On Sanatorium

a collaborative project with Abi Palmer

The disabled, queer poet Abi Palmer wrote large portions of her debut novel Sanatorium (2020) from her bathroom in a council flat in South London. Here, she welcomes the reader into the most intimate of spaces, discussing her experience with chronic illness, queerness and disability openly. We are taken on a journey between a series of spaces linked with her treatment, from a luxurious spa in Budapest, through an NHS ward in the outskirts of London, the home where she grew up, and to the bath where she is writing from. She lives with Ehler-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that makes her joints, skin and ligaments lose, and psoriatic arthritis, which cause autoimmune inflammation in her joints. Bathing makes her condition better; her muscles stronger and offers pain relief. Here, she reflects upon the way that stiffness and fluidity meet, the straight and the queer, pain and pleasure. As I meet Abi a few months after she launched her book with an online stream from her inflatable bathtub, I want to hear more. I want her to tell me about her bathroom.

Sanatorium is a collaborative project between myself and Palmer, where I engage with her work and writing through filmmaking. The collaboration was made possible with an i-Portunus Mobility Grant in 2019.

Abi Palmer. Still from footage, 16mm, Anna Ulrikke Andersen.


a project by Anna Ulrikke Andersen and Anne Silje Bø.

Since 1976 the Norwegian government has sent rheumatic patients to Montenegro for climatic treatment at Institute Dr Simo Milosevic, JSC Igalo. The programme, run by Oslo University Hospital, has since expanded to include other locations in Southern Europe, and research shows that the treatment is highly successful in increasing mobility, and reducing chronic pain and fatigue. In 2020, all treatment abroad is cancelled, and the patients must stay at home.

“Ubehandlet” explores everyday experiences of patients living with rheumatic illness during the Covid-19 pandemic, with a focus on how lockdown measures affect their treatment. Andersen and Bø will interview a series of patients of Skype, and the recorded interviews will form the basis of a podcast episode, articles, and in its full length, are securely stored in the archive of the Norwegian Folkemuseum website minner.no. We are interested in the way people feel about not being able to travel for treatment, how their bodies are affected and how being at home makes them think about the southern sites where they previously so successfully have received relief from their chronic conditions.

Sound design by Therese Næss Diesen

The project is supported by Kulturrådet [The Norwegian Arts Council]

Institute Dr Simo Milosevic JSC Igalo. Photography by Anna Ulrikke Andersen 2018.

Architecture Beyond Sight

“Disability is such an essential part of life that we all go through. So we are living longer, we’re living with more disabilities. It’s a more common experience. Just given the nature of the human fragility, it’s just an inevitable and a natural part of life. It is almost life reaffirming because of that. And culturally we tend to think of it as something out of the ordinary. Something different, and something that is not right. It needs to be just heroically normal and a natural, inevitable part of life and society.” 

Chris Downey

Architecture Beyond Sight (Andersen, 2019) follows Zoe Legg and Clarke Reynolds partaking on a study week for blind and visually impaired people at The Bartlett UCL, coordinated by The DisOrdinary Architecture Project. Investigating the two participant’s process of making, the film explores the non-visual aspects of architecture shot on 16mm film with sound recorded separately. By highlighting different ways that bringing visually impaired people into architecture and design could benefit the profession, the project is based on the assertion that to have a vision does not require sight. 

Made by Anna Ulrikke Andersen © 2019, 16mm, 17:17.

Featuring: Jos Boys, Chris Downey, Rachel Gadsden, James Green, Zoe Legg, Duncan Meerding, Mandy Redvers-Rowe, Clarke Reynolds, Dianne Theakstone and Rachel Thompson.

Transcript by Louise Fryer available upon request.

Produced by the DisOrdinary Architecture Project on behalf of The Bartlett UCL. UK.

Screenings: Arts Activated, Sydney, Australia, 22-23 August 2019. 

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J for Joinery

I wanted to explore the process of welding, of bending metal and joining different sections using intense heat. My aim was to understand the experience of bending a stiff material and, thus, get a better sense of what a joint might be.

I welded a series of boxes, replicating cardboard packaging of Methotrexate in metal. This included a box of one single injection and the larger ones which housed six prefilled injections. Further, the drug came with a cytotozix drug spill kit. If the patient accidentally fails to inject the liquid into her body, she should clean the toxic liquid up using the spill kit.

