Harijs Alsins
Diploma 5

Ministry of Pleasure

Imposed as a measure of control, this is a safe place for the urban youth to let their steam off – a maze of sexual pleasures and obscenities posing as a bathhouse, contained in a neo-Stalinist skyscraper – itself a ghost of regime control past; but, is the darkness of the maze really that easy to control?

A dark maze for bodily pleasures, a place where an abundance of sexual activities and obscenities can take place...but it is highly controlled and monitored.This is the Ministry of Pleasure in Moscow, a public space publicized as a place of ultimate freedom and liberation, a take on the Roman 'bread and games'...where underneath lies institutional control looking over everything.The context for this project is two emerging social groups: first, Nashi, a political youth organization in Russia, controlled from top down; this includes their sexual lives, with the government trying to increase their libido to make love for the declining population of the motherland in heart-shaped camping grounds.Second is Club Antichrist, a group of fetishists and swingers from London who could teach the former a few things; including the use of their spaces, being able to transform the most mundane venues into unpredictable mazes with sexual surprises around each corner.The Ministry of Pleasure is located in central Moscow, where one of eight skyscrapers proposed by Stalin was planned but never completed. The exterior takes the exact form of the original design, and in this way an icon of regime control is revived, and a parallel is made between the former despot and the sometimes over-controlling current regime....but the interior takes the operation principles of the space of Club Antichrist a step further, pushing the typology of the maze to the edge, exploiting even its most basic geometrical principles in an extremely controlled way......to create a complex three-dimensional maze which is impossible to control spatially, rather like the Catacombs of Rome, in this reference highlighting the possibilities of bottom-up organization that such a space can facilitate, just as the catacombs of Rome didAnd by the very choice of maze as a spatial configuration strategy, highlighting the role of the architect in the endless game of a government's control over population through architecture, and that very architecture facilitating the undermining of that control.