Culture And Society
Work title: THE COMMON UNDERGROUND
In terms of a fictional concept, the proposal is interesting in its implications and in its notion that new social structures demand a new space and a new collective memory. However, it is not entirely clear how the proposal would be feasible. 3/4
THE COMMON UNDERGROUND
Subterranean Cultural Archive and exchange network
Athens constitutes an entropic built environment dominated by the polykatoikia typology building. A typical Greek apartment-building formed by the fusion of sociopolitical conditions and technological advancements of the post war period.
After the disastrous civil war an imperative for mass housing arose. In an unsettled political climate the government legislated a process of ownership fragmentation and redistribution through the compensation of plots with a percentage of flat ownership. Contractors and engineers gave birth to the polykatoikia - a realization of the Corbusian Dom-ino system, providing spaces for the mere perpetuation of living. The policy reassured citizens while it became the driving force of the economy converting a large part of the population in small landowners. As a result, property became an end in itself and paradoxically individualism became collective memory.
The Polykatoikia may be a product of modernism, designed to undertake the density of the capital-city but throughout the years has to some extend evolved, according to the societal changes. An example is the evolution of the underground level where the typology usually hides the secondary functions. But throughout the years the definition of secondary has amplified. First the servant’s rooms for the bourgeois, then the elevator machine and the boiler room and finally the apartment’s storage rooms. On a flourishing consuming society and with the stabilization of the political climate, storage rooms became a prevalent piece of the typology.
Either on rent or on a permanent stay, people need storage spaces usually for things that are not in current use but they bear a possibility of use and a sentimental value. Storage spaces form an archive of objects from various stages of each owner''''''''s life, consumed and compressed to fit the modern way of dense living. These storage rooms constitute the immediate ''''''''material past'''''''' of individuals and groups to which they rarely refer to, thus it is frozen for an uncertain length of time. An uneventful place but also an archive of fragments from the contemporary culture.
What if we organize these spaces into a continuous social archive, which absorbs material life and redistributes it according to need and use value?
What social relations would produce the potential renunciation of the sentimental value of objects?
After the most recent austerity politics Greece faces the fragmentation of its society into individuals and its cultural hiatus. People are now tentatively shaping collective forms enhanced by a networked society fostered in the public sphere of web 2.0.
What seems most relevant at the time is that new social relations demand a new space, and vice-versa (Lefebre, 1991).
This proposal suggests the unification of storage spaces in the -1 level of the polykatoikia in order to form a subterranean cultural archive and an exchange network.