Parallaxis (name given as an homage to Slavoj Zizek’s book The Parallax View) is a second project from the post-professional Master Thesis Studio at Pratt Institute. After Martin Byrne’s project, this one has been created by Nikolaos Patsopoulos based on a research about capitalist architecture.
Nikolaos started his project by observing that the Seagram Building by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe has been the XXth century’s architectural paradigm by constituting a perfect receptacle for the Capitalist society. Parallaxis is thus a research of a new paradigm for a micro-society (inspired by the Mannahatta Project) that exercises an alternative to capitalism. The different buildings designed by Nikolaos addition to each others materialize the same volume than the Seagram Building. Those small towers spread all over the site host three different programs: Library, Discussion Room and Soil Depots. In the center of the site, stands a monolithic cube filled with sands from which a different space can be dig according to the decision of the community. Processes of creation of holey spaces are involved in order to create a “democratic architecture” whose length is limited as the cube can be filled with sand again and re-dig in another space.
Here is Nikolaos’ text related to his thesis:
Parallaxis by Nikolaos Patsopoulos (tutors: Elliott Maltby & Jason Vigneri-Beane)
J.G. Ballard once stated that the uneasy marriage of reason and nightmare which dominated the 20th century gave birth to an increasingly surreal world. Being part of this increasing madness it should be important for us to re consider things that we have taken as a given up until now. With a fragile, almost collapsing economical structure upon us and a mounting social tension, one comes to question what should the position of architecture be today, as a contributing form of science.
To cut a (really) long story short, the scenario of this thesis is the deformation and substitution of principles that would follow in the aftermath of a systemic collapse and the subsequent evolving process that would arise. Of course despite the immense questions (a.k.a. opportunities) that would come out of a situation like this, we have constrained ourselves only to a small part of the spatial enigma. According to David Harvey, it is easier for people today to conceive a future on Mars than a future not under Capitalism. So we made it our difficult task not only to imagine a different future but also to position architecture in it.
If the creation of the Soviet Union in the early 20’s was equal in importance and magnitude with the discovery of a new continent, then we can safely assume that the pilgrimages of the era were the newly invented Social Condensers. There were supposed to be the most important elements in a society that would not structure itself around the market but around its interrelationships. As we know it didn’t take more than a decade to bring all this utopian thinking and acting to a flaming end.
But this is the point of our departure. We are imagining a world that could come into peace with the Marxist confrontation of the city versus the countryside. In the process of doing it, we are showcasing the re actualization of Manhattan as a contemporary urban intensification node, and main Capitalist stronghold to something completely different. Furthermore we are analyzing the Seagram’s building as an iconic structure, a real repetition devise for most of the modern cities, extracting from it the elements that would help us in creating our new spatial formations.
In order to do so, we are using the same spatial pilgrims the Soviets invented. This time around, they are not the sturdy, uneventful ancestors of their originators but they themselves have evolved. As we argue, the “human condition” is a constantly changing one, and our spatial elements should also be able to follow up. This feature is a key ingredient of our final outcome as a material totality and as a way of thinking.
It is our firm belief that things are a-changing. It falls on us to choose the paths to follow, to be influenced and finally to influence. History has taught us, that we cannot change society through spatial formations alone, but we can still try to influence it. On the other hand, our desired outcome is based on the amazing unpredictability of introducing a new perspective into this world. So in plain terms the end goal here is to come up with a set of tools rooted mostly into the spatial realm, although the influences are coming from a vast variety of sciences (psychoanalysis, history, physics, geology etc), and give the opportunity for a new social order to use it and abuse it for its own scopes and purposes.
After all “freedom can only exist as a necessity”. (K. Marx)