The kit contains the following items:

1x FFP3 face piece
2x pair nitrile gloves
1x eye shield
1x plastic apron
1x pair overshoes
1x grey absorbent pad
6x white lint-free wipes
2x 20ml sterile water pod

The side of the cardboard box holds the following instructions:

When I eventually came around to photographing the boxes, time had passed. Rust had overtaken the metal, and the surfaces felt rough and rugged when I touched them. The metal that once had felt so flexible and clean, now felt old. I took the photos before disposing of the boxes, the kits and the remaining injections. For now they were no longer needed.

Cytotoxic Drug Spill Kit (for home use) by Cairns Technologies.

Metex 10 mg, by Medac, Wedel, Germany.

Metoject 10mg, by Medac, Wedel, Germay.

Thanks to: Kathryn Abarbanel, Katarina Burin, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Mikkel Due, Abi Palmer, Julia Smachylo, Christian Struck, Åshild Marie Vige, Legs, Advanced Critical Media Practice and Film Study Center Harvard.

Campari Moment

Christian Norberg-Schulz was sittingat Piazza Navona in Rome after having spent the morning in the valleys north of the city. He was enjoying a Campari and watching life in the piazza, when he was struck by a sudden feeling: that the piazza and the valleys that he had visited earlier in the day, were the same. Not similar: the valley was rural with steep tufa- rock formations in the landscape; coloured yellow and brown. The piazza was surrounded by buildings, filled with fountains, sculptures, restaurants and people. In an article discussing the importance Rome had on his authorship he describes the moment:

Suddenly, I had a feeling of still being in a ‘tufa-valley’: this is the same, (despite not being similar)! So started my study of the genius loci. Because of sudden inspiration, and not at all a logical line of thougth.

(Christian Norberg-Schulz, 1999: 102)

The unedited rushes are both depicting me ordering anddrinking a Campari at Piazza Navona. I: Campari-Moment was shot with a Blackmagic Design Camera, and one Philips Radio-Microphone recording into the Zoom H4n, with the help of Mikkel Due 16 September 2014. II: Campari-Moment was shot with a Blackmagic Design Camera, and one Philips Radio-Microphone recording into the Zoom H4n, with the help of John Øyvind Hovde 15 February 2016. Language: English. The storyboard is created with references to the work of others: the poem Les Fenêtres IV (1927) by Rainer Maria Rilke, Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculpture Fontana dei Quattro Fuimi (1651), the film The Miracle worker (1964), and Federico Fellini’s advert for Campari (1984), as well as stills from my own footage.

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From Above

Curated by Anna Ulrikke Andersen at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London for the Architecture Film Festival London.

A curated selection of seven short films from the Architecture Film Festival London 2017 Competition, asking how films about our built environment could open up a discussion of what it means to see, or be seen from, above. The selected films all addresses the theme in different ways, using different techniques, bringing up questions of hierarchical structures, control, history, materiality, freedom, flexibility and technology. The screening will run for 72 minutes.

  • Scriptych (Ollie Palmer, 2016, France, 9 mins) 
  • Building no.13 (Amir Gholami, 2016, Iran, 10 mins)
  • Five Lives of the Bradbury Building (Jasper Stevens, 2016, UK, 3 mins)
  • White Mountain (Emma Charles, 2016, UK, 20 mins)
  • 24h Dahlem (Clara Jo, 2016, Germany, 17 mins)
  • Construction Lines (Max Colson, 2017, UK, 8 mins)
  • Waves,,,Unmastered (Fritz Laszlo Weber, 2016, Greece/Germany, 7 mins)

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X / Earwitness (2018) HDV, 10:00. Directed by Ruth Bernatek and Anna Ulrikke Andersen.

X / Earwitness (2018) is a film based around a field research trip to Greece, made by myself and architectural historian Ruth Bernatek, engaging with her research of the sounds, spaces and landscapes of the Polytope de Mycenae (1978), an open air multimedia installation by the composer and architect Iannis Xenakis. 

Initially tracing the sonic and spatial fragments of the original event, the film turns to address the concept and testimony of the ‘earwitness’. Four channel sound is used to explore how our auditory memory is filtered, stripped and framed through the present-day; experienced as the movement between, and return to, particular places and spaces in Greece. Language: Greek and English.

