the Structure of Bankruptcy

Architecture and Bankruptcy
Architecture seems deeply touched while exposed in a condition of bankruptcy. Bankruptcy and architecture prove themselves to be a symmetrical phenomenon, organized by an imposed chasm that lies between them. Architecture is announced as a guarantee for structure and as a schematization of the multiple. A bankruptcy (inaugurated etymologically as the break of the bench where an interchange takes place) is marked by a bifurcation imposed between the actors of a transaction; a problem of fragmentation of a former unified field and an installation of a particular multiplicity occur in this condition; old interconnected schemata seem isolated and unrelated after a bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy conceived as a triple scheme
The mechanism of bankruptcy is constituted by the sudden loss of value that happens to objects or situations that were not only stable, but also guaranteeing the stabilization of many values that may depend upon them. A bankruptcy is a three-partite time scheme. It includes the state before the collapse, the event of the bankruptcy and the period that follows it. Most of the possible thoughts on bankruptcy are related to interpretations of this three-partite time scheme. We may think that the time before the bankruptcy may serve as a constant reference to stability. It condenses the stability of the given, the human idealized form of normality. The bankruptcy itself may be considered as an unexpected malfunction of an idealized former stable scheme; its week momentum and an explosion due to this malfunction produce the consciousness of a bankruptcy: something unimportant for the system is proved crucial and catastrophic. The era that follows such a system's failure is characterized by a mourning of a lost past and a promising systematic investment to non established values of the future. The bankruptcy mechanism performs a circular system that includes, in a same move, architecture, its dilution and the reconstitution of an open promise for another architecture to come.

Architecture of unities, Bankruptcy of a fragmented field
The shape of normality has its architecture; its absolute crisis is performed with a bankruptcy. In this scheme we may also observe a system of distinguishing a unified structure and a fragmented phenomenon. An architecture includes its reference to an ἀρχή, to a beginning and also to a unifying principle. From the other side, a bankruptcy is related to a collapse of a system's interconnections, permitting till then a safe installation of values.
If we accept those descriptions, the architecture of bankruptcy could be examined in a systematic approach of all the cases that are already detected. The unified fields of normality and a fragmented field of the aftrer bankruptcy world seem to create the conditions for unprecedented acts of reform. The after bankruptcy world can be read as a period of reinvestigation and redistributions of former interrelated elements and create new congregations. It seems that in this ongoing era some curatorial practices concerning unexpected grouppings of material in surplus have a particular meaning. Ecology treats the surplus of civilization as a mass to be deleted.
The systematic approach of the period we run combines some characteristics that are unforeseen. The possibilities of new social spaces in the web, the mobility and the new structure of meetings give to the current financial crisis an orientation towards innovative ways of understanding it. An investigation about proposing new programs may apply to the particularities of the nowadays condition. How can the social element be elaborated while we envisage the present financial crisis and the developpement of this particular web infrastructure?
A nostalgia about a lost past or an effort to reconstitute a broken porcelain is not the direction we may orient an architectonic investigation. On the contrary we detect different possibilities of idiosyncratic congregations and reconstitutions of spaces that may follow unprecedented programs. Architecture may propose forms for existing contents. It may propose contents for existing forms too.


Index Cards

While participants contemplate on the presence of 'archaeological' finds in their projects, another act of reuse took place in the mise en scene of the final presentation. The pink index cards used to record telecommunication malfunctions found in OTE building, in tonight's exhibition and presentation, will be transformed to indexes of each group's project providing information on the people, the ideas and the products of kamworkshop2010.

Archaeology of Telecommunications

The visit to OTE Building in Chania could be described as commitment to an archaeology, undertaken through examination of contemporary architectural ruins and remains of a previous technological era that came already to an end. Detached from their former state of operation, the material was left unused and discredited, transformed from a functioning mechanical system of distributing communication and an ordered, useable, stored material to heterogeneous populations of fragments occupying an empty building.


