Cappeller / Essayistic Film Fragments on Cooperative Architecture

Essayistic Film Fragments on Cooperative Architecture

Author: Riccarda Cappeller, Leibniz University Hannover

Supervisor: Jörg Schröder, Leibniz University Hannover

Research stage: intermediate doctoral stage

Category: Artefact

Thesis_ In order to re-position architecture and urban design as social and creative agency, a different understanding of space and alternative approaches and interdisciplinary design modes for its creation process have to be formulated. It is an agency oriented at re-use, transforming existing situations, at experimentation, testing alternative living models, and at co-creation – both in the design and the use of space – aiming at the creation of democratic spaces and platforms of public exchange.

This complex understanding of architecture and urban design in this research is examined and communicated through the concept of cooperative architecture, which is both the objective and method or tool of study – addressed with three exemplary case studies – Can Batlló, Exrotaprint, Granby Four Streets (eg. fig 1).

Research setting and direction

Through an empirical research part that brings together an anthropological questioning and field research, the architectural/ urban analysis, and an explorative design, the case studies are used for knowledge creation on both the space, the agency of architects and urban designers in their creation process and the performativity, understood as the way these spaces are experienced and communicated. I understand Design Driven Research as an inductive research process where findings are part of an active process of thinking and doing, relating to the idea of the designer-researcher 1 and the development and testing or recreation of new or combined forms of investigation, offering multiple perspectives and addressing a field in-between science and art. In my research this is about making the spaces selected as case studies speak. They become characters instead of immobile objects and graspable as positive examples for future habitats. Space in this sense is understood an instrument for the production of narrative media, used for a critical reflection. "Critical thinking” as Zardini states, “is no longer driven by language, semiotics, text, and signs, but by a rediscovery of phenomenology, experience, the body, perception and the senses" 2, which in this case is realized in various formats, reacting to the found material and its capacity to transmit atmospheres and a phenomenological understanding, showing the performativity of space.

Approach and Method

One possible approach, which is the one discussed in the following, is the use of essayist filmmaking as a different kind of spatial thinking and communicating – a tool for inspiration and individual imagination, opening up both the design- and research process. Here the aim is to use this tool to transmit the complex understanding of space explained earlier, its social, spatial and cultural value, its capacity to continuously change as ongoing process and its atmosphere. It is about an interpretation and critical reflection of the data collected, working on visual and textual attempts to transfer the intangible and tangible aspects of space. (eg. Fig. 2)

"The filmmaking process is understood as assemblage of technologies and techniques for amplification of cultural and corporal Logics of affect" 3 As an assemblage, film consists of many fragments – historical views, explanations, creative interpretations or free associations – that through their visual language and ways of combination allow new kinds of connections. Especially in the essay film the working with fragments and gaps is a major characteristic. It uses the in-between of two images, that as the unwritten words in a text, lead the reader to a more active engagement.

As Moholy-Nagy argues, vision is itself a way of thinking, bringing together vision, perception and thought. 4 It is a tool that moves between methods from various disciplines and intuitively enters a process of "wild thinking". 5 (eg. Fig. 3) Here this idea is used in order to create spatial experience. So the idea of using film-fragments to grasp and transport complexity inherent in larger urban spaces, is an approach to access new forms of architectural language.

Context and Artefact

Cooperative Architecture in this context is applied as a concept that brings together multiple topics of the urban context. It reveals a different attitude in social and spatial design research and practice, as well as an understanding of space. Derived from the latin verb "cooperari", wheras "co-" means together and "opperari" to work, it points out the active doing of architecture as an act of collaboration, a collective praxis in the production of space that automatically questions the role of the architects or urban designers in future. Also inherent in its wording, and more important to be able to understand the whole concept, is the reference to "opus", understood as a musical, artistic, literary or scientific work, labour or composition – an abstract, conceptual, but at the same time interpretative and intuitive compilation of knowledge. This refers to architecture as a work of art or product of labour that brings together many different aspects and reinterprets space and its creation process.

The artefact is thought as a tiny installation of the so far produced essayistic film fragments on cooperative architecture and an invitation to reflect on it, leave comments or additional associations, and is presented in form of a lecture(-performanc), reflecting the creation process and its role in the research. (eg. 4)

Three case studies_Exrotaprint Berlin, Granby Four Streets Liverpool and Can Batlló Barcelona

Figure 1: Three case studies_Exrotaprint Berlin, Granby Four Streets Liverpool and Can Batlló Barcelona

writing on space

Figure 2: writing on space

wild thinking in research process

Figure 3: wild thinking in research process

filmmaking process

Figure 4: filmmaking process

All images are elaborations oft he author

  1. Cappeller, Riccarda (2021): »Urban Bricoleurs«, in: Jörg Schröder, Maurizio Carta, Federica Scaffidi, Annalisa Contato (Eds.) Cosmopolitan habitat. a research agenda for urban resilience, Berlin, Jovis, , pp. 154–159.
  2. Zardini, M. (2005): »Toward a Sensorial Urbanism«, in: Mirko Zardini (Ed.), Sense of the City: An Alternate Approach to Urbanism, Montreal: Canadian Centre for Architecture; Lars Müller Pub, pp. 17-27.
  3. Carter, Sean / McCormack, Derek P. (2006): »Film, geopolitics and the affective logics of intervention«, in: Political Geography, 25(2), 228–245. doi:10.1016/j.polgeo.2005.11.004
  4. Moholy-Nagy, Lazlo (1969): »Vision in motion«, Chicago: Paul Theobald and Company.
  5. Levi-Strauss, Claude (1968): »The savage mind«, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.