Daily Archives: February 6, 2018


How Long is Now?

“Thinking about architecture, we are confronted with the heritage of former generations as well the questions of how to understand, act on, act with and further develop these structures and how to create today a vision of and for the future. My vision of an interaction with the existing building stock may be summed up with a poetically formulation by Mark Wigley, who names preservation a “forward-thinking celebration of life”. But how can we think forward and celebrate life while respecting the memory as testimony inscribed both materially as well as immaterially into architecture – without creating a death archive? In my opinion, the key to find possible answers lies in a better understanding of the presence of and in architecture first. The objective of my current research work is to re-examine its different dimensions as there are Architecture as thing (“Ding”) in its material presence, the presence for the beholder and Architecture as (re-)presentation of a(n ideal) future.

Based on thoughts of the Ontology of Things, namely inspired by E. Husserl, M. Heidegger and G. Böhme, I want to name the forms of presence ecstasies and distinguish spatiality, eidos, physiognomy and sensation. With the help of this concept I aim to pave a possible path to overcome in a first step the thinking in polarities as inside / outside, essence / expression, the thing as such / aesthetic effect or rationality / affectivity.

The  fourth of the ecstasies bridges over from the material realism of architecture as thing to its reception by the subject, understood as being sensitive for its perceptible presence and emotional impact. To perceive a building is as well to take part on its past and possible future. Looking back, there are traces of testimony in social as well as in historical dimensions. Looking forward, the present stimulates the imagination of the beholder. Thus we are thinking of the relationship of building and beholder via the ecstasies as a double bind, that tries to solve the above named polarities and, at the same time, helps to overcome the division between subject and object. Furthermore there are as well the sensitive qualities of a thing as there are qualities, which has been given by an act of creation.

All three mentioned forms of presence take architecture as a spatial thing out of time. But I suggest to understand architecture as architecture insofar as it gets identity from the event which will have taken place in or as architecture. The event defines the now of architecture. It is not only a confrontation of the person(s) involved and architecture itself but an interaction in and with architecture which gives the opportunity of an active (re-)appropriation of the existing object. An event cannot be planned or be foreseen. It will only be known when it will have taken place. Architecture as framework for upcoming events exists in the tense of the past perfect progressive. This framework is given by the existence of ecstasies. They are created in a process of design and development and can be seen as result of the production aesthetic. The ecstasies are inscribed into the three-dimensional reality of the present building. And they are received in sensitive affection by a beholder who gets into interaction. In result, I aim to open up an understanding of the perception of architecture as a whole of sensitive (ecstasies) and rational (language and semiotics) reception.

The now is longer than any single point in time seems to be. is related to space and temporality, as every single moment in the history of a building seems linked with every other moment in the past, present and future. The further construction of the building stock results in a continuous architecture (Weiterbauen), that allows to understand, write and read “architecture as the most living act of memory” (Jacques Derrida).”

After studying Architecture (Diploma) and Art History (Master’s  of Art) at the Technische Universität Berlin, Gerrit Wegener has been conducting research projects at the crossroads of Philosophy, Art History and Theory of Architecture. His doctoral  thesis was on Jacques Derrida  and his  writings on architecture. While seeking to identify and assess the contribution  of  Derrida to the Theory of Architecture, he further explored  the possible contribution of mainly  20th century French philosophy to architectural discourse. In  parallel to his academic work, Gerrit Wegener has been working  as a freelance architect, art historian and professional project manager with a focus on design and construction within existing structures, taking into account aspects of heritage and historical preservation.


Legalising informal construction in Rijeka

“This presentation is an extension of the original research proposal which dealt with individual informal construction and its legalization process in the light of European Capital of Culture. Through it, I aimed to get better insight in Rijeka as a case of relatively high construction regulation, in historical terms and compared to the rest of former Yugoslavia. It also seemed convenient, considering the sensitivity of the European Capital of Culture project and potential investments it would attract, which are less state-dependent compared to large sports events. In particular, I was interested to observe whether will Rijeka 2020 affect finalization of legalization process, if its larger development projects will create space for more regulation or will cause new problems. However, in the presentation, I detour from this narrow focus, due to several conclusions I derived from initial field research. ECC project is too specific and developing too slowly to create visible results in five months of the fellowship and activities planned within ECC project are happening slower than I expected. But more importantly, particular dynamics of space regulation appear to be unaffected by the ECC, but only continued by historical relationship and failures/successes of legalization.

