‘As a structuring device the framework is adaptable, inherently expandable, and affords you (…) with the opportunity of inhabiting and furnishing it with your own particular desires, understandings and provocations.’ Warren, S. & Mosley, J. (2012) 'Beyond Utopia: Surface Tension Supplement No. 5' (Los Angeles/Berlin: Errant Bodies Press)
The workshop conducted as part of the Vernal Workshop series by Sophie Warren and Jonathan Mosley in collaboration with Avşar Gürpınar and Cansu Cürgen aimed to create and populate a spatial and temporal framework as a discursive territory of ideas. The workshop considered what could be imagined as the 'architecture of utopia'.
The workshop was structured into exercises. In ‘Performing Utopia’, structured by role play and readings from the book Beyond Utopia (Warren & Mosley, 2012), the concept of utopia was introduced and explored as a space of co-existence of multiple differences, of contestation, negotiation and collaboration rather than held within any singular vision of an ideal place or world. It is within a notion of multiplicity that we began to question the present, imagine alternative futures and imagine the architecture that supports these futures, its social and built structures, territories, codes and laws.
A spatial framework was graphically marked out extending across the floor of the workshop. ‘Archipelago’, as the second exercise, asked pairs of students to each analyse a utopian precedent and extract its key architectural and social moves. After translating these moves onto game cards the student players, representing each utopian scheme, occupied and then defended a position within the graphic framework according to the parameters of ‘collaboration’, ‘common’, ‘equality’ and ‘freedom’.
For the third exercise ‘Galata Bridge + - ÷ ×’ and fourth exercise ‘Scripting Space’ we selected Galata Bridge and its environs as the urban framework for our utopian proposition for Istanbul. Collaborating in three groups, through research, discussion and group action the participants responded to the concept of the 'architecture of utopia' furnishing the framework with their desires, understandings and provocations, and developing an architectural proposition for a utopian imaginary scheme communicated through two 2 metre x 2 metre relief drawings and a short fiction. The workshop culminated in a public event titled 'Utopian talk-show line-up'. The fiction and relief drawings became principal elements of the setting of the event. Held in the control room of the converted power station in Santral Istanbul the event invited practitioners and theorists from the worlds of art, architecture and design in Istanbul to present rapid-fire readings on their own interpretations of the 'architecture of utopia' and extend the discursive space of the workshop. The line-up featured Istanbul-based artist, academic Can Altay as MC, with artist, academic, musician Selçuk Artut, architect, academic Elif Kendir, academic Burcu Kütükçüoğlu, Cairo-based artist Ronnie Close and New Delhi-based designer and design researcher Burcu Yançatarol.
The connections and relations made through the structured exercises, event and dialogues circulating around the notion of utopia can be understood as the making of an emergent sociability. Over the duration of the workshop, through collaboration and conversation we co-produced a utopic space and utopic time.
Team: Jonathan Mosley, Sophie Warren, Cansu Cürgen, Avşar Gürpınar
a scene from the Archipelago assignment.
u-topian talk show taking place in the control room of santralistanbul (first electric power plant of Turkey, 1911).