University of Thessaly, Greece
Due to the evolution of technology, which brought the concept of working from home, flexibility on working hours, great reduction of the necessary working space and easier transmutation of any space to a workplace, the traditional notion of “home” gets radically altered. It is transforming from a detached shelter to a versatile, adjustable space. In such a system the limit between the private(live) and the public(work) sphere becomes increasingly blurry, causing them to co-exist in several occasions. The live-work merge in one unit, is not simply the addition of an extra room (working space) in the house (living space) since the house is a complicated system of human psychological aspects, the natural environment and the social changes. It is required a comprehensive remodeling. The live/work typology converses with existing conceptions of home and private life, private and public space, leading to emerging typologies and '' hybrid '' interpretations of house. The goal of this project is to explore possible transformations of domestic space when the working parameter penetrates in home. Seven professions stand as starting points for new units while each unit attempted to incorporate a generalized program so as to have a broader reference.
Vasiliki to start could you give us a brief introduction as to who you are, where have you studied, what stage are you in your architectural career?
I was born and raised in Thessaloniki, a city in Northern Greece. I studied Architecture at Democritus University of Thrace and I received my master at University of Thessaly. The last 3 years I am working as an architect at a company focusing on interior renovation projects. As for my graphic skills, I am a self taught artist. I love Illustration and I get involved in different graphic design projects. In a world where architecture is often overwhelmed by the unstable market's needs, I began publishing images on Instagram combining architecture and illustration with the goal of making spaces that I wish existed.
Why did you decide to study architecture?
I didn't grow up thinking I would be an architect. It was a kind of sudden decision. However, as a child I always enjoyed drawing, 'inventing' and making 3D models of strange un-named things. In later life I was indecisive about my future studies. Nonetheless, in the second year at high school I saw a former student discussing with my teacher about her first year in Architecture school.I was really fascinated with her description about her studies and how she is and making cool models. That was pretty much it. The next and final year at High working with sketches, drawings, colours school I started intensive drawing courses in order to succed in university and there I was in an Architecture school with only a rough idea of what an architect does. Today I think architecture is a broad profession and there truly is a niche for every skill and every talent. It's just a matter of finding what you really enjoy doing and finding a firm in which to do that.
Are there any architects in particular who inspire you? If so have any in particular had an influence in the creation of this particular project?
In general, I would say that I have different sources of references for each project from fine arts to photography and cinematography trying new ideas and not to repeating the same moments. Actually there are a lot of things that can inspire me! However, for this project I drew my references about the basic concept by the Mobile Office of Hans Hollein, The Living Structures of Ken Isaacs and the Nomadic Furniture of James Hennessy and Victor Papanek. All the above examples attempt to introduce the concept of living / working space but also define space as a mobile, flexible and autonomous unit. As for the graphic inspiration I like the detailed axonometric drawings of Atelier Bow Wow, the playful collage work of Dogma, Fala Atelier, Office KGDVS and finally-and the most important- the atmosphere in the work of Edward Hopper and Jack Vettriano. I love that their paintings create a feeling of a mystic world that speaks itself.
Could you give us a brief description of your project “TYPOLOGIES_living-working”?
The goal of this project is to explore possible transformations of domestic space when the working parameter penetrates in home. Seven professions stand as starting points for new units while each unit attempted to incorporate a generalized program so as to have a broader reference. At first, the translation of the main attribute of each profession to space and, afterwards, it’s generalization to a broader type that accommodates more than one profession is attempted through a seemingly “simplistic” description. Eventually, each one of the seven units is based on the following concepts: I)observation, ii)isolation, iii)organization, iv)collaboration, v)free plan, vi)congregation, vii)separation. Meanwhile, the research sets questions about the size requirements of modern live-work space, the characteristics and the relationships that are developed according to a specific type of profession and how the boundaries of private and public sphere changed every time in such a system. After the study of the typologies, this project attempts to provide a solution for the setting of these seven live-work units in the urban fabric. The question of the research was where we could insert them into the urban fabric and the consequences that they will bring to the surrounding environment.
