Ileana Apostol


At present Ileana undertakes urban research informed by a lasting interest in the everyday life within the hybrid realm of contemporary cities. At ETH Zurich, she lectures urban sociology in the department of architecture. Ileana is trained in spatial planning (PhD USC Los Angeles, MSc University of Stuttgart, MU UAUIM Bucharest), urban design and architecture (BArch UAUIM Bucharest, ENSA Paris-Belleville).

Since she completed the doctoral studies in planning at USC Los Angeles with the dissertation The Production of Public Spaces: Design Dialectics and Pedagogy Ileana has been collaborating with Panayotis Antoniadis on a project that they named NetHood –networks over the neighborhood– and that more recently became the non-profit organization providing the institutional framework for their professional activities.

Some of the research topics dear to her heart are the lived space shaped by artistic interpretations, in which memories and emotional associations play critical roles; rhythmanalyses as a manner to interpret the perceived reality while reinstating the sensible in contemporary thought; exploring ways through which life in common may manifest in space; and the expression of its diversity by providing people the right to the city, in particular for the right to difference.

Blog: Stories from the city

- hybrid city realm
The possibility of parallel social activities in the digital space and physical settings creates a hybrid realm of urban life. For more details, refer to some of NetHood‘s recent publications.

- life in common
‘In common’ is where community resides… According to Jean-Luc Nancy (1991) “Community is given to us – or we are given and abandoned to the community: a gift to be renewed and communicated, it is not a work to be done or produced. But it is a task, which is different – an infinite task at the heart of finitude” (p.35).

- spatial manifestations of life in common
If considering community as a state of being, various forms of collective and grassroots organization may be seen as community instantiations, from the production of public goods like public infrastructures (spaces) and grassroots urban alternatives such as cooperative housing and living, to participatory processes reflecting on new possible spatialities and ways of living in cities.

- the right to difference
Creating differences is necessary to sustain life, and an alternative to abstract space is a world of difference capable to provide an opening to imagining and acting for new possible spatialities. The right to difference is a perpetual struggle necessary to generate living space. It may be understood in contrast to an abstract construct like the right of property.
  As a form of resistance to the homogenizing planetary urbanization, the right to the city formulation coined in 1968 by Henri Lefebvre has been used in the last five decades as a ubiquitous “cry” for the democratization of urban space. Lefebvre urged us to take seriously into consideration the political struggle for the right to the city, to renew urban society and to renovate centrality as an essential right, which means regrouping of differences in relation to each other.

- lived space
The lived space overlays physical space; it is the space of inhabitants, of ‘users’, of writers and artists, who experience it directly, filtering the experience through emotions, memories and symbolic meanings, shaping a world of organic relations born of real encounters. It is produced if allowing individuals to manifest their particular spatial experiences and urban aspirations, and through sensibility and imagination may be transformed in an attempt to appropriate it.

- the sensible
“The sensible? It is neither the apparent, nor the phenomenal, but the present.” (Lefebvre 2004, p.21). It is the direct experience of a realm that is accessed through the knowledge of the body and its non-rational soul, by both sensory and intellectual perception.

- rhythmanalyses
Henri Lefebvre made an attempt to develop a theory of rhythms, as he considered rhythms and everyday life the concrete modalities of social time: “Without claiming to change life, but by fully reinstating the sensible in consciousness and in thought, he [the rhythmanalyst] would accomplish a tiny part of the revolutionary transformation of this world and this society in decline. Without any declared political position.” (Lefebvre 2004, p.26). Rhythmanalysis was coined by Gaston Bachelard in The Psychoanalysis of Fire, (1964 [1949]); he borrowed the term from the 1930s Portuguese writer Lucio Alberto Pinheiro dos Santos.
  Rhythms are relative and enter into a perpetual interaction, thus rhythmanalyses are necessarily comparative. The waves on the sea surface is a physical example of rhythms’ complexity that extends from temporal elements to movement and memory, or to take an example from the urban life, the succession within rituals intervening in the daily time. There are linear rhythms defined by the repetition of the same phenomena that mostly belong to the modern life such as routines, successions, chronologies, predetermined encounters, a social and civil time. At the same time, there are cyclical rhythms that have a determined frequency and new beginnings similarly to the cosmic rhythms, among them are the seasonal changes, the succession of day and night, rituals, alternating manifestations of social organization and the like.