On Occupation by Zhenia Dementyeva

The Cooper Union

Bachelor of Architecture at The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture

Project Name: On Occupation
Project Website: https://www.zhenia.work/design/on-occupation

This thesis aims to decouple occupation of property from possession of property, and to encourage the decommodification of space via interventions that can seed alternate building uses. By proposing interventions as a form of occupation that circumvent official formalization, this project examines what existing architecture can afford its inhabitants, and how modifications to structures by occupants, not by architects, offers opportunities for alternate use–or misuse. This project, situated during urban crisis when businesses shutter and vacant properties increase, identifies six types of sites: an office tower, a department store, a brownstone, a traffic island, a factory, and a garage structure. Each building type is distinct and able to afford unique architectural opportunities for alternate (mis)use. By cracking open the potential that these buildings can offer, it is possible to radically reimagine the role buildings can play in dismantling understandings of property ownership and to conceive of a new one.