As part of our activity, we also carry out Visegrad projects, as part of which we published several issues of “Autoportret” in English, we organized workshops and an exhibition.
„Autoportret” no 2  2023 „Self-organisation”
The edition was supported by the National Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning.
Two main threads intertwine in this issue about self-organization. First, in the context of the war in Ukraine, we look at our neighbours’ ability to create a horizontal network state. We refer to the formative experience of Ukrainian society – the Maidan Revolution of 2014. We analyse examples of bottom-up architectural and artistic responses to the refugee situation during a full-blown war and the tremendous force with which civic movements began to create more or less rudimentary shelters. Architecture is changing: from spatial form to human activity, to the ability to think about the future despite the surrounding brutality of war. In an interview with Natalia Raczkowska, Joanna Kusiak evokes the past reconstruction of Warsaw and the future of Homs in Syria in order to explain the radical hope that drives action even in the face of urbicide.
The second thread concerns bottom-up spontaneous architecture, or anarchitecture. This is something that overturns hierarchies, ignores established orders, and values collective effort. It is often excluded from official textbooks and discourses – it tends to be overlooked. It confers human agency, empathy, and the ability to cooperate. It is a constant movement; it is change for which it is increasingly hard to find room within the space appropriated by money and ground rent.
„Autoportret” no 1  2022 „The Housing issue after 1989”
The issue is published with the financial support of International Visegrad Fund.
The housing problem is currently a subject of heated debates, however, there are only a few initiatives that raise it on the scale of a region, in the context of V4 countries and their shared experience of the 1989 transition that has affected their current housing policies. By inviting experts affiliated with our partner institutions, we want to conduct a comparative, in-depth analysis of the housing policies in the region, and then publish its results in the special issue of „Autoportet” journal (a quarterly devoted to space as cultural phenomena) Then, together with our partner institutions, we want to organize workshops (or webinars) for architecture students in Krakow, Budapest, Brno, and Bratislava that would build upon our findings and propose possible new developments. The workshops will challenge their participants with a task to redesign the already existing housing estates fromV4 countries, so they incorporate different housing policies, strategies and design solutions. Through this activity we would like to encourage more critical understanding of housing policies among future architects, and also draw the attentions of city officials to the problem. The project will be concluded with an exhibition „Product: housing estate” by Kacper Kępiński in Krakow, that provoke reflection on the quality of dwellings sold by developers and form an incentive for a broader public debate.
Workshops organized within the project "Game of housing – Kraków"
Małopolska Institute of Culture in Krakow
The workshop held in Krakow with architecture students was based on an analysis of existing housing estates. The students analyzed their language of persuasion, the quality of life, discussed alternative design strategies, and how they can be implemented in future architectural practice. They worked in the space of the exhibition and were provided with three locations on which they had to negotiate different city actors interests. The process was supervised by workshop leaders who prepared the special cards for the workshop.
Łukasz Pancewicz, Agata Twardoch – academic teachers, practicing architects, and urban designers.
Description for the students:
Game of housing! Take on the role of a developer and earn millions on your investment! Try your hand at being a clerk who builds affordable housing. Set up a cooperative and build a cool place to live. Find an apartment for your large family or for a rainbow commune! The housing topic is difficult and complicated. Finally, it concerns housing, which on the one hand is a basic social need, and on the other – a luxury good; which has to do with finance, space and social justice, each with completely different goals and priorities. The housing topic requires knowledge of possible scenarios, awareness of rights and obligations as well as negotiation skills, and these three issues are devoted to the workshop on the game of housing!
Kuncovka – reflection of fight against the poverty business (Brno)
4AM Forum for architecture and media
The workshop contributed to the debate about possible ways to fight the housing crisis, and especially housing evictions, from the perspective of the most marginalized groups (especially Roma community and low-income families). While debating a concrete example of the hostel “Kuncovka” in Brno we managed to tackle broader topics, such as the fight against the poverty business, the power of private landlords, the nature of housing movements etc. The participants (including lawyers, social workers, activists, and tenants themselves) had an opportunity to reflect the struggle they have been undergoing in past years. At the same time, the outcomes of the workshop serve as a guidance for similar movements beyond the Czech Republic and introduce the topic of struggle for affordable and decent housing to the public.
Liveability – urban housing forms (Budapest)
Kortárs Építészeti Központ
We mapped the positive and negative values of two neighbourhoods in Budapest. On the first workshop day we collected several housing values that are important for the participants by a playful workshop, on the second occasion we examined how these values meet with the character of selected neighbourhoods – the post war housing estates and the contemporary housing development. Through this comparison we inspired participants for a more critical understanding of housing estates among mainly future architects, and also draw the attention to connecting problems in the wider urban context, by this we reached the project objectives. The workshop was run by Regina Balla, an architect. She is a PhD candidate of Csonka Pál Doctoral School in the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, specialized in urbanism.
Is there a need for architects in build-to-rent housing? (Bratislava)
The topic of the webinar was rental housing and the role of architects and institutions in the development of it. Even though in the years between 1960 and 1990 thousands of rental properties in Slovakia had been built, the construction in the last three decades has been stagnant and local municipalities´ processes in the field of construction investments are advancing at a very slow pace. What types of architecture service procurements could bring the desired effect? And at last but not least, how the architects´ practice reflects it? How are the architects qualified to react on crucial conditions of social, economic and environmental sustainability in the field of build-to-rent housing policy?
Webinar organized by:
Archimera o.z., Malapolski Institut Kultry MIK w Krakowie
Inštitút Slovenskej komory architektov
Mgr. art. Michal Sládek, PhD.
Mgr. art. Martin Zaiček, PhD., Mgr. art. Katarína Máčková, Ing. Boris Hrbáň, Mgr. art. Mária Novotná
Product Housing Estate
Małopolska Institute of Culture in Kraków
Spółdzielnia Ogniwo, Smolki 9a, Kraków
The exhibition „Product: housing estate” by Kacper Kępiński showed different ways in which developers manipulate legal regulations for the purpose of maximum profit. Displayed models presented tricks used by investors: manipulations with green areas, lighting requirements, or underground garages. The exhibition and its accompanying program of events – workshop and opening – aimed at translating expert knowledge into a medium that is available to a wider, local public – and this was quite succesful (many people on the opening, radio programme, and film of Kacper Kępiński narrating about the exhibition). This proves that the exhibition was an important tool for promoting the results of the project.
Film narrating the exhibition: