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The ‘Bedrooms’ installation uses minimal means and familiar architectural representation devices to provide an experiential and comparative insight into the lives of Athenians. It is an archive of twenty-four bedrooms that were photographed and surveyed in June and July 2012. The underlying intention is to provide an alternative reading of the city that remains foremost a locus of intimacy and a common ground for the ‘sharing of differences’.

After decades of apparent prosperity, the city of Athens is experiencing an abrupt transformation being fueled by the current economic recession. The most evident physical manifestations of the current situation occur in the streets and can be described with three words: insecurity, strife and dissent. We have chosen to peek into the spaces that are not decipherable from within the public realm: the rooms where people sleep. These private spaces, where Athenians spend most of their time, simultaneously reflects and impacts their emotional world.

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the installation

The installation in the Greek Pavilion of the Venice Architecture Biennale employs two mediums of representation: A physical model (scale 1:50) and a photograph. The model provides an abstract understanding of the spatial qualities of the room, while the photograph, seen through a hand held slide viewer, provides an image rich in details.

The models are scattered and discretely inserted into the platforms exhibiting the other artifacts of the Greek pavilion. The walls of the rooms are made out of the same material as the platforms (untreated MDF sheets) while the furnishings are made out of basswood. Seen either in plan or in section, they are spatial representations of the rooms conveying scale and arrangement of furnishings.

The slide viewers contain photographs taken by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis with a 20mm lens. Their vantage point is not frontal, in an effort to include the most information possible within the frames. Each photograph is void of occupants, but traces of their inhabitation are prevalent.

The windows in the models hold a transparency with the actual views of each room. A hidden light bulb turns the models into slide projectors of these views, allowing the viewer to see the urban context and the relation of the space with it’s surroundings.

Our small archive of bedrooms documents the prevalent typologies of Athenian sleeping quarters along with the atypical, emerging cultural diversity hidden inside the generic framework of the city fabric.

The selection was made in order to explore the differences and commonalities between social demographics, lifestyles, building typologies and neighborhoods. We have included bedrooms from a social housing project in Leoforos Alexandras, a mansion in Kolonaki, a brothel from the red light district of Kerameikos, a commune of street artists in Petralona, a basement inhabited by economic migrants in Kypseli and a middle class family living in the archetypal Athenian block of flats (‘polykatoikia’).

See the entire archive of rooms (from A to Ω)  here

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The ‘Making of’

The entire process of designing, scouting, constructing and installing our work lasted three months. During June and July 2012 we scouted the city, knocking on doors, asking people to photograph their bedrooms. Our research territory was defined by the limits of the municipality of Athens (37.7 Km2) which is the epicenter of the current Greek financial crisis, characterised by increasing demographic shifts. The scouting team was comprised of Katerina Chrysanthopoulou (architect) and Sophia Chandaka (anthropologist). Yiannis Hadjiaslanis (photographer) accompanied them everywhere, carrying his camera equipment along their long walks through the city.

Each room was photographed by Yiannis, while Katerina surveyed them carefully, sketching everything that took up space within the rooms.

Back at our studio we pined up material on the wall in order to make the final selection of 24 rooms and started building the intricate models of each bedroom.

It took nearly a month to make all the models. The model making team was comprised of Maria Pappa and Nikos Nikolis, while Katerina Chrysanthopoulou carefully packaged the models.

Our six crates were delivered to Michalis Gavrilos who transfered all the material to Venice and set up all the installations in Greek Pavillion.

The exhibition boxes for the Greek pavilion were made out of MDF sheets which were carved carefully in order to host our models. A light fixture was placed underneath the floorplate of each bedroom,  concealed in the boxes, so that it would light up the views in the windows.

The slide viewers had been modified in Athens. A fishing weight pulls the wire cable and it disappears into the box when the slide viewer is not used.

Basic information about the inhabitants of each room (age, nationality, profession) and the building that hosts it (date of construction, typology, neighborhood) where stamped onto the boxes.

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