Lola Lozano
Diploma 14

A New Grammar for the Stoa

“ It is difficult to separate public experience from so-called private experience. In this blurring of borders, even the two categories of citizen and producer fail us. (…) The contemporary multitude is composed neither of “citizens” nor of “producers”: it occupies a middle region between “individual and collective”. (P.Virno) 

Within the project, I address this hybrid condition by articulating a space created through a series of rooms that progress into each other, negotiating between the most intimate towards the ultimate common. In this way, the traditional understanding of public and private as two segregated conditions is eliminated. As they progress, the rooms become increasingly generic allowing for uncertainty to dwell within.

The single unit is a progression of rooms. The first space is the smallest and it allows for the most intimate activities of an individual to take place,  progressing into a second space, decreasing in its level of intimacy. The third space encompasses the most generic of all spaces within the unit, where the owners can define their level of control over the space, which can belong to the individual or be appropriated by the common. The final space is implied: it is the resulting space that encompasses all activities of the collective community, an interstitial, loose space with no defined programme.'The gift of speech makes man a political animal'
- Aristotle

According to Aristotle, man is made political by his ability to speak, to express and be exposed to the presence of others and, by so doing, to become essentially public.
If it is the need for exchange and communication that characterises actual labour, then the need for political space is refound as it was the case of the Stoa in ancient Greece.This particular council highlights a situation where the distinction between public and private becomes blurred, merging into one single sphere. It juxtaposes two main conditions existing in the city of Rome: the city against the park.
The building becomes a more evolved version of the Greek Stoa.  
By confronting two opposites, it renders inhabitation ambiguous. On the one hand, it faces the suburban city of Rome; on the opposite side, the new Stoa confronts and encloses an area of clearly defined parkland. This space is no longer the forum for the public but instead an unrestricted forest that retains its uncontrolled wild nature, becoming almost inaccessible to the dweller in the building. Complete flexibility is achieved within the most generic space of the building, the common. Here, activity takes place not only in the form of housing, but the ambivalent exchange condition materialises through bringing together activities that were once known to occupy completely different spatial realms.The project argues not only for a circulation space, but it intends  to monumentalise the space of encounter and cooperation where balcony and corridor become something else: a place where people can work. Similar to the way in which the Agora reflected the political behaviour of the Greek citizens, the spatial organisation of the project reflects the phenomenology of behaviour of the council dwellers, within a space where all activities are housed by one simple, consistent architectural gesture.By selling our basic faculties - speech language and communication – labour-time extends to the entire lifetime. There is no separation between work and the rest of our lives. Relying on interchange, we become increasingly dependant on the presence of others bringing a twisted political sphere to the forefront. Today we are constantly political and constantly at work.
By confronting two perceived opposites, the project is the articulation of a meeting point between the city and the park, and it also confronts the different spheres that encompass our lives.We can no longer be separated from labour. In a twisted state of affairs, technology has freed time once spent through physical stress, only to be replaced and increased by mental stress.
Within the project this condition is adopted and tested. The creation of one common space which is layered to achieve different degrees of intimacy aims to allow the infinite work-time and its subjects to inhabit the space. The progression from ‘intimate’ to ‘common’ exist to let the individuals survive at their most basic level within a project where distinctions have become one blurred whole.The project is inhabited by a society that works by having to exploit our political nature, like the people in the Agora, but the goal of these independent politics is not as in ancient Greece, but politics for the sake of surviving the jungle of the workplace.
It is through the aggregation of individual units that one single common space is created, resulting in an accidental monumentality made up of singular entities. The new Stoa no longer frames public space as it did in the Greek Agora, but it is the public space where immaterial labour presents itself by constantly creative individuals. As an opposition to the new Stoa, or ‘common’, where thriving digitalisation creates a simulacrum of the world operationally integrated to the physical world, the park has inverted its role. From being a framed public space toit becomes a wild forest where the insidious living conditions can be escaped from.The fourth Stoa of the complex, stripped of the interior units, opens a gateway to the sports facilities which are available for the inhabitants to use. However, it also stands as a provocation, beside the ruined fascist ideologies of collective identity, once architecturally expressed by the Foro Italico. It suggests a political situation that is assumed to have disappeared, albeit more pervasive in actuality.