Threshold Microgeographies

Threshold Microgeographies
Aleksandra Shekutkovska
This project explores the links between thresholds, microgeographies and self-made through cataloguing informal behaviours, identities and scenarios.

Aleksandra Shekutkovska
Bremen, Germany
Team members
Aleksandra Shekutkovska
Field of work
Architecture, Design, Urban planning, Research, Other
Project category
Public space
Project submitted

Aleksandra Shekutkovska is an architect, urban designer, mentor and writer who is currently based in Bremen. Her projects have spanned a wide range of disciplines and she has worked in international universities and offices in North Macedonia, Brazil, Switzerland, Thailand and Germany.

Teaching at Thammasat University in Bangkok in the Urban Design and Development programme and as a lecturer at the TU Braunschweig, at the Institute for Sustainable Urbanism have been among her most valuable professional experiences. In Bangkok, she had the opportunity to develop the curriculum and to work as a co-lecturer and consultant in the following areas: Reading and Representing Places, Design Thinking, Urban Design (UD) Fundamentals, Theory and Concept in UD, Urban Intervention and Infill Development. Her work with innovative methodologies and communities, inspired her to conduct the research on “Flowscape Politics of Spatial Production”, focusing on Bangkok's Skytrain and its surrounding creative milieu, as part of the MAPS exhibition.

During her time at the Institute for Sustainable Architecture at the TU Braunschweig she has taught in various studios: Bachelor's, Master's, Thesis, and supervision of field trips, exhibitions and competitions. The diversity of urban life, especially the spatial disruptions and correlations between thresholds, the self-made and micro-geographies, became her main sources of inspiration and research for her PhD topic. Later, she decided to take a more practical approach through cataloging, collecting and mapping situations looking at strange spatial appropriations and their backgrounds.

After graduating from the Faculty of Architecture in Skopje and completing a Master of Advanced Studies at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, her knowledge and experience have been broadened by real projects that address issues of urban design - disobedience of regulated space, especially spillovers of spatial meanings.

My research into Threshold microgeographies began 2 years ago by observing informal spatial gestures on the groundfloors of neighbourhoods in Braunschweig, Germany. The self-made spatial appropriations demonstrated disruption of rules, neo-liberal forms, cultural and social norms. Thus thresholds were created, initiating spatial negotiation textures at different scales, transforming fixed spatial meanings into diversity. Beyond planned binaries and controlled spatial conditions, these spatial disruptions brought about new social, political, aesthetic and philosophical layers.

I used these findings as the backbone of a PhD proposal, a design analysis tool for my students' projects, and later as individual research cataloging 'out of the ordinary' spatial situations, scenarios, behaviours and identities. Furthermore, by correlating theoretical definitions and ground-floor case studies of Thresholds, Microgeographies and the Self-Made, I found different qualities in restructuring fixed planned conditions to active urban environments.

As there is a gap in research documenting informal activities in the western city, I propose to explore Thresholds, Micro-geographies and the Self-made in the diverse urban environment of the Bremen’s neighbourhood Viertel. Firstly, I want to understand the context and catalog (in the form of drawings, maps and writings): local situations, behaviours and identities. Secondly, I would relate them to the three themes and finally, I would show how they can be understood / linked to existing theory. The aim would be to discuss: the self-made as intensely political, citizens empowerment, transformation of communities and urban life qualities acquired through gestures of urban disorder.

The research will further explore the following issues:
How do certain arrangements of actors and space produce thresholds?
How do thresholds operate at different scales?
What kind of methodology can we use to study self-made micro-geographies?