23 June 2017
Architectural Association, London
A bottleneck constitutes a pinch point – the consolidation of a given flow and nexus at which many points converge. It therefore manifests a locus of control. Conceived of as a tool of free exchange and distributed connection, it has long been asserted that the Internet, by its very formation, circumvented such mechanisms of strangulation. However, quite apart from much of the alienating sales patois that declares the Internet as an open, dispersed ‘cloud’, it can contrarily be materially manipulated as a form of control (and thus appropriated) through the mediation of its physical components – the bottleneck.
There is a stark contrast between the Internet as it is presented and the Internet as it exists in reality; between the volatility of the technology and the architecture it inhabits. It is not a distributed and socially liberating, nebulous entity, but a physically grounded and manifest object that can be appropriated to the disempowerment of those that rely on it as a resource. The project hereby seeks to firstly make this process of appropriation evident and then to subvert it through an architectural protocol for its counteraction within the context of informal housing development in Egypt.
It is an attempt to move from weapons to protocols – a set of punctuating, citizen-led interventions that will affect change on the city and state at large. In a world in which the Internet is itself used as a weapon in an increasingly militarised environment, it may be through space that we begin to respond.
The culmination of this project was entirely the result of a continuous, daily engagement with some of the most stimulating intellects and overwhelmingly talented individuals that I have had the good fortune to encounter. The opportunity to present the work for all of them was an extraordinary privilege and an almighty surprise. I can only hope that with all those involved, the conversations continue.
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