The Bordello 86223 SPR Major Project

A bordello is a space where sex becomes a mere economic transaction. In history, the social phenomenon of the bordello has played the same roll in different cultures. From Ancient Greece to Japan, the spaces where these activities were developed have been related with eroticism, vice, secrecy and lust.

There is no specific spatial typology for a bordello. We could think of how the first bordellos appeared in Ancient Greece where large rooms hosted intense collective experience, or spaces of even the most basic spatial unit: a room with a bed.

However, considering the laws that prohibit or regulate prostitution in different countries, and the abusive use of the image as a commercial tool in our daily life, we can identify different architectural typologies where the culture of spectacle remains as the main characteristic. In other words, the consumption of sexual content becomes more usual than the practice itself.

The Spectacle of Sex is exemplified by large cultural facilities, such as the well-known Moulin Rouge cabaret in Paris, where jazz concerts are held with scantily clad dancers. Collective experience takes place in a scenario of unconventional, extravagant, almost dreamlike architectures.

Another typology is the famous red light district of Amsterdam, where the space unit of the bordello is repeated on the ground floor of the buildings, forming street-corridors of full length shop windows where the human body is reduced to a commodified sexual object. Even the old telephone booths in the street are filled with images of half-naked men and women tagged with a phone number. This could be considered the most base spatial expression of the contemporary bordello.

The most up to date ‘new’ typology has been created by the internet: “the travelling bordello” – Sex occurring “off-location” and breaking down the boundaries between distance and intimacy.

This Design Studio will confront the assumed connotations of the Bordello in today’s world.

We will consider the role of men and women in hetero-patriarchy, the restriction and censorship of the naked body, prostitution as a professional (and safe) practice, the role of economic exchange value, the sexual content in commercial marketing, the  role of the female and male body in the economy of sex, amongst other themes.

Moving beyond the assumptions associated with Bordellos being a space for the male observer, we will examine what role the female gaze plays in this space. We will also open a conversation about the fluidity of gender roles and how this influences the changing perceptions about what the bordello might be. How do we begin to address these serious questions about gender and sexuality in interior space?

We will avoid stereotypes.OurBordelloswill be contemporary updates with a distinct socio-political agenda.We will:

“…wake up the spectator who has been drugged by spectacular images through radical action in the form of the construction of situations that bring a revolutionary reordering of life, politics, and art.”

Site: Cockatoo Island, NSW