This year's workshop investigated the significance of reconsidering the technological equipment of OTE's telecommunication infrastructure in many other levels and as a layer of reading 'bankruptcy of architecture'. The study of the building was connected to a second detachment process, where objects were selectively collected form piles of paraphernalia removed from the place they were found only to form new heterogenous collections

archaelogy of telecommunications

The origin of the explosion

In the common understanding of bankruptcy, notions such as failure, collapse and crises are often called upon to describe the exact condition. Destruction and ruins are the obvious 'allegories' while ideas of reuse and recycling appear as positive strategies to deal with the accumulation of cultural products.

In this context and the context of this year's workshop dealing with 'bankruptcy of architecture' we may throw a retrospective look to Antonioni's film of 1970 "Zabriskie point"; its final scene presents a building in the desert exploding together with an explosion of everyday life objects and furniture. In this 'dream' of destruction one can trace the concerns and anxieties of the time and the rising theoretical and social critique to western modernism. The sequence of the described explosion can have an exemplary treatment, dealing with some concepts, presented in the studio. A main concern has to do with the question of the origin of the explosion mechanism. We can detect in this procedure a double situation constituted by a unity and a multiplicity or a plethora. We suggest that the triple elaboration of this fragment has to do with different concepts concerning the bankruptcy rationale:

1. a reversed playback of the last scene that goes from chaos to unity, from ruins and fragments to complete and whole buildings and objects; an end of the bankruptcy rationale would be a reconstitution of a unity.

2. fragments floating… chaotic dispersion, population of fragments, never forming any unity; the bankruptcy operates as a catalyst for the breakdown of any possible unit.

3. short and framed extracts highlighting cycles of unity and destruction in endless loops; unity and fragmentation are exchanging roles, unification of system values follow deconstruction of them in an endless scheme.

We may suggest that the time of crises and the bankruptcy of the post-war social and economical system the film represents the desire for change and utopian thinking. The three distorted remakes of this final scene are operated in order to rehandle the concept of bankruptcy today. Chaos to unity, fragmentation and population, dispersion and unification.

Articulated Structures


Elina Karanastasi discussed different models of hierarchies: networks, rules, framework... she closed the presentation contemplating on the concept of 'bankruptcy', negating its pessimistic content.

Garbage Housing

Garbage Housing by Martin Pawley. A useful reading proposed by Elina Karanastasi.

See more photos here


3 afternoon talks during the workshop

Antonas talks
A. Antonas, Archaeologies of the Given

E. Karanastasi talks
Elina KaranastasiArticulated Configurations of the Trivial and the Unusable

P. Mantziou talks
Polyxeni Mantzou, Architecture's Bancus Ruptus or Route

The discussion between D. Dimitriadis and A. Antonas

See videos from the discussion here



8 groups presented their work during the mid-Presentation of kamworkshop2010 that took place on Sunday 22/8 in CAM, Chania. E.Baraona Pohl, A.Balestrero, D.Isaias, E.Karanastasi, N.Patsavos, G.Panetsos and A.Rodi were the commentators and gave a positive feedback to the participants trying also to handle with the challenging context of the workshops theme: "the Bankruptcy of Architecture".

Ethel_Baraona wrote on this: So, after the mid-presentations that where mostly focused in terms like "public space" "materials re-use" and "mobility" among others, it's a good task to take a moment to read Love's reflections on this issue. As he said: For this framework to flourish, design speculation will need to focus on the cultural and social implications of re-imagined building types and potential urbanisms rather than on their economic and functional performance. D.Isaias: during the presentations also suggested that flexibility is not only a technical issue but an institutional one, as well. G.Panetsos asked the same question in a more direct manner: Who is paying for free public space and its maintenance.

The commentators' reality check of the projects is an opportunity for the working groups to reconceptualise their strategies in order to create more solid design-narratives. We are anticipating the final presentation that will take place on the 26th of August.

For now visit the flickr set by A.Balestrero who documented the mid-presentation and stay tuned with kamworkshops tweets.

Conceptual reference...

How to transform an unused functional building into something completely new and successfull?

How does this strategy applies to OTE building?

Is it possible?

