Primary is a small public space in the form of a platform built on a marginal space in the city of Sharjah. While the term platform is today used mostly in the digital world to address a computer’s operating system, our project reclaims the platform as a tangible physical support and a specific architecture: the architecture of the ground floor. The platform is not just a way of raising buildings or people from the ground, but also an architectural form that redefines and negotiates the way in which the ground is made to be inhabitable. To a certain extent, the entirety of the urban world is made of platforms that enable or restrict the use of the ground. Our project departs from the only significant text written on this archetype: ‘Platforms and Plateau’ by the Danish architect Jorn Utzon (1959). For the city of Sharjah, we expanded and problematized Utzon’s appraisal of the platform as an architectural idea towards a critical enquiry into this archetype. While often understood as a symbol of power, the platform has also existed as a gathering place – a point of both orientation and exchange among communities. Additionally, the platform is an instrument used to mark, define, and politicize the ground rather than just supporting things – from the gigantic platforms that supported cities in the ancient Indus Valley to the Buddist Cankamana, the threshing floors of Ancient Greece which became the orchestra of the theatres to the Islamic Suffah, Adolphe Appia’s stage design made of steps and plateau to Vsevolod Meyerhold’s experimental theatre, Jerzy Grotowsky’s Poor Theatre to Aldo Van Eyck’s playgrounds. Our nuanced redefinition recuperates the platform not as a pedestal for objects, but as a specific architectural archetype that assumes the ‘ground’ not as a ‘natural’ given, but molded by its political objectives. Our intervention is strategically located in a neglected site within a dense neighborhood in the city of Sharjah. The project proposes a platform which prepares the ground for communities’ small public gatherings, similar toa space in front of the local mosques.
Pier Vittorio Aureli and Martino Tattara, with Gianluca Bernardi, Antonio Paolillo, Mariapaola Michelotto, Celeste Tellarini
Sharjah Architecture Triennial
Platforms: Architecture and the Use of the Ground