What was your inspiration behind your very unique brief for the project?
The project began on the occasion of an image showing a farmer resting on a rough construction over his farm. 'DragasIes' or 'Fragkiata' were humble, makeshift constructions of reeds which give the opportunity to the farmers of Thessaly in Greece to monitor and protect their crops. These constructions were equipped with a bed, blankets or cloaks against the cold of the night and a lamp for lighting. Analyzing the example I observe that the main feature of this construction was the distance from the ground in order to supervise the farms. The "simplification" of the employment requirement was interpreted spatially with the creation of this structure by constructing a typology which spread quickly. Through this example began the idea of the spatial interpretation of the employment requirement of seven professions and the possible transformations by their merge with the home typology.
The project explores Live Work typologies, something which has been extensively explored in architecture with mixed results, how does your project differ from the typical work/live typology?
As technology evolves, the lifestyle and working environment will be transformed as the boundaries between home and office, living space and working space, private and public have become blurred. The research on typologies identified the different relations arising from the merge of live - work. The disparity between the typologies was the main challenge for this project. Each unit attempted to incorporate a generalized program so as to have a broader reference for users, a specific program could be applied to other categories of professionals. The application of the live work typology was a useful frame for experimentation of new small living types while the exploration for the setting in the city proposes a solution to the problem of abandoned areas of a city and the empty office buildings.
Your work has a very unique aesthetic, how do you produce your imagery?
First it’s the lines, then the details, then the atmosphere...I usually start by imagining a storyboard that will define the final goal of the image. Then, I sketch the basic idea in pencil and take over to Illustrator or Autocad to define the lines. Then, I browse through the Internet for significant pieces for me, from cinema scenes to paintings, from photographs to abstract graphic images, in order to create my own atlas of pieces. All these small pieces are the result of a deep research for the suitable shape, size, material so as to create the final image. all these elements Eventually, bringing together , the whole work becomes visually layered and the real co-exists with the imaginary.
What do you feel you have learnt by undertaking this project? And is there anything you would change about it if you could?
Working on this project gave me a valuable insight into how architecture has to respond to paradoxes. In the era of “connecting” and “disconnecting”, the integration of public activities in the domestic environment opens up the dwelling to the outside world and brings the outside world into the dwelling. Architects have a major challenge which is to create spaces that can adapt and be flexible, but at the same time are stable enough to exist physically and be economically viable. The main challenge for our hyper dense metropolis is to provide homes and not houses, avoiding alienation through solutions that are tailored to a specific human being but simultaneously taking into consideration the ephemerality that characterised our contemporary life. As architects we always design the space but we don' t live in it so the key element is to give space for the unknown and not to define everything but let the user figure it and come to their own conclusions.
As for the second part of your question I would say that I won't change something but for sure I will evolve the project adding for example sustainable elements to the units or enriching the research with new hybrids which is something I try to do with my new personal project which is called 'shaping the future of domestic' and you can check it out on my Instagram account.
If you could offer one piece of advice to those architecture students reading this interview what would it be?
While in school, please take advantage of all the tools that are available. Get yourself involved with projects outside the regular curriculum of the school, participate in competitions and workshops, work and meet other people, and allow yourself to experiment and try as many things as you can. During that process you will be able to gradually start finding yourself, understand what makes you happy, and where you want to see yourself in the future. Most important, have fun and do not take your time at school so seriously.
If you could go back in time and tell young Vasiliki who was just starting out in their architectural studies, what would it be?
Don't hurry up! Architecture has its timing and you have to respect it. You can’t pretend to project something in a few hours. You have to think, to study, to sketch, to observe ,to make changes to your designs, to reject ideas and to recreate them. That is the process and this is how you improve your work.
Where can people find out more about your work?
You can follow my Instagram account @vicky__bak Issuu portfolio https://issuu.com/bakavouvasiliki