Valentin Buchwalder & Sebastian Oswald
The project „At Work“ offered during the 2015 fall semester follows from an invitation to collaborate with Manifesta 11, which will take place in Summer 2016. The project examines the spaces and places of work in the city – how they turn away from public urban life, or, on the contrary, remain a natural part of the city and even serve to stage it. We read the city through the lens of its professions. The studio interprets the physical and spatial gestalt that is occupied, designed and shaped by these professions and their subjects. Through this subject/object perspective, we focus on both the obvious as well as more inconspicuous „monuments of work“. Modern man lives and works – preferably simultaneously.
As a result, it is no longer possible to separate work from daily life in modern society. The whole concept of work as a spatially and temporally limiting and/or limited activity is repeatedly being questioned. Its contours are being negated (similar, by the way, to how the city and its borders apparently no longer exist). But they are still there, and if one were to take a closer look, it would be clear that there are a surprising number of professions, which can be identified, very precisely defined and located within society (the city). These professions, their structures, sites and practitioners create identity and are important both as the text – and as the context – of a society. Only a fraction of the population resides, sleeps, loves and lives where they work. One still goes to work. Despite all forward-looking objections on this matter, there exists a certain liberating clarity.
In the 2015 fall semester, we address the places, buildings, spaces and clichés of work as speculative designers. How is work represented as a physical and spatial form? Each student selects a profession; this can be anything from a forest ranger on his perch, to a policeman on watch duty, from a judge in the courthouse to a musician in an orchestra pit, from a mechanic under a car to a lifeguard in his swimming trunks or even a water engineer with his purification tanks.
Our starting point and the connection between the profession itself and those who work in each particular field is informed by literature, prose and other works of fiction dealing with work. The character of the lifeguard is, for instance, be defined and contextualized by Hugo Löetscher’s novel “Saison”, the librarian’s personality is adapted from Thomas Hürlimann’s “Fräulein Stark” and the pianist is parsed from Elfriede Jelinek’s “Klavierspielerin”.