© Violetta Wakolbinger

Sensational Environments 


BArch 6 Studio: Geography Landscapes Cities


Peter Trummer | Daniela Herold

Sensational Environments - Architecture in the age of BioPolitics

With the emergence of modern architecture in the 18th century, a form of politics appeared which Foucault called „bio‐politics“ or „bio‐power“: „themodus operandi of power relations that aim at the administration of life“. 

(1) In his book “Bio‐Politics and the Emergence of Modern Architecture”, Swen‐Olav Wallenstein refers to two aspects or scales of how bio‐politics has been applied. One is the macro scale. Within this framework the individual appears as a population and is treated as a statistical entity. In architecture or better in urbanism we can speak of its appearance through the work of Ildefonso Cerda and his extension plan for Barcelona, whereby for the first time in history the survey of the biological population became the source for architectural projections. The second scale to which Wallenstein refers to is the micro scale. This scale works on our „individualization, or more precisely on the production of individuality as a focal point of all different techniques for monitoring the body politics“.

 

Sensational Environments 


BArch 6 Studio: Geography Landscapes Cities


Peter Trummer | Daniela Herold

(2) This emerging formation of knowledge, as Wallenstein calls it, had an impact on the way architects looked at their work. The disciplinary shift meant that aesthetics became replaced by question on „how do we live, how is our domicile structured, what is their hygienic and medical status, how do they mate, under what condition does the family become happy and when does it turn into a source of diseases?” Since the emergence of modern architecture, our design practice conditioned our homes as our biological environments. This practice can be witnessed in institutional buildings, like prisons, schools or hospitals, as Foucault has shown us, or by housing projects realized within the policies of Red Vienna, by the Garden City movement or the modernists. It has been the basis for Chermayeff & Alexander thesis “Toward a new Architecture of Humanism” and especially become instrumental for the work of Roland Rainer. Each project described above has in common that they tried to design environments for our well‐being.

 

Sensational Environments 


BArch 6 Studio: Geography Landscapes Cities


Peter Trummer | Daniela Herold

Wallenstein calls this disciplinary knowledge the beginning for the production of sensations. In this context architecture is not seen as an aesthetic discipline with its mode of representation, but wants to achieve as its primary goal the production of subjectivity or the „distribution of the sensible“, the instrument to affect our body.  Herewith we can see the work of Roland Rainer and his plea for the private outdoor space as a producer of sensation, by creating environments that performbiological and physiological effects.

This is the context in which the design brief for the Roland Rainer Chair is formulated. In opposition or better, in continuation, the aim of the studio is to design a sensational environment based on the accumulation of individual homes or better: What kind of sensation can the agglomeration of individual homes generate more then the sum of courtyard houses on the ground cannot?

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