Building Blocks

TERROIR have participated in an exhibition titled "Building Blocks" at Färgfabriken in Stockholm, opening on April 24, 2010.

The exhibition brings together 9 international architects, each with their own client in the form of a young child.  The image accompanying this posting if of our client, Alma, making a critique of our developed design proposal.

The exhibition seeks to explore the spatial intelligence of children and how this might be put to work in collaboration with architects who have an established research agenda and reputation.  Thus, as well as exploring the role of the child the exhibition will also expose how authorship and client involvement are addressed by firms with different approaches.

Key to this issue of authorishop was the client brief.  Our brief can be summarised as follows:

Like many six-year old girls, Alma is excited by a world of princesses and castles.  Her idol is the Queen of the Elves.

What is interesting about this is that, across all western cultures, a clear and consistent image exists of what a house or castle for the Queen of the elves might look like - a robust building with a drawbridge and turrets topped by spires.

Attics and Basements

When asked what her favourite places are, Alma suggested the attic and basement.  She understood the attic as a “beautiful” space, while the basement was something more mysterious and challenging, a place where “the big kids” hang out.

It is a short jump from Alma’s comments to Bachelard’s Poetics of Space and his discussion of the attic and cellar as two of the most important spaces in a phenomenological sense – spaces lost in the contemporary city where “from the street to the roof, the rooms pile up, one on top of the other.”

A secret world of slippery dips, trampolines and hiding places

“One can imagine a building which would consist only of a gigantic circular staircase, with elevators taking us to the top . . “  Slavoj Zizek

Alma completed her brief by discussing a world between the walls and floors.  She suggested that in her perfect house she would live in the attic, a friend in the basement, and they would meet via of a slide between one bathroom and the next, with each slide ending in a trampoline.

What is astonishing about this is the way that Alma has tapped into one of the most compelling aspects of architectural organisation, poche.  Nowdays, poche has been reduced to an instrument that provides for the passage of excrement, water, and power networks in the narrow spaces between walls and floors such that the potential of this space is now rarely realized. 

But taken as a potential space as opposed to pure service routes, poche becomes the space where the indeterminacy between inside and outside is negotiated.  It is s wondrous space, a space that exists outside the rules of living rooms and bedrooms, it can be a place of horror but also of play.

Our project is but one of nine intriuging explorations of the exhibition themes.  The full list of participating architects is below:

Helen & Hard (Stavanger), Hollmen Reuter Sandman (Helsinki), J&T architects (Dakar), Kjellander + Sjöberg (Stockholm), Kod arkitekter (Stockholm), TERROIR (Sydney/Copenhagen), The AOC (London), Veronika Valk, Zizi&Yoyo (Tallin), Wilhelmson arkitekter (Stockholm).


To see an article by Gerard Reinmuth in the catalogue, click here