Rhizome- Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari understand a rhizome to work with planar and trans-species connections, as oppose to vertical and linear connections. “The rhizome pertains to a map that must be produced, constructed; a map that is always detachable, connectable, reversible, modifiable, and has multiple entrance ways and exits and its own lines of flight.”1 Socially, a rhizome is characterized by “ceaselessly established connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles.” 2 “A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, inter-being, intermezzo.” 3 A rhizome grows and makes connections without organized structure, along paths of least resistance. In this model, culture spreads like the messages that are sent throughout the brain. “The discontinuity between cells, the role of the axons, the functioning of the synapses,the existence of synaptic microfissures, the leap each message makes across these fissures, make the brain a multiplicity immersed in its plane of consistency or neuroglia, a whole uncertain, probabilistic system (“the uncertain nervous system”). 4
The thesis is rooted in various explorations of urban thresholds at a variety of scales. An assemblage of reconstructed spaces is proposed, which will respond to a “terrain vague” (an abandoned area, on obsolete/unproductive spaces, often undefined and without specific limits). Ortaköy (a small community in Istanbul) is distinguished by its rich, diverse cultural practices along the city sidewalks. This public realm produces brief relationships between strangers and daily acquaintances. However, these connections unexpectedly fade as the sidewalks veer off the prescriptive pathways towards private territories. Within these exclusive areas, the thresholds start to dissolve into undefined spatial conditions. The community focused on is an undetermined, seemingly abandoned courtyard with varying topologies. There are towering residential buildings, whose rear windows peer into the rectangular site, delineating the defined boundary edges of the courtyard. How can these uninviting spaces be formally re-appropriated to address this issue of public and private segregation? What potential catalysts in the community are able to transform this apparently unresponsive landscape? How can the thresholds of the community be extended into a space that has lost its life, mending damaged connections to the city (plugging a piece of the community back into the main system) in a rhizomic manner where cultural practices grow from main nodal thresholds.
The framework of this research process deals with a strategy of layering, isolating, analyzing, rearranging, and reconstructing material (influenced by Bruno Latour’s method of social reassembly and Actor Network Theory). The ANT is where both human and non-human actors assume identities according to prevailing strategies of interaction with each other. As each piece falls onto the next, there is a different reading of the environment between space and objects. These actions are dislocated, articulated, delegated, and translated. Following, the “terrain vague” starts to transform with tectonic gestures that are reconstructed within the existing courtyard. As a result, the cultural practices of the outside community are regenerated, regrown, and nurtured throughout this incubating, rhizomic landscape. There is a dialogue of actions and responses back and forth between the making of architecture and social responsibility. The courtyard is a place where culture genuinely has consequence. What role does the architect play in a collectively-owned environment like this one?
Can the thesis evolve as a process-based project? Can an “anarchistic” design model be generated from this collectively-owned community; where there is decreased hierarchy and no over-lording authority? This type of model would give the courtyard residents more responsibility towards design decisions. This is a process that is fairly unique, because ultimately I am trying to put myself in the position of imagining how each space is constructed with a different personality; how this rhizomic system slowly grows and evolves. I must put myself into multiple, individual mind sets, inspired by the various courtyard residents that I have spent time with.