Research Project
Tracing the Virus: The Balcony

Research Project
Tom Avermaete, Fatina, Abreek-Zubiedat, Marianna Charitonidou, Irina Davidovici, Nicole de Lalouvière, Janina Gosseye, Hamish Lonergan, Cathelijne Nuijsink, Hans Teerds, Maxime Zaugg

In the past days and weeks the freedom of movement of many citizens around the world has been restricted. As part of the attempt to mitigate the covid-19 virus, people have been advised to remain within their private domains and restrict their interventions in public space to the bare minimum. Keeping citizens out of the public sphere is, fortunately so, in our contemporary societies not an idea that is docilely accepted.

On the contrary, citizens around the world have searched for alternative ways to appear in the public sphere, for other modes of meeting one another, for other tactics to share, care and support -for different ways of commoning. The digital sphere has offered many new ways to encounter, exchange and collaborate. But also in our analogue world, in our neighborhoods and cities, alternative ways of doing have been developed. One architectural element has played a key role: the balcony.

Some years ago, we started within the frame of Rem Koolhaas’ project ‘The Elements of Architecture’ an intense investigation on the architectural element of the balcony. Today, we continue this research at the Chair of the History and Theory of Urban Design of the gta, at ETH Zürich. We explore how, also in times of covid 19, the balcony proves to be one of the most powerful architectural elements in the city: individual podium of collectivity, private parlor of public presence, and personal lighthouse of the commons.

Please stay tuned for further updates!