Alicia Framis

10 March - 15 April 2000
Nine Proposals of Remix Buildings

The idea of coexisting structures arose from the observation that specific aspects of human life — illness, decay, death — seem to be ascribed to particular physical spaces which are kept separate from the everyday living space that surrounds us. Architecture as a means of organizing human relations in space and time is subject to a strong orthodoxy as to where certain functions are to be located in the urban landscape. A trendy restaurant would scarcely choose to settle next to a crematorium, let alone share the same building. While contemporary architecture does support the ideal of multifunctional structures — i.e. along the model of the American mall offering a vaste range of shopping and entertainment facilities "on the spot" — it would never occur to a city planner to mingle spaces of life with spaces of degradation. Frequently located at the periphery of the city, it is as if the spaces of death and decay — cemeteries, hospitals, sanatoriums — were cast out of reach of our bodily conscience. Does architecture not physically achieve what consumer society tries to implement mentally, namely that death, and the idea of it, have no place in a society praising the virtues of youth, mobility and success? Or rather than no place at all, do we not assign well-defined, but always camouflaged and introvert topographies to old age, immobility and failure?

The idea of Remix Buildings was born from the necessity to imagine new territories for living. The photographs feature models in which Alicia Framis mixes architectural concepts with contradictory functions with the intention to re-introduce the notion of death into our daily lives. She combines existing structures, thereby creating new architectural meanings, re-allocating forgotten semiotic values to familiar places along the lines of the dee-jaying technique of remixing. These models open up spaces embracing existence as a whole. Tools for imagination, they also hint at possible ways of integration of invisible social groups and advocate a liberation from existing unsatisfactory life structures. With surprising frankness, they disclose all disruptive elements of reality in its tough moments.

Cinema with a Hospital

Fiction touches reality in this building combining the essence of a movie theater and a clinic. The certainty of death, re-enacted in film and physically encountered in the emergency room, is inscribed in an ethereal space of both movement and immobility. Pain, illness and death are no longer screened, imagination and sensation join under one roof for a full experience of the human condition: We watch as we die, we die as we watch.

Cupboard for Three Refugees

Designed to serve as a functional shelter for three refugees, this toy-like structure floats between the safe world of dolls and the dark spots of real life. The cupboard speaks of the living conditions of emigrants as well as of the purposeful omissions in children's education.

Cemetery in Metro Station

Walking through the corridors of the Châtelet metro, busy travellers halt to look at the names of recently deceased people. The urns are encased in a stylish wall alongside a larger-than-life Dior advertisement. Sleek esthetics play an essential part in the articulation of this underground environment.

Crematorium with 24h Warm Space

Paris's most prominent meeting spot is warmed by the heat abducted from a crematorium. Couples, pickpockets, business people, friends and tourists meet on the transparent platform. Beaubourg has now also become the city's only free warm space. Users will not be asked to consume here.

Park for Smokers and Non-Smokers

Big city parks consistently attract a mixed crowd of homosexuals, drug addicts, lovers and roller skaters. For those in search of privacy, they have become the urban stage props to modest acts of freedom. Well groomed representations of nature, they attract clandestine activities of all kind. Referencing the esthetics of minimal art and the effects of recent smoking legislation, this construction allows for projection and enactment of behaviours deemed reprehensible by society at large.

Autobahn with Memorial

The apparent incongruity of a memorial inscribed in the lines of a speedway points to the inherent paradox of static names which the viewer can only decipher when standing still. Memorials, and the inscriptions they bear, are intrinsically linked to the notion of time, past and present, of the time we take to read out the end of someone else's time. When offered to the look of a moving subject in time and space, they bridge the points of departure and arrival of the beholder's journey and the stranger's past existence. As they slow down, drivers experience themselves as travellers through their own lives.

Moving House for Paraplegics

Elevators, escalators, rotating restaurants: mobility in architecture is primarily implemented for the comfort of the physically able. This model focusses on the physical restraints of paraplegics, and the psychological dismay they entail. It does not pretend to substitute for the irretrievable loss of movement, but visibility and movement reflect the sensations of the life outside and inside.

Anorexic Center

The lightweight architecture of this institution is sensitive to its inmates' foremost desire. The center for anorexic people brings the psychological state of the patients to the open and participates in their strive to detach themselves from the physical weight of their body.

Immunity Square

The shadow of the castle casts its authority on the Dam. The periphery of Amsterdam's central square marks a territory of diplomatic immunity. As of now, illegal immigrants may seek temporary asylum in the heart of the city. By order of the Queen, no one shall be bothered who reaches this open embassy.

Photography: Bas Princen
Editing: Boris Kremer
Models Coordinator: Paz Martin
Models: Jordi Torras, Sabine Steinhof, Hallid Gamaludin
Photoshop: Roy Taylor, Nick Strong, Gurgen Frohnmaier