With Are We Human – the exhibition of the 2016 Istanbul Design Biennial – curators Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley are researching the very notion of ‘design’. Their historic, cultural and conceptual exploration attempts to unravel the various programs and ambitions behind a (mainly) market driven inventiveness, which is presented as progress. This is pushing the notion of design and the biennale as a format beyond their established definitions. Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley interviewed by Arjen Oosterman.
As introduction to the Total Space insert in Volume 50, Dirk van den Heuvel links (Dutch) Structuralism to current day developments, more specifically in the digital realm. Total Space is an ongoing research project of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre*, that’ll produce program and public presentation at Het Nieuwe Instituut in the coming years.
In a certain sense, looking at the beyond is something that we cannot do today, other than from the vantage point of a beyond the ‘beyond’. Looking at the connections between progressive political movements and planning/building practices in modernity and their ways of departing into ever new ‘beyonds’, beyond the boundaries of historically given urban and social formations – today, we are certainly beyond these dynamics.
In collaboration with Volume, KU Leuven’s Faculty of Architecture, campus Sint-Lucas Ghent/Brussels, selected recent graduate projects and reflected on the underlying ambitions of the school. The result is ‘Doing It the Belgian Way’, one of the two inserts in Volume 50. The insert presents three perspectives: Embracing Complexity, Embedding in the Local, and Un/Re-Learning. The following text is the introduction to this third chapter.
Denisse Vega de Santiago read all 49 issues to date and selected quotes that shed light on how ‘beyond’ was perceived, appreciated and defined by Volume’s contributors.
Irma Boom Interviewed by Arjen Oosterman for and published in the Chinese magazine Manifesto no. 21, published by Shanghai based The Design Republic.
Moving forward implies looking back. When we started this research engine called VOLUME in 2005, economic, political, and social conditions were very different to how they are today. The intention to rethink the agency of ‘beyond’ as driver for change inevitably means historicizing the trajectory of the VOLUME project so far. That said, we really didn’t want to turn VOLUME itself into the subject of reflection. So we’ll instead talk about the present and, in so doing, find history creeping its way in whether we like it or not.
When Volume started as ‘magazine to go beyond architecture’ in 2005, the world was a different one. There was a lot of attention for the spectacular in architecture, for instance, and little for where society was going in relation to architecture: the urgencies and opportunities architecture could and should engage with. Since, Volume explored a wide variety of topics and terrains, each time looking for the added value of architecture.
Kai Vöckler/Archis Interventions participates in a research project focusing on the material legacy of the former Soviet Union in the former soviet States in Eastern Europe.
Design is, by definition, inhuman. We humans design, yet we do not, cannot really, at least not yet, design humans. Yet the boundaries of contemporary design increasingly encroach upon the real. The design of fleshy bodies, genetics, entire species, landscapes, territories, and even planets are becoming no longer mere fantasies. But do we really know how to design, to think, to be creative, to be careful, to be responsible, to be innovative, to be progressive both at and between such scales?