Engineering Society Our society seems to be locked into a position in which the user’s and voter’s choices determine how we shall live in the future. A disturbing collective urban life in a giant Big Brother House looms, a material and social world in which sensationalistic media and its commercial translation dominate. Our sense of what is real and what is quality is on the verge of collapse. The practice and education of the engineers of this society is determined by short-term effect instead of long-term social responsibility. Culture becomes little more than a market, politics its façade and the city its stage. Instead of reviving old school high modernist social engineering or claiming the need for an intellectual junta, we solicit new forms of social engineering. Where shall this lead?
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Editorial Arjen Oosterman Principles of Great Stories Dick de Lange User City in a Voter World Christian Ernsten and Joost Janmaat
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Seeing Like a Society Interview with James C. Scott Operation Murambatsvina Desmond Kwame Engineering Trust Jan Willem Duyvendak TheSpace of Experience Bill Thompson Epistemological Attack! Eyal Weizman Amateur as Pioneer Christian Bunyan Disperse and Rule Justus Uitermark The Mighty Model Gaby Heindl and Drehli Robnik Manifesto Christian Ernsten and Joost Janmaat Media Labs and Open Societies Andrew Bullen Designing Society: Peer 2 Peer Michel Bauwens Utopian History of Architecture
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Up-TempoUrbanism Interview with Reinier de Graaf Packaging Utopian Sustainability Matt Lewis Chinese Dreams Neville Mars Manifesto or City Interview with Pier Vittorio Aureli Free Urbanism Jeroen Heester Slums and Slabs Steven Wassenaar 1 in 23 Urban Think Tank A Retroactive Lens on the Bijlmermeer Wouter Vanstiphout 122 Smart Governance Erik Gerritsen and Jeroen de Lange Gaming
126 Game, Set, Citizen Arjen Oosterman 128 How Sim City Changed the Game of Planning Edwin Gardner 130 A New Arena for Collective Activisme Jeremy Hight Dossier
136 Social Engineering in the Amsterdam Metropolis Office for Social Engineering 154 From the Volume Archive 160 Colophon
Our society seems to be locked into a position in which the userâ€™s and voterâ€™s choices determine how we shall live in the future. A disturbing collective urban life in a giant Big Brother House looms, a material and social world in which sensationalistic media and its commercial translation dominate. Our sense of what is real and what is quality is on the verge of collapse. The practice and education of the engineers of this society is determined by short-term effect instead of long-term social responsibility. Culture becomes little more than a market, politics its faĂ§ade and the city its stage. Instead of reviving old school high modernist social engineering or claiming the need for an intellectual junta, we solicit new forms of social engineering. Where shall this lead? school high modernist social engineering or claiming the need for an intellectual junta. ArchiHome http://archihome.taobao.com
Principles of Great Stories by Saatchi & Saatchiâ€™s Dick de Lange
Nova Heli贸polis IV by Dionisio Gonz谩lez, 2007 180 x 400 cm.
The User City in a Voter Society Christian Ernsten and Joost Janmaat What will be the sphere of activity for the next generation of social engineers? What will their society look like? And what instruments will they have at their disposal? This scenario is about a world decided by the voter and made by the user. It is a scenario for a society in the immediate future, but it is not a forced vision. Not everything is new, new, new. It loosely combines insights and practices from the past, the present and the foreseeable future. It is sometimes uncomfortably improbable, sometimes toe-curlingly outmoded. With contradictions and incon sistencies: a future as messy as the present. It is selective and random; instead of suggesting a total image implying a single possible end result, we take bits and pieces which you as an individual maker can think about and work with. Somewhere between a processing perspective and a reality check. It is a selfimage in which the current situation is elevated to a system. We introduce the user city.
other, but a goal unto itself. Users continually form new peer-to-peer professional groups. A profession is thus not a given, but a form of behavior. It is not the title, but the act that stands central and is dependent of good health and good presentation. In the user society innovation in the permanent development of various professions determines what has priority and how that will be organized. For the user, profession is an important form of making sense of life and largely determines his/her possibilities to shape family and environment.
It is a city in which our perception of the city does not exceed the scale of our home and our relations with loved ones. It is a city in which in order to give form to society our ambitions have atrophied to our direct physical and emotional environment. It is a city which no longer counts as a display of power, civilization and ideology. It is a city in which the environment in which we live is a direct expression of our physical desires and the scope of our thinking is small. All of this happens within the perspective of a thoroughly democratic society boasting a high level of prosperity, a society in which power is less important because everyone’s needs are satisfied at a adequate level. The voter decides, the user is the maker. And thus society offers something for everyone, an authentic experience with corresponding qualities and challenges. Welcome to the user city in the voter society 1. The user
The user city will be inhabited by articulated people. Some will be educated, others less so. Some will be poor, others less poor. Traditional political parties will come to grief in the commotion politics of opinion polls and provocations, but the political landscape will remain recognizable. The biggest group, consisting of poor and rich users, will vote social-democratic, will feel itself to be liberal and raise their children with religiously inspired values. What will bind all these users together is working hard and living ambitiously. Rich and poor alike will live in self-made or selfrenovated homes. The entire city will be a slum; the entire city will be gentrified. When a citizen knows his rights and duties, the user sees the world as hindrances and opportunities. The user sees the city as a highly makeable place, one in which they can give form to all their needs and desires simply by doing. Money is a barrier and the law too, but both can be superseded. What remains as the only essential limitation is one’s own fantasy. The dividing lines in the city are not formed by income, power or ethnicity, but by use. They are not determined by status, responsibility or prerogative, but acts themselves generate value and meaning. The moment of use is essential. It is there that added value is created. This is how groups of innovative users, but also small groups of consumers, re-users and parasitic users arise. They set themselves against the mainstream and elect, sell and consume without creating. Their consummation knows no value, no importance and makes no sense. Consumers search for their framework outside of use. To consume is for them an expression of something greater, something essential: they consume out of principle.
Work is the first publicly recognizable qualification of the user. Users have no steady job or profession, although they do have a reasonably constant income. Careers are determined by continuous technological innovation, the rise and fall of markets and global labor migration. Jobs both well and poorly paid are all flexible. It is thus not the job, but the profession by which the user is profiled. This can also be multifaceted. Users continuously create their own work, their own job, and rediscover their professional qualities anew. Social mobility is not a consequence of one or the
Each user makes an icon of its own home. Chiefly door posts, balconies and rooftops are frequently used for this purpose. A house’s design is inspired by practical necessities and by individual experiences, memories and desires. Simultaneously, there is an enormous urge to live in a neighborhood with one’s peers, in a peerhood or peer place. From above, it is possible to recognize an urban development cluster pattern in both officially ordered and the do-it-yourself, illegally built outskirts. Users are influenced in construction forms and use by their peers who live in the same user environment. Clusters vary quickly in quality and character. Each ‘move’ is a re-evaluation of one’s social status. Users choose not only a cluster, they collectively create it. Stores, pubs and restaurants often establish themselves at the invitation of residents in a cluster. 4. Amusement
In both physical as well as in virtual space the user plays with others based upon shared interests or fascination. Just as with other forms of self-writing, namely work, politics and making sense of life, the user is capricious. A contributing cause of this is the amusement industry which continuously introduces new trends in recreation. The user city will be characterized and dominated by commercially conducted amusement locales. Consumerism, however, will no longer be driven by necessity – I need, I want – but by fun: I would love to. 5. The voter
The voter is the sixteen years plus user. Politics is motivated by provocation via opinion polls. The results of a poll in the morning proliferate over the web and by the afternoon are restated as a parliamentary issue. The voter has no influence, control or power, but is the instigator of continual change. Lobbies no longer seek to influence the government, but the voter. The most important ideology is multiform populism; it is a populism without mass, a populism of provocation because nobody represents anyone more than themselves. Yet the small-scale and local character of the political debate means that everyone feels as if they have input and political influence. A political system that does not act on mass protest and petitions, but to citizens, opinions and scandals. A government based on business, commotion and entertainment. The voter is central; s/he no longer searches for lasting influence, which s/he never had, but for instant gratification and satisfaction.
The printed newspaper still has a magic quality among users and voters. Filling it up, however, is farmed out to paid contributors. The press is a vanity press, the writers write about themselves. The media is the former public. This group has a great influence on the formation of opinion. The proliferation of new and newer media ensures a hyperinteractivity. Topicality and discussions about it, not to mention reflection upon it, no longer permits itself to be guided. Media is an endless variety of unmoderated, fanning out discussions. The sort and the quantity of friends the user has determine how informed he/she is. Instead of quality media, we have quality publics; in place of pulp media we have pulp publics. No public is anointed from without, but each generates its own information, news and stories; each reacts directly to the others. Suspense determines credibility; boredom makes news untrue. Makeability within the voter society is largely determined by the most successful story. Media within the voter society is communication aimed at success, temptation and romance.
but also media and conflict. Among voters making sense of life can result in a feeling of social responsibility for society as a whole as well as a desire for change. Yet it can also lead to safety or a lack thereof as well as optimism or pessimism. Use adapts to this. Organizing changes in the user city is not difficult; in fact everyone is doing it constantly. Yet how does the voter develop a vision of intentional changes within the voter society? How does he or she reassess intention, legitimacy, goal and sustainability? In a society without central controls, ideology or morals users and voters stumble their way forward. See you later in the user city of the voter society.
Photo Neville Mars/DCF
The voter is concerned with spatial order, trade rights, public services and safety. The debate on what is civil in the economic, cultural and political sectors is most fashionable, however. The voter usually chooses to punish the consumer and free the way for the optimization of his/her part of the user city.
The enormous speed in transactions and communication has quickly given rise to misunderstandings and incomprehension. The voter society is complicated and everyone tries to interpret and define. Users collide with other users, but also with voters and shoppers. Emotional conflicts top the list. Many small conflicts will be handled via a digital court. Based upon conflict resolution and 300 years of jurisprudence, neighborhood quarrels and labor disputes will be resolved via online, interactive, binding mediation sessions Justice within a single user group can mean injustice within another. The majority of conflicts on this subject are solved by webmasters, diplomats, salesmen and brokers. Sometimes this does not work and this generates feelings of insecurity among users and voters. That leads to changes in personal use, living and work, ultimately culminating in moral mobility. 8. Making sense of life
The user would say: I am the world, the city is my cosmos. I act, therefore I am. Making sense is the userâ€™s and voterâ€™s most important activity. He/She views the calibration of the use and necessity of life as an essential part of a successful life, psychological health and inspiration for daily activities. Making sense generally goes together with the determination of moral positions. Morality leads to social collisions and to new ideas of child raising and education. Moral limits are not formed intellectually, but are the direct derivations of the behavior of buyers, voters and users. An especially flexible and variable interpretation is one in which not only living accommodations, entertainment, work and voting play a role, ArchiHome http://archihome.taobao.com
Showcase apartment for stacked villas in Beijingâ€™s suburbia
Seeing Like a Society Interview with James C. Scott by Erik Gerritsen 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)1, 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.
Erik Gerritsen How did you reach the conclusion that society cannot be engineered? James C. Scott During my research in South East Asia
I was confronted with the dramatic failures of development projects. I found that successful rural communities were all but destroyed in the wake of wellintended development aid and I tried to understand the deeper causes of these failures. It occurred to me that in order to have ambitious plans for a society, to change it and intervene in any way at all, the state had to create a certain kind of society that could then be manipulated. It had to create citizens with identities. It had to create citizens with names that could be recorded, with matching addresses, put down in cadastral surveys. I found myself mesmerized by the fact that part of the struggle of state-making in early modern Europe was to create a legible society that could be understood before it was possible to intervene. And it also occurred to me that in the process of making society legible it changed it radically. They way early-modern states changed the society they governed is very much comparable to the way the World Bank is changing the Third World nowadays. The example I give in the book is that of scientific forestry. This was a form of transforming the forest so it would produce a single product, neglecting everything else about the forest. It ended up creating a forest that violated the natural processes of forest regeneration. It was an abject failure, but not before becoming the world standard of scientific forestry. I was intrigued by that insight and tried to apply it to the well-intended planning fiasco of Brasilia and compulsory villagization in Tanzania in which seven million people were moved into villages that didn’t work. Finally, I looked into the industrialization and collectivization policies of Soviet agriculture. I worked out a critique of what I call highmodernist planning. That is, the nineteenth century ideology grounded in the believe that a scientifictechnical trained elite could take responsibility for the social planning. The high-modernists claimed to know how parents should bathe their children, how they prepare their food and the design of their houses. The hubris of the high-modernist led them to believe in unitary and singular answers to all social problems and that solutions to them could be either imposed on the public or a public could be persuaded that these schemes were in their own interest. EG Since you published Seeing Like a State in 1998, the world seems to have profoundly changed. Making society ‘legible’ through standardization has now been implemented on a global scale. Are we witnessing the building of another, higher level of state? A world state?
JCS In a way. The World Bank tries to control devel-
opment processes in the Third World and by doing so is fundamentally changing those societies. This is comparable to what we saw in early modern Europe. The World Trade Organization, the IMF and the World Bank try to implant the institutions of North Atlantic liberal capitalism and liberal democracy throughout the rest of the world. Just look at the massive emphasis on the development of central banks, the creation of private property, the protection of intellectual property, the repatriation of profits, and also what I call ‘cadasterization’ and the collection of statistics according
to UN-standards. The wonderfully accurate word they use for this development is harmonization. It is all a magnificent piece of propaganda. Of course it means making sure that the institutions match one another and comply. What’s interesting to me is that these institutions are the peculiar, odd, vernacular institutions of North Atlantic capitalism around the turn of the century. They are now traveling back to the Third World as a universal standard, being imposed by these large multinational institutions. The logic of their projects is that a businessman from, let’s say, the Netherlands, can get off of a plane in Assuncion or Kinshasa and find a perfectly familiar world of institutions and structures. They are familiar because they are the institutions from the world which this businessman came from in the first place. We must never forget that these are vernacular institutions which represent themselves as universal, but they carry all the cultural baggage of their particular history. These tendencies may point to an irreversible path towards the global village, very much along the lines I described in my book. Luckily, reality is more complex. For example, a World Bank program of rural development ends up being colonized by the counterplanning of thousands local farmers who find that the scheme doesn’t quite serve their needs. They start deforming it and twist the grand scheme to suit them. Although there’s no way they can resist this conditionality, the actual projects in the Third World often have very little resemblance to their original design. The sad part is that most of the deviation is a consequence of a particular government’s effort to increase its own power and project it into the countryside. Another relevant development in this respect is the enormous increase in financial capital and the volume and pace of communication. These techniques make a kind of detailed control possible that was not possible earlier. But it also makes collective failures both instantaneous and widespread; we have just witnessed how the American sub-prime mortgage crisis was instantaneously ramified throughout the world. It seems that the speed and volume of things which can spin out of control is just as fast as the speed with which they are the subject of new forms of control. EG From the state to the world to the city. What is your take on big city engineering and the extent to which planners and people can actually bring change to the city?
JCS It happens that I teach in a city, New Haven, Connecticut, which has the highest per capita government grants for urban renewal in the entire United States. It implemented those plans to the point that they actually destroyed the city. In twenty years of urban planning they’ve moved people two and three times. New Haven is almost a test case of urban government planning gone bad. There was a saying in Victorian times ‘three moves equal a death’. Once you pick people up from a neighborhood where they have roots and friends and routines, even if it’s not the best neighborhood in the world, such a move comes at great social costs. If you move people several times, some react by not putting down roots at all because it’s too painful to pull them up again. Jane Jacobs wrote a brilliant book on this subject in 1961, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. She tried to work out the principles of a successful
community: not a community created by urban planners, but a community that over time had created a successful neighborhood that was safe, prosperous and in which people wanted to stay. Jacobs introduced the concept ‘un-slumming’. Rather than ‘slum clearance’ the way high-modernist would just bulldoze an area and rebuild it from the ground up, she saw the ‘un-slumming’ capacity of neighborhoods. She argued that if people were permitted to stay in an area where they wanted to stay and made sure there was a stable job environment and credits to improve their homes, this neighborhood would ‘un-slum’ itself. Unfortunately, most communities don’t have the time for slow regeneration. No city planner has ever created a successful neighborhood. Ever. The best a city planner can hope for is to identify the workings of successful neighborhoods and to preserve them, rather than destroy them by getting in their way. EG Your critique on the engineering of society has been judged as a plea for the free market. Yet you are a self-acclaimed anarchist. Could you explain?
If you’re interested in successful social engineering, I guess you want to take this approach seriously. If you’re in charge of urban services for the poor and homeless of a city, you ought to do something like this. Live on the street for a few weeks. And have everyone who works at your department do it as well. EG You research, you write…and you farm sheep. What do they teach you? JCS Sheep are used as a metaphor for mindlessness
and obedience. We talk about people being sheep if they do what they’re told, behave in crowds and don’t have any individuality. But anyone who has ever seen a wild sheep in action knows they are unbelievably individualistic by nature. We’ve been breeding sheep for 8000 years and selecting for docility. Now, having accomplished that, we have the nerve to insult sheep for becoming what we turned them into! We get the sheep we deserve!
JCS Some consider Seeing Like a State a right-wing
James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State. How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven (Yale University Press), 1998.
book because I had an occasional good word to say about people like Friedrich Hayek and Michael Oakeshott. My answer to that charge is that I’d like to write a book about the ways in which large capitalist firms rely on standardization in exactly the same way as do nation states. Take a look at McDonalds and their tools of management and control. The only difference with a nation state is that they have to make the standardization pay in terms of profit. On the other hand, there are people who would like to pin me down on anarchism. I’m the kind of anarchist who is very impressed with the anarchist point about mutuality without hierarchy, about the accomplishments of very complex collective coordination over time without any state involvement. Take for example the creation of agricultural terraces all around South-East Asia. Personally, I live by what I once described to students as ‘Scott’s law of anarchist callisthenics’. The idea is that at some point in your life you’re going to be called upon to break a big law and everything will depend on it. In order to be ready for that moment, you have to stay in shape. So I dedicate myself to breaking a law every day or two. EG You are currently researching why the state has always been hostile towards non-sedentary people. To what extent can this be seen as a new chapter in research into the limits of social engineering?
JCS States seem to be completely unequipped to deal with people who’ve chosen alternative lives. Whether the people in question were Berbers, Bedouins, gypsies or homeless, they interfered with the oldest state project sedentarization. I had a student not so long ago who had broken his leg and decided he would use the time to live as a homeless person in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For two weeks he followed an elderly homeless person who collected things from dumpsters. My student was greatly impressed with life as an urban hunter-gatherer. The homeless man was not just a sad alcoholic living on the streets, but a man with unbelievable survival skills from whom you can learn a tremendous amount about the city.
Principles of Great Stories Create Momentum
Photo Desmond Kwame
Drive Out the Trash Desmond Kwame Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out the Trash) is a large-scale Zimbabwean government campaign to forcibly clear slum areas across the country. The campaign started in 2005 and according to United Nations estimates has effected at least 2.4 million people.
Photo Desmond Kwame
Photo Desmond Kwame
Photo Desmond Kwame
Engineering Trust Jan Willem Duyvendak The Netherlands changed drastically in the 1960s. Nowhere else in the western world did so many people radically change their lifestyles in such a short period of time. Participation, control over neighborhood and body were the words and slogans with which cultural change was pursued.1 At the beginning of the 21st century the Netherlands is once again experiencing a citizenâ€™s revolt, this time in a new guise for it is fiercer, more divisive and frustrated with those who are intolerant. What does this mean for the role of government, politicians and bureaucrats, institutions and professionals? Duyvendak concludes that we stand now at a crossroads. Either we encourage citizens to vote with their feet or we create conditions such that their voices can be heard.
stress and uncertainty. The experience above refers to a large city, not a rural village however. To use a sharp metaphor, for many citizens it is a minefield through which it is hard to move. It often goes well, but the chance of stepping on an unexpected and unpredictably laid mine is considerable. An individual needs to experience this in the flesh, otherwise they feel that it really could happen to them too. Citizens live in a world of differences, of unfamiliar ways of doing things and what they miss is something safe. For a number of reasons citizens have become unknown to each other and appear to have lost their power to understand and appreciate each other within the public domain. That this should happen of its own accord is no longer true while the need to understand one another – give differences in culture and lifestyle – has in fact increased. That explains the need for clarity in the form, for example, of the call for the restoration of traditional values. By itself this is an extremely vague clue, but the need must chiefly be understood as a desire to be protected from the experience of ‘the mine field’. Politicians and administrators can and should not ignore this – relatively collective – experience. After all, their role is up for discussion. One does not expect them to steer clear of developments and loose themselves in the self-created world of paper policy. No, we expect that their actions penetrate through to everyday reality. They must make their presence felt at that level as a kind of ‘bomb disposal squad’. It is no accident that this is the new political magic spell: safety, a topic that immediately appeals to the experienced uncertainty of modern society.
Retreat will constitute taking action, the Social Democratic mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen said in his 2002 New Year’s speech. The government is preparing to return after having been absent. Pim Fortuyn, who was murdered in May of 2002, radicalized that feeling by expressively describing the government’s shortcomings as a society which had been ‘abandoned’, a situation he insisted had been made only worse by the ‘purple mess’ (in the 1990s purple was the color used to describe the ruling coalition of socialists (red) and liberals (blue) which was generally considered to lack a coherent ideology). Those who were dissatisfied now had someone to blame. Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen confirmed this himself in a few sentences: ‘Nobody wants to return to the old illusions of feasibility/malleability, but an active administration should demand a new form of city engineering which we must construct together. City hall must seek out new combinations and forms of cooperation at the city and district level in education, family care, youth assistance and with police and the administration of justice.’ New combinations? Tougher? More effective? Aimed more at safety? Another way to deal with agencies and institutions? Another kind of policy? City engineering? A different role for citizens? More interactive? That’s a mouthful and when sprinkled with words such as ‘new’ and ‘different’ it raises the suggestion that a fresh wind is blowing. But who are these citizens really? And do they all want the same thing? And what is the role of institutions and professionals? Will the administration be patronizing again or will it just rein things in, combat excesses and do nothing otherwise? And will we continue to primarily think in terms of marketization or are there ways to escape that trap? It is these questions which must be discussed. The criticism is appreciable, but at the same time administrators and politicians are clearly wrestling with the conflicting demands made of them. For the time being it seems we will have to deal with an administration which wants to act harshly and severely. Simultaneously in recent years opinion in city hall has done a complete turnabout in order to be more open to ‘the citizen’. This approach is also used vis-à-vis budgeting power in the form of substantial district budgets or even transferring these budget responsibilities to citizens (okay). The question is which story the administration will proffer in order to play their role in society.
Big city versus the village
In order to determine what role the administration should be able and wants to play in various fields, what ‘feasibility ambitions’ they might be entertaining, we must get a better picture of the crisis described above. The first thing that should be revised is the image of society projected by ‘old’ politics: society as a self-regulating machine which does the right thing under its own power and does so with prudent, cautious policies. That kind of image of society is rather rustic; it begins with rest. Here and there some extra things must happen in order to avoid rot and to combat problems, but all in all it is unproblematic. That image no longer squares with everyday experience which is increasingly characterized by
Contact with independent citizens
From time immemorial politics in the Netherlands has been a form of mediation and pacification (e.g., the renown Dutch talent for reclaiming land from the sea). Until deep into the twentieth century the Netherlands was a divided land, a land composed of social pillars (socialists, liberals, Protestants and Catholics). It was a land of differences and of potential conflicts between groups within its population. Politics functioned by giving representation to these different groups in order to reach accommodation. Times have changed. This pillarized society is now history; historical classes and social positions have become less identifiable. But on another level, and in daily life, another comparable division has presented itself. We now have differences between citizens, cultures and lifestyles. And in this sense the old problem of political articulation on one side and pacification on the other are once again topical. What does this mean now for the subject of this essay: what does this mean now for the relationship between politics and government on one hand and society and citizens on the other? We must first establish that politics, and thus the government, is regaining importance and presence. It is thus interesting to get a more exact picture of what we might long for in a new government; is will not be the same as the government of the old days, particularly pre-1968. To be sure, politics then represented the differences between the pillars and could pacify them, but any decision made was dictated to society: ‘we’re going to do things this and no other way.’
Exit and Voice
With this observation the discussion about the feasibility of society through politics arrives as a crossroads. The first path is to proceed full speed ahead. Organize society like a market; create consumer sovereignty for citizens at so many social levels and given them – individual – the financial means to wrest the best public services possible. The alternate path is less familiar: view society as full of contradictions and conflicts and try to develop a culture in which citizens, professionals, institutions and the government can hopefully come together to bridge evident differences. In this connection, the differentiation made by the American economist/philosopher Albert Hirschman between exit and voice is elucidating. With these words he denotes to two principle different ways of dealing with citizens in the public sector: move on or raise one’s voice. For example, with individual budgets, organi zations are forced to attend to their clients’ wishes for this offers greater opportunities to switch to a competitor (exit). This can work otherwise, however. Organizations can let themselves be guided by giving citizens a voice. This requires not only thinking about things like client advice, but indeed about a broad and dynamic arsenal of instruments which can vary from gauging satisfaction, citizen visits, interactive forms of decision making, supporter consultations, citizen panels, forums for stake holders and creative ways to be accountable to citizens. In recent years thought has not only gone into individual questionnaires; thankfully during this same period we have
also seen experimentation with this type of voicerelated control instruments. The public debate must be about whether a strategy of ‘even more free market’ is indeed an adequate answer to current cultural dissatisfaction. After all, exit is primarily a market mechanism and is thus dependent upon the availability of choices, the presence of competition and of well-functioning markets. It works if there is a well-functioning market with many suppliers. But as regards public services exit is often not an effective option simply because there is no market and citizens have less need for individual choice, but do value the idea that their voice will be heard. Rather than the further optimalization of exit options, there must be a new challenge for administrators in order to think about the modernization of voice options. That challenge is not limited just to politicians and bureaucrats, but also involves institution managers, professionals and – no less – citizens who want to shape aspects of public life such as safety, quality of life, education, health care and environmental policy. A society in which consumers have the decisive voice is not the only political view, but it is the easiest and most short sighted. Involvement
A passing answer to the dissatisfaction culture which has manifest in recent years is organizing involvement. It is not so much about the gap between government administration on one side and citizens on the other; the gulf has grown up between (groups of) citizens: rich and poor, competing lifestyles, natives and immigrants. These differences appear to be enormous and increasing every day, including their consequent annoyances. This kind of modern society does without the power to establish connections and foster opportunities in which people can raise their voice. These must therefore be designed, made, maintained, renewed and replaced. And this must be done not merely in the form of a formal participation regulation, but with continuous care, a goal in and of itself that flows from a vision of society. This, clearly, cannot be merely the government’s, administrators’ and politicians’ task. It is also the business of social institutions and professionals. The organization of involvement is in that regard a shared responsibility. Politics has the first and final voice in this process. The problems and differences (the first voice) articulate themselves at the level of representative democracy – local, but also higher levels. Ultimately that leads to decisions (the final voice), but between the two voices there is a period of time in which extra-political voices are given the chance to be heard. Here citizens, institutions and professionals speak and they also accept responsibilities. Over recent decades an abundance of attempts have been made to fill in this space with methods taken from interactive policy formation, particularly at the local level. The idea behind this was to bridge the gap between citizens and the administration. In practice it became chiefly a podium where various interests and differences between citizens clashed. Sometimes that led consensus, sometimes it did not and then the politicians get the last word.2 ArchiHome http://archihome.taobao.com
Modern government does not have to begin that way. The government cannot get around the emancipated citizen’s independence. The subsequent question is how they can involve that citizen in the process of social design and the provision of public services. The lesson from the previous decades is there. Under the wings of Neoliberalism a new magic word was formulated: demand-driven government. The idea is to crown the citizen as customer, as consumer, as buyer of public services and, for example, fit him out with vouchers, individually tailored supplementary services, psycho-social services credits and all the new instruments devised in recent years. We are not dealing here so much with the question as to the degree these ideas are also used practically, but chiefly with the question of the kind of image of citizens (and thus of society) all this generates. This was largely a radical individualized form of independence. The idea was to give citizens a kind of crowbar with which they would be able to use to help themselves obtain (bureaucratic) government services. The customer (i.e., citizen) is king and if one service provider was unaccommodating then, purse in hand, he must be able to go to another. That was the idea and over the years a great deal of policy has been dedicated to developing it in a number of social sectors. Yet, given the results of the recent elections one must conclude that this policy perspective of ‘the citizen at the center’ was not the answer for dissatisfied citizens. They wanted not only more freedom of choice for themselves, but express a collective sign of dissatisfaction with a failing administration.
It makes more sense not to present the further developments of interactivity as a means to breach the gap between citizens and the administration, but as administrative method to construct a podium for citizen involvement in a divided society (and with regard for the political ultimate responsibility). It is a contemporary, modernized form of pacification, a form of establishing ties in which citizens at odds with one another can relate and, hopefully, connect. Between the first and the final political voice it is the governmentâ€™s responsibility to organize trust. That means that institutions must have the space to handle their own responsibilities. This must be the primary mission of relations between the government and subsidized institutions and between the administration and social organizations. This is, thus, not a relationship premised on the idea that one buys into anotherâ€™s achievement (that is the dominant frame of reference market thinking has given us), but one in which each gives the other space in order to facilitate dialogue and contribute their own expertise to a social accomplishment. In order to organize a culture of involvement it is crucial that in the institutional management of social organizations another way of thinking dominates. Instead of these institutions being responsible to the government for their performance, we must turn this 180 degrees around and turn directly to citizens. If institutions can focus on the people for whom they work they will also get something in return, namely loyalty from citizens. That is one of the most unspoken phenomenons since market thinking took possession of the public domain. People do not merely want to choose or shop as autonomous individuals among professionals; in principle they want rather to connect with them. There is appreciable loyalty among professional, public sector service providers, even if they do not entirely function as they should. Citizens overwhelmingly tend to not engage in knee-jerk exit behavior, but indeed want to stay, to discuss and to make progress.
See E. Tonkens, Het zelfontplooiingsregime. De actualiteit van Dennendal en de jaren zestig. Amsterdam, Bert Bakker, 1999. See F. Hendriks & P. Tops (red.), Stad in spagaat. Institutionele innovatie in het stadsbestuur. Assen, Van Gorcum, 2000.
Photo Bill Thompson
The Space of Experience Bill Thompson The terms public domain and public space are dynamic concepts, categories that are constantly constructed anew. Bill Thompson proposes that language is key to this. It is in language that notions like anarchism and control are situated; it is with language that the political notion of self (as a responsible, acting individual) starts. For an understanding of what social engineering is about one has to delve into the domain of language.
Outside London City Hall police prevent anti-fascist protesters from blocking BNPâ€™s recently elected Richard Barnbrook from taking his seat in the London Assembly.
This photograph was taken outside City Hall in London during the mayoral election in London on May 2nd 2008. Here it is used to represent the imposition of order over the freedom of individuals â€“ in this case protesting anarchists â€“ to dissent from that order. It is also used to prompt the reader to consider the concept of architecture as discursive rather than as part of a Zeitgeist or Gestalt or culture or hegemony or Diaspora or profession. Politically the problem of order has become extremely difficult. Most people can understand order, the proposition that order is a possibility, something that can exist. However as democracy has evolved, most people require the right to equivocation and ambivalence when it comes to specific relationships. They demand freedom, although not absolute freedom for that would be chaos, but freedom to relate to things about which they themselves value and speak. They do this because individuals are unique. Each one has specific needs and desires that differ to some degree from those of others. But they usually feel that in spite of these differences there is some organizing
feature of their lives that exists regardless of their differences and it is this that is rather difficult since it is not true. The only thing capable of organizing their lives is a radical democracy and failing that an oppressive order of one kind or another. The oppressive order carries with it the need for violence as does dissent against an oppressive order. It appears that the real solution to a lack of true democracy must commence with the rejection of violence as a means of control following which violence is rejected as a means of dissent. Radical Democracy
Radical democracy allows individuals to form declarative and procedural relationships. In rejecting violence, the ability to set up languages would enable individuals to perform communicative praxis, that is, to resolve differences using declarative and procedural behaviors taking cognizance of surroundings. We can see examples of this all around us across the globe. It is necessary to remember that the language used to perform communicative praxis has the effect of limiting what can be performed. For this reason
Truth is a problem if language is used to refer to things that are missing from the immediate surroundings in a way that is deliberately untrue. Thus we need not only to eschew violence but also deceit. The reader will now guess that we would have to review every immoral act in order to arrive at a moral architecture. Even then we would be faced with an architecture that communicated in several languages and often carried out linguistic experiments. The reader will also guess that because we are no longer capable of total conscious control over our bodies â€“ or rather we now know that we have never been in totally conscious control over our bodies â€“ that we need to be tolerant of eschewing immorality in general and the difficulties of language in particular. Enduring Truth
Ah yes, we must also consider those architects who believe that language will never provide a perfect fit for our human needs and desires and that we should turn to mathematics. We can no more escape mathe matics than we can language. They both refer to the real world, but do not mirror the real world. It is as if there were a universal monetary system. We can measure value using money; that does not mirror what is valued, but the value related to an imagined and a real object. It is an ephemeral relationship that becomes real in certain circumstances, especially unique ones. The same differences that brought us to the point of requiring a radical democracy will bring us back to the resistance against an order imposed by force against our dissenting voices whether imposed by others of our kind or not our kind. The real problem is: how long will it take people to realize the importance of non-violence? How long will it take people to learn about languages in the plural? How long will it take people to resist the temp tation provided by some perfect mathematical project or some massive sum of money? How long will it take for people to reject the notion of a perfect order?
Between Order and Chaos
I suggest that as architects we use our capacity for listening and speaking to adopt an interpretive position between order and chaos, one in which what we interpret is the language for this or that particular project unconstrained by blood or soil. With such an interpretation we may elaborate the concept and negotiate the architectural part of ordering toward the cooperative performance as the transcendental recognition of social comfort. Outside the project it is frankly unlikely that its sound will travel far. It is likely that speaking done during the project will be as unique as the individuals involved. The linguistic exchange with surroundings, people and the accumulation of things will be limited and perhaps incoherent. If there are people involved then they may not participate. The value of dissention is of course the ambivalence of the project and a communicative praxis could well result from such interaction. It would be like raindrops on a lake, the surface ripples rising and falling until the surface is smooth again. Not a Mirror
Any confusion about language and architecture seems to result from the belief that language mirrors reality. That belief cannot last. Language is projected into reality as an imaginary social experience and equivocated more or less with the images we get from it that are then subjected to the conceptual and ordered relationships we have experienced or imagine we have experienced or imagine we may experience. Architects are or should be particularly good at imagining and conceptualizing relationships that become recognizably ordered in one way or another while retaining our ability to imagine alternatives both as concepts and as orders. We can or should be able to articulate an ordered relationship and elaborate a conceptual relationship. We can or should be able to treat architecture as discourse rather than as image. Image is submitted to the individual for incorporation into all they have experienced of a place and its social setting. What is missing from the image is the discourse that accompanies it over time so that the reality producing the image can be equivocated when referring to it. This is a human problem impossible to avoid. Good architecture exists between order and chaos as a range of relationships the most interesting of which is possibly not the normal but the experimental, the negotiated, the discursive including anyone who can speak a language. Yet it appeals to those who speak the local dialect, which is neither geographic nor genetic but communicative praxis, the practical outcome of an attempt to cooperate adapts to the numbers of people involved. Language
Language is a commodity and commodities are languages. We use them to create and know, to communicate and to form relationships. Projects cannot be done for people, projects are commodities acting as language and it is the language that is liked or disliked. Bigotry, racism, hubris and planning all speak through their actions to deny language. The body is a field, the world is speech, the accumulation is text, experience is chaos, action is plan; plan is heterogeneous. ArchiHome http://archihome.taobao.com
performances must include vicarious experiments in language so that language responds not only to use but also to experiment. In architectural terms we still have too many architects suggesting that architecture is a language of its own rather than a language of the people. At the same time we have too many architects looking for a language of the people in the belief that there is one and only one such language. In fact, there are many and they all need vicarious experiments to keep them relevant to those who use them. Architects are split into fragments that behave as if there were only one specific language and all the others are speaking nonsense. It would be better if architects believed that there were many languages and that there were many experiments in language. Architects could then learn languages and learn to experiment in different languages. We could discuss that and interpret architecture in terms of the language used and the experiment carried out. It would be good if we could believe that each language were as good as any other at what it is meant to do, which is to allow individuals to communicate so they can cooperate and explain and resolve differences that make cooperation impossible or difficult.
