These file attachments have been under embargo and were made available to the public after the embargo was lifted on 17 November 2012.
Post-Exodus or the involuntary prisoners of Architecture, is a project about corrupt well intended top-down pretentions. A project about when utopia becomes dystopia. About when the built environment becomes out of tune with experienced and desired reality. Accumulating to the point of large scale vacancy and crisis. The focus of the project will be the case of the Kleiburg flat, the last untouched piece of Bijlmer ideology.
The title of the project plays with the idea of architecture's ability to manifest dreams and desires. As the exodus took place and people moved towards the better, they left behind the old. The exodus was for those who could afford to leave; those unable to escape the undesired urban conditions where left behind. Post-Exodus focuses on these deprived areas, on these places of undesired architecture. It searches how to become a desired place once again, even when the means are limited.
The research investigates a South-American Prison situated in Bolivia, in the capital city of La Paz. In the old city center, on the old colonial spanish grid the prison of San Pedro stands. Hidden behind the stucco walls, upon passing the guarded gate, a unexpected vivid community is revealed; the self-regulating inmate population of San Pedro. The prison was inspired by the panopticon model (Pentonville, London) of Jeremy Bentham. Built around the nineteen hundreds, this ideological prison model proved to be one of unrealistic utopia. The penitentiary system could not live up to the build expectations. The conditions of the inmate population deteriorated inside the prison walls. Without a welfare state or governmental subsidies the prisoners where appointed to their own ability to take matters into their own hands. Escape was not an option, the solution had to come from within...
The do-it-yourself attitude of the prisoners resulted in an unique bottom-up transformation of the old prison model. Over time the prisoners slowly adapted the building to fit their basic needs, constantly fighting for their rights and defending every square inch. They held no nostalgia of the past, adapting to the new reality of their needs, adapting the build environment at best to survive. Over time San Pedro Prison developed its own logic, a mini-society with its own micro-economy, micro-policies, democratic elections, a prison real-estate market, cafes, restaurants, fitness area, sauna's, pool halls, tv corners, shops, dentist, churches, ceremony square, football competitions, tourism, workplaces, jobs and even more..
The San Pedro Prison inspires to look in a different way at the built environment we inhabit. It inspires to think in a different way about our attitude towards buildings. It inspires to think in a different way about architecture. It inspires to see how in the worst conceivable conditions, the prisoners of San Pedro where able to transform their built environment into a more favorable condition, to suit their lives and needs better. Transformation as a continues process, attuning to the ever changing times.
Kleiburg is dead, it's ideology faded in the face of reality. Time has changed, Kleiburg stood still.
If Kleiburg is not to parish in irrelevance it must once more become a part of our dreams and desires. Emergent societal trends and changes must then form the basis of its transformation. In times of financial crisis, unpredictability and uncertainty the means are limited. The answers must not be sought in the top-down financial power of big project developers but in the power of the ordinary people; the power of the people dwelling and working in and around Kleiburg. The design investigates a bottom-up approach, a do-it-yourself attitude, a gradual growth towards a new future. To clarify such a development a scenario was written in which the existing local social and urban fabric where extrapolated into the Kleiburg building. The initial conditions are dictated by the structural possibilities of the Kleiburg flat itself. The installation of the 'Gate' marks the presence of an underlying democratic process. Spatial hierarchy determines the relationship of space and influence of individuals/collectives on the built environment.
In a set of projects possibilities are designed, each design telling a different story, each story exploring a new theme, each theme adding to a bigger scale. By the time we look back at all the different designs we will witness the emergence of museum. A Bottom-Up-Museum symbolizing the deconstruction of the prestigious 'starchitect' object, reconstructed by ordinary people.