school of impermanence
Anna Kokalanova is a spatial practitioner, mentor and fluentbody facilitator. She was born in 1983 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Anna is trained as an architect (Bauhaus University Weimar) and an urban planner (HafenCity University Hamburg). Her professional experience includes being a project coordinator at the International Building Exhibition IBA Hamburg GmbH. She has founded the collective spacedepartment with seven other members and has worked in collaboration with numerous collectives like TWIMC, raumlabor and zuloark. From 2011 until 2022, Anna was full-heartedly engaged in research, teaching and curatorial practice, among others, at the Berlin University of the Arts.
Working for institutions, she was explicitly interested in forming the intersection between the university and the city, between institutions and civil society. This interest brought her to developing projects like Floating University Berlin (2018) and Making Futures (2019), a collaboration between the Berlin University of the Arts and raumlabor berlin.
Anna believes that transforming spaces means creating and holding spaces for people to unfold their potential and develop courage as spatial practitioners to make a difference in today's world. Therefore, in January 2023, Anna founded the school of impermanence, a support system for professionals in architecture and the related fields.
The school of impermanence offers inspiration and guidance for spatial practitioners' individual and unique processes in current times of crisis and uncertainty. The field of architecture is still defined by economic profit, quantitative measures and engineering skills.
There is an enormous gap between the necessity to make a meaningful practice in accordance to the current ecological, social, economical and political crisis and the reality of working in architectural offices. Architectural workers still face a toxic culture of labour, characterized by precarious conditions, unpaid overtime, night shifts and sexism. Additionally their work is in contradiction with their values connected to reproduction, care, maintenance, nature and ecology. Furthermore professionals in architecture experience isolation and loneliness, a missing sense of belonging and an absence of community to exchange ideas and inspirations. While one of the best things about studying architecture is the creative collective atmosphere of the design studio, the reality of the professional practice seems to be competition and a lack of time to look outside the own screen. That reality often leads to depression, burn-out and drop-out.
I believe that in order to create sustainable ecological practice, we need to approach the inner processes of architectural practitioners. Only such a holistic approach can manifest itself in a shift within the discipline and change current forms of injust spatial production. The school of impermanence offers this collective nonjudgemental community space.
At the moment the school contains monthly meetings, where members exchange struggles and support each other and the podcast „Impermanent Stories“, in which my guests and I talk about the professional and personal process of decision-making behind their spatial practice. The next steps would be to offer different workshops on particular topics like „Envisioning“, „Designing the own Brief“ etc.