The High Line by diller scofidio + renfro

Data Hotels, Carrier Hotels or Teleco Hotels

A New Hybrid Typology for the future of Telecommunication Buildings

by Yorgos Tzirtzilakis

1. The last years the OTE Building in Chania became vacant… With offices empty, the building seemed as "a modern ghost building." What will become in the future? We can imagine, or suppose -and with whom conditions- his transformation in a type of Mediterranean Data Hotel (related to Middle East)?

What is a Data, or Carrier Hotel?: “Within cities, lines concentrate in carrier “hotels,” otherwise known as telco or "telecom hotels". The history of the carrier hotel at the One Wilshire tower in Los Angeles is an example of the current system. One Wilshire is a hotel, a teleco, or data hotel, functioning as communications hub for the Western US and leasing space to over 260 telecom related companies. One Wilshire embodies the invisible physical spatiality supporting the virtual space of telecommunications and networking. As corporations eager to take advantage of high data bandwidth move into or near the tower, over a dozen nearby buildings have been converted to teleco hotels, reviving the real estate market in southwest downtown. But the fiber leading out of One Wilshire remains invisible” (Kazys Varnelis)

One Wilshire, Photo Dave Bullock-Wired
One Wilshire Data Center

The Gospel of Judas. Download here

2. Three symbolic buildings of OTE in Greece. OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organization) was founded on 23 October 1949.

O.T.E. Tower, 102-104, 3th Septemvriou Street, Athens
OTE Tower in the 3th Septemvriou Street

OTE tower, Thessaloniki
OTE Tower in Thessaloniki

OTE main building, Athens
OTE Central Building in Kifissias Avenue, Athens

Recommended reading | Paper Architecture, Emerging Urbanism

Continuos Monument by Superstudio

I just came back with lots of energy and ideas from the first phase of the KAM Workshop the Bankruptcy of Architecture. It was interesting to hear to all the students statements, while the mid presentations on Sunday 22th, about the meaning and ideas of the motto "the Bankruptcy of Architecture".

This morning while taking a look to some webs, this article appeared and I think it's worth reading. Just take a look at some concepts exposed:
The current economic downturn has impacted the building industry and architecture profession more severely than many other market sectors [...] As early as November 2008, when many firms were first jolted by a sudden downturn, John McMorrough, an assistant professor and director of the graduate program in architecture at Ohio State, gave an informal lecture at Northeastern University that sought analogies between the current economic situation and the deep recession in the mid-1970s.

In a recent issue of Architectural Record, James Murdock asked the question more directly: “Will we see a new generation of "paper architects" — the archetypal figure from the last recession?

La Ville Spatiale, Yona Friedman

In 1980, British architect Ron Herron had this vision for a new Congress Hall conference center for Berlin.

Tim Love tries to answer with his article, some important questions about the kind of agendas that the new generation of architects should raise. And he wrote:
One especially promising approach will be to re-embed architecture, as a discipline, within important emerging ideas about the future of urbanism and the existing realities of the contemporary city. For the discipline of architecture, as articulated in the schools, has long had an ambivalent relationship to these realities. Most architecture curricula are untethered to relevant urban issues, and most do not integrate studio pedagogy within the broader intellectual framework of the city and do not include an urban design studio in the course sequence.
So, after the mid-presentations that where mostly focused in terms like "public space" "materials re-use" and "mobility" among others, it's a good task to take a moment to read Love's reflections on this issue. As he said:
For this framework to flourish, design speculation will need to focus on the cultural and social implications of re-imagined building types and potential urbanisms rather than on their economic and functional performance.
The complete article at the Design Observer
All images and its original sources can be seen at our Tumblr archive, here


Y.Tzirtzilakis proposes 'Loan' by Lina Theodorou as a reference to this year's preoccupation with derelict buildings.

Lina Theodorou in "Loan" is documenting the remains of 'bankrupt' places: "ghost factories, depressed areas, abandoned villages and places of no possible interest to tourists". The artist is interested in: "sites and the sights that would give me free rein to redefine the concepts of development and of disaster, and to define a personal mapping of regions that contradict the unreal image projected by the media, folklore documentaries, tourist guides and advertising." By constructing/documenting the image of a dystopic reality is for the artist a way to criticize practices that tend to present a distorted image of reality for commercial or political reasons.


