Public spaces across the globe are palimpsests of stories, relationships, and cultures. Our inhabitation of public space is shaped by its surrounding context, political control or influence, and our sense of community. One thing that remains constant across public spaces is that they are not neutral. Certain communities and cultures are celebrated in public space, while others are concealed. ‘Public’ spaces are most often under the jurisdiction of some entity. Some group of people at some boardroom table in some office decide the boundaries of a given space, who is welcome in that space, and what kinds of activities and events are allowed in that space. Is neutral space possible? Can we offer a safe space for self-facilitated cross-cultural celebrations and intimate human connections?
The studio brief asked us to select a carpet from our culture as a starting point for design exploration. Later, we would re-imagine the carpet as physical space and create a carpet drawing to express the new site and design.
This carpet was created in the early 20th century by Jewish folks who had recently immigrated to British-controlled Palestine. These people and their families were heavily influenced by their experience in the Diaspora (in other Eastern countries or Eastern Europe). They then came to a place controlled by the British, which is now a place of non-existent political neutrality. The British’s divide and conquer strategy kick-started a century of division. By separating ethnic/religious governing, they could gratify different sides at different times and to all sides against each other, making them ‘neutral’ and in control.
Oversized Jerusalem Bezalel Rug 20th c.; 15’ 9” x 17’ 10” (4.8 x 5.44 m) From Nazmiyal Collection, New York
Foucault’s description of heterotopias can be expressed as a set of principles relating to worlds within worlds. They are distinguishable from normal spaces but mirror them at the same time. In other words, they are spaces in which new, otherworldly rules apply, but they are still influenced by real-world societal workings. This program imagines ordinary food practices, daily rituals, and cultural celebrations taking place, but in a space dictated, yet not dictated, by the jurisdiction of its surrounding context. Additionally, these practices are scattered, non-linear scrambles of different cultures and rituals all in the same space.
This project examines the practices of urban agricultural, food preparation, food-related cultural rituals and dining as a form of uniting cultures. In a space divided by a wall, the test site amalgamates cuisines, shuffles ritual spaces, and uses the wall material to unite instead of divide.
The spaces use the carpet’s patterning and geometry to organize areas dedicated to different processes and rituals in preparing and eating food. These areas are not grouped by ritual or preparation step. These spaces are numerous, small intimate enclosures dispersed throughout the site, allowing visitors to adapt the space to their needs and find human interaction. Division is not reinforced. The spatial relationships are pulled from the different iconography and colours in the carpet overlayed with the saturation information.