This semester I have been investigating a concept, heterotopia, that I hope will inform my Spring 2011 Degree Project proposal (Degree Project is akin to a graduate thesis project, but has traditionally manifested itself in a somewhat detailed and comprehensive architectural proposal). Below is a short text, some quotes, and a few drawings/collages that attempt to uncover the architectural potentials of the term. Please share your thoughts and responses...
Framework for a Heterotopia
by Aaron Plewke
Heterotopia, literally [an]other place, is a term that was first used in medicine to describe a cell or group of cells living non-malignantly within a host cell or tissue. Michel Foucault adapted the term in the sixties to explain an emerging phenomenon—spaces and places were coming into being which interrupted the apparent continuity and normality of ordinary, everyday space, but did so in a way that was not detrimental to their host. By identifying these places where processes of change and hybridization were being harbored, Foucault implied that heterotopias could be testing grounds for future spatial conditions, and that they could effectively give birth to new norms.
Moving ahead to the present, heterotopias have evolved from being understood as the result of society creating [an]other place within a classical or modernist single-center spatial environment, and are now also theorized as the organizing network or field within which distinct and often contradictory conditions reside (the city as a layered structure of heterotopic nodes and networks, for example).
My current research—initiated in the Fall 2009 studio “[Dis]Located Conditions” taught by Manuel Bailo, Rosa Rull and Adrian Luchini, pursued in my current studio, “A Wonderful World” with Wiel Arets and Robert McCarter, and the subject of my Design Thinking work—operates within this broader contemporary understanding of heterotopia.
Finally, and perhaps most critically, I operate with the belief that heterotopic space can be designed for, or at least instigated.
An Ocean Liner and OMA's Parc de La Villette
SANAA's 21st Century Museum and Constant's New Babylon
An Exquisite Corpse, created with James Morgan
Finally, in lieu of a typical program diagram, I created the collage below to demonstrate the heterotopic potential of a specific type of programmatic recombination:
Thanks for reading!