Graz: Publishing Company of Graz University of Technology, 2014
German, 175 pages, paperback
Today the word “utopia” is usually negatively connoted and viewed as a failed plan. Architecture, as one of the applied arts, cannot and could never position itself as critically as, let’s say, the fine arts. Meanwhile, architecture has become influenced by pragmatism, which gives unconditional precedence to building. So what can the (architectural) utopia even still accomplish? The starting point for Niemandsräume is the claim that the utopia is not to be understood as a building task—or as a failed plan—but rather as a tool for working critically, artistically, and in a socially appropriate way. This implies thinking in pictures rather than in economic catchwords, and also permitting designs that were never actually conceived as real visions. Niemandsräume is a “graphic novel,” a comic novel, which gains in importance as an artistic form of expression even in an architecture context. This medium succeeds in highlighting the potentials inherent to architecture and in inviting the beholder to embark on a journey, image for image, into realms of the past, the present, and the future. Niemandsräume is a juxtaposition of individual architectural utopias and makes conceptual spaces experimentally experienceable.
Marleen Leitner and Michael Schitnig studied architecture at Graz University of Technology from 2007 to 2014. Their diploma thesis Niemandsräume (No-Man’s-Spaces) was written in the Institute of Contemporary Art. In 2013 they founded a joint studio called Asynchrome, which was conceived as a transdisciplinary experiment.