Minigrids Encoding participation in the European Union


21 June 2018 Architectural Association, London


The absurd “coute-que-coute” maintenance of the status-quo is the European Union digging a grave for the Europeans. By considering a spatial approach to the European political crisis, the project challenges the status-quo, by reshaping Europe’s administrative and physical space - with electricity as the starting seed.


The proposal focuses on reconsidering the energy transition as a spatial and organisational paradigm,  and proposes to create low-tech, enormous, heavy, territory shifting batteries - extracting surplus from renewables. These new batteries are concrete blocks on a shuttle moving up as wind production goes off-demand,  massive walls lowering on a no-day wind to help maintain an adequate frequency in the grid,  1x1 km slabs on hydraulic lift absorbing, as they raise, pic production from photovoltaic panels on a sunny day. Basically, they say fuck to high-tech batteries: we can store longer, better, and greener with a real spatial impact on the way we organise territory.  A spatial impact that deforms landscapes until it modifies Europe itself.


Each created region either produces, stores, consumes, support or operates as a hybrid for this new electrical spectrum; emerging from super-imposing climatic, administrative and electric layers with no distinction between them - thus generating a narrative of friction. If more borders is the answer - then so be it. Rather than closing our eyes to the current puzzling condition, we accelerate it. 


And there is somehow a crucial parallel between the crisis of the Europeans and the spaces generated by the Minigrids: decentralisation of means of production, no sovereignty on resources, re-organisation of the territory and a certain irrelevance of nation-state politics. 


The project asks for critical engagement with the European Project and its spatial construction. In this time of crisis, it wants to be a reminder that there is value in collaboration and strength in unity. 


I owe this project to the continuous discussions and debates I had during the year with people inside and outside the AA. For days or for a few minutes, these conversations with incredibly inspiring and talented people allowed me to push the project far enough to have been awarded Honours - and I feel deeply thankful and privileged for that. Let’s remember the energy!

  For more information:

Diploma 9 Unit Brief

Honours on AA Conversations

Etienne Gilly website Dip 9 Blog Forum on European Culture