The image above shows the commodification of enforcement and of dissent in the distinct figures of the police and anarchists. Yet for every anarchist there are many dissenters living under the protection of the police and for every police uniform there are many citizens who desire a sense of total comfort that no amount of enforcement can possibly supply. It is ironic that within spitting distance of the place in which the photo was taken lies ‘the scoop’, a place of public entertainment. The land upon which it sits is privately owned. Our only fantasy of public life in which individuals speak to each other on an equal basis is one in which speaking is performed by an elite – whether in the past or in our debating chambers. It seems that a true social space is unlikely at present because we do not see ourselves as elite. We find it necessary to value image rather than social comfort. In other words we avoid places and make places unwelcome not by building design but by designing behavior that includes the design of buildings as part of an organized complexity. By literally looking for comfort in the form of a complete environment we deny ourselves comfort in making surroundings as we desire. We are not happy talking to each other, for some demand a correct way of doing so and others demand so much freedom there is only gibberish. In the darkness of our own individual imaginations we may have all sorts of actions and declarations we wish to perform. In social space these must be equivocated into a reality that presents the individual with a reason for coming to or leaving that place. It is a relationship that is learned from the cradle to the grave. What each of us does relates us to our own imagination and that of others but becomes real only through speech and the accumulation of speech in the form of language. The architect’s role in that relationship is the part performed by surroundings, particularly buildings. When architects believe that image equates to individual and social comfort, they deny the space of experience that is the arrival of new individuals and a changing understanding of society by society for society. A guaranteed history of the self = sedimentation = ontological security = value isomorphic to image = no place for imagination. It disregards the visceral that plans its explosions and exploits in its secret place of well-being. It removes imagination from the streets and begs for social conflict. Design guides are blueprints for the mass destruction of the public realm by creating a transcendental epistemic relationship of individuals to objects. This is a cultural hegemony of the single vision – the perspective from the point of view of an authority whose policemen will be for ever and unquestionably on the right side.
Epistemological Attack! Eyal Weizman With a little help from our friends in the military that helmet fits us all architects might be able to relate to reality in a more productive way. Lesson one: How to use architectural theory to the benefit of your operations, or: strategies and tactics to uncover the unseen.
Shimon Naveh, former director of an Israeli military research institute, claimed that since very little ‘intelligence’ can be produced about guerrilla and terror groups before military operations actually take place (often its is hard if not impossible for the military to penetrate these organizations), one of the only ways to gain knowledge regarding its organizational logic is to attack it. The assumption is that attacking the enemy in an unpredictable manner, randomly prodding it, induces it to surface, reveal itself and take shape; when its shape becomes visible, it can then be further attacked with more precision. This mode of action is what philosopher Brian Massumi recently defined as an incitatory operation: militaries consciously contributing to the actual emergence of the threat they are purportedly there to pre-empt. ‘Since the threat is proliferating in any case, your best option is to help make it proliferate more. The most effective way to fight an unspecified threat is to actively contribute to producing it... [causing] the enemy to emerge from its state of potential and take actual shape...’1 When I interviewed him, Naveh put it in these terms: ‘tactical activity provides tools of inquiry for operational architects…’ Indeed, operating within an urban environment and with their actions determined by its transformation soldiers see themselves in terms similar to those of architects. Yet these actions also lead to an inversion of the traditional relation of ‘intelligence’ to ‘operation’, or (in architectural terms) ‘research’ to ‘practice’. Naveh: ‘Raids are a tool of research… they provoke the enemy to reveal its organization... most relevant intelligence is not gathered as the basis upon which attacks are conducted, but attacks become themselves modes of producing knowledge about the enemy’s system.’ Within this mode of operation, practice supports research and not the other way around. This may explain the fascination of the military with the spatial and organizational models and modes of operation advanced by theorists such as Deleuze and Guattari. Indeed, as far as the military is concerned, urban warfare is the ultimate postmodern form of conflict. Belief in a logically structured and single-track battle-plan is lost in the face of the complexity and ambiguity of urban reality. Civilians become combatants and combatants civilians. Identity can be changed as quickly as gender feigned: the transformation of women into fighting men can occur at the speed it takes an undercover ‘Arabized’ soldier or a camouflaged resistance fighter to pull a machine gun out from under a dress. Naveh: ‘Operative and tactical commanders depend on one another and learn the problems through constructing the battle narrative; action becomes knowledge, and knowledge becomes action. Without a decisive result possible, the main benefit of military operation is the very improvement of the [military] system as a system.’ This insight may tragically explain the seemingly illogical nature of the ‘war on terror.’ Without clear direction, clues or intelligence, western militaries engage in world-wide, random destruction, that while not actually reducing potential and real terror (actually consciously increasing it) also contributes to the rationalizing of otherwise ‘illogical’ resistance (in its own eyes) and thus being ‘comprehensible.’
Although our ethical and political position is clearly radically opposed to that of militaries, a methodological question could be posed: can contemporary architectural research learn anything from the military principle of ‘incitatory operations’? We share the problem of how to analyse the ways by which action in a situation of radical ambiguity produces knowledge. Could architecture as research provoke or induce new knowledge – the very subject of research and analysis – to emerge and reveal itself? One may not get very far with research on a particular city or territory by simply measuring, documenting and analysing it. Rather, provocative intervention could cause systems to reveal some of their characteristics.
The above are excerpts from Eyal Weizman’s book: Hollow Land, the Architecture of Israeli Occupation, London (Verso Press), 2007. Brian Massumi, Potential Politics and the Primacy of Preemption (forthcoming).
Amateur as Pioneer Christian Bunyan Recently, Erik Kessels of KesselsKramer design studio created a workshop on amateurism. His goal was to help participants discover their inner amateur. Over the course of a week, professional amateurs from various fields encouraged students to design, draw and build products from scratch. The raw materials for this exercise were drawn from everyday objects found in the streets and flea markets of Amsterdam. The result was an exhibition of creations whose guiding principles were improvisation and play. While a concern with practicality was largely absent, some of the products that emerged were strangely utilitarian. A clock made out of a record player. A plant pot built from an old shoe. Tubing transformed into cutlery holders. These items appeared fresh, something more than simply clever art. Perhaps they reflected the amateur desire to strike out and make something altogether new, regardless of whether the result was good or bad. This desire and its consequences are worth exploring.
nous of non-professionals, striving to preserve the internet’s freedom by creating software that can be modified by anybody with certain basic skills. Without the talent and inventive energy of open source, the worldwide web could still become a business-led monolith that requires your pin code before it’ll do anything. Finally, the creativity of the amateur is present in the most famous frontier of all. Amateurism exists even in space, among billion dollar shuttles and governmentfunded space programs. The X-Prizes attract millionaires and entrepreneurs dueling for supremacy in the amateur space race. The original X-Prize was won back in 2004 with the creation of the first successfully reusable amateur spaceship. Since then, it has spawned a number of related competitions, including a challenge to land on the moon. Clearly the X-Prizes blurs the boundary between amateur and professional. The people and organizations they attract form a group of super-amateurs – professional in everything but name. It seems that in space you can be the founder of a multi-million dollar company, but unless you’re affiliated with the government, you’re still technically an amateur. The amateur space race seems about as far as possible to get from a student turning a record-player into a clock, but perhaps the basic spirit is the same – a desire to do things differently, to put inventiveness first. It’s this kind of pioneering, sod-it, let’s-try-it impulse that can make amateurism so inspiring for professionals.
The international workshop ‘Amateurism’ of Artist in Residence Erik Kessels was held at the Academy of Architecture Amsterdam, January 2008.
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Even a cursory glance at our culture reveals a wealth of inventive design created by amateurs, items and technologies that have defined their fields – and occasionally created new ones. In other words, amateurs are pioneers. By working outside a rigid formal development process, the amateur is free to create paradigm shifts and new ways of thinking. Famous instances of the amateur as pioneer include the discovery of FM radio and the personal computer. The computer spreadsheet was also an amateur creation – the product of two Harvard students who failed to turn a profit because filing for software patents wasn’t possible at the time. Perhaps one of the odder stories of pioneering amateurism is Day-Glo. Now found on cyclists and road workers planet-wide, Day-Glo was originally created by an American teenager recuperating from an accident. The boy in question, Bob Switzer, discovered it while mixing fluorescent minerals and wood varnish in his family’s bathtub. A keen magician, he incorporated Day-Glo into his illusions, wowing audiences with its striking effect. Fluorescent paint soon came to the attention of the US army, who applied it to the uniforms of soldiers in order to prevent them becoming the victims of friendly fire. From there, DayGlo took off, appearing seemingly everywhere. In an unfortunate twist, Day-Glo is now officially a victim of its own success – motorcycle deaths are increasing because their riders’ fluorescent jackets have become so widespread as to be rendered almost invisible. Amateurism and the enforced idleness of illness played a role in the creation of another, rather less benign design icon: the AK47. Creator Mikhail Kalashnikov was a Red Army tank commander before his name became synonymous with killing fields the world over. He submitted his first machinegun design while recovering from a war wound in hospital and was later hired by the government to develop his ideas into what would eventually become the world’s most popular assault rifle. Kalashnikov still claims (somewhat bizarrely) that his weapon was created out of a wish for peace, to protect the Russian motherland. He blames its proliferation and misuse on bloodthirsty politicians and describes the AK’s simplicity as ‘beautiful.’ Whatever the truth, the AK47 could be viewed as an example of the amateur’s desire to change things gone badly wrong. As an icon of rebellion, the AK47 featured in another field fuelled by the amateur ethic. Along with the likes of Bad Brains, the band AK47 is credited with being a vital, pioneering influence on early punk, perhaps the ultimate modern incarnation of amateurism. Punk is amateurism turned angry, viewing any hint of professionalism as anathema. Its active defiance of the polished made it a perfect spawning ground for new bands, artists and designers, infusing their work with incredible rawness. Punk’s love of the amateur can be summed up in a quote from the fanzine Sideburns, which published images of three chords alongside the caption: ‘This is a chord, this is another, this is a third. Now form a band.’ The DIY punk ethic persists in the creativity of amateurs to this day. It can be felt strongly in the proliferation of blogs and in legions of strange, fascinating amateur websites. The pioneering technology that makes all this possible is itself driven by talented amateurs. Open source culture utilizes the programming
Disperse and Rule Justus Uitermark If we look at urban renewal in Amsterdam, social engineering is experiencing something of a revival. Authorities – housing associations and administrators – are moving people around as if they were pieces of a puzzle. The goal is to ‘restructure’ the city so that it better meets the demands of prospering middle classes and footloose global elites.1 My interest here is not with this engineering project itself but rather with the resistance against it and alternatives to it. My purpose is to see how attempts to engineer can be resisted or co-opted by residents in the context of urban renewal: how do urban renewal policies come to residents? How can these policies be made to work for resi dents? And under what conditions would it be possible to transform power relations in such a way that policies would also be by residents? Since this is not the first time engineers have sought to restructure the city, I shall first explore resident resistance in the past and then indicate the possibilities and impossibilities for resident engagement in the present.
