Contemporary Court: A Großraumbüro for the Mittelstand and Wiesen
20 June 2013 AA Lecture Hall, London   Having organised a contemporary art exhibition in a village last summer after my fourth year, I developed a fascination with these autonomous, rural cell structures. I continued my studies on the coast of Europe in fifth year, focusing on these rural settlements. What at first glance appeared to be untouched, almost “hinterländliche” areas in fact turned out to be dominated by family-owned Mittelstand companies. These Mittelstand companies - highly specialised, medium sized enterprises, focusing on innovative and high-value niche products - turn these villages outside the metropolitan space into neo-feudal estates. Such singular dependencies present a danger in that they dilute the voice of the citizen. For this reason, I am introducing contemporary courts, carried forward from my fourth year thesis, as a means of linking supply chains across a wider territory and re-establishing local civic spaces, rights for the citizens and territorial networks. Further to this, and triggered by a newspaper article, the thesis turned into a real action plan for the village of Wiesen. Close negotiations with various local and metropolitan stakeholders have established a real court scenario to revitalise not only the municipality of Wiesen but moreover reconnect it to a wider territory. The result of my research commands a new view of the European space beyond the metropolitan that calls existing versions into question and explores its architectural potential. This is a new urban typography that challenges the traditional model of patronage, calling for wider social and cultural unity.   Being nominated for Honours not only made me very proud but furthermore gave me the opportunity to present my thesis and project again to the entire AA community. Being then actually awarded with Honours was not only the ultimate achievement over the course of my studies but also a great recognition of my project. This has encouraged me to continue pushing the project into the next stage in Wiesen and hopefully over the next months and years to a wider territory still. AA Honours is a nice completion to 5 (plus 1 foundation) long, exhausting but above all, enjoyable and rewarding years at the Architectural Association.   For more information: Diploma Unit 4 Programme Brief Friedrich Grafling's website Indechs - an online archive by Friedrich Grafling and Johanna Stemmler