Part of the installation at the Biennale is an archive of projects, news, definitions and opinions surounding the three scenarios presented. Here are some examples of the info cards made for each issue.
The idea behind the Boeri Studio’s Biennale installation is to present three different and extreme scenarios of an urban future radicalized around notions of sustainability. These visions can pass very quickly from utopian ideas regarding new relations between nature and the city to nightmarish scenarios that could also make the city unlivable.
A series of eclectic materials (models, diagrams, books, an archive of projects and news, etc.) display the stories behind the three radically different urban visions while a video by the Flocking project shows the way in which flocks of birds invade Roman skies and the tactics used to shift them away: an example of the thin line between the utopia or dystopia of a sustainable future.
This month Archis trains its spotlights on ecology. Whatever that might mean. Ecology in some or other guise is of course a thematic presence in practically all the articles. They forward various ideas about the link between architecture and environmental consciousness. The potentials for a more nature-aware architecture are explored from a variety of different angles. And all the authors are interested in the balance between the reserves of worldly riches and their social consumption. All in all, the contributions have enough in common for us to speak of a special issue. In this respect, Archis is trying to do justice to a social sector, a domain of thinking and an important force field in our culture. Yet the subject of ecology is too broad to stay in a little world of its own. Ecology is an umbrella concept that covers far too much for there to be any such thing as ‘an ecological issue’. It is a subject that relates to everything: to matter and mind, art and science, market and society, heaven and hell, earth, air, water and fire.
Are carbon neutral cities, Eco-cities and sus tain able cities discursive cover ups for synthetic design in the desert of Abu Dhabi or something stemming from an honest utopian desire? Questioning Foster’s scheme for Masdar, Matt Lewis reaches revealing conclusions on the marketing of design in the Gulf.
In a world in which human egos dominate, where more is better, bigger and taller are the only aspirations. Places like Dubai are an architect’s playground. Here we see one ego trip followed by another through an architecture of excess. In a parallel world, however, the Mies van der Rohe’s words ring true again, though in a different context. ‘Less is more’ now applies to our carbon footprint and an architecture of performance. Yet as these two worlds begin to intersect a new competition is born – the race to become the world’s first sustainable city.
Scott is one of the most profound critics of high-modernist human development planning. He believes that the process of state-building, leading to what he calls the legibility and standardization of society, fosters control and domination rather than enlightenment and freedom. Scott started his academic career studying small village communities in the forests of Malaysia. When he left the rain forest he took with him a number of vital observations on how nation states organize their society. His monumental book, Seeing Like A State (1998), became the basis for a fundamental and elaborate critique of how governmental planning for the advancement of society can go utterly wrong: compulsory villages in Tanzania, scientific forestry in Prussia, high-modernist Brasilia, industrial agricultural planning in the USSR and its modern day variant the Millennium Development Goals. According to Scott, these are all examples of rational-utopian blueprint thinking that proved fatal.
Recent bidonvilles (slums) and decaying dalles (large urban centers built on slabs), two extreme urban forms in Greater Paris – harsh reality and a bygone utopia – are both regularly the theatre of police violence. It is a situation full of contradictions: the dalle as an architectural expression of the ultimate capacity to design a lifestyle, the total city for model families; the slum as a fortuitous miscellany with which the poor demand a place, make their existence visible, and evade official architecture.
All the same, their histories intertwine, for it was in the 1960s that immigrants living in shantytowns built the new towns and the slabs for the middle class, with flats whose keys would pass into the hands of the slum residents themselves a decade later. What do local authorities and other official bodies in France do when they are confronted with slums and slabs? How do they deal with the residents?
Publics are globalizing, public spaces are fragmenting. Modern institutions of knowledge, e.g. the library, the archive and the museum, are morphed into multi-experiential post-spaces. As a result of digitalization and worldwide webbing, searching and finding gains a radical different spatial dimension. What about the transformation of the library as a building and an institution?
Jeffrey Inaba, INABA/C-Lab, GSAPP; Mark Wigley, Dean, GSAPP; and Richard Flood, Chief Curator, New Museum, will discuss philanthropy, education, architecture, and other forms of influence. Presented in conjunction with Inaba and C-Lab’s project for the Museum, “Donor Hall,” and the release of Issue 13 of Volume Magazine. Followed by reception and music by Jamo and Nick Kay.
At the opening of the Liam Gillick ‘mid-career retrospective’ in Witte de With, Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, Volume will have a conversation with the artist. Gillick is known for his quality to avoid definition and for his ability to offset expectation. The invitation to present at Witte de With was accepted by Gillick inviting the staff of Witte de With to program part of the space during his ‘presence’ in the art centre.
Volume will confront Gillick’s method of working with the theme of V14: Unsolicited Architecture as a strategy and a practice.
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How does ‘architectural journalism’ extend ‘architectural intelligence’ beyond ‘bricks and mortar’? In one way only, a way that is common to all writing: that is, by structuring space.