As a result of a combination of social democratic rule and grass roots radicalism, Amsterdam’s housing stock and spatial development have never been determined by market forces. Residents and authorities have worked hard to maintain control over the allocation of scarce urban space. This is not to say that they have always worked together in harmony. In the 1970s and the 1980s the municipal government planned to demolish huge parts of the city in an attempt to adjust urban space to the ‘demands of the time’. Through modernist lenses the city looked like a hopelessly dysfunctional, chaotic and ugly mess. Aging buildings as well as a helter-skelter street plan had to be replaced with straight roads, metro lines and high-rises to allow people, traffic and capital to circulate with unprecedented speed. Yet at the same time, a growing number of people identified strongly with exactly those parts of the city that disgusted the engineers. The flow of people moving into the suburbs in search of a quiet family life did not dry up altogether but it also became apparent that a growing number of residents wanted an urban life. And, equally important, those urban residents no longer perceived the government’s wishes as divine law. Criticism and imagination democratized rapidly, so the engineers of the state were not the only ones to envisage an urban future; authorities that had earlier appeared as skillful executioners of the collective will were now reframed as modernist fanatics. Authorities and residents clashed everywhere in the city but conflict reached its apotheosis in the Nieuwmarkt neighborhood, an inner-city residential area that had to be razed to clear the way for a metro line, a four-lane highway and (of course) banks and offices. Demolition had started in the eastern part of the city, but as the bulldozers approached the heart of the city resistance became stronger and more radical, not in the least because of the involvement of squatters. Squatting had always been the marginal urban practice of people left without other options, but in the 1970s squatters gained significance as a movement against the demolition of affordable housing and the imposition of modernist fantasies on urban space. Squatters turned empty houses into bastions and were involved in the creation of a counter-space: a neighborhood that was hopelessly dysfunctional according to authorities was re-appropriated and reframed as our place. It is in the very nature of squatting to achieve revolutionary change through conservation; to prevent space from being redesigned to maximize profit and order. The movement then and now not only fights the occasional police eviction, but also especially resists development and business plans. Squatters have always been disliked by large parts of the population but at this time they became the natural ally of residents as they responded to the call to ‘save your city, start with the Nieuwmarkt’. Today one can see where modernism was halted: at border of the Nieuwmarkt neighborhood, at Waterlooplein, where the four-lane high way ends. Where hotels and banks were planned, now there is social housing. The metro line was finished but as an olive branch the government celebrated the popular resistance against its own plans in the Nieuwmarkt
metro station. Pictures on the wall document the confrontation between riot police and squatters. On the concrete floor the government eternalized the squatter’s slogan ‘wonen is geen gunst maar een recht’ (housing is not a favor but a right) and on the wall there are remnants of those days of resistance, such as a graffiti: ‘wij blijven hier wonen’ (we will continue living here). I do not know how exceptional it is that the government memorialized its own defeat, but I do know that dictatorial regimes might want to take a lesson. The modernist planners’ blueprints had turned everyone in the city into a potential radical, but the shift towards a less grandiose form of urban renewal effectively turned residents into potential ‘partners’, to use contemporary parlance. For a couple of years in the beginning of 1980s the slogan of urban renewal was to ‘build for the neighborhood’ and residents indeed cooperated with the demolition and renewal operations that they had opposed so passionately earlier. By the early 1990s, urban development and housing were not contentious issues anymore and this is still the case today. Squatting common sense
This is actually quite surprising. The current municipal government plans to cut social housing by half in just fifteen years. The current general view is that there is ‘too much’ social housing, even though waiting lists have not gotten any shorter. Moreover, urban renewal is once again designed to drive people out of the city center. Every neighborhood that now has a predominance of social housing will be transformed to make space for the middle class. Residents who are currently living in designated areas will largely have to move elsewhere. The more popular neighborhoods will become altogether inaccessible as the government plans to create ‘top neighborhoods’ for the cultural and economic elites. Once again, social-spatial engineers are viewing the city and its housing stock as an anachronism, as something that does not meet current demands and that needs to be restructured, differentiated and transformed into something altogether different. Yet there is no sign that these ambitions will meet resistance. How is this possible? Let us look into the process through one exception that confirms the rules: the resistance of the resident group Slim Blijven (Stay Smart) against the demolition of 93 social housing units in an Amsterdam neighborhood called Oosterparkbuurt. This case is by no means representative, but I choose it because of my own involvement and because it involves all the major players active in the Nieuwmarkt: the municipality, housing associations, resident groups, squatters, experts and political parties. Yet the balance of power between these different actors had changed and it is this difference that explains why the Nieuwmarkt resistance forced the authorities to reconsider their course while the Oosterparkbuurt resistance merely constituted another obstacle. The Oosterparkbuurt is located just outside of the city center. Significant concentrations of unemployment and poverty that were evident in the 1990s had largely disappeared by 2000. The result is that the area is central, pleasant and affordable. Yet the housing association and the neighborhood council saw problems:
parties, experts and activists arguing in favor of an alternative plan designed such that people could stay, one that would accommodate civil society associations and include more affordable housing. After several debates and many lobbying efforts, the neighborhood council accepted a motion that demanded that Ymere negotiate with residents about the content of their plan. Ymere refused. At present it is still unclear whether Ymere will yield to pressure to look into the residents’ alternative plan and investigate whether it is feasible. The alderman has indicated to the council that it is impossible to change Ymere’s plan, but a majority of the council seems to feel that Ymere must consider alternatives. It is important to point out that none of the things Ymere did are exceptional. Housing associations control most of the planning process and enjoy the full support of government, so residents always have to fight against a coalition that has a virtual monopoly over information. What is exceptional is that this information became available. In other Amsterdam areas slated for renewal such as Nieuw West, Noord or the Bijlmermeer, residents are much less likely to probe so deeply into the decision-making processes. And why would they? The whole process is designed to achieve maximum individual benefit rather than collective engagement.5 It is precisely the individualization of the policy process that allows the authorities – housing associations and governments – to independently redesign the neighborhood. Apart from division of residents into various legal categories, the goal of dispersal encourages residents to detach themselves from their living environments. In that sense, ‘t Blijvertje is the exception of collective resistance that confirms the rule of silent departure. This exceptional case also serves to highlight some other differences between urban renewal then and now. A differentiated and differentiating mass operation
The first and most obvious difference is the scale. Then as now, the government and its associates planned to transform the entire city to maximally exploit its potential. Now, however, its instruments are subtle and differentiated enough to convince, compensate or confront possible opponents one by one. The Slim Blijven project is part of a plan to renew 373 out of Ymere’s 876 housing units in this neighborhood between 2005 and 2010.6 This is a typical plan in that it divides a neighborhood into different projects and deals with them one by one rather than in one massive sweep. Since people usually protest only when their houses are at stake, this means that resistance against this massive transformation agenda is small-scale and disparate. Another difference is that the individualizing strategy ensures that conflicts of interest between different groups of residents become more pronounced and reinforce cleavages that have been widened by what Wacquant refers to as the decomposition of working class areas.7 For some residents a relocation fee of 5,000 euros and urgency housing reassignment status is sufficiently convincing. They get bigger housing at a better location and they can afford the higher rent. Other groups, as Van der Zwaard shows, particularly migrant families and (predominantly Dutch) elderly, achieve little in terms of housing quality, often ArchiHome http://archihome.taobao.com
‘the Oosterparkbuurt is not a problem neighborhood but it is a neighborhood that has problems’. As everyone familiar with policy lingo knows, such a statement has the character of a magic spell: it basically means that the entire neighborhood must be reconfigured so that these ‘problems’ can be tackled. Of course the biggest problem from the perspective of the housing associations is that the area contains many houses that ‘do not meet the demands of our time’ – another magic spell. To complete the magic formula the authorities say that ‘doing nothing is not an option’. Thus the residents had to move. When the formal decision for demolition had been taken, many tenants in fact had already left the complex and been replaced by temporary tenants and so-called anti-squatters.2 But after 70 per cent of the regular tenants had departed, one veteran activist wrote a note to the residents stating what nobody had said before, namely that demolition was a political decision. A number of residents suddenly woke up. They had not involved themselves with the planning process but they now questioned whether demolition was inevitable. For many of these residents this process of politicization was a trip down memory lane – like many Amsterdammers, including large numbers of politicians, they had a background as activists or squatters. Some tenants had been legalized in their current home.3 Once the action gathered steam, political parties, especially the Socialist Party, also took an interest. The residents also invited squatters to occupy the apartments that had not (yet) been filled with temporary residents. The squatters, tenants and some temporary residents turned one apartment into a little neighborhood center that served as a home base of many activities. The center – ‘t Blijvertje (the little stayer) – came to symbolize what was threatened: an environment that is affordable and diverse with respect to age, ethnicity and, to some extent, income. A space, moreover, that is designed with the express purpose to conserve a sometimes disturbing but more often stimulating confusion.4 Such preservation efforts are simultaneously moments of creation. Practices of unsolicited appropriation cultivate intense attachments to a place; the space is made ‘ours’ through interaction rituals that may be positive or negative but always heighten the emotional engagement with the place and its people. The process of politicization opened up the black box of decision-making that usually remains closed. Residents discovered that the municipality had conducted a survey to assess whether there was support for the demolition plan although residents had not been aware that this survey was for this purpose. After all, the interviewer had presented them with only one option (demolition) and just asked them what type of housing they would like if they had to relocate. So the residents felt they had been tricked. As some residents looked closer into the planning process leading up to the decision to demolish they found all sorts of flaws: some (critical) residents had not been included in the survey; residents who questioned the forced relocation were categorized as having agreed with the plan, and so on. It later became apparent that the physical condition of the buildings was not as bad as housing corporation Ymere had reported. These findings served as political ammunition for political
pay more rent and suffer from the disruption of their social ties.7 However these groups are disinclined to assertive action to wrest concessions. The general pattern that Van der Zwaard observed was also evident in the Oosterparkbuurt. Some of the people most opposed to the plans complied because they felt they could not do anything. Then there is a group of precarious residents who really have no legal rights: they have been given this housing because they can be moved at will (anti-squatters). A third difference is that even well-organized residents have less chance to wrest concessions. Housing has suffered major budget cuts and privatization. Administrators who question the general strategy of using renewal to make way for the middle classes have considerable difficulty working with housing associations. This is what happened in Amsterdam-Oost when its sub-council alderman Jelle Prins demanded concessions from housing associations to the point where the latter threatened to cease cooperation with neighborhood council policies. In the past – when Ymere was still a public association9 – this would have had undermined the housing association’s position but now things were reversed; without the housing associations, Prins could not successfully pursue urban renewal. His successor, Germaine Princen, made improvement of the city’s relationship with the housing associations the cornerstone of her policy, which perhaps explains why residents have had such a difficult time convincing her to look at their alternative plan.
Urban renewal is of course a necessity, but it should be appropriated to improve residents’ position and to counter rather than exploit social decomposition. This would mean that residents gain from investments that are being made in their neighborhoods; these investments now too often seem more like a threat than a blessing. Let me make a modest but practical proposal: make social engineering a joint process. I hope it will resonate with moderate as well as radical supporters of resident engagement. I count governments among those supporters since they never fail to express their commitment to promote civic engagement. The proposal is to create an institution to support residents who face an urban renewal operation. There are already institutions charged with this task, but they are increasingly financed by the very parties that have every interest in promoting the transformation, namely housing associations. An independent institution financed by the central government or the European Union would be able to partly redress the power imbalances between residents and authorities with respect to organization and expertise. Organization: in practice resident groups often include a small selection of the residents. It is not a problem that 90 per cent of the residents are not actively involved in an urban renewal operation, but it is important that the 10 percent who are be responsive to the diverse interests of others. There is plenty of research to suggest that a joint focus on the living environment can act as a counterweight to such sociological phantoms as multicultural dramas, individualization or privatization.10
Expertise: knowledge of the law, policy measures and architectural design often prove indispensable for authoritatively making a point and constructive comments. Architects, lawyers and other professionals tend to support their financers and this means that residents are left with little else other than moral outrage when they seek to influence the planning process. Under such conditions it is not surprising that engaged residents get a reputation for gratuitous criticism rather than constructive engagement. This proposal is, of course, just one little part of a much larger strategy to promote resident engagement. It is addressed to the government, perhaps as a result of a habit in my line of research to always address the state even when one writes about civic engagement. The proposal is also meant for professionals, residents and academics involved in sociospatial processes; there are good reasons to support residents, especially when you are not paid to do so. If there is one lesson to be learned from research into social capital and civil society, it is that the authorities need citizens to prevent them from making plans that only work in their own imagination.11
7 8 9 10 11
Merijn Oudenampsen, ‘Amsterdam – TM’, in: BAVO (ed.) Urban Politics Now. Re-imagining Democracy in the Neoliberal City. Rotterdam (NAI Publishers), 2007. The difference between these two groups is that the former pay rent and the latter do not, but they share in common that they do not enjoy the considerable tenant protection provided by Dutch law. Legalization was common in the 1980s but not anymore. It basically means that squatters start paying rent and thus become tenants. There are certainly hundreds but probably thousands legalized squats in Amsterdam. Edward Soja, ‘The stimulus of a little confusion. A contemporary comparison of Amsterdam and Los Angeles’, in: M.P. Smith (ed.) After Modernism. Global Restructuring and the Changing Boundaries of City Life (Comparative Urban and Community Research, volume 4), 1992. Joke van der Zwaard, ‘Zwaksten het slechtste af. Herstructurering als survival of the fittest’, TSS. Tijdschrift voor Sociale Vraagstukken no. 5, 2008, pp. 22-25. The 373 social housing units subject to renewal would be renovated, demolished and/or merged. Some of these would be reserved for the elderly, but the large majority would be allocated to middle class households who can afford to pay rent in excess of the limit for social housing (circa 650 euros per month). Of the houses not renewed, 25 per cent would be sold in this five-year period. Loïc J. Wacquant, Urban outcasts. A comparative sociology of advanced marginality. Cambridge (Polity Press) 2007. See note 4. All (state funded) housing corporations in the Netherlands were privatized in the early 1990s. See: Justus Uitermark, ‘Temper de transformatiedrift met bewonersparticipatie’, Stadscahiers no.1, 2007, pp. 36-42. Scott lists the absence of a strong civil society as a contributing factor to ultimately disastrous policies: James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State. How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven (Yale University Press), 1998; Putnam shows that disparate citizens are unable to enforce effective government: Robert D. Putnam, Making Democracy Work. Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton NJ (Princeton University Press), 1993.
