As the Chief Government Architect of The Netherlands Floris Alkemade is advising the cabinet on spatial quality, upon request or at his own initiative. He does so together with two other members of the Government Board of Advisors. Francesco Degl’Innocenti sat with him to discuss his ambitions in that role and the reach and limits of his arm. The conversation went from Mies to Mahler and from prisons to loneliness in the city.
Recently I had to move my books. Unavoidably one starts reading. And, as the law of serendipity predicts, what the eye meets has a direct relation to one’s own preoccupations. In this case my eye was attracted by publications on public space and the role of design from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. And it made me aware that those discussions were pretty innocent.
With a variety of authors, VOLUME #53 investigates these physical and virtual spaces –
and the kinds of agency used to negotiate them – through the lenses of Institutions and
Guus Beumer scrutinizes Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl Halftime Show and detects a new role for the audience, with far-reaching consequences for design disciplines.
Most people focus on object and form. Not Keller Easterling. She’s drawn to the in-between. Challenging the binaries of formal-informal, practical-impractical, like-dislike, right-wrong, Easterling points at extemporaneous design thinking that works with potentials and indeterminate forms. In this frame, space is an informational system where discrepancies between what an organization is saying and is actually doing open new territories for design to intervene.
Nowadays, it seems to be everywhere – the urban environment that feels smooth, polished and perfect. All buildings seem either new or renovated, and are generally in an excellent condition. Its public spaces are well-designed, well-maintained, clean and safe, if you conform to the rules. All spaces seem to be scripted according to the dominant norms and the needs of capital, and are populated by a socially, culturally and aesthetically homogenous crowd. New technologies offer seamless, on-demand services for almost everything.
Can I invite you to participate in a conversation on what’s not a concept or a clear idea, but a hunch at best? The subject is the relation between formal and informal and how this may be changing due to the introduction of new technologies and the way these are used. The bricolage of fragments this speculation is constructed of looks as follows
In occasion of Volume #52 ‘The End of Informality’, Degl’Innocenti goes back to his MA years, when the students had the widespread ambition to intervene on informality, but the process to achieve that was less straightforward than envisioned beforehand.
Informality can be interpreted as a positive quality hinting at individual freedom or even be romanticized as bottom up and empowering force. But informality as safety valve for a system that is not able to adjust to changing conditions smoothly and quickly enough is another matter.
‘Reinventing the fringe’ is a critical reconsideration of post-war urban areas on the fringe of nine European cities, viewed from the perspectives of sustainability, social cohesiveness, mobility and land use.