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About the project

Un-war space is a collective research aiming to create display of spatial practices and representations made by the citizens who were and are still engaged in the processes of undoing war both spatially and culturally in contemporary war and post-war landscapes. This research begins from the human and spatial experiences that were born out from the recent war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1996). It takes military siege of the Sarajevo as the ground for understanding and uncovering social and spatial transformations of the material destruction, dysfunctional urban conditions – mobility, infrastructures, services and loads of fears of living in the dangerous situation – into the functional spaces of collaboration for: survival, protection, cultural production and spatial reproduction of individual and shared living spaces – homes, buildings, streets, neighborhoods and the city itself. In that time, urban area and surrounding nature for Sarajevans were both resource for life and source of death. Taking into account the time distance of the end of the Sarajevo siege and the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1995/1996), today we could certainly assume Sarajevo in the time of war as the experimental and dynamic space that produced material and human common system that was changing day by day the pre-war, practical context and framed images of the everyday life.

Un-war space archive will explore thought and production of the un-war space through several cross-themes:

-       production of military, militarized, war space and knowledge

-       production of un-war space and knowledge in the war city and landscape

-       undoing war and experiential models of spatial resilience

-       common space vs war space and shifting of the ownership

-       display of the un-war space

-       role of the architects and urban planners in the war/post-war city and landscape

Next to the Sarajevo in the war and its citizens’ everyday life as the experiential research base, this research will rely on the work and engagement of the architects, writers, philosophers, artist, film makers, curators and other cultural actors who worked and are still working for the creation of the spaces and culture of un-war. Krzysztof Wodiczko, Polish born artist in his text ‘Un-war’ published in Harvard design magazine (No.42 – S/S2016, p.54-56) criticizes and partially define the process of creation of the war culture while questioning the entire apparatus of doing the war and the media representations of it. Wodiczko writes: “The motivation to fight and die in war is preserved by a war culture that manifests itself through uniforms, war games, parades, military decorations, and war memorials, as well as the creation of war art and military art, martial music, and war museum, not to mention the popular fascination with weapons, war toys, violent video games, battle reenactments, collectibles, and military history and literature.” I assume that research about unwar space about the times of war and non-war have to adopt analytical, visual, textual and finally spatial language different from the language used by the military operations, popular media sensational images and reports, art and architectural projects using war images. Unwar space as a method of thought and spatial practice should be able to challenge the centuries long tradition of continuous war on the battle terrains, in the media space, academic discourses, museums and gallery spaces. Production of un-war space and culture enable the processes of shifting the habitual viewing of war destruction and violence as fascinating and apocalyptic environment, as well as use of the military words in the urban and architectural projects such as tactics, strategies, occupation and many others. Instead, the unwar representations should rethink the common trend of the aestheticization of the war violence, death of the people and their personal traces – as use of refugees’ lifejackets during the last years, survival narratives, act of voyeurism from non-war on the war area, refugees’ displacement and their living conditions. Finally, unwar space research aims to make comparative exploration of the spatial typologies of the war and unwar spaces, their intersection and temporality considering also recent violent urban events in officially non-war zones. After terrorist attacks in cities as Brussels, Paris and Istanbul we witnessed how fast a non-war urban zones can become militarized spaces that further on are ready to turn into war space and the battle terrains.

Outcomes of the unwar research project are: on-line open archive, book about methods and analysis of the war and un-war spaces, peer-reviewed paper on intersection of architecture and media studies, public inter-scale exhibition.

Armina Pilav,

Author of the project, post-doc researcher at the Chair of Methods and Analysis, Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft.
Research supervisor: Prof. Tom Avermaete, Chair of Methods and Analysis, professor of architecture, Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft.