Friday, January 24. 2014
A new call by the very interesting Bracket magazine/books!
Dear Bracket friends,
We are happy to announce the CFS for Bracket [Takes Action];
We hope you consider submitting. Please also pass this along to anyone you think might be interested.
The deadline is quickly approaching — February 28th!
Neeraj & Mason
Bracket [Takes Action] Editors
Bracket [takes action]
“When humans assemble, spatial conflicts arise. Spatial planning is often considered the management of spatial conflicts.” —Markus Miessen
Call for submissions
Hannah Arendt’s 1958 treatise The Human Condition cites “action” as one of the three tenants, along with labor and work, of the vita active (active life). Action, she writes, is a necessary catalyst for the human condition of plurality, which is an expression of both the common public and distinct individuals. This reading of action requires unique and free individuals to act toward a collective project and is therefore simultaneously ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’. In the more than fifty years since Arendt’s claims, the public realm in which action materializes, and the means by which action is expressed, has dramatically transformed. Further, spatial practice’s role in anticipating, planning, or absorbing action(s) has been challenged, yielding difficulty in the design of the ‘space of appearance,’ Arendt’s public realm.
Our young century has already seen contested claims of design’s role in the public realm by George Baird, Lieven De Cauter, Markus Meissen, Jan Gehl, among others. Perhaps we could characterize these tensions as a ‘design deficit’, or a sense that design does not incite ‘action’, in the Arendtian sense. Amongst other things, this feeling is linked to the rise of neo-liberal pluralism, which marks the transition from public to publics, making a collective agenda in the public realm often illegible. Bracket [takes action] explores the complex relationship between spatial design, and the public(s) as well as action(s) it contains. How can design catalyze a public and incite platforms for action?
Consider two images indicative of contemporary action within the public realm of our present century: (i) the June 2009 opening of the High Line Park in New York City, and (ii) the January 2011 occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo. These two spaces and their respective contemporary publics embody the range within today’s space of appearance. At the High Line, the urban public is now choreographed in a top-down manner along a designed, former infrastructure with an endless supply of vistas into an urban private realm. In Tahrir Square, an assembled swirling public occupies, and therefore re-designs, an infrastructural plaza overwhelming a government and communication networks. This example reveals a bottom-up, self-assembling public. But what role did spatial practice play in each of these scenarios and who were the spatial practitioners and public(s)? The contrast of two positions on action in a public realm offers an opening for wider investigations into spatial practice’s role and impact on today’s public(s) and their action(s).
Bracket [takes action] asks: What are the collective projects in the public realm to act on? How have recent design projects incited political or social action? How can design catalyze a public, as well as forums for that public to act? What is the role of spatial practice to instigate or resist public actions? Bracket 4 provokes spatial practice’s potential to incite and respond to action today.
The fourth edition of Bracket invites design work and papers that offer contemporary models of spatial design that are conscious of their public intent and actively engaged in socio-political conditions. It is encouraged, although not mandatory, that submissions documenting projects be realized. Positional papers should be projective and speculative or revelatory, if historical. Suggested subthemes include:
Participatory ACTION – interactive, crowd-sourced, scripted
Disputed PUBLICS – inconsistent, erratic, agonized
Deviant ACTION – subversive, loopholes, reactive
Distributed PUBLICS – broadcasted, networked, diffused
Occupy ACTION – defiant, resistant, upheaval
Mob PUBLICS – temporary, forceful, performative
Market ACTION – abandoning, asserting, selecting
The editorial board and jury for Bracket 4 includes Pier Vittorio Aureli, Vishaan Chakrabarti, Adam Greenfield, Belinda Tato, Yoshiharu Tsukamoto as well as co-editors Neeraj Bhatia and Mason White.
Deadline for Submissions: February 28, 2014
Please visit www.brkt.org for more info.
Friday, January 10. 2014
By fabric | ch
After its creation for Close, Closer, the Lisbon Architecture Triennale last summer, we had the opportunity to exhibit Deterritorialized Living for the first time in November 13 during Acces(s) Festival in Pau (curated by Ewenn Chardronnet), at the Maison de l'Architecture.
The project, which consists in an "artificial troposphere" that reverses our causal relationship to the rythms of day and night, air, seasons, time -- based on real time global network activity by both humans and robots and that is delivered in the form of open data feeds, fictional data in some ways -- was displayed accompanied by videos of former projects by fabric | ch.
Specifically, we took the ocasion to complete an electromagnetic sample of Deterritorialized Daylight, based on its feed of data.
The simple spatialization took the appearance of two strong controllable projectors and two light reflectors. These were the only sources of light in the exhibition space, accompanied by five screens that displayed the different data feeds and the interactive version of Deterritorialized Daylight (a controllable intensity of the 13 last hours). Two small but intense "suns", an "eclipse" and a "waning moon" seemed to appear in the space, at the same time.
The variable intensity of the light in the space defined a pattern of illumination within the exhibition room where the display tables took place, in an apparent random manner, yet following this pattern accordingly to their own reflection potential and their exhibition program.
Exhibition after exhibition, we plan to develop physical samples of the data feeds and materialize the "geoengineered" troposphere. We will also look into some architectural explorations of this "geoengineered" climate, architectural environments that will locate themselves within, or just use this deterritorialized atmosphere.
Monday, December 16. 2013
Article by Neeraj Bhatia, an architect, urban designer, and assistant professor at CCA. Neeraj is the director of The Open Workshop and co-director of InfraNet Lab. He is the co-editor of Bracket 2, focusing on soft architecture, the second edition of an annual journal. Find out more here.
The term "soft" is expansive in its meanings. Soft material, soft sound, soft-mannered, soft sell, soft power, soft management, soft computing, soft politics, software, soft architecture. It describes material qualities, evokes character traits. It defines strategies of persuasion, models of systems thinking and problem-solving, and new approaches to design.
But the most obvious associations with soft have been material characteristics—yielding readily to touch or pressure; deficient in hardness; smooth; pliable, malleable, or plastic. And this is the definition of "soft" that came to define some of the most exciting design motives of the 1960s and '70s. These new design approaches were skeptical of modernism; soft was deemed to enable individualism, responsiveness, nomadism, and anarchy.
Archigram, Buckminster Fuller, Cedric Price, and Yona Friedman were among soft architecture's forerunners. Archigram’s investigations into pods, Price’s inflatable roof structures, and Fuller’s research into lightness were all literally soft, and often scaled to the material properties of human occupation. However, larger urban visions such as Plug-In City, Ville Spatiale, or Potteries Thinkbelt can equally be understood as soft. What connects these projects is their attempt to develop design strategies that shifted from the malleability of a material to the flexibility of a system. In so doing they developed new characteristics of "soft."
Here, we take a look at some of "soft" architecture's most radical ideas, structures, and concepts.
Cedric Price, Price Potteries Thinkbelt, 1964
North Staffordshire's pottery industry was suffering an economic crisis in the 1950s and 1960s, leaving the entropic landscape with underused infrastructure and industry. Price published his Potteries Thinkbelt in 1966, converting the railway and facilities into a vast educational network for 20,000 students. The network was malleable and involved scheduling/time into the process of design.
Reyner Banham and Francois Dallegret, Environmental Bubble, 1965
The Environmental Bubble proposed a domestic utopia with all the basic amenities of modern life (food, shelter, energy ... television), but without the binds of permanent buildings and structures of earlier human settlements. The transparent plastic dome is inflated by air conditioning and rejects the archetypal home icon. Instead it is defined by the individual and his or her subjective yearnings.
Hans Hollein, Mobile Office, 1969
Before the era of mobile communication, Hans Hollein derived the mobile office. The design transformed the office into an inflatable, transportable, and weather-proof spectacle!
Coop Himmelb(l)au, Basel Event: the Restless Sphere, 1971
Mechanical motion generated from pressurized gas is a realm of technology called pneumatics, which manifested itself in the design culture of the 1960s. The Basel Event was a public demonstration of pneumatic construction, showcasing a Restless Sphere, four meters in diameter, put in motion by its occupant. Coop Himmelb(l)au sought to create an architecture as light as the sky; it had political ramifications through its manipulations.
Philippe Rahm, Interior Weather, 2006
Philippe Rahm's meteorological architecture incorporates soft typologies and data sets otherwise invisible to the human eye. Interior Weather is an installation with two sets of spaces: "objective" rooms with temperature, light intensity, and humidity in flux; and "subjective" rooms with occupants being observed for physiological values and social behavior. Territory is defined here through the senses, not walls.
Walter Henn, Burolandschaft, 1963
The era of paternalism and strict, fixed, hierarchical office space has transitioned into a new typology of malleability and modularity. The idea of "the cubicle" was novel in its modularity and non-hierarchical form. Henn's Burolandschaft, literally "office landscape," launched a movement based on an open plan freed from partitions. It has heavily influenced contemporary projects that create flexible space through the (re)organization of furniture.
Conrad Waddington, Epigenetic Landscape, 1957
Waddington's formalized epigenetic landscape offers a metaphor for cell differentiation and proliferation, demonstrating how a marble would gravitate toward the lowest local elevation. The resulting Boolean network is an example of visualizing a problematic data set that is constantly reorganizing itself through feedback mechanism.
Writer Sanford Kwinter famously appropriated Conrad Waddington’s "Epigenetic Landscape" as a topological model with which to envision a new conception of form-making (the second picture above)—a concept explored in this "Reverse of Volume RG" installation, Japanese artist Yasuaki Onishi.
Yona Friedman, Villa Spatiale, 1970
The Spatial City articulated Friedman's belief that architecture should only provide a framework, in which the inhabitants had freedom to articulate space for specific needs. The design is "free from authoritarianism" and is a multi-story, spatial space-frame-grid, which implements mobile, temporary, and lightweight infrastructure.
Michael Webb (Archigram), Magic Carpet and Brunhilda's Magic Ring of Fire, 1968
Proposed during the 1970s culture of indeterminacy and the dissolution of buildings, the Magic Carpet and Brunhilda's Magic Ring of Fire is a "reverse hovercraft" facility holding a body suspended in space using jets of air.
Rod Garrett, Black Rock City
One of the principles of the Burning Man Festival is to leave no trace: "We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them." Black Rock City originated as tabula rasa in the Nevada desert; its population fluxes to 50,000 during the festival beginning on the last Monday of August every year. It is urbanism made of a soft framework, that is temporary and adjusted each year.
Many projects and references that we know here (the usual suspects somehow --Archigram, Michael Webb, Cedric Price, Hans Hollein, etc.), some projects on which we've been working (Interior Weather, the exhibition by Philippe Rahm at CCA started as a workshop during a research project that I was heading --Variable Environments-- at the ECAL, then we continued the development of the interfaces, programs, etc. with ), and some others I didn't know (Walter Henn's Burolandschaft looks like a prequel of Junya Ishigami's Kanagawa Institute of Technology).
Wednesday, December 04. 2013
Another City is Possible: Alternatives to the Smart City
The idea of the “smart city” enjoys considerable intellectual currency at the moment, in the popular media as well as conversations in architecture, urban planning, and local government. In this talk, Adam Greenfield argued that these discourses offer a potentially authoritarian vision of cities under centralized, computational surveillance and control: overplanned, overdetermined, driven by the needs of enterprise. What might some more fruitful alternatives look like? How can we design urban technology that responds to our needs, demands, and desires? Above all, how might we inscribe a robust conception of the right to the city in the technological systems that will do so much to define the urban experience in the twenty-first century?
Adam Greenfield is a New York City-based writer and urbanist. This talk will present material from his new pamphlet “Against the smart city” (available for purchase here), the first part of his forthcoming book The City Is Here For You To Use, which will explore the intersection of emerging networked information technologies with urban place. He is also the author of Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing; “Urban Computing and Its Discontents,” a pamphlet co-authored with Mark Shepard for The Architectural League’s Situated Technologies series; as well as two features on the League’s Urban Omnibus, “A Diagram of Occupy Sandy” and “Frameworks for Citizen Responsiveness: Towards a Read/Write Urbanism.”
Time & Place
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Tuesday, December 03. 2013
Via The Mobile City
PBL expert meeting on Smart Cities with Dan Hill
Over the last few years the South Korean New Town of Songdo has emerged as the epitome of the ‘smart city’ of the future – a city that uses software and sensor-driven feedback loops to optimize all kinds of infrastructural city functions. Songdo, planned to be completed by 2015, was heralded as a city with ‘smart DNA’, a showcase of what could be done in urban development if new media technologies were tightly integrated in the urban planning.
However, according to Fabrica CEO Dan Hill something is missing in this picture. In these scenario’s new technologies are used to solve old world problems such as traffic congestion. And while of course it’s nice to have an adequately managed urban infrastrcuture, the real issue is that the world itself is changing, partly due to the uptake of new technologies such as social media. What we really need is a new vision on how our traditional city making institutions themselves should adapt to this newly emerging network society.
At an expert meeting organized by the Dutch Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving (The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency), Dan Hill explained that there are several reasons why he thinks the vision of Sondgo will never be a real model for smart city development. Primarily, we cannot trust cities that are exclusively based on algorithms. Would we really want to deliver ourselves to a system of Automatic Urban Processing that resembles the computer systems involved in High Frequency Trading on the stock market? We are all experiencing the lasting effects of the stock market collapse and we definitely don’t want to have that happening to our cities.
Secondly, one cannot install smart technologies in the way you would install plumbing and other building infrastructure. The fundamental difference is that in the case of holistic smart city systems, one company takes control over all the urban processes. To optimize the city’s performance, it is necessary that every urban process feeds information into the others. And that works best if one company can manage the whole system. In the case of Songdo, Cisco would be responsible for the waste collection, the energy production, the water management, the traffic control;. Undoubtedly, no city government wants to put all their eggs in one basket by trusting just a single company with their entire infrastructure.
The third reason why a smart city like Sondgo would not work is because we simply don’t make cities in order to build infrastructure. Buildings and infrastructure are just the enablers for us to come together and exchange, create cultures, communities and conviviality. The things that we actually look for in our cities are often about inefficiency. There is a clear tension between these two poles and we have to decide where we want our cities to be efficient and where not.
Using technology to solve urban problems is not a new idea; in his 1966 book New Movement in Cities, Brian Richards was already imagining contemporary technologies addressing all folds of urban life. Even the conventional infrastructure built in the ‘50s and ‘60s was all about efficiency in urban living and it’s also facing a lot of problems. As Cerdic Price put it in 1960’s «Technology is the answer, but what is the question?» We do currently have all the technologies we need to build a 21rst century resilient city, so why is it impossible to it?
One of the answers lies in the nature of our institutions. Not only they are old, but they are also responsible for creating the problem. This creates a clear tension between society and institutions, which is expressed, for example, in the widespread riots that have become a common condition in many countries in the last few years. In this framework the design challenge is not the one of the technological development but the redefinition of the culture of public decision making. Referring to the recent example of a design academy graduate who developed a 3d printed gun, Dan Hill questioned how institutions expect to regulate gun use with policies when guns will be printed at home? It is simply impossible to address this problem with the same tools we have been doing it so far.
This issue extends into the use of public space, which has been increasingly regulated in the past decades. This created a vicious circle of narrowing down publics that have access to it and the activities that can be performed there which leads to public spaces’ deterrioration which is usually addressed with more policies controling activities and so on. But we need to understand what public space can be, what one can do in public spaces. The reason, according to Hill, that Beppe Grillo’s party Movimento 5 Stelle did so good in the last italian elections was that they completely rejected all institutional media in promoting their program. Instead, they focused on two things: social media and appearances in public spaces. Beppe Grillo, a devoted blogger, has been talking in a different square every night throughout his electoral campaign, bringing back the public space of the city in the heart of politics.
Similarly, there is a widespread rise of active citizens. This new type of «hipster urbanism» as many call it, creates competition for local governments in running cities. In many cases people take care of public green because the municipality cannot afford it any more, so undoubtebly these initiatives are good, even though they are not stricktly legal and are also not really efficient. However, this is also problematic. These processes are not democratic and these citizens can not be held accountable for their actions. In addition to this, they are fundamendaly based on social media, which provide a very individualistic view of the world and promote a «like-minded» mentality, loosing sense of the civic. So self organising systems are quick and direct but they are also temporary and have no real impact on legal structures. Simply stated: pop ups tend to pop down. Crowdfunding, another very popular concept, also doesn’t come without downsides. It only works for people who can pay anyway, making it impossible to be used in cities and to replace the state.
So to get back to the issue of smart cities, Dan Hill concluded that it is impossible to keep up with the speed of social developments, using an infrastructure-lead mindset. But it could make a real difference to address the nature of the institutions, as policy changes can have a bigger impact. Undoubtedly, we need strong institutions, they just need to be redesigned from scratch. So for him the real question is whether institutions can appropriate the dynamics of social media without inheriting their ideology, to become more agile, project based and able to maintain a central role in city management.
