/ VILLA OTIUM
/ RESEARCH
/ 2018

The project proposes an alternative model for an urban communal villa, where tenants are completely freed from work and domestic labour.

 
 
ONCTIES_NEVERWORK_COVER
 
 
 
While users don’t pay for using Facebook services, over 98% of the company’s revenue comes from advertising that Facebook shows on the feed with the help of data that users provide to the algorithm. Every time that we log in to social media, we voluntarily accept to be targeted by advertising.

While users don’t pay for using Facebook services, over 98% of the company’s revenue comes from advertising that Facebook shows on the feed with the help of data that users provide to the algorithm. Every time that we log in to social media, we voluntarily accept to be targeted by advertising.

 
 
 
In 2016 the PNL, an independent French rap group formed by Tarik and Nabil Andrieu, invested 120 000 Euro/month to rent a billboard on the ring road surrounding Paris. The location justified the incredibly high rent—an ad campaign could reach over 50,000 vehicles a day and up to 6.8 million people a month.

In 2016 the PNL, an independent French rap group formed by Tarik and Nabil Andrieu, invested 120 000 Euro/month to rent a billboard on the ring road surrounding Paris. The location justified the incredibly high rent—an ad campaign could reach over 50,000 vehicles a day and up to 6.8 million people a month.

 
 
 
The Villa is located along the Parisian ring road, not far from La Villette Park, by Bernard Tschumi. The site is a  terrain vague , in-between a large parking lot and an underused public garden. The project aims to question different scenarios such as “What if we used capitalist logic to sustain an alternative economic model?” or “What if we accepted that a multinational corporation paid for our economic downsizing?” or “what if our home paid for our lifestyle and not the other way around?”

The Villa is located along the Parisian ring road, not far from La Villette Park, by Bernard Tschumi. The site is a terrain vague, in-between a large parking lot and an underused public garden.
The project aims to question different scenarios such as “What if we used capitalist logic to sustain an alternative economic model?” or “What if we accepted that a multinational corporation paid for our economic downsizing?” or “what if our home paid for our lifestyle and not the other way around?”

 
 
 
BUILDING STRUCTURE

BUILDING STRUCTURE

 
EXTERNAL VIEW

EXTERNAL VIEW

 
 
 
TYPICAL PLAN

TYPICAL PLAN

 
The villa is composed of a uniform repetition of identical rooms. Instead of giving a specific function to each room, instead we decided to consider them like a Japanese  washitsu , an open room with no dedicated purpose. Any unused or unneeded furniture can be tucked away in the storage spaces provided. In this way, the purpose of each space can quickly and easily be repurposed to suit just about any desire.

The villa is composed of a uniform repetition of identical rooms. Instead of giving a specific function to each room, instead we decided to consider them like a Japanese washitsu, an open room with no dedicated purpose. Any unused or unneeded furniture can be tucked away in the storage spaces provided. In this way, the purpose of each space can quickly and easily be repurposed to suit just about any desire.

 
In David Foster Wallace’s 1996 novel  Infinite Jest , there is a film so entertaining that viewers lose all interest in anything other than watching it. What would the role of entertainment be if we did not have to work? Would it become an addiction?

In David Foster Wallace’s 1996 novel Infinite Jest, there is a film so entertaining that viewers lose all interest in anything other than watching it. What would the role of entertainment be if we did not have to work? Would it become an addiction?

 

WORK
In a society where the exchange of products and services has become the main public activity (1), people tend not to be considered as political subjects anymore, but rather producers forced to follow the mantra “faster, better, further”.
What is most striking today is that “production” is becoming more and more immaterial, to the point where work cannot be differentiated from life itself. Capitalism demands we produce knowledge, images, symbols, languages, solutions, lifestyles, and feelings, rather than just material goods. In this sense production is becoming unavoidably biopolitical (2), blurring the limit between life and work. If citizens are considered as restless producers, then cities must to be planned, managed and experienced as purely productive devices, whose main goal is to maximize economic growth according to market needs.

OTIUM
From this point of view, one the most radical acts of resistance against the status quo is the refusal to work—rejecting the obligation to ensure endless growth (3).

The idea of being freed from work dates back to the classical period, when the Greek and Roman leisure classes developed the concept of otium, a time of total inactivity, which encouraged contemplation, research, meditation, exercise, and leisure. Otium was a means to repurpose one’s own life. It was a form of self-regulation and personal freedom. The architectural typology that was dedicated par excellence to otium was the rural villa, conceived as a quiet and introverted place, the very antithesis of the busy and chaotic city.

VILLA
Our research proposes an alternative model for an urban communal villa, where tenants are completely freed from work and domestic labour. In an almost dystopian scenario, we propose that rent from an oversized billboard would be the tenants’ only source of income. The profit generated by the ads would not be reinvested in capital accumulation, but rather used to pay off the initial investment and sustain the household. The project raises different questions such as “what would we do if we no longer had to pursue an income?” or “can we preserve our ethical integrity while fighting within and against capitalism?” (4)

1. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998 [1958])
2. Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Empire, (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2000)
3. See the work of Guy Debord, who in 1953 wrote « ne travaillez jamais (never work) » on a wall in rue de Seine. 
4. Pier Vittorio Aureli, The Project of Autonomy: Politics and Architecture Within and Against Capitalism (Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 2008)