Yannis Karababas @ Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Department of Architecture [Supervisor: Apostolos Kalfopoulos]
A house- the par excellence familiar place- appears as a physical object, and at the same time as a mythological formation, a mental complex of images which is culturally defined. In an effort to rediscover the familiar by mapping the topology of symbolic forms which constitute it, the attention shouldn’t be turned to the beautiful objects of desire, but to the ostensibly uninteresting, the ordinary and stereotypical objects of the everyday.
Through the contemporary rural and semi-urban landscape of Greece, where architecture is mainly experienced through the car glass, the character of each place doesn’t vary in relation to its geographical latitude, but according to the latitude of the road which crosses it. The most representative of the buildings born out of this extended condition of informal suburbanism are the houses which sprawled all over the Greek countryside, built on the basis of the famous Dom-ino system.
The simultaneous repetition and differentiation of this generic form reveals the fleeting, fluid, archetypal identity of a mundane object which feels as familiar as an old joke and as disturbing as a bad memory…
A low expectation is the shelter you need every time that your desires betray you. The “Low-Expectations House” is a critical fetish which comes to exonerate the flatness of its world, by reproducing it both explicitly and metaphorically. Inside the house, the acts of domestic life are being performed in a series of similar rooms, each programmed for a different event, repeated through time. Here, the sweet mediocrity of the everyday meets itself at last.
Who influences you graphically?
My encounter with visual culture takes place mostly on the internet, so influences are more instinctive than distinct. Scrolling daily down the web I see so many interesting things in so little time, coming from both the fields of art and design, things that have a kind of subconscious effect on how I chose to express myself in a project.
How instrumental was the model?
Physical models were, from the very beginning of the project, a means of experimentation on forms, materials and colors that defined a kind of an aesthetic context, a scenario for an architecture to emerge. This process was necessary here because the role of design was not to produce new forms but to change the way existing objects are being perceived in a specific culture. The models provided the “language” through which this change of view could be expressed.
Did you ever think of filming the model and reveal the life of the interior rooms as the sweet mediocrity of the everyday?
That is something that would definitely fit the style of the project but I avoided to do a video because I didn’t want the whole thing to become too scenographic. I decided to stick with just drawings and models in order to emphasize more on the architectural part.
What defined the use of the axonometric?
By removing material and iconographic qualities from the representation of the buildings- qualities that would be taken care of exclusively by the models- the axonometrics provide a three-dimensional depiction where someone can clearly distinguish a common set of architectural elements and how these elements are articulated in order to respond to desires that are related to the existence of these buildings.
When talking about perceptions from the street/ car how could the work of Reyner Banham might have influences the images created?
In the beginning of his book The Architecture of Four Ecologies, Banham describes how someone glimpses fragments of the not-so-long history of the city of Los Angeles by glancing in the rear view mirror of the car, while driving the freeway. This way of experiencing architecture, on which he elaborates further throughout the book, was enlightening to me because it took a hedonistic and at the same time critical look at a diffused, generic, persumably banal architectural environment. Perhaps its influence could be seen in the photographs and the axonometrics. They are like snapshots, moments taken out of a continuous movement through a homogeneous world which persistently avoids to be defined in terms of time and place.
If you could explore the research further, where would this take you?
I’d like to study the interiors of these buildings sometime, do a research on their typologies and the configuration of different spaces. Also another thing would be to temporarily move away from the rural and semi-urban landscape and follow a similar working method in the context of the contemporary Greek city.
Yannis Karababas studied architecture at the Aristotle University, where he graduated in 2016. He is currently based in Athens.