The Mighty Model: Mock-Ups in Close-Up Gabu Heindl, Drehli Robnik If social engineering is associated with control, the model is its ultimate embodiment. The model itself is subject to control and expression of the desire to exercise control in the real world. That is why some architects do not want to produce finished models. They view the model as a testing ground, a catalyst in the design process; they do not want it understood or seen as miniature reality. With their project â€˜Mock-ups in Closeupâ€™ Gabu Heindl and Drehli Robnik move in another direction, presenting the miniature mock-up in movies as power critique in disguise.
complex physical models – which seems obsessive and redundant in times of fast digital modeling. This quasi-power economy of the model is quite nicely addressed in the 2001 Hollywood ‘problem picture’ Life As A House, in which a model builder in a big architectural office (Kevin Kline) is accused by a younger, more flexible co-worker of taking too much time to place grass on a model. Model Extraction
‘Mock-ups in Close-up’ is an ongoing research and video project which collects architectural models in movies the result being an ever-growing video. Running in chronological order from Fritz Lang´s 1927 ‘Metropolis’ through to ‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry’ (the last of the films released in 2007), the currently 103-minute long video shows feature film scenes (shots or whole sequences rather than scenes in the narrower sense) which include architectural models. Over a period of several years we found architectural models in 97 different films. We are still counting and still gladly accepting tips. [As an aside, we are quite aware of the degree to which our video can be approached through the perspective of a critique of the ‘ethical turn’ (Rancière) in art and politics. In one of our talks given at Storefront for Art and Architecture after the premiere screenings of ‘Mock-ups in Close-up’ we suggested comprehending our video along a critical path leading toward the irreducibility of history to cozy phenomenology, toward a remainder of history. Ethical here refers to localization and habit, to the parading of cinephile memorabilia that would testify to a sense of a shared world in the form of a homely biotope of images; history is understood here as that which thwarts such an understanding by disallowing it to totalize itself.] Our project involves a method of self-restriction – especially in making the video: ‘Mock-ups in Closeup’ is a compilation that does not deal with architecture or architects in film, but strictly with analog architectural models in film. This is one aspect of what we would call ‘playing dumb’, i.e., our stubborn procedure of collecting every movie scene with a model in it we could find and then presenting them chronologically. We quite consciously refrained from producing some kind of ‘video essay’ which would offer comments on the relationship between cinema and architecture. Also, we did not group the models in any ‘meaningful’ way, not even according to similarities. What we refrained from was ordering knowledge such that the perceptible and the ‘sayable’ would be integrated meaningfully as to allow the video to ‘say something about’ models or have its audience ‘see something’ concerning models. And by subjecting ourselves to this compiling with as little epistemology as possible, we tried to avoid the traps of certain subjectivities, especially the subjectivity of the expert, the knowing artist, etc. Let us move from knowledge to power. Speaking of power in the Foucaultian sense of the term (or rather, in the sense of Deleuze’s reconfiguration of the Foucaultian tripartition of the orders of knowledge, power, and subjectivization), one could say that by playing dumb and compiling architectural models in movies chronologically, we remained stubbornly within the order of power, submitting to an implied force that propelled us from one year and model to the next. Remaining with Foucault for a moment, if we turn from power as a relation of forces subjecting other forces to a neighboring set of practices, namely to the capacity for goal-oriented action upon things, then it can be amusing to see how our ‘power game’ of selfsubmission resembled physical model building itself. Obsessively collecting every model from every sort of film can be compared to the building of detailed,
Our video extracts models from their place or nonplace (their chance appearance at the edge of the frame or caught during a camera pan) within the narratives of individual movies. We displaced the filmed models. Yet models are always themselves already displacements. Any architectural model is a displacement in space, time and scale; its cinematic imaging is an intensified display of this displacement and its displacement into our video adds another layer to this process. Models are displaced from the sites of the buildings they represent. Thus regardless of how much of the environment a model may include, it is still the product of purification, an emptying of context. Models – in film as in life – are found in architecture studios or in investment firm offices, in presentation halls or storage facilities. Our video seeks this displacement-out-of-context by isolating the random moment of the model’s appearance from its cinematic environment. But of course our quest to extract the model from everything around it produces the inverse effect. Context re-enters through the back door. (Maybe this is what history is about.) Film as an automated recording cannot but register what is around the model – with hierarchies of importance frequently being undone by our editing (in the extracts it is no longer possible to tell whether what you see and hear in connection to the model was significant within the structure of the movie or just audiovisual ‘noise’ necessary to balance the story and enhance its realism). So the model finds a new context through extraction and similarities between extracts. A model hardly ever comes all by itself; we do not get to see the ‘naked model’ in the video. Many movie models come with their architects or commissioners attached to them in scenes which almost ritually start with a door being opened and a model entering the room, as it were, accompanied by its human servo-mechanism, the dynamic architect. Very often in movies an architectural model is used in preparation for a mission of some kind: a military commando raid or a criminal scheme. This connection of model and mission highlights the quality of the model as a display of architecture displaced in time. We know from architectural practice and teaching that models can serve either a prospective or retrospective function, can be a tool for the design process to continue or a representation of the result. In our movie clips the retrospective function of models is often linked to investigations, such as clarifying the collapse of a bridge, or, more famously, reconstructing the circumstances of JFK´s assassination. In these cases the model’s role within a power relation seems to feed directly into the register of knowledge: it serves to control a past situation by rendering it visible and subjecting this perceptibility to the possibility of making statements.
Hands Over the City (Le mani sulla cittĂ , 1963), director Francesco Rosi
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More prominent in architecture as in the movies is, of course, the prospective temporality of models. This is about having an overview and control over something that will be: a building yet to be built or a mission yet to be accomplished. This goes for all the Goldfinger-type scenes of someone using a stick to point out what will happen at what time at a certain location displayed in the model. From the 1960s to the 1980s there were a whole class of stick-users visà-vis the model of a bank to be robbed or a castle to be raided, of talkative planners who wield their pointing tool like a scepter representing their power over what is to happen in a space displayed in front of them. If the temporal displacement of the model always involves power – not just a capacity to do something to objects, but a relation between forces and agents in a social field, then this is very clearly highlighted by the model’s displacement in scale and by the way the film images interact with this displacement. To take the scene from the beginning of the 1962 Italian film Le mani sulla cittá – Hands Over the City, even if we do not use the DVD’s subtitle function to translate the oligarchic Neapolitan city father for a non-Italian speaking audience, the imagery and scale of the scene make evident what the film’s title suggests: the all-male group of politicians, city planners and investors really have a grip upon the city whose miniature they surround. The model of Naples´ city expansion which they want to relocate for reasons of profit is a white and purified abstraction from the contingencies, unpredictabilities and dirt of everyday urban life. The scene reveals a power relations in an almost sovereign structure of god-like magnitude, overview and unlimited freedom to act vis-à-vis the miniaturized city. The investors are ‘before’ the city in every sense of the word: not immersed in it spatially, not co-present with it, but ahead of it with their plans. Big Men before small houses: men here really means male protagonists – with one of the few female architects in our video compilation, Michelle Pfeiffer in One Fine Day, being shown as an overworked single mother who drops and ruins her model. The Big-MenSmall-Houses-structure figures cinematically as evidence of the degree to which power is seen as monstrous, unbearable, obscene: Peter Ustinov’s Nero wallowing in (rather than in front of) his huge panoramic model of a new Rome to be built on the ashes of an old one, or the Hitler figurations in recent German cinema and TV gazing out of the whiteness of Albert Speer’s Berlin/Germania model are strong examples here. This structure, however, very quickly reaches the limits of its productivity as a critique of (social, economic, political) power as soon as it crosses the line along which Hands Over the City had kept suspended with its sober imaging. Its impetus makes excessive capital power visible and knowable. The extension of the scale into an attempted ‘naming of the culprit’ produces rather nasty effects of surplus knowledge in the form of resentment. In this manner Gladiator’s liberal critique of populist entertainment culture taking over power from republican politics shows us the huge hand and face of another Roman emperor placing toy gladiators in the arena of a physical coliseum model; the scene not only relies on an ‘imperial’ scale, but is part of a ‘self-critical’ condemnation of glamorous, unmanly and visibly gay aspects of entertainment culture. When, in a
similar vein, Idi Ami’s grinning, oversized face pops up next to what at first appeared as a part of a city (and is retrospectively recognized as the image of a high-rise model) in The Last King of Scotland, the mise-en-scène arguably toys with associations of King Kong’s mug next to a modern skyscraper; thus, it is only within the framework of a neo-colonial, racist imaginary that the film achieves its exposure of ‘rogue state dictators’ as paradigmatic incarnations of ‘terrorism’ and, at the same time, of the danger of recognizing them too late for what they are within the discourse of postpolitical consensus. Model Destruction
If models are so deeply involved in power relations then, some of our movie extracts insinuate, destroying the model is sometimes the only way to change the set-up of control. While this is a rather blunt reaction to the power inherent to the model, we find a more subtle (once we might have said: subversive) approach in two clips from films with and by Jacques Tati: In Playtime Tati shows us that everything might be a miniature model, with a radio in the foreground resembling the modern architecture in the background; in Playtime’s short-feature spin-off Cours du soir (Evening Classes), the very same towers in the background are revealed to be actual miniatures in the self-revealing final shot of the film. Finally, such playing with scale amounts to an outright playing dumb with even more comical effect when the abstraction of the model is refused to be understood. The prospective power of the model is undermined when Fred Flintstone, in the 1994 bigscreen version of the stone-age family sitcom, suggests to his new boss at the building company that the house he holds in his hands might be too small for future inhabitants. Even more of a refusal to understand is the way in which a scene in Zoolander extends the taking for 1:1 of a school model into a seemingly never-ending, awkward dialogue (instead of using it as the concluding gag of a comical scene as in the Flintstones example). In the process of unfolding a ‘taking literal’ of the model which completely ignores its abstraction in scale, the commissioner character played by Ben Stiller even comes up with a solution: what he sees as ‘a building for ants’ must, he suggests, ‘be at least three times bigger than this!’. This might bring us back, although not neatly, to an idea which we brought up at the start of this article: the potential usefulness of playing dumb when it comes to questioning or undoing the control aspects of knowledge, power and subjectivization. Along these lines, ‘Mock-ups in Close-up’ tries to avoid some of the traps inherent in a hermeneutics of wanting to show and know what is behind the image of the model, as well as in an ethos of cinephilia that would want to find familiarity and self-awareness in a parade of great film scenes. Stubbornly showing every movie scene which includes a model we could find in an order no more refined than mere chronology, we at least try to keep intact the hope of forcing history and the critique of power back into the picture, through the model’s back-door.
Mock-ups in Close-Up was shown publicly for the first time in March and April 2008 at Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York.
One Fine Day (1996), director Michael Hoffman
Zoolander (2001), director Ben Stiller
The Downfall (Der Untergang, 2004), director Oliver Hirschbiegel
Just before the turn of the century, the end of history and the fall of the centralized city were proclaimed. Instantly, we were all inhabitants of a generic city in a one-dimensional society – beyond ideology, beyond identity, and beyond morality. Liberated from that emotional clouding of our society, all we needed to do was focus on the sustainable and effective organization of economy and space in our global suburb. At last we could steadily achieve world-wide prosperity, assisted by managers, experts and their consultants. How humiliating was the actual turn of events! At the start of the new century, we saw the emergence of new ideologies, great and small. Ideologies aimed against Islam, terror, migrants, the West or decadence, or, on contrary, ideologies advocating freedom, justice and independence. Great and small contrasts between groups and ‘the powers that be’ created new interdependencies and new, all-round identities. The great quantitative programs intended to produce order and development, like the Structural Adjustment Programs of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, are highly criticized, the World Trade organizations and international development organizations are being ridiculed for being neo-imperialist. Suspicion and deprivation are in fact growing on a universal scale. The world has become a village of cosmic proportions. And the awareness of this tremendous scale in our society in relation to the complex global connection between local communities is leading to a greater feeling of impotence. The managers of prosperity have proved to be crisis managers without success formulas. There is an immediate need for reactivation of the utopian mentality: a vision-based, quest for inter ventions generating local improvement. Thinking great is not the problem, large-scale social experimentation the more so. So: a plea for a new style of social engineering – behavior-steering inspired by local wisdom, with a braver society as its universal goal.
After Post, Ex, Neo, End and Re Manifesto Christian Ernsten and Joost Janmaat
than the ponderous combination of dream + power + absence of resistance. Although national players are usually the ones claiming responsibility for progress in society, and propagate most emphatically ideologies about their dreams for better societies, other social engineers have always been with us. In commerce, in architecture, in the sciences, in the media, the churches and advertising. Those groups, too, have guided changes, with their specific tools. But they claimed less responsibility, or else did not act on behalf of all society. One of the foremost contemporary theaters for the makeability show, where the titans meet in a liberation war with a clearly commercial/political ideology, is probably Iraq. With strong political will, an intimidating amount of money and power, plus a long troika of sub-contractors, attempts are being made to pound a new society out of the ground. That is the extrapolation of old-style makeability, making society from above. However, an entirely different kind of makeability is coming about in entirely different theaters. The very lack of political clout and financial resources obliges state or city to join forces with other makers: branding agencies, spin doctors, housing associations, investors, but land owners, press officers and interest groups as well. In a combination of public, semi-public, private and semi-private projects, working together or against one another, they shape socio-economic and spatial development. It is not particularly difficult to make a stand against the old power-makeability and the newer diffuse makeability projects. In both cases the projects can be described as having an a- or even anti-social character. They are still authoritarian, hierarchical and control- and will-driven. Accordingly, the attempt to generate successfully an equal amount of dream power and decisiveness is far more interesting; that makes use of applied experience, and local knowledge and skill. The aim is to create an operating perspective, after all the great ideas have seemingly lost their legitimacy.
