Centre for Architecture Theory Criticism History
School of Architecture

Hélène Frichot: 2016 Visiting Fellow

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

ATCH would like to welcome Hélène Frichot, the first Visiting Fellow for 2016. She will be with the Centre from 17 June until 12 July 2016.

Dr Hélène Frichot is an Associate Professor and Docent in Critical Studies in Architecture, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, KTH, Stockholm. Hélène is also an Adjunct Professor in the School of Architecture and Design RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, where between 2004-2011 she held a tenured academic position, holding the position of senior lecturer between 2007-2011. Here she led the Architecture+Philosophy research stream with a focus on how to integrate critical theory into the emerging domain of research through design. Hélène’s research examines the transdisciplinary field between architecture and philosophy, while her first discipline is architecture, she holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Sydney.

Below is an abstract of what Hélène will be working on during her time with ATCH. She will also be hosting a symposium with Naomi Stead on Ficto-Criticism in early August.

Welcome to Your Local Gentri-Fiction: A Postcard from Söder Pops Island, Stockholm, Sweden 

In late 2011 I arrived in the northern city of Stockholm, Sweden and discovered myself mired in a milieu of reality, or rather, realty, by which I mean the near ubiquitous transformation of homes into real-estate commodities. Every Saturday morning my observation of this inexorable process was further reinforced as the lifestyle and real-estate pages of the conservative SVD Magisinet arrived through my front door. Then en route to a conference dedicated to ‘Writing Places’, hosted by TU Delft, I happened upon the November 2013 issue of the SAS inflight magazine Scanorama, which featured an article dedicated to a place that was close to home, the neighbourhood of Hornstull, on the inner city island of Södermalm. Hornstull is described as having enjoyed a recent clean-up at the hands of “young creative types”, and despite exhibiting all the recognisable symptoms, the term ‘gentrification’ is pointedly avoided. The title of the article is ‘Söder Pops’, communicating an urban atmosphere of affect that exudes exuberant effervescence, an anodyne lightness of being.

Söder Pops Island rests amidst the picturesque Stockholm archipelago, a dense inner city island that has been significantly transformed since the early 1990s when the Swedish housing market-place abruptly opened up. With the dissolution of Bostadspepartementet (the Swedish Housing Department) following a change in government in 1991 from Socialdemokraterna (the left-leaning Social Democrat Party) to the Moderaterna (the conservative Moderate Party), the appearance of early warning signs of neoliberal market capitalism in the Swedish context went hand-in-hand with the transformation of Swedish homes into spatial commodities. This brief presentation performs ficto-critical compositional means to tell the story of Söder Pops island, a quasi-fictional locale that continues to produce very real effects on the noopolitics of a local population. Here on Söder Pops Island remarkably homogenised interiors are observed to have a reciprocal impact on the modes of occupation of ‘vibrant’ and ‘walkable’ neighbourhoods, all of which is supported by the soothing refrains of the ‘gentri-fictions’ that are composed for the purposes of reassuring a local population that the changes they are witnessing are ‘almost alright.’