X / Earwitness (2018) by Ruth Bernatek and Anna Ulrikke Andersen
X / Earwitness (2018) by Ruth Bernatek and Anna Ulrikke Andersen

Polytope de Mycenae was performed over three consecutive evenings in September 1978.
Presented as a ‘feast in light, movement and sound’, it was the last in Xenakis’ series of ‘polytopes’ and included live and electroacoustic music, anti-aircraft search lights, flaming torches, animals, human voices and bodies. It took place amongst the nocturnal ancient ruins of Mycenae; the acropolis and citadel walls, Mount Zara to the South and Prophitas Elias to the North.

The Mycenae polytope is uniquely and tightly bound to Xenakis’ experience of returning to Greece as a ‘pilgrim’ after nearly thirty years of exile, that coincided with the so-called ‘return to democracy’ in Greece after the collapse of the military junta in the autumn of 1974.Convergent artistic, architectonic and musical qualities of the event therefore possessed a particular political meaning, both in the ideological cultural regeneration of Greece, Xenakis’ home-land, but also in its promotion of a new type of Greek national consciousness.

With thanks to:
The Dassis Family
Bartlett Architecture Research Fund
London Arts and Humanities Partnership
Sound Making Space
Penelope Haralambidou and Ifigenia Liangi

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PhD thesis (2018)

“Ten Windows Following Christian Norberg- Schulz: Framing, mobility and self-reflection through the fenestral essay film” 

PhD thesis in Architectural Design, The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, 2018. Supervised by Professor Jane Rendell and Dr. Claire Thomson. 

This thesis investigates the window in the life and work of Christian Norberg-Schulz, aiming at finding new nuances and ambiguities within his existing oeuvre, and questioning my own position as a ‘follower’ of Norberg-Schulz. Taking the window as both literal and figurative, I ask in what ways the window can become a tool for investigating Norberg-Schulz’s concept of mobility and his theory of place through the fenestral essay film – specifically through mobility, framing and self-reflection. 

Norberg-Schulz’s theory of genius loci – the spirit of the place – has been widely discussed and critiqued (Loevland et.al. 2009; Otero- Pailos, 2010; Wilken 2013). Yet, no one has yet looked at the role of the windows in his life and work, and specifically in his theory of genius loci: which is surprising because he describes the window as the place where “the genius loci is focused and ‘explained’”(Norberg- Schulz, 1980: 179). I argue therefore that the window plays a vital role both in Norberg-Schulz’s life and work, particularly related to his reading of the work of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. 

Through oral history, site-visits, close-readings of texts, archival research, film-making and essay writing I follow Norberg-Schulz’s window on a return journey between Norway and Italy. Building upon existing methodologies of Jane Rendell’s site-writing as a critical spatial practice (Rendell: 2010) combined with the genre of the essay film (Corrigan: 2011; Rascaroli: 2017) and architecture essay film (Haralambidou: 2016) I consider how the window features both literally and figuratively in a series of fenestral essay films which explore mobility, framing and self-reflection conceptually, visually and spatially. Introduced through an itinerary, and concluding with a framework and reflections, this thesis is located at the junction between film-making and architectural history, presented through 10 Windows, each one comprising an essay and a film. 

The thesis can be requested from UCL Library

Graphic Design: Essi Viitanen

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Capturing Windows on Film

Workshop at the University of San Juan, Puerto Rico, School of Architecture. Organised by Informa 2019 Event Series. 30-31 March 2019. 

The objectives of the 2-day workshop were to allow participants to explore and learn specific techniques of filmmaking to investigate architecture. Aimed at altering the way the participants might think about the literal and figurative window in film and architecture, the workshop was aimed at students of architecture, arts, humanities or creative media, or professionals in architecture or film who were interested in exploring the way their practice could take a more theoretical approach. Following a lecture on windows in film, architecture and literature, the participants were given a set of exercises to experiment with the separation and sound and image, before engaging with existing work – films and texts – using these filmmaking techniques. The exercises were be followed by discussion and feedback. 

Student feedback: 

“I feel, the workshop provided me with the necessary basics and techniques to start my own filming and editing process. In my opinion, it was remarkably delivered. Clear. Simple. Neat. Smart. Extremely motivating.” 

“I have learned to appreciate more the small details of the architecture, not only the windows by also the different ornaments that they may have, and also the artistic and linguistic part of the window.” 

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