I found necessary to expand the research question to this relationship. What is a local history of legalization (individual informal construction regulation)? How is this process specific to Rijeka? What is given in this process (what developmental projects are presented as universal objectives with their values and hegemonies? Which actors are implementing/resisting these projects and what is their politics?
Local professionals frame legalization as unilateral, universal process. It is not mere space regulation, setting objectively existing construction in understandable terms (registries and databases) but also a highly normative implementing process. Legalisation advocators and the critique of informal construction often present the phenomenon in a specific mixture of orientalism (Balkanism), modernization and distinction. Even activists advocating better public space management and arguing re-evaluation of socialist modernism or against neoliberal thefts in large construction developments see individual construction as a problem.

Without arguing for or against this process, it is necessary to take a broader perspective and examine social dynamics of space governance and management; to see how the history of this process produced legitimization of power relationships of modernizers and those to be regulated (modernized). In the legalization process, working-class culture and heritage of Rijeka city are undermined and taken for granted. Further, I demonstrate how even socialist projects which indeed did plan and involve workers, deny workers voices. In legalization process, working-class culture is systematically delegitimized and rendered invisible in public space behind a heritage of historicist, imperial or modernist projects.”

Mišo Kapetanović holds a PhD in Balkan Studies from the University of Ljubljana. He studied Philosophy and Sociology at the University of Banja Luka and received a Joint Master degree in Global History and Global Studies from the University of Vienna and the University of Leipzig. His doctoral research dealt with the visual language of contemporary informal construction (title: “Roadside Architecture in Bosnia and Herzegovina Between Consumerism and Vernacularity”). He has written on representations in contemporary pornography, queer music experiences in the Balkans, and the history of urban planning in socialist Yugoslavia. Before Rijeka he was a research fellow at the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz and worked as a researcher on a project “Documenting Human Losses in Croatia 1991–1995” for Croatian NGO Documenta – Center for Dealing with the Past.

Natasha Jankovic

Architectural terRI(s)tories[1]:
mapping the process of city transformation

[1] Architectural stories about Rijeka’s territory

“Architecture represents one of the possible ways of how territory can be marked, but it is also a permanent trace of the process of its development. As a built form it is a sign in the ground, while as an idea it represents a trace of various approaches to its development within theoretical field. This research examines the significance and meaning of a single architectural gesture within the context of architectural narrative of the city territory by starting from the structural approach to observation of the territory and the method of post-structuralist analysis.
This research links and analyses: 1) the importance of the architectural gesture in the process of defining and developing the territory of the city, through 2) changing position from the phenomenological (formal, formative) to critical discourse of observing architecture, which examines 3) the potential of the interpretative narrative both of the architecture and the territory. With approach based on semantics and metaphors, the aim of the research of the territory and architecture as an element of its structure, is to ‘read’ some of the layers of the city (terRI[s]tories), which is considered as a cultural palimpsest, through processes and material layers of its changes and development.
This theoretical background and methodological apparatus was used in order do re-write 20.20 stoRIes of Rijeka (20 terRI(s)tories – Architectural stories about Rijeka’s territory from 20th century). More precise 20 terRI(s)tories as spatial sequencesfrom the period between 1920th (the year of Rijeka’s autonomy) and 2020th (the year when Rijeka will be European Capital of Culture) thematically grouped into different chapters were mapped with the aim of presenting some of the scapes – scenery views:  socialscapepowerscapevisionscapealterscapememoryscape and spaces of porosity (within differentscapes) of the Rijeka’s territory transformation. Reading of the terRI(s)tories should examine the potential of spatial narrativity within specific spatio-temporal context for a re-wRIting of a new stoRIes with(out) words or (new) objects by using of existingspatial sequences for future conceptions and actions.”

Natasha Jankovic is an architect, working in the filed of research, practice and education, currently in the position of research and teaching associate of the University of Belgrade – Faculty of Architecture,  where she obtained her PhD. So far, her particular research interests is given to the topic of the relationship between architecture and territory, architecture and nature, as well as city territory transformation. Publishes professional and scientific papers in national and international journals, books and conference proceedings. Participates in national and international exhibitions and architectural and urban competitions. Living in urban environments, she seeks to read some of the terri(s)tories (architectural inscriptions within the territory, written through architecture as a code of city structure) that serves as a document about the past processes of development; but she also wishes to mark the territory: by making an architectural gesture in a natural environment, in order to write some new terri(S)tory.