Tower for a Collector [M2]

This studio follows on from a teaching program called “City & Utopia” established 10 years ago in Paris with the aim of exploring the world of ideologies. Here, we enter a third phase of the program, this time focusing on our relationship to objects, a relationship that can often be irrational or magical.

More specifically, the exercise explores the themes of collection and fetishism. Every city could be seen as a collection. Not something frozen, as a collection of paintings in a museum might be. But rather as a neurotic act of accumulation – of things, buildings, and objects – which is a way for every inhabitant to manage the anxiety of aloneness. In the psychology of the collector, the objects collected are endowed with a soul and represent an extension of their personality that links them to the outside world. They are transitional objects and this need for transition often turns into madness. So one might therefore wonder, for every city, what psychological state led to the accumulation of so many things, buildings, crossings, cars, relationships and people. What neurosis presided over the births of different cities?

In order to explore these questions, the studio proposes to design a vertical, totemic city, following a sequence of chapters each corresponding to the gradual unfolding of a collection. The exercise consists in starting with a fetish object, and then successively designing a gallery in which to exhibit or conceal it, a house, a neighborhood, and finally a totem city. Through these different chapters and changes of scale, the aim will be to explore the obsessional and foundational dynamic that underpins our relationship to architecture and the evolution of many of today’s cities.

The goal is to engage the students in a plastic activity in which the essence of the work comprises models and photography, and to explore the generalized fetishization of our material world, as well as our own tendency as architects to seek in every built thing a potential object of desire, of knowledge, of collection, or of substitution.

The program will be conducted by Gilles Delalex in weekly sessions with guest critics by Yves Moreau.