Francesco Della Casa

Éditions Furor

Fustel de Coulanges, Jean-Baptiste Godin, William Levitt, Michel Foucault, Hans Widmer remind us that housing, in its successive conceptions, founded the city, participated in social progress, reinforced the reign of the market. If it is true that market domination has become an anaesthetic and that our physical contacts of all kinds are prevented today, the political question we are resting on is what it means to remain.

The imagination of distributed spaces requires a sense of the most fluid and complex demarcations, separations, gaps, distances, remoteness. A perception of the five senses is needed to articulate and modulate acceptable proximities and preserve diverse intimacies. Correctly perceived, bays and partitions, blinds and shutters, claustras or sails must both promote sight and safeguard discretion. Shifting, serrated or bayonet-shaped devices help to modulate the propagation of sounds which can be picked up, channelled and directed; and thanks to them, the air circulation is accelerated or slowed down. When light and darkness play with the materiality of surfaces, one subtly recognizes and discerns the places that are shared and the places that remain reserved.

The hybrid status of certain thresholds and transitions characterizes the spatial experiments of cooperative habitat. For example, the distribution corridor is frequently widened so that it becomes a platform shared by the inhabitants of the same floor. This common platform in front of the entrances and windows is therefore a place for meetings (short, occasional, prolonged, unexpected, etc.). Conversations, palaver, improvisations, surprises, escape coded meetings and are not predictable.

Francesco Della Casa is an architect and architecture critic. He is the author of several essays on the question of buildings (Learning Center EPFL) and on the process of urban change (La Friche la Belle de Mai). He is currently a cantonal architect in Geneva.

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