Hotel Tiraspol_Where the Abstract Status of a Rumour Finds its Architectural Form
Under it’s fictional form, Hotel Tiraspol is an architectural project that questions the existence of a lawlessness country, Transnistria, and the delirious geopolitical situation it possesses.
Located in Moldova, Eastern Europe, Transnistria is no larger than 4,000km2 (smaller than Luxembourg) and proclaims itself inde- pendent after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The capital, Tiraspol, still preserves all the symbols of a communist regime. The statue of Lenin in front of Parliament, which is still called Palace Of Soviets, the military symbols of the city such as the tanks of war, and it’s over-exaggerated football stadium, which is home to FC Sherrif Tiraspol. The border between the two territories is separated by the Dniester River. At the entrances of each bridge, armed soldiers act as a checkpoint. It is exactly here that the project is located. The checkpoints are similar in how the wall acted before. They are more than borders to be crossed; they project the act of crossing that creates a fantasy. The border becomes porous due to its need for exchanges, its role it’s not only to separate space, but to control the access to it. The action of entry and exit therefore plays a central role in these limited points, where the door becomes more strategic than the wall.
Hotel Tiraspol is based on a compilation of rumors: stories which are close to reality, but produce a fascination for the unknown. It is true that little information circulates around the city of Tiraspol, that of which nothing is truthful, and nothing is veritable. Stories of what happens in Tiraspol, although as much as is official, is also unofficial.
Due to its closed position, Tiraspol emerges visions of both inside and outside. Therefore the project is born from the analysis of all versions and thus the abstract status of a rumor finds its architectural form.
Who influences you graphically?
Influences can come from a drawing as well as from a movie scenario, a photography, a book or a story. I’m curious to find out how a narrative with the atmosphere it creates, can determine the most adapted graphical palette.
For the project «Hotel Tiraspol” I was searching references dealing with fiction, geopolitics and storytelling. I started to look at the work of Archizoom and Superstudio from the ’60 with their «dystopic fantasies”. For example “Twelve ideal cities” of G.P. Frassinelli, member of Superstudio: the manner it was drawn acts as a support for the project’s critical aspect.
“Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture”- the thesis work of Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis from 1971 – is interesting not just graphically, but also for its narrative base. The interpretation of a political situation (the Berlin Wall and its death Strip) serves to relocate the narrative in London under the shape of a fictional and architectural project.
Imaginary spaces like The Zone and the Room of Desires from the movie Stalker, directed by Andrei Tarkowski in 1976, influenced me concerning the atmosphere I wanted to find in some hidden spaces of Hotel Tiraspol.
The drawings of Brodski&Utkin are definitely a huge inspiration. Defined as paper architecture, their projects “Columbarium Architecturae, the Museum of Disappearing Buildings” (1984) or A bridge above the precipice in the high mountains (1987) are only two examples where an imaginary world opens to the viewer/reader. Without forgetting that behind these drawings there is a real critical commitment against politics concerning architecture at that moment in Soviet Union.
What is the effect of a monochromatic palette?
The monochromatic palette was chosen here to represent the duality. Black and white: two worlds, two paths, two characters…
Colors didn’t play an explicative role, so I didn’t use them. The monochromatic palette can also serve to express something that deals with the past or the memory. Transnistria appears like a territory that doesn’t exist, something from another era. It‘s a fiction in itself. A certain research of monotony in the chromatic palette was to remind the terms of that time, dictated by politics: hierarchy, centrality, unity, productivity, functionalism and monotony of shapes, of materials and structural aspects.
How and to what extent the cultural backdrop of the proposal has been absorbed and presented graphically?
The political situation at the borders of Europe, still unknown by many of us, frames the project and by consequence its graphic line. The choice of two characters – users and narrators of the hotel – results from the cultural backdrop of the proposal. One is a tourist coming from West, curious to cross the forbidden checkpoint. The other is the escapee of a city that officially “doesn’t exist“. The two characters come from different backgrounds, however they are heading towards the same thing: discover the unknown. From this point, rumors play an important role and the project is presented graphically in a double language, the official and the unofficial one.
The monumentality of the hotel, its location on an actual checkpoint, the use of only one material – raw concrete – the dramatic light inside the hotel created by the central atrium are elements linked with the cultural and political backdrop of the project.
You explore your proposal through all means of representation with the exception of the axonometric, why so?
I think it didn’t serve in particular the project. The plans, sections and close views describes the main points I wanted to express, but also allows the viewer’s own interpretation.
How influential and important is the texture in relation to the “atmosphere” of the proposal?
If in sections and plans the texture serves to differentiate two different types of spaces: the legal and the illegal ones. In the hotel’s interior views, the texture enhances the role of plasticity and materiality.
You talk about rumors and narrative, how could these themes have been implanted through the format and presentation?
The rumors and narratives about Tiraspol were compiled into a preliminary work and gave birth to the project. The frequent ones are about the crossings of the border between Moldova and Transnistria, about the notion of control and about the illegal aspect of some activities on the transnistrian territory.
After studying the rumors about Tiraspol, is not at a city I’m thinking about but more at an enclosed world, a confined and private space where nothing it’s given to be seen. All of these impressions are implanted into hotel’s spaces: the creation of two parallel paths and programs: the imbricated rooms, the twin casinos, the crossed distillery, the mirror stadium and the escapium pool. These five sequences frame the project.
The city of Tiraspol is crystallized inside the hotel and forms a microcosm. The shape is symbolic and refers to a form of power and control, the panopticon. Inside, however, all users become actors and spectators.
Is this dialectical method between the real and the rumor that create the division of the hotel: with its visible and hidden side. The tourist and the escapee, with their paths and crossings, reveal the architecture of the hotel.
The project is a fiction insofar as it is born of an analysis of rumors, and thus can be constantly questioned.
Veronica Sereda was born in 1986 in Chisinau, Moldova . She graduated from Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture Paris – Malaquais where she punctuated her studies by a year in England at Newcastle University of Architecture, Landscape and Urban Planning . She participated at several exhibitions in Italy , Israel and France . Currently she lives and works in Paris , France.