How? To start with, because these days every individual or group can acquire the tools of advertising, politics, design, media and commerce. Many of the power, media and technology barriers have disappeared, and thus the road leading to a change in mentality is now clear. There is room to move away from the arrogance and dominance of experts – away with conceit based on status and jargon. On the contrary, bring in respect ArchiHome http://archihome.taobao.com
* Social engineering is a controversial term harking back to the politics of apartheid and the ‘white man’s burden’, but also post-colonial projects in Africa, and Stalin’s experiments in the Soviet Union. Moreover, the term crops up in the context of utopian and modernist architecture, as found in the garden cities all over the world. In spite of its tainted past, the word deserves a new interpretation. After all, Social Engineering, the practice of changing society intentionally, is more
down – the bigger the market, the more fragmented the identity. That need not be a problem; it can also force us to take a new focus. If we are to shape our society further we must look beyond the masses. And modern technology enables us to do just that; individuals can publish, mobilize and create. A focus on the personal aspect is a way to give individuals a role in the transformation of their own world. Consequently, our focus is on maintenance work and inspiration for positive renewal. Although change happens automatically, improvement does not. It requires continuous commitment. And for drastic interventions in society it is essential to have a seeker’s mentality in order to keep design dynamic. We do not aim at participative projects as such, but projects in which maintenance of society is combined with a change in mentality in all participants: bureaucrats, entrepreneurs, professionals, scientists and citizens. In that way positive change occurs ‘from inside’ and ‘from outside’, without global scaling up leading to mental scaling down.
for experience and commitment, both inside and outside institutions. Expertise is based far more on trial and error than on charisma and rhetoric. An important paradigm for the new-style social engineer is the disbelief in utopia, a disbelief in the creation of a society that is excessively superior to the one we are living in. It means ideological rhetoric loses its purpose and the tools necessary for positive social change occupy central stage. Just think of a cocktail of the DIY-culture and a quest for talent and quality as found in the ideas of the Enlightenment. A renewed interest and a desire to take your own makeability and your personal living environment as the starting points for a makeable society. Let us reveal more of our credentials: we are interested in the way IKEA popularized interior design and H&M democratized fashion, but we also have questions about sustainability and originality. We strive to include participants in society in the transformation process without losing steering power. So social engineering is commitment and active participation. After all, society is a social undertaking, an assembly of convenient coalitions between individuals in which discussions on justice and equality vis-à-vis power and design determine degree and pace. In this undertaking, the debate on the application and influence of knowledge is very important, both materially and psychologically. It is a debate about the organization and transformation of the built and the cultural environment. *
Apart from entailing a different mentality, new-style social engineering also constitutes a specific approach to society. You often hear about the distinction between planners and seekers, in the framework of a developing economy. Planners are in the business of realizing a development agenda based on lucid data, a clear strategy, a belief in progress and the support of a state On the other hand, there is the practice-based seeker. A seeker proceeds from an awareness of society’s complexity, thus on an aversion to simplifications of reality, seeking to tie in with local, existing practices for change. These are initiatives that have proved themselves by trial and error. Seekers are more like facilitators of solutions that had already been found locally. They do not necessarily find answers, but only more questions sometimes. The seeking approach is the more appealing to us. Seeking makes social engineering a research praxis: you can better understand society by way of interventions and the reactions they produce. A radical break from the old school, in which social engineering primarily presumed a social approach following a set pattern. In any case, questions are necessary because society as a social organism changes – something that requires repeated redefinition of the relationship between identity and space. Every change is a rearrangement of the puzzle. And so the fixation on end products or the focus on meeting planning agendas is pointless. In the short term, end products rule out certain changes and the concomitant responses, but in the long term they do not provide a lasting improvement. There are, moreover, unpleasant side effects to development control. Added to which, political and economic scaling up always results in mental scaling
Ultimately, we believe social engineering is equivalent to taking responsibility for change in everyone’s immediate surroundings. It also stands for applying the human scale as your benchmark. The human scale can maintain equilibrium in relationships within society. Some very important questions are involved: how do people relate to their surroundings and what determines who they are or who they think they are and where they want to belong, or who they would – or would not – like to be? The personal aspect is the safeguard against the totalitarian aspect. For the social engineer, idealist dreams exist to live for, yet an ultimate society does not exist. That realization demands humility and self-relativity when our environment is engineered. Social engineering covers a challenging combination of responsibility and desire, of modest ambitions and great dreams, of question and answer. It is, therefore, a praxis that demands acceptance of moral contradictions and openness towards unknown knowledge. A praxis that is on the move, because action is analysis, or leap before you look; only with an unremitting realization of freedom and an unremitting application of change will new wisdom and new worlds be born.
Media Labs and Open Societies Andrew Bullen Media are powerful. Digital media represent a uniquely powerful and pervasive tool, capable of exerting a profound effect on all aspects of human progress through the creation, application and distribution of new social or cultural value and identity. Digital media can promote democratization, empowerment, cross-disciplinary collaboration and can redefine the meaning of community. These media will also radi cally influence such critical areas as health care, education, social services and government in the com ing years. In other words, media play a critical role in creating social and cultural value and identity.
Those professionally engaged in media research and development often describe their places of work as media ‘labs’. The use of the word ‘lab’ is significant: a place where media are subjected to scientific experimentation and exploration with the rigorous application of methods similar to engineering techniques. At the centre of this ‘scientific’ experimentation is the cultural impact of media, the dialogue between man and technology. The ultimate target of such experimentation is the progress of mankind. In this article I will address an approach to ‘engineering society’ from the perspective of a media professional in line with an admirable definition of ‘social engineering’ provided by digital media in the form of YourDictionary.com after a cursory scan of Google search engine results: ‘…the application of methods regarded as similar to engineering techniques in their emphasis on practicality, efficiency, and moral neutrality in an effort to solve a social problem or improve the condition of society.’ In line with the noble aspirations of the Founding Media Lab Fathers at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning back in 1980, we will examine the potential of media methods, technologies and applications to ‘invent a better future’ with and for humanity. A Collaborative Vision
In the autumn of 2007 I was fortunate enough to sit together at PICNIC1 Amsterdam with some twenty media specialists from leading international media labs to discuss values, conditions and methods critical to shaping or ‘engineering’ the future. For a diverse crowd of individuals from around the world, the participants were in remarkable agreement, even in their choice of language: the vision and design of the future should be people-shaped, open, fluid and interdisciplinary, a creative community or interactive agora which enables dialogue between all parties, articulates real human needs and provides a common culture to design and problem solve together. In early May 2008 I was inspired to broach the very same subject again with the organizers of Creative Construct2 in Ottawa. The setting was less formal – a long, relaxed and decidedly convivial post-conference dinner – and the group was more diverse – city hall planners and fixers, arts and conference organizers, creatives from the arts and theatre – but the vision and language were remarkably similar: people focused, collaborative, interactive, engaged, relational, outreach, partnerships, connections.3 One principle was overwhelming: a task as existential as designing the future should be left neither to brilliant individualists, however creative, nor political lobbyists, however powerful. Engineering society for a complex world must be a participatory affair, drawing in all pertinent disciplines and social layers.
Diversity in a Complex World
The need for multiple, diverse participation in the drive to understand and find solutions for the needs of a highly complex modern world seems to be gaining general acceptance. We live in an increasingly multilayered, multi-cultural society. The question Edward Lorenz posed as a basis for his Chaos Theory, ‘does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a
tornado in Texas?’, no longer seems as provocative or far-fetched in these days of environmental and sustainability awareness as it may have in 1972. Equally, the understanding of social and cultural diversity and the positive potential force of this identity is a critical factor in the further progress, indeed the survival of mankind. A biotope needs to maintain an equilibrium of biodiversity if it is to survive. In the same way, society needs to understand, promote and integrate diversity if it is to flourish. As theorist Milka Aaltonen from the Millennium Project Planning Committee says: ‘One of the reasons many real-world problems appear difficult to resolve is that single causes are sought even though such problems arise from the interaction of multiple, underlying and inter-related causes. Rarely is it possible to perceive and define a problem, then design an appropriate intervention and finally elect a single course of action. More often the biggest challenge is making sense of what is really happening and identifying those factors which success or failure consists of.’4 If our values around diversity are shared, as was clear from my meeting with the two groups mentioned above, the question then remains of how most effectively to achieve the vision. If we are to embrace diversity we also need to develop participatory and open systems. Open, collaborative systems are positive and productive in many ways; they allow for a far greater scale and frequency of innovation through the sharing of content and information; they transcend and transform fixed and outmoded patterns and structures through ‘disruptive’ creative thinking, and they move the product closer to the end-user by integrating him as co-creator. Open Systems Thinking
So how can open and collaborative systems be used to engineer and design our future, particularly our future urban spaces? On one level the need to adopt open and disruptive, connective ‘brainstorming’ and conceptualizing techniques seemed to be shared by the media specialists at PICNIC, the speakers of the Masters of Intervention series and the planners and creatives at Creative Construct. At PICNIC we used philosopher Humberto Schwab’s5 value ladders, appreciative enquiries, participatory Socratic Discourse and future narratives. Michael Shamiyeh, my debating partner at the Masters of Intervention6, argued for the architect’s ‘synthetic’ thinking as opposed to inappropriate linear modes of thought. The ensuing discussion also focused on the advantages of building future scenarios around probable and improbable trends in order to develop plausible alternatives for an uncertain future around a shared vision. Sir Ken Robinson, brilliant educationalist and thinker and a fellow speaker at Creative Construct in Ottawa, emphasized the need for children to be allowed to develop creativity in a naturally interdisciplinary way, seeing the world as a myriad of diverse possibilities with visual, sound and movement connections.7 It was frightening to see Sir Ken’s examples of how this creative, ‘diverse’ mode of thinking is ‘educated’ out of children at a young age.
Interactive Media as a Participative Public Space
The online world is a rapidly growing, public space with an unprecedented level of communication and information flow where users take a significant interest in their digital and physical surroundings and express their feelings and ideas with creativity and engagement. It would be negligent and counter-productive to omit the potential of interactive digital participation from the social and cultural planning and design process, particularly with regard to urban spaces. We are living in a time when citizens increasingly participate in creative processes. New software and online games are increasingly being produced and distributed by end users themselves. Social networks are recognized as a critical marketing factor and new forms of peerto-peer networking and communication are giving rise to a new paradigm for learning. Smart mobs, as documented by Howard Rheingold, can be a powerful, immediate and effective means of social intervention.8 Bloggers can spark the rise or fall of major politicians. Wikipedia-type information sources are challenging the hegemony of closed and proprietary systems. Even eminent, traditional broadcasters such as the BBC now openly distribute their precious video content to be further co-developed by their enthusiastic end users. Indeed, Creative Digital Industries could not exist without cohorts of ‘creating’ end users. These users make up an increasingly significant part of a new, diverse and innovative supply chain comprising not only creative professionals but also traditional consumers, clients and communities. This is the dawn of the user as co-creator and that process is made more effective by digital interactive channels. Integrating the cultural design
Interactive, grass-roots interactive participation can make an invaluable contribution to the future modeling of the community particularly at the level of specific
urban design. I recently saw an excellent 3D tool developed to model whole new areas of Barcelona for presentation to the citizens. In addition to the brilliant quality of the representation, what amazed me was that the graphic models were shown only to concerned citizens after completion. How much more effective would such models be were they to represent an ongoing and dynamic image of the needs and aspirations of the whole community? Developers and planners can actually learn from user data for it can sometimes provide unexpected outcomes and unique insights into behavioral patterns. Online modeling systems can use dynamic, digital user input to tag the city and map the culture and emotions of its citizens in order to create a multilayered, multi-dimensional model in which physical planning data is connected and mapped to emotional data: the fears, hopes and identity of the community. Such pioneering development work is being carried out by Sandbox9 in Preston in Northwest England as part of the process of integrating grass-roots local culture and identity into ambitious urban development plans. In this way it is possible to explore and integrate issues, views, expectations, social networks, rituals, habits, artifacts, landmarks, pathways and narratives into the physical landscape. As early as 2002 the Waag Society developed the Amsterdam Real-Time application which dynamically traced the routes taken by Amsterdam’s inhabitants through their city. Their means of transport, the location of their home and work, and other travel, together with each person’s ‘mental map’, determine the trace which he or she leaves behind producing a dynamic, up-to-date and very subjective map of Amsterdam.10 Sharing globally, building locally
Indeed, digital interactive media can have an even more direct, physical effect as a means of community planning production in the form of open fabrication labs, community centers of local fabrication, using a standardized set of flexible, digitally driven production tools such laser cutters, milling machines and 3D printers. This model, inspired by the Fablabs developed by Neil Gerschenfeld at the MIT Media Labs Center for Bits and Atoms, has tremendous potential to promote a more equally balanced, innovative and mutually beneficial form of economic, social and cultural development. Such organizations, whether in Africa, Western Europe or the USA, share best practice, experience, knowledge and networks to enable lowvolume production of customized physical goods by the local community for the local community and beyond. This form of ‘open’ innovation in a local culture – a regional focus within a mutually supportive national/international network – can radically stimulate development in developing countries in addition to enhancing economic sustainability and community identity in deprived areas within developed countries. At the heart of the Fabrication Labs concept is the use of easily accessible technology and standardized hardware tools which are simple to learn and use. The interactive and distributed sharing of knowledge and processing among network participants can be equally useful for a township in South Africa or Kenya as for a Bronx neighborhood in New York or indeed the incubator in Nairobi or Amsterdam. ArchiHome http://archihome.taobao.com
Offline Community versus Online Isolation?
