A New Archipelago - Dwelling as the City in the City

Zhang, J. 2020. A New Archipelago - Dwelling as the City in the City. 17th Annual International Conference of the Architectural Humanities Research Association. University of Nottingham 19 - 21 Nov 2020 AHRA.

Title A New Archipelago - Dwelling as the City in the City
AuthorsZhang, J.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

Adorno once said that we must learn ‘how not to be at home in one’s home’(Adorno 1974). Despite its origin as commentary on property relation, the phrase nevertheless captures our current feelings of intense unease living in a global pandemic. What this prolonged period of isolation has thrown into focus, is not only the inadequacy in our current housing design, but the profound change to the meaning of the home. While public spaces have remained important arenas for protest and subversion, other aspects of our public lives have been increasingly lived in private spaces. The interior realm previously reserved for the most intimate moments of our lives have become offices, gyms, conference rooms, nurseries, stages, as well as recreational and productive nature. Enabled by communication and logistic technologies, this transformation was already in action before the lockdown. The pandemic has simply accelerated our retreat into the virtual. This paper argues that the current crisis can be better understood by revisiting the City in the City - Berlin as a Green Archipelago (Ungers et al 1978), in which Ungers and Koolhaas addressed a different crisis, one of depopulation, by arguing for a shrinking of the city into moments of intensity, and ’turning the crisis itself into the very project of the architecture of the city’(Aureli 2011). This paper will argue that the current collapse of city life into the singularity of the dwelling has made our homes into the new archipelago, the new city within the city in which we converse via social network apps, pontificate via live streams, and consume by delivery, where the traditional notion of ‘real’ public space becoming arenas for moments of intense catharsis when all else fails. By adopting such a rhetoric, the paper will hope to speculate on ‘what the city might be when one begins by considering what it already is’(Mastrigli 2013).

KeywordsHousing
Ungers
Pandemic
Dwelling
Design
city in the City
Year2020
Conference17th Annual International Conference of the Architectural Humanities Research Association
PublisherAHRA

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