{ isolation }


To be isolated is to be secluded. To be cut off from surroundings or contexts. Over the course of the last year, many of us have been separated from the ones we love, from places we belong to or the contexts we want to be part of. People have different relationships to isolation. Most people want to live close to others and to socialize, while there are others who prefer to keep to themselves. That people live separated from one another doesn’t need to be something negative in itself. But it should be noted that there is a difference between isolation and exclusion, and that isolation does not always mean loneliness. If isolation is combined with a feeling of not being able to control one’s own situation, or if it creates prejudice, it could be problematic. Under isolating global circumstances, how can spaces be created that can be experienced as rooms of community? How can architecture be a project of de-isolation?

In a pandemic world, isolation has become a global shared experience. Isolation has intensified, and it attempts to intrude upon every aspect of our daily lives. School is on the internet and collective practices are developed through screens. We have turned to digital alternatives to festivals, concerts, dating, and other means of human connection. Under the conditions of a global pandemic, isolation is sometimes reserved for those privileged enough to be able to work from home, avoid public transportation, get meals and groceries delivered, and have a living situation that allows them to quarantine when necessary. Isolation has punishing effects on mental health, however, that even the most privileged are not always able to escape.

Isolation manifests itself at Mejan and on Skeppsholmen in many ways. The required curriculum for Fine Art does not extend beyond participation in a professor’s group, limiting the number of interactions between students. The studios in school are configured as individual cells, an architecture of isolation that favors individual over collective practice. There is an isolation between the Fine Art students and the post-master students in Architecture. The structure of the post-master courses isolates students from Mejan and Skeppsholmen, as many face economic and logistical barriers to traveling to Stockholm. Architecture and access cards also separate the post-master programs from Mejan, as post-master students do not have a studio space nor easy access to the school’s workshops and on-campus resources.

The situation during the last year has given us all new experiences linked to isolation. How do our pre-and post-pandemic understandings of isolation differ or remain the same? What happens to solidarity when isolation intensifies? How do we care about others when we never meet other people outside of our inner circles? Beyond the vaccine, what tools of de-isolation can help curb a pandemic of hate and individualism? What other forms can community take when physical gatherings are limited to eight people?


Linnea Fröjd, Mikaela Karlsson