Simple information feedback doesn’t change behaviors. Open Data is a starting point but data alone is not enough, it is the people who make the algorithms that have the connection to the public. On the other hand, this connecting position cannot be left to private companies. There lies a potentially new position for governments, according to Hill. Governments should regulate the technologies market and create the interfaces to create coherent platforms bringing together many providers.
Dan Hill, is the CEO of Fabrica, a communications research centre and transdisciplinary studio based in Treviso, Italy, which is part of the Benetton Group. In the past, Hill has been part of Sitra’s (the Finish Innovation Fund) Strategic Design Unit. He was also an Urban Informatics leader for Arup. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Architecture department at University of Technology in Sydney (UTS) and a member of the Integrated Design Commission Advisory Board in South Australia. In 2012 Hill was a keynote speaker at Social Cities of Tomorrow, a conference organized by The Mobile City with Virtueel Platform and Arcam.
Monday, December 02. 2013
Note: Dubai pre-booted by Mr Wright?
Frank Lloyd Wright, Reveals the Design for his Mile-High Skyscraper, Chicago, Illinois, 1956
Even the image is big!
Saturday, November 23. 2013
fabric | ch, Satellite Daylight, 46°28'N @ Haus für elektronische Künste | #architecture #interaction
For our own documentation, published a year ago in the context of the exhibition Sensing Place at the Haus für elektronische Künste in Basel, the video is a short presentation of Satellite Daylight, 46°28'N.
Thursday, November 07. 2013
By Beatrice Galilee
by Alex Schweder, curated by Beatrice Galilee
Thursday 7th November, 7pm
In 2007, The New York Times published an article entitled ‘For The Brain Remembering Is Like Reli
We know from our daily lives that there is a mental capacity to relive spaces, experiences and conversations without the dissonance of representation. In psychology, psychoanalysis and neurology, the memories of spaces and activities in our past dictate our actions in the present. The field of psychogeography is founded on the spatial effects of places and movements through space and psychoanalysis is based on the premise that the suppression of feelings from the past can emerge unconsciously in the reconstruction of the past, through writing or discussion.
The site of the exhibition, the traditional site of display and representation is the field of operation for artist and architect Alex Schweder. Schweder’s work deals precisely with possibility that spaces are scripted and informed by bodies and occupation. That the boundaries between them are permeable and behavioural patterns can be manipulated with careful intervention.
In this one-off unique work held in the Opus gallery for four days, the artist will be working with the architecture of the space – using the architecture of walls, doors, memories, history and conversation to script the space and through strategic means, transform the reading and semiotics of space for the visitor.
In seven minutes the intention of the artist will become clear.
This project is generously supported by The Graham Foundation
The exhibition will be open Saturdays 9th, 16th and 23rd Nov, 12-5pm
Wednesday, November 06. 2013
The Making of an Avant Garde: The Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies 1967-1984
A documentary written, produced, and directed by Diana Agrest
1.5 AIA and New York State CEUs
This film screening is organized by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union and co-sponsored by The Architectural League.
A screening of The Making of an Avant Garde: The Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies 1967-1984.
The Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, founded in 1967 with close ties to The Museum of Modern Art, made New York the global center for architectural debate and redefined architectural discourse in the United States. A place of immense energy and effervescence, its founders and participants were young and hardly known at the time but would ultimately shape architectural practice and theory for decades. Diana Agrest’s film documents and explores the Institute’s fertile beginnings and enduring significance as a locus for the avant-garde. The film features Mark Wigley, Peter Eisenman, Diana Agrest, Charles Gwathmey, Mario Gandelsonas, Richard Meier, Kenneth Frampton, Barbara Jakobson, Frank Gehry, Anthony Vidler, Deborah Berke, Rem Koolhaas, Stan Allen, Suzanne Stephens, Bernard Tschumi, Joan Ockman, among others.
Time & Place
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
This event is free and open to all. Reservations neither needed nor accepted.
Undoubtedly a documentary I'll look to get a copy!
Tuesday, November 05. 2013
fabric | rblg
fabric | rblg is the survey website of fabric | ch -- studio for architecture, interaction and research. We curate and re-blog articles, researches, exhibitions and projects that we notice during our everyday practice.