Weak Monument

Laura Linsi | Founding Director of LLRRLLRR Studio and Associate Lecturer, Central Saint Martins, UK 

Weak Monument is a research project by architects Laura Linsi, Tadeáš Ríha and Roland Reemaa, which explores the spectrum between the explicit representation of the monument and the implicit politics of everyday architectures. The project was exhibited as the Estonian Pavilion for the XVI Venice Architecture Biennale in the former church of Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in 2018. In conjunction with the pavilion a publication Weak Monument – Architectures Beyond the Plinth was published by Park Books (Zürich, 2018).

Monuments represent power; explicitly and simply, but not universally. The research took the marginal presence of monuments in Estonia as a starting point to discover the other, less exceptional architectures that too represent and hold civic values. This particular viewpoint was then expanded to include examples from across Europe. Sometimes a set of stairs marks common agency, sometimes a pavement becomes symbolic or a walkway historic. Instead of explicit meanings inscribed in marble and bronze, implicit political charge can be revealed through architectures that remain silent in the background and potent at times of necessity.

Throughout the research a central question is posed: Where does the monument end and the pavement begin? The working method is a continuous study into built and found projects through archival documents, photographs and film stills sourced from known European archives, small peripheral museums, from collective memories and personal experiences. Although far from traditional architectural practice, all the examples are looked at as significant architectural projects. The authors have proposed five chapters that enable to organise the examples into recognizable project groups: The Ruin, The Gap, Scaffolding, The Base, The Shelter. Instead of typological classification, these chapters are seen as potent figures, which enable to expand and recognize the explicit and implicit political charges an architectural object can possess.

The aim of Weak Monument is to shift a view from linear power mechanisms in the built public space to concepts that are manifold, full of contradictions, heterogeneous and nonhierarchical. In other words, to everything that the classical monument is not.