The Bartlett School of Architecture


Christos Papastergiou



The Seductive Void: Encounters between Architectural and Ideological Programmes in Public Space

First and second supervisors 


In Athenian Democracy the idea of the public was understood diversely. The Athenian Agora and the Theatre were two adjacent public spaces that gathered public interest and participation. However, they also acted as two public institutions that counterbalanced each other. The Agora as the political programme for an equal participation and expression under a common law, the Theatre as the artistic programme for expression of all the thoughts that were excluded from the Agora, even the subversive or 'uncomfortable' ones.

Similarly, this research attempts to question the nature of the contemporary public space in its polyvalent character. What is the public space today? The idea of the public space today can also be understood in a variety of different ways. For this research, public-space architectural programmes are understood as an intersecting point, a place where various ideological programmes meet. The question is how this intersecting point is considered in terms of architectural language?

In order to specify such a wide-ranging question this research looks into examples of public institutions. In Le Fresnoy (Tourcoing,France by BernardTschumi) I investigate the example of an art institution where an ideological programme meets its architectural equivalent.

Le Fresnoy stands among the contemporary examples of institutions that introduce innovative programmes for art, its production, distribution, education and the contact with the public. However, these institutions also introduce the demand for an equally innovative set of spatial relationships and architectures. Architectural innovation in the example of Le Fresnoy takes the form of the invention of an 'in-between' space as a 'charged void' between programmes, which favours interchange.

This research attempts to investigate through examples and test in projects what Peter Wilson describes as the 'creative invention of the programme'.

As a methodological tool of analysis I use the structural element of the void. As in the binary example of the Agora-Theatre, where it acts as a common denominator, or the example of Le Fresnoy, where it introduces a space for interchange, the void has been used throughout history as the means to render the public character of a space in various ways. Whether as monumental, efficient, seductive or a useless leftover the void expresses the space where institutional and public architecture forms and expresses its ideological content. The aim of this research is to test the void as a structural discontinuity of architecture that helps the 'creative invention' to take form.


Christos Papastergiou holds a Diploma in Architecture (2002) and postgraduate degree (MSc) in Interdisciplinary Theory of Space (2004) from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), School of Architecture. He is currently a MPhil/PhD by Architectural Design candidate at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, sponsored by the Hellenic Republic (IKY).

He practices architecture in collaboration with Christiana Ioannou and other friends. He has received awards in a number of architectural competitions and his work has been exhibited in Greece, Cyprus, Brussels and London.