Nina Kolowratnik

Advisor: Mark Wasiuta

MS.CCCP 2013

An Outside Language of Conflict

In a practice where the architect uninvitedly enters situations of socio-political conflict and proactively gets involved in order to open up new perspectives and spaces for change—what are the tools which enable an architect to engage in productive criticism from another viewpoint? And how can the architectural skill set become an operative asset when approaching a situation form the outside?

Within my thesis project I am trying to develop an architectural language of representation which exposes urgent sites of silent conflict by continuously inserting its outside status. Working as a communication tool, the 'Outside Language of Conflict' reads, reveals and articulates political, social or legal conflicts from a spatial perspective aiming to re-inseminate conflictual dimensions into a tabooed or stagnant debate and, to produce at the same time a critical and active reader. As the audience addressed are those directly involved in the conflict, the language needs to translate to a nonprofessional readership—however without losing a fundamentally spatial dimension. A language which needs to be alienating enough to provoke new debates, yet is bearing enough ground for identification. To walk this thin line I will risk to re-introduce the uncertain, subjective, variegated, unfinished to an architectural language of transparency, abstraction and norms. 

To build up the vocabulary constituting the 'Outside Language of Conflict', mapping out coordinates and voices in which the language can speak, I will undertake a set of experiments on the representational production of conflict. I will work with the specific site and silent conflicts of the Jemez Pueblo land claim in New Mexico as a testing ground for my theoretical approach, which is at the same time also feeding it.

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