SLOVAKIA - Irakli Eristavi talks about zerozero's ambition to sink into the civil, ordinary everydayness. 'Acting from and within its principles is our architectural aim – we seek a laid-back relation with the world around us.'
Irakli Eristavi (b. 1969) graduated from the Faculty of Architecture at the Slovak Technical University, in Bratislava (1993). After living briefly in London, Berlin and Bratislava and doing postgraduate studies at the IHS, Institute of Housing Studies Rotterdam in 2000, he cofounded zerozero in Presov in 2002. In 2008 zerozero designed the Sideways installation for the Czech-Slovak pavilion at the Venice Biennale and in 2010 their largest commission to date, the European Cultural Capital 2013 Kulturpark project in Košice. During the past two years, the practice has also built an extraordinary series of weekend and family houses near Presov.
Maria Topolcanska: There could hardly be a more abstract and universally applicable office name than the numerical 'zerozero'. What's the story behind it?
Irakli Eristavi: Our primary reasoning was the need for an exact initial coordination point – 0.0 like a certain data position. Later on, new connotations appeared and we started to see the humour behind it. Six years ago, when the office consisted of only two architects – me and Martin Jancok [who today runs his own office, plural studio, in Bratislava – MT] – architecture critic Jan Tabor introduced us at his Architecture Loge event in Vienna as the 'zwei nullen' (two zeros) from Eastern Slovakia. This interpretation was spot on then, we truly felt like that at the time.
MT: You founded zerozero in your home town Presov, a small city in the far east of Eastern Europe. How does this determine your work today?
IE: We live and work in Presov without asking ourselves why too often. Every place has its pros and cons. Most of our external interactions are easily carried out via email today. But still, there are specific experiences one cannot get via the Internet. So we do travel, mostly for events like exhibitions or lectures, to Bratislava, Prague, Vienna. What you can't get in a city like Presov is the more intense direct contact, the confrontations and discussions with a wider range of architectural colleagues. I think it is essential for an architect to receive professional feedback; I do miss that here.
Architecture, Urban planning