Greek Book on the Bankruptcy of Architecture

Proposed to be read (again), by Yorgos Tzirtzilakis.

crisis / critic

A significant contribution to the discussion of the 'bankruptcy of architecture' was P.Pyla's remark on the common etymological root of crisis and critic. While both words originate from the greek word κρίσις (krisis) meaning 'decision', in the 17th century 'crises' was also used to denote a decisive point, in other words a 'critical moment'. Pyla was elaborating on the ways sustainability is becoming the obvious answer to the economic and environmental crises of our time with the fear of becoming a meta-narrative and hegemonic discourse. A first step against such a possibility, Pyla proposed, is the understanding of 'crises' as a time that calls for critic, and critical thinking.

Architecture to Construct Realities Beyond Buildings

Presentation by Ethel Baraona Pohl [dpr-barcelona] at the workshop The Bankruptcy of Architecture:

“Who says we cannot know the future? We can, but it always a matter of interpretation, that is, of imagination. If that seems obvious, I should point out something not so obvious: that knowing the present is also always an act of imagination.”
-Lebbeus Woods

Ecoredux02 workshop @ ArchTUC

Recycling projects and ideas of the past in Ecoredux02 workshop @ArchTUC. Today the FINAL REVIEW (all instructors and guest critics, 10AM - 6 PM: ). More info here.


kamworkshops valuable collection

phone distribution

See the collection of KAM workshops 2010 expanding day after day.

Free Time Work (No Stop Free Time Work). The Blurred Boundaries Between Work and Free Time (Leisure)

by Yorgos Tzirtzilakis

In late capitalism, the production of life forms and what many are calling biopolitical production, are replacing the work activities and industrial production, resulting in the unprecedented diffusion of working time through the duration of the day and the annulment of the distinction between work and free time (which decisively affects all of our lives). So, side by side with the overproduction of material goods and the supremacy of the weightless immaterial credit sector, there emerge a series of “minor” social, economic and environmental dynamics that mark the end of the Fordian work regime. At their base, these are a series of evolving practices, not always definitive in form, that remain “invisible” in the margin of the conventional social, cultural and political systems of representation.

In the past, the workspaces have been the architectural prototype for the industrial production. Like the Fordist factory, it is built on Taylorist principles of industrial spatial organization. Yet while the city has been transformed throughout the last few decades by the restructuring forces of Post-fordism, what has happened to the workspaces? Anticipating the further decline of those constitutive oppositions the work activities sort has been built upon (city versus nature, work versus free time (leisure), mind versus body) – thus anticipating that workspace will become ever more relevant in our urban life -like as a no stop activity- the research poses the question as how to rethink work activities a problem of the Post-fordist city.

If one had to be more specific, the proliferation should be mentioned of alternative lifestyles, the designing of experiences[1] (rather than objects), the dissemination of ecological and non-governmental or independent organizations, volunteerism, contemporary philanthropy, the ‘new age’, ‘positive externality’, creative classes[2], creative cities, an idealized but also ill-defined participatory culture, the practice of endless discursive prevarications, the bloggers’ culture. It might be that a few years ago we thought some of these practices to possess an alternative, even anti-capitalist character; today, however, they are components of the Post-Fordist diffusion of the ephemeral and assimilated into the current rhetoric and the managerial model of the modern “microphysics” of power.

There are some who will find this assertion displeasing. But, since meta-Fordian capitalism is based on the production of life-forms and ground, territory what we designate by punk-aesthetic, alternative counter-culture, interest in graffiti, artistic mode of production even some versions of ecology, including guerilla gardening, belongs to the “formal” economy’s tactic of reappropriation, and therefore to the agenda of the professionals, the technocrats and the politicians. The famous governance is nothing but a way to ascribe value to these social practices, while certain forms of environmentalism are rising up as contemporary platforms of consensus and management of social conflicts and of the extensive urban transformations which are in progress.

[1] See Joseph Pine II, James H. Gilmore, The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage, Boston Massachusetts, 1999.

[2] Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class and How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life, New York 2002. and Who's Your City? How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life, New York 2008.

Cutting holes...