Architecture Without Content 8: Places Of Accumulation: Temporary Residence
Another Short History of Architecture without Content The second iteration of Architecture without Content at EPFL is the eighth incarnation of a studio that started three years ago at Columbia University. Back then it was intended as a study of the Big Box, a big industrial building that can contain many things. Over time, Architecture without Content came to represent an idea of a possible architecture of the perimeter, a pragmatic kind of architecture that remains radical and precise. The first incarnation of Places of Accumulation — entitled Machines — concentrated both on places of production and places of storage. Buildings that concentrate the very essence of our contemporary infrastructure. In most cases they are not considered as possible sites for an architectural project. Machines thus investigated the possibility to accumulate formal knowledge in buildings that do not deserve a specific architectural treatment. We claimed: “Their presence is all they have, but perhaps that is enough.” Temporary Residence is in many ways the inverse of Machines . Site and territory are the defining factors for the architectural type. As much as each of the designed buildings are considered autonomous, it is precisely their performance ‘on site’ that was considered. At first, the project tackled fifteen sites of a wider series of temporary detention centres for migrants in contemporary Greece. As with the Machines , these buildings play a role on a global scale and regulate flows in the even covered field. The sites sprawl around in the entire territory of the country, and are more densely distributed close to the Turkish border and around Athens. During the studio, we drifted away from that initial thought. The buildings in Temporary Residence accumulate people, not machines or data. The temporary residences designed here are to be objects that permanently mark and deal with the specificity of a given territory whilst being able to accumulate transient fluxes of people — now temporary detention centres for immigrants, in the future something else. Ultimately, Temporary Residence considers inhabitants a temporary fad. The ambiguity towards its user is the code of arms of this ignorant piece of architecture. As a true Architecture without Content it turns the inhabitant into its alibi.