Authors : Anna Kononova, Paloma Herrero Ermakova

University : Politecnico di Milano, Milan

Status : MArch (1-3), 2016

Advisor : Elisa Cattaneo

Title : Architecture of Mental Space

The thesis aims to analyse and understand some elements of our modern society and its “virtuality”, the architecture of our new “faceless” existence inside a vacuum of the web. How the virtual actually develops and exists as a true space and place, a true dimensional form. How does it influence our perception of reality and urbanity. This virtuality does not just separately exist in some dark corner of our apartment, it is not constant, fixed or geographically coherent, that would make it too real. Whenever we step out of the house with our phones, we take this virtuality outside. Its interesting to try to understand what happens whenever this partial or not immersion happens inside any form of urbanity – let’s say, what happens when we are crossing a street in a city while interacting virtually with the phone – what does the phone change?, how do you see other people?, how fast do you move?, how do you see the surroundings? Your perceptions of the context changes, not just spatially or physically but also temporarily. You project yourself into a strange sort of space ( virtual inside the real or real inside the virtual ) and you or your projection move inside it while moving inside the city, generating a sort of double reality movement, a space inside a space, an act inside an act. We try to discuss key topics like the portable devices or screens ; the human and the influence of the technology on our bodies and selves; the way the devices and its virtuality deforms the space we live in, deforms our city and our perception of it; and we try to somehow describe that “after-space”, that coexistence of virtual and deformed. Apart from the theoretical research the thesis contains a series of theoretical “projects”, a series of “exaggerated” realities that visually describe and conceptually support the theoretical part of this thesis. Each of them embodies a different concept and analyses different possibilities of its utopical / dystopical influence in any random urban form. 8 projects in 8 different cities, generate drastically different reactions. Each project can be considered an ironic critique of our society , a sort of exaggerated model of our own realities. This realities are projected into physical (architectural) elements/objects, inserted into concrete existing contexts.


smartphone / social media / media platforms / web / informational bomb / hertzian space; vacuum / cyber sickness/ loneliness / artificial world/ no time or space limitations / reshaping of temporal dimensions and boundaries / 3 dimensional stage of subjectivity / biological stage / interactivity / constant access / smartphone as a screen / identity crisis; / screen as a prosthesis / moral exhibitionism / new human / screen as a window; screen as a portal / deformation of space through the screen / portal / time/ reality refracted / urban phobias; phobic abstraction / modern paranoia / disembodiment / shredding of space / blurring / exploded space / space as pure time / bipolarity of the conscious space / double existence / spatial coordinates; reality as simulacrum / city as a state of mind / low resolution


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Anna Kononova_ This thesis is first of all a theoretical work, the graphical part is represented by conceptual projects that aim to support that theory, to reinforce the idea of our “double existence” in the modern city, architecture. It raises a lot of interesting questions of modernity and it’s a very personal creative work, that includes in
itself a lot of factors related and not related to architecture.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
AK_ I’m very interested in art in all its ways, painting, sculpture, any crafts, that are made by hand.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
AK_ It might be a strange thing to say, but it taught me how to work, to understand the processes of working and archiving the results, not necessarily in terms of an architectural project in itself - but simply in terms of saving the entire process / pre-production phase. Architectural education is an amazing opportunity to learn about the world in all its glory, to start feeling the world around you, to understand proportions, colours, moods and details.

S//A : Describe your dream project
AK_ A perfect studio for arts, crafts and architecture.