Kitchenshrine & Dogcomfort. Three exhibition/spatial laboratories, subtitled The Architecture of Everyday Situations and Rituals of Dwellers, at University of Brighton, UK, Plan06/Forum for Contemporary Architecture, Cologne, Germany and the Neufert Box, Weimar, Germany respectively. Ongoing project
Kitchenshrine & Dogcomfort is a follow-up of The postponed meeting of Neufert, Tessenow and Buster Keaton, Situationism 2003 (see Output 1); both projects were developed by architects Anuschka Kutz (London) and Andrea Benze (Berlin), co-directors of OFFSEA (office for socially engaged architecture).
Whilst the competition entry (Output 1) focused on generating new ideas on how architecture could become more responsive to personal needs, Kitchenshrine & Dogcomfort intensifies this research into everyday situations, habits and rituals and how these could inform and redefine domestic architecture. The authors seek to combine field research with the promotion of an architectural idea, for this a new media was created that would combine both. Architectural exhibitions are predominantly used to showcase design projects and are rarely interactive or embody research platforms, Kitchenshrine & Dogcomfort is an interactive exhibition whereby the exhibition itself doubles up as the research platform.
Kitchenshrine and Dogcomfort, Kutz (with Benze) is an intensive research laboratory within an interactive architectural exhibition to test how everyday situations, habits and rituals inform and redefine domestic architecture and how space is produced through routine, habitual or unorthodox use. The spatial laboratory is a travelling exhibition. Audience engagement and participation is conceptually and practically central to OFFSEA’s research methods, involving individual reflection on private and domestic space to inform their construction of active architectural propositions. Contributions from the audience become part of the exhibition and influence form and content of the project at each stage. The project’s participatory workshop and exhibition format both embodies their research method and generates primary data for subsequent analysis and exposition.
The exhibition laboratory was initially developed for a solo show at the University of Brighton (January 2006) with a total gallery space of 300sqm, but its modular design allows it to adapt to new spaces and situations. The Brighton exhibition showcased numerous interactive artefacts, from giant puzzles to large-scale spatial installations that could be tested and used, a video archive of personal recollections of daily rituals could be seen and a large workshop environment was installed, where the audience was invited to leave behind their ideas and personal stories, rituals and habits of spatial appropriation and use. A few months later, Kutz (and Benze) were invited by planprojekt to re-configure and re-stage the project at the annual Forum for Contemporary Architecture in Cologne, Germany in September 2006. Curated within the constrained dimensions of a 40 sqm exhibition container, this concentrated and modified version of the project put the workshop environment at the core. New interactive material continued their field research investigating the activities and use of domestic spaces and the influence these might have on the design of personal private spaces.
Arguing that predominant housing typologies are ineffective in accommodating social-cultural changes and omit participatory and inclusive forms of audience engagement, their spatial laboratory collects and develops a unique ‘archive of daily rituals’, which will in turn inform their architectural design strategy; Kutz (and Benze) investigated whether habits and activities could prompt new, socially-pertinent spatial forms within contemporary architectural design. The latest exhibition was set in the Neufert Gallery, Weimar / Gelmerode, Germany in November 2008. On 12 gallery floors, this exhibition framed its conceptual stance in relation to the work of the architect Ernst Neufert. The creative visual reinterpretation of Ernst Neufert’s Architect’s Data, a planning manual for architects, forms one of the core artefacts of OFFSEA’s exhibition. Whereas Neuferts work can be characterized as looking for optimisation and standardisation, OFFSEA seeks to operate at the borderline between planability and nonplan, providing the possibility for spatial uses that go beyond the traditional norms.
The University of Brighton; County of Steiermark, Austria; County of Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany; the City of Cologne; the Department for Research in Residential Building and the Ministry for the Built Environment, Austria.