Sayan Skandarajah

CURATING AN EGALITARIAN TERRITORY | Copenhagen, Denmark | Unit 21 | 2014

Awarded Distinction for Design &  Distinction for Thesis

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Curating An Egalitarian Territory

‘Curating an Egalitarian Territory’ is a design project is sited in Copenhagen, Denmark, critiquing its realm of egalitarianism, assessing what ‘territory’ might mean within a context based upon equality. Denmark is considered to be one of the world’s most egalitarian countries – yet the project asserts that an underlying exclusivity makes the country inherently hierarchical in society.







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[Volume I_Bibliography]


In Denmark, egalitarian ideologies range from governmental organisation, tax redistribution, city infrastructure, employment opportunity, social dynamics and is even found in roots of Danish mentality. This is perhaps best demonstrated by Janteloven; a set of ten fictional ‘laws’ such as ‘Don’t think that you are special’, adopted by the Danish as indicative towards their attitude against individualism, favouring the ‘norm’, forming a social code of egalitarianism. This social practice and emphasis on equality leads to Denmark’s ‘political image’.

In contrast, the city is confronted by an inevitable underlying hierarchy stemming from social codes that generate an air of exclusivity in the city. Ethnographically the country is dominated by ethnic Danes [91%] and is hard for foreigners to settle in, with citizenship being notoriously difficult for immigrants and even descendants to attain. This leads to a underlying social and political elitism in the practice of a society built on equality.

Responding to the geopolitical and archaeological slippage between territory and equality in Copenhagen, the project seeks to define an exclusivity in architectural identity through the proposal of an emergent nine-square enclave in the heart of the city. Using egalitarian principles of order, distribution and composition, six architectural interventions and their associated infrastructures are defined, containing at their scale the principles and vocabulary of the enclave as an archipelago.


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[Volume II_Index]









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[Volume III_Glossary]






The methodology of design involves using highlighted residual instruments (buildings that have lost their original purpose) as catalysts of change and city growth, adopting their fragmented forms and behaviors in new contexts, scales and numbers. The project is highly structured around the order of the nine square grid, which is an organisational principle that reflects egalitarian notions of symmetry and balance. Through these constraints, a new architectural vocabulary is established and practiced within the proposed enclave, being manifest both within full scale interventions as well as everyday street furniture.

This emphasises the exclusivity of identity that emerges in the enclave as the notion of territorial hierarchy is affronted with principles of equality, distribution and democracy. Through representation and design, these tensions are explored as a reflection of the social and political dilemmas of Danish society, seeking to ask how one’s perception of the city and its identity is key to the understanding of a cultural condition that is ingrained into the city. The city’s rich archaeological make up thus forms a new temporal dimension to the project, as it becomes concerned with the finding of traces of former city fabric that had perhaps  once played its own role in the formation of the city’s identity. A contemporary critique of the shifting status of preservation and attitudes towards change, superimposition and material as a register of time become instrumental to the formation of the project.


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[Volume IV_Prospectus]





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Book05_icon     [Volume V_Catalogue]










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Book06_icon     [Volume VI_Chronicle]






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[Volume VII_Summation]





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