How to create emancipatory architecture?
A controversial gate is an abstract trial, that is installing a performative, inhabitable gate to the existing entrances of the Artillery Ground in London.
It questions how architecture can become a tool for political protest. How can we occupy space in an architectural sense, what kind of material modification is needed? Therefore, the architectural element of the door/gate is used to give access to one of the last sections of generous green space in London, which is currently not accessible to the public.
The gate, conceived as an affordance, is still a tool for exercising power, however, it is empowering the people to perpetually negotiate existing relations. Always unfinished and transforming, the gates themselves become performative, inhabitable places of negotiation. They become construction sites and rehearsal stages for interaction between bodies, and bodies and space.
The south entrance is an overnight built-up structure out of hands-on rough appliance of elements, which can later serve as a closed public space that promotes performative arts. The very act of building is the main activity of togetherness/publicness. A construction site is on the stage. A new way of growing pleasure garden in an occupying structure, that is placed on the existing south entrance of the Artillery Ground, where is a street and the opening is closed by a fence and gate. It is controversial in means of political architecture and also shows the opposition between institutional forms and tools of a riot. Firstly, it wants to open up the notion on politics in architecture: who owns what and for whom the process of design? Can the users become a part of the design? “When is there and when is there not equality in things between who and who else?” (Rancière, Disagreement 1995: ix) In the design, there are prescribed elements maintained by me, which are made to give the maximum freedom to the users who enjoy the public activity of “building together”. The red structure in the middle of the stage is built and developed freely by the people who want to attend, whereas other visitors can observe the process or go up to the rooftop or enter to the Artillery Ground.
A Street called Shanty:
an Overnight Performance
in three Acts
The Guerilla Performers:
In the golden nights
Full leisurely we walk down, gather and perform
We bring our tools along the streets
We make a wall full of bodies
You would recognize us and our costumes
You would know where we are going
We break the silent noise of London’ streets
We wake up Londoners by our lights
Our footsteps in the night
Our boxes carrying the boards
Our machines holding the steel columns
Our hands bending the metal sheets
Our carvings and castings
Oh, what a wonderful ritual it is!
Of wonders wild and new
That is what we pursue
To have our right to the city.
Come, join and be free
Free from your wage and commodified activities
Get your instruction of five minutes
And there you are!
An artist, a performer, an activist, a builder
All four at once.
Faster than the how-to-videos.
Hammer this in, hammer this out
There you bent a piece of shanty that is yours.
Come in your sleepless nights
We are better than the petition signed online
Rather than the landlordism video you just saw
To call for public space.
Here is the new vibe
Nicer than any other old boy’s club
We build three inhabitable gates in three acts
To make the Artillery Ground a public space of our own
And that is the pleasure of our fairy-tale.