played a major role in the formation of Tito’s Yugoslavia. Between 1949 and 1980 Tito’s private projectionist showed him 8,801 films. Tito was actively involved in the film making industry constructing alternative and complementary realities for his citizens. Today the majority of the Zagreb’s cinemas and film studios are abandoned and empty… We will start with film as a means to generate drawings, collages, models, scripts, and animations. Working on and intersecting these mediums as means to gather our libraries of creative expression for the year. We will investigate the role of the architect as urban performer and speculate how free spaces can choreograph, re-program and transform the city across multiple scales from the individual to the wider network. The materiality of your site will act as props for your interventions which will insinuate themselves into the city fabric building new relationships, narratives, and dependencies as Trojan Horses (misguidance of intent), epiphytes (air plants requiring physical support) or parasites (living off a host).
We are looking for curious, self-motivated and committed students who will be open to developing your architectural imaginations and forging personal narratives based on observation, experimentation and speculation. We are here to stimulate you, to encourage you to build upon your own architectural languages and interests and to ultimately push you further to form a strong project.
Term 1 – The Zone & the Trojan Horse
- Exploration 01 – The Free Zone (as a short animation – group work)
- Exploration 02 – The assembly (drawings + future rep module modelling + recording)
- Exploration 03 – The gift – placement (finding site and revisiting the Free Zone)
Term 2 – Epiphytes and Parasites
- Project continuation and development of individual projects as an epiphyte and/ or parasite and its consequences in the city