State Alpha: on the Architecture of Sleep

29 June till 5 October 2008

Freud regarded the dream as the guardian of sleep. ‘State Alpha, on the architecture of sleep’ examined to what extent the same can be said about architecture. The exhibition stimulated visitors to reflect on how architecture organizes our sleep.

In 2008, the NAi Maastricht outlined a research program on the fault line between architecture and design, with the interior as common thread. After a solo exhibition on the monk/architect Dom van der Laan and the question of a spiritual inner world, this exhibition explores the subject of sleep as a more psychological inner world and how this relates to architecture. The exhibition draws on media such as film and product design to make this relationship visible.

In six chapters, various aspects of sleep are examined. In Phenomology of Sleep, the enigma of sleep is investigated through film clips. Film expert Eric de Kuyper selected various film fragments that visualize the ritual of sleeping and waking in their architectural context. The term Architecture of Sleep is used in medical science to describe the structure of the sleep process. In collaboration with the sleep laboratory Charité Clinic in Berlin, this chapter shows different observational methods of researchers. The Science of Sleep section compares how other types of (pseudo-scientific) domains such as feng-shui deal with sleep and its impact on the spatial layout of our bedrooms. The chapter titled Dream-House shows how the market uses the concept of dream house as a means of seduction. Next to the concept of dream house in the housing market, this chapter also examines the house as a symbol within the subconscious.

With the chapter Economy of Sleep, the exhibition focuses on the contradiction between sleep as a gift and vitalizing power and sleep as a product, around which a huge market has developed. Think of beds, scents, masks, creams, herbs, but also of therapies and medications. The last chapter, Sleep without Architects, presents several examples that escape architecture. By focusing on, amongst others, the position of homeless people, this chapter puts the role of architecture and the way it organizes sleep into question.

Development: Liquid Frontiers (Sabine Dreher and Christian Muhr) i.c.w. Guus Beumer
Exhibition Design: EventArchitectuur
Graphic Design: Experimental Jetset
Photography: Johannes Schwartz, Moniek Wegdam


Exhibition texts


Window prints