Minima Moralia – A Pop Up Creative Space

by Mat Amp

The sun beats down on Dalston Roof Park, striking the glass box and splintering into a prism of colours as if to celebrate the arrival of Minima Moralia. Minima Moralia is a project that creators Tomaso Boano, an architect from Italy, and Jonas Prismontas, an architectural designer from Lithuania, describe as a “programmatic vision for London’s backyards and interstitial spaces.”

Over the past month their transparent pop up space has been displaying work from various artists including fashion designer Kaltenyte and artist Peter Guru as part of the London Festival of Architecture.

According to Tomaso and Jonas, Minima Moralia is: “a tiny urban intervention project that stitches together different social and programmatic layers in the community…. a social experiment that promotes human interaction and interconnection between private spaces and public use.” Essentially, the project challenges our perception of space and how we should use it, casting the artist as the object d’art while the architect or instigator becomes the creator.

In a way Minima Moralia is the modern creatives answer to the garden shed, where so many of our grandfather’s creatively plied their hands. In contrast to the stereotype of men hiding from their wives, these spaces are transparent; purposefully opening up the creative process by providing a window into the artist’s mind. The two architects point out that each artist will bring their own tools and have the opportunity to reveal the secrets of their craft, while ‘the tight space will filter out uselessness.’

The creatives shed is not necessarily a garden shed though. They are purposefully designed to fit into any unused space which means they could pop up just about anywhere.

Ultimately Minima Moralia was motivated by a desire to create what is effectively an affordable and easy to customize space. This, Tomaso says, is in response to the sharp rise in urban property prices that is making it increasingly difficult for creatives to find the space they need to create. He adds: “We believe that creativity should not be linked to a social status. It exists and flourishes inherently within people and therefore anyone should be granted the opportunity to investigate, experiment, rehearse and play. Creativity plays such an important role in our society. It has the power to generate new ideas and shape our future.”

The pop up installations themselves are based on the idea that it is possible to create amazing architecture using ordinary elements.  Minima Moralia has used desks collected from a school and re-used other materials and objects for their geometry and inherent physical and aesthetic quality.

Tomaso said “In our case, Minima Moralia re-used desks collected from a school. Since we were designing a working space we believed that using real desks would help the ergonomy and the scale of the space.

“However,” he added, “a good designer has to look into these [elements] and decide how to play with them. Stacking up the tables allowed us to create a well proportioned grid that is easily customizable with ‘floating’ furniture. Re-using material is a process that works well if it’s not forced into the project but there is a very fine line between something that looks cool and what looks tacky, and it is really easy to cross it if you’re not being careful.”


Video taken from INSIDER Designs Facebook page 

Tomasa and Jonas approached Bootstrap because they had spent a lot of positive time at Dalston Roof Park and considered it to be a great space at the heart of Dalston’s creative scene. Tomaso said “we like how they [Bootstrap] support young entrepreneurs with their charity, and how they constantly promote new events and ideas.”

Now the festival is over they are in talks with Bootstrap to continue the collaboration and provide an extra space for tenants to host activities and display their work.

There is a saying among architects that architecture is the mother of all arts and there is certainly more to it than simply drawing buildings. In reality it’s a complex discipline where the practical needs of function and the limited possibilities of engineering are continually tested by aesthetic demands fuelled by our collective desire for beauty in all its myriad forms.

For Tomaso and Jonas architecture is more than just a tool to generate profit and a visually appealing way to merely make new buildings.

Tomaso said “We think Architecture is a beautiful discipline, it has the power to investigate and give answers to real social issues. It is a product of human intelligence and small scale affordable interventions that represent a huge opportunity for architects to highlight and address problems of our society.”

The name is taken from Theodor W. Adorno’s seminal work, Minima Moralia, Reflections From Damaged Life, written in 1951, which inspired the two architects. Tomoso said “We felt inspired by his book, and we felt that London, despite being a vital city, full of ideas and opportunities, is also quite inhuman. High rents and gentrification are obviously a well known problem of this city.  We should try to convert the crisis and the uncertainty around our future into an opportunity to prevent people from feeling margined, abused, exploited, moved and neglected.”

And when all said and done this city craves creativity and what is more creative than a transparent space for artists to express themselves from within. Minima Moralia has a practical use and makes a strong statement. And that statement is this. Our beloved city is fast turning into a shopping centre where everything is for sale. Everything that is except the small un-commercial spaces left behind.

To find out more about Minima Moralia visit their website or to find out about upcoming events at Bootstrap visit our what’s on page.

This blog was created for Bootstrap, by volunteers at Poached Creative.

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