Marlene Koßmann
Paris 2020

The house of the book protagonist Jean Floressas des Esseintes was based on the fictional architecture of Joris-Karl Huysmans' novel 'Against the Grain' written in 1884. All events such as location, typology and spatial program could be derived from the novel and freely interpreted. As a misanthrope, the protagonist 'Des Esseintes' is increasingly distancing himself from society. Lacking interest in those around him, he longs for complete and irrevocable isolation, which he finds on the roof of an existing building on a grand boulevard in Paris. In the middle of the urban context, he goes into a self-imposed quarantine that is intended to underline his otherness. Its museum-like roof structure contains many things that would set it apart from its much-hated society - the motto is: the main thing is not normal. The architectural decadence and exaggerated artificiality put him in a kind of artificial intoxication. Reality and imagination blur.

This fictional project serves as a thought experiment to get to the bottom of the architectural question of isolation. Based on the literary work but also on my own experiences in the home office, a reshaping and almost distopic-ironic representation of this emerged. At the same time, the design is the architectural interpretation of an artificial inner world, full of stories and ideas.

Against the background of the corona pandemic, one is inevitably confronted with the architectural question of socially shielded living space. This literary-inspired work offers a possible answer to what potential spaces that are consciously adapted to living in isolation could look like.

„Dachte er an das neue Dasein, das er sich einrichten wollte, empfand er eine so heftige Freude, weil er sich bereits zu weit weg, oben auf dem Hang sah […] und dennoch nahe genug, um sich […] in seiner Einsamkeit bestätigen zu lassen.” (S. 16)
‚Gegen den Strich‘ von Joris-Karl Huysmans (1884)