Selected Entries 2017
STAGING A SCHIZOID PERFORMANCE
Academy of Architecture | Mumbai
Schizophrenia largely considered as a mental disorder, is characterized by a split from reality, a state of delusion created by a glitch in the information flows in the system. Considering the hyper mediated cultural milieu that we live in today, this dissertation attempts to conceptualize an analogy between today’s society and the condition of schizophrenia. It does so by highlighting the fragmentation of various forms of orders in the society and decadence of concepts such as language and identity. It states that the built environment that we live in today simulates a schizophrenic experience, turning us all into schizoids. The thesis diagnoses this schizoid condition and identifies it as an essential and fundamental aspect of one’s existence, later realizing that the concepts like ‘normality’ are the one which problematize by creating a criteria for considering something as legitimate and something as not. Normality creates a boundary which excludes all the other behaviors which do not fit into its criteria by labelling them abnormal and thus imposes violence on a schizoid. We live in a society which is controlled by manufacturing the ‘Normal’ with manipulative capitalist agendas. The one who decodes and scrambles these codes and deviates by not abiding to them is a schizoid.
The thesis studies the manifestations of such ‘normalities’ and ‘schizophrenia’ within the architecture of the city of Mumbai, through flâneur walks and mapping psycho-geographies. Further, the project is narrowed down to the typology of a shopping mall, which is the epitome of today’s consumerist mediated society. This western typology imposed upon the east as a ‘normalization’, was studied for its syntax and semiotics, through a lexicon of its components.
‘Prime Mall’ in the alpha market of Vile Parle was selected as a site for intervention and was intensively mapped and analyzed. The massive infrastructure of the mall-which comprises of a three storeyed structure, a double basement, extremely rigid and hierarchical arboreal layout, introverted and vertical circulation with escalators and glass elevators, centralized air conditioning systems, glass façade and billboards-had failed to respond to the highly dense and rhizomatic context of the informal alpha market around it. The glass box remained dead and unused. The tiny portion of the mall, basically the ground floor was over the years, taken over by the informal market outside, and the mall has been turned into a cooperative housing society, which encourages the market outside to completely take over the mall. The situation seems to embrace schizophrenia, but the rigid architecture does not allow for that to happen. The mall, just like our concepts of language and identity, although has become redundant now, it still stands strong, limiting the possibility of something else to take it over.
The approach to this situation was twofold, firstly on an urban socio-political level and secondly on an individual psychological level, and it was envisioned in four stages:
- Fragmentation: To inflict a benevolent violence upon the existing structure of the mall and subvert its rigid typological framework by literally physically breaking down the mall. By making cuts in the walls and slabs, removing certain portions, breaking apart some areas and puncturing holes and openings, to end up creating an aesthetic of fragmentation, reflecting the chaos present in the context. And also making the rigid box porous and softening its boundaries.
- Disjunction: To create idiosyncratic situations by bringing together contradictory functions, cross-programming and trans-programming, constructing absurd follies having an ambiguous language which is familiar as well as alienating at the same time.
- Facilitating Framework: To assist in the process of self-organization- of the informal in the mall, or of the thoughts in the mind, by providing assistance through basic framework that serves as some form of anchorage.
The Homogenous typology of the Mall turns into an Asylum, a marginal space which can serve as a stage for the schizophrenic or the voiceless to perform their identity. The structure and the ones who now use it, are no longer clearly defined but stagnating beings, but are now Heterogeneous entities which are always becoming.