The Dark Side

planning phase-0, CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw

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In autumn 2013 Umschichten arrive in Warsaw to begin a two-month residency at the CCA Ujazdowski Castle as part of the A-I-R Laboratory programme. At this time, the CCA is in the spotlight of attention, for a conflict between the institution’s staff and its director until then latent, has flared up and become public.

In their practice, Studio Umschichten explore the relationship between architecture and social space. Their projects are usually site-specific and informed by interviews that the architects conduct to diagnose the needs or issues of their host institu- tions. Then this architectural ‘special unit’ comes up with potential remedies, whether social or spa- tial. Those are usually facetious projects, rooted in childish spontaneity and imaginativeness, executed in a tongue-in-cheek manner, yet highly apt in their diagnosis of the given situation.

This publication offers no solutions. Rather, it lists the issues that the Umschichten collective members had identified within the very specific time of their residency. How much has the state of affairs presented herein changed relative to the reader’s ‘now’?
(Ika Sienkiewicz-Nowacka)

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Who does not know similar institutions, hospitals, universities, hotels, office complexes, where one wanders along corridors, up and down stairways, passing spaces one thinks one has seen before, but perhaps also not, following or ignoring signs, peering from a window to check one’s location with something outside, finally opening a door almost at random to find oneself in some concealed space occupied by a group of people who seem to pass their lives here unnoticed by the rest of the world. Are they friendly? Suspicious? Hostile? Do they carry on with their work keeping their heads down and staring straight ahead, do they brusquely request the visitor’s identity papers, or do they offer an invitation to a glass of plum brandy?
(William Firebrace)

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Team: Alper Kazokoglu, Coline Robin, Tymek Jezierski
Warsaw 2013–2014