Architecture Without Content

8. Places Of Accumulation: Temporary Residence

This is part two of Places of Accumulation. 

In the first semester we made Machines, in the second semester we will design Temporary Residence. 

The machines we both studied and designed in the first semester make the infrastructure of our contemporary society. These often-invisible places support our contemporary way of living in terms of material and immaterial needs. They allow the goods to flow freely in our even covered field; they allow data to be instantaneously available to us; they allow our cities not to be submersed by trash and feed them. These buildings, technical as they are, allow for almost no human presence, but do potentially manage through their sheer size to organize and control the context they inhabit, the territory. One cannot underestimate their urban impact. Perhaps because of this, these machine-like buildings seem to be the last vestiges of a certain illuminist idea of a collective, shared infrastructure. In the first semester we considered them almost as archetypes, freeing the research from the complexity of a specific site. Hence our site-less buildings were presented as examples for any site in the even covered field. 

In the second semester site plays a much more direct role. There is a good reason for that. Temporary Residence is in many ways the inverse of Machines. Site and territory will be the defining factors for the architectural type. As much as each of the designed buildings will be autonomous, it will be precisely its performance ‘on site’ that will be considered. 

This time we present fifteen sites of a wider series of temporary detention centers for migrants in contemporary Greece. As for the Machines, these buildings play a role on a global scale and regulate flows in the even covered field. 

The specific sites are part of a state program for rationalizing the process of identification, expulsion or asylum granting of the consistent masses of wannabe immigrants through one of the main gates to Europe. The sites sprawl around on the entire territory of the country, and are more densely distributed close to the Turkish border and around Athens. Right now, in most of the cases, the facilities consist of clumsy adaptations of former army buildings, decaying complexes of barracks and prisons. 

Here is the hunch: European funds for immigration control allow us to re-imagine and to replace the existing facilities with new ones. These new facilities should be able to answer the temporary needs related to the immigration fluxes and to provide Greece with architectures flexible enough to adapt to possible use in the long term.

It’s indeed easy to imagine that the current situation won’t last forever, as either Europe will expand and make the premises obsolete or Europe will collapse with the same result. For that reason, the Places of Accumulation of the second semester will accumulate people, not machines or data. 

The temporary residences to be designed 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 centers for immigrants; in the future something else. 

This time we won’t forget to consider the issue of sustainability, trying to evaluate accordingly formal and material choices. Renewable energy sources will be part of the game while water management and possibly water accumulation will definitely play an important role in the design process in such an increasingly dry area. 

Concerning the architectural models we will investigate a reuse, we defined three main families, each one with an extremely specific attitude towards the landscape and a very defined legacy: first, the cloister, being it the core of a monastery or a caravanserai, closed and protected towards the outside, all the rooms looking inside (the Panopticon might be interpreted as a scientific, extreme variation on the theme). Secondly, and opposed to it, the hotel, being it the pre-modern or modernistic slab, with all the rooms looking towards the landscape and a linear distribution system. Third the resort as a sprawl of individual cells, maybe slightly varied, inside of a given perimeter, open air distribution.

Places of Accumulation– Temporary Residence: 3 types, 15 sites, 30 individual projects

Places Of Accumulation: Temporary Residence