On the level of open thinking and brainstorming we seem to be in agreement. There seems, however, to be less agreement on the use of media and particularly interactive, digital media as a valuable tool within the process of engagement and participation. The main objection, particularly from the corner of the traditional community and arts planners at Creative Construct in Ottawa, was the perception that online activity alienates the user from ‘real’ participation in the physical community. The very thought of online presence seems to conjure up the image of a pale, slouching youth sitting in a darkened room indifferent to the needs and aspirations of their physical neighborhood and interested merely in violent computer games or trivial online gossip. I was indeed reprimanded at a ‘Neighborhoods as Sites of Community and Cultural Development’ session for daring to suggest that a significant contribution to the cultural development of the physical community might be missed if potential online contributions were ignored. We should, I was told, be rediscovering and recreating spaces, culture and community where we can create common narrative and tell our stories to our neighbors on the street corner. And yet, what makes an online narrative less valuable than a chat in the shared neighborhood garden?
3D mapping of Barcelona from Barcelona Media
49 3D mapping of Barcelona from Barcelona Media
networks. To offer these individuals an integrated role within the process of cultural and social planning and design is to integrate large groups from social layers or generations which would otherwise be inaccessible. In the same way, interactive modeling tools offer immediate and effective feedback from all layers of the community. And last but not least, global digital interactive networks and applications allow us to share our visions, best practices, methodologies and information worldwide so we can apply this knowledge for optimum design and the realization of our future physical communities at the local level.
1 2 3
Empower to Engineer the Future 4
5 6 7
8 9 10
Cultural Mapping for City Development at Sandbox UCLAN, UK
We all aspire to a people-centered, strong local culture and community which is engaged, creative and in control of its own future planning and design. It would be foolish to claim that digital media offer a universal solution to these aspirations. Physical communities need strong and creative leaders who inspire local engagement and can engender political and business support. Communities also need inspiring and creative physical meeting places. Yet it would be equally foolish to ignore the potential of interactive media tools and networks. Many of our fellow citizens are highly experienced and creative in expressing their feelings, needs and aspirations through digital applications and social
www.picnicnetwork.org www.symposium2008.ca Many thanks to the organizers of the Creative Construct Symposium, particularly Debbie, Eileen, Nancy, Tessa, Sandy, Julie, Caroline and Kelsey. We developed a new form of simultaneous ‘slam prose’: a group of diverse people sit down at the same table to write the same article in the same, limited time. A coherent, finished article is not written, but it is an inspirational form of intense, interdisciplinary work. I can recommend the process. The Third Lens: Multi-Ontology Sense-Making and Strategic Decision-Making by Mika Aaltonen, Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2007 www.humbertoschwab.net www.partizanpublik.nl/index.php?page_id=3&product_id= 0&project_id=47 For a more detailed and entertaining explanation see Sir Ken Robinson’s highly acclaimed TED presentation: www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/66 Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution by Howard Rheingold, Perseus Publishing, September 2002 http://sandbox.uclan.ac.uk http://realtime.waag.org
In such Labs pre-fabricated houses are produced in South Africa, wireless antennae to provide internet access are produced from copper and a vinyl cutter in Kenya, cheap and efficient tools to measure the quality of milk or rice are made in Indian villages, jewelry and artistic laser etchings are designed, produced and sold in the South Bronx, New York. These are all instances where the global digital network has helped to stimulate local empowerment, collaboration, design and production with diverse physical communities worldwide. We at the Media Guild have also experienced a remarkable transition in ‘problem’ teenage school pupils who discover their creative and productive social capacity within open Fabrication Labs. And this final point: the use of knowledge shared though a global and interactive network but applied to great effect at the local community level is possibly one of the most critical components of the argument for the inclusion of interactive media tools in designing and engineering the future, whether in a densely populated urban neighborhood or an isolated community.
Principles of Great Stories Keep It Simple
Designing Society Peer 2 Peer Michel Bauwens The creator of the Foundation for P2P Alternatives, Michel Bauwens, advocates that the ‘peer to peer concept’ is not simply a technology but a revolutionary new way of democratic living: a radical new concept for production, governance and property. It’s not for nothing that Bauwens has been called the Karl Marx of the 21st century.
Another way to explain peer-production is the circulation of the common to show how prevalent it is in the world.1 Working together through self-aggregation requires open and free input as well as open and free raw materials. We see open and free movements emerging in every domain of social life which are attempting to free the raw materials, the open textbooks, open access publishing, open yoga, and open ayurveda. They are creating the possibility of this input to allow cooperation. The second process is participation. Peer-production is based on a design of inclusion. Most of our other methods are based on a design of exclusion. If some people think peer-production is utopian, they should realize that it is not based on altruism, but on the convergence of individual and collective interests. Thus anyone who wants to design a piece of software for Linux for his own benefit integrates his own project within a greater whole ensuring everyone profits from his contribution and that everyone, contributors or not, has access to the whole: ‘Give a brick, get a house’. We have open and free input, participatory processes, design and commons-oriented output. We are going to use those peer-property formats to ensure that what we produce we can also re-use for the same kind of social process. This circulatory mechanism is how peer-production emerges, reproduces and expands in the real world. What I want to stress in terms of the potential of peer-production is that it is not limited to business or production. We can peer-produce anything. You can exchange, cocreate knowledge and experience any practice. Peerproduction is something we can use in everyday social life. For the moment there are three basic business models emerging around peer-production.
The idea that the internet can nurture the spread of democracy is not technological determinism but a huge potential, an opportunity to do things differently. Whether we do so or not depends on many other factors such as power struggles and social tensions. The invention of the printing press is a valuable precedent. It liberated knowledge from the monopoly of ecclesiastical and feudal powers. It caused civil wars and assisted absolutist regimes, but in the end it disseminated information, at least in what are today the western, democratic countries. This is a similar situation, we have an opportunity. Not everything is going to go well, but for people who want to change the world, who want more freedom and equality, it would be a mistake to leave these tools unused. I therefore focus on how P2P network tools can be used to create this better world. I shall first define P2P. You may be familiar with P2P-filesharing. P2P activates the human dynamic. It’s the relational dynamic in distributed networks. It’s important that we differentiate decentralized networks (like traveling by airplane) from distributed networks (like traveling by car). In a distributive network individuals have the freedom to take action and build relationships without permission. P2P is also a permission-less system. The dramatic drop in coordination, transaction and communication costs amounts to a revolution in the ability to self-aggregate resources on a global scale. This aggregation is not a command and control system which tells people what to do. It’s an enormous collection of small groups which are governed by small group-dynamics, but are able to scale up to a global level. So today this massive collection of small groups involving tens or hundreds of thousands of people is able to create very complex social artifacts. It is creating three new social processes: 1. Peer-production
The ability to create value in common. 2. Peer-governance
The ability to manage those projects. This is very important. Democracy and hierarchy are means to allocate scarce resources via pricing, decisionmaking and/or negotiation. But if we are in a field of knowledge, culture or content in which people can self-aggregate their resources we are no longer talking about allocating scarce resources. Peergovernance is not democracy. It’s the process of self-aggregation and mutual accommodation that happens in peer-production. It is different because if you’re not paying me to do something, as happens with Linux and Wikipedia, then you have no decisionmaking power. We therefore have to find another process to coordinate our actions. This is what peergovernance is about.
The ability to protect the common value from private appropriation. When Richard Stallman created the general public license template for the free-software movement, it was because somebody had taken his work and privatized it and he had lost access to his own software. Peer-property is a mechanism whereby peer-production can socially reproduce itself.
1. Sharing paradigm
Companies such as Youtube, Google and Flickr no longer create value. They enable and empower the sharing of creative expression. Aggregating intention, the platform sells that intention to advertisers. People share use value rather than create exchange value. They’re operating according to a post-capitalist or non-capitalist logic and do so within a context of proprietary platforms which work in a capitalist society. 2. Commons-oriented model
In the first model we are individuals expressing ourselves; we have weak ties with each other and are therefore not seemingly able to sustain our own platforms. That’s why we need third parties. In the commons paradigm, like Linux and Wikipedia, you have to work together with other people. You can’t change a page in Wikipedia, if somebody else changes again, without enacting a strong relationship; whether you like it or not, you have to work together. The commons paradigm is a triarchy rather than a dual system. The previous system consisted of a sharing community and a propriety platform. In the commons paradigm however we have a community which produces through self-governance/ aggregation and we have for-profit institutions which manage the project’s scarce resources, i.e. the infrastructure a community needs to survive. And then we have the ecology of businesses which adds value to the
3. Distributive model/crowd sourcing model
This is the most capitalistic of the three models presented here. The crowd sourcing model is merely the self-aggregation of labor producing exchange value. The first two models use value and this one uses exchange value. People mainly produce things on their own. They are self-aggregating – that’s a P2P-aspect – but they are doing it for the market, for the platform. You might think that peer-production is limited to immaterial production. To reproduce material, we need to mobilize physical resources, but the design phase is an immaterial process. We can open source many physical things in the design phase, although we actually need physical resources to produce them. One of the things you can see in my Wiki (www.p2pfoundation.net) is the emergence of open design communities. People are actually getting together to design physical things. Why is peer-production so important? Peerproduction is in many cases the most productive way to make things. Paid products using closed proprietary software is the most endangered business-model because you either have competitors who will supply the immaterial and sometimes the material product for free and that proprietary intellectual property is increasingly difficult to protect. The legal and technological systems used to protect proprietary code are coming under increasing pressure. That makes room for the three other business models to emerge. Let’s look at forms of motivation and incorporation. Feudal and slave systems are based on coercion and extrinsically negative motivation. They are very costly systems to maintain. People do not work unless they are coerced. The genius of capitalism is that it replaces negative extrinsic motivation with positive extrinsic motivation, that is, with self-interest. The point is to exchange mutual value. This is a much more powerful system in terms of productivity, but there are inherent problems because production in that mode is motivated by self-interest. Second, one must look at all the externalities. The big weakness of capitalism is that it fails to take negative externalities (e.g., environ mental destruction) or positive externalities (e.g., social benefits) into account. Peer-production has neither negative extrinsic motivation nor positive extrinsic motivation because you’re not paid. It does have positive intrinsic motiva tion. The only motivation left is passion. Peer projects are collectively sustainable, but not individually. How can I make a living from a voluntary peer-production if I don’t get paid? There is a mode of production because people are passionate about it. They are striving for absolute quality. A company is only going to work for relative quality, because it makes something better than the competition. If there is no competition there is no improvement.
The law of asymmetrical competition I propose states that if a for-profit company using closed proprietary modes and no participation is competing with a for-benefit institution with a community, striving for absolute quality, the former will eventually lose. If two for-profit companies compete against each other the company that opens up to participation, that can generate community support, will be more competitive than that which does not. Thus we have a mechanism for social change whereby even the people in power are integrating peer-production into their strategies. This is very similar to the Roman Empire in the 2nd century AD when slaves became too expensive. The ‘enlightened’ slave-owners freed their slaves and had them become serfs. Something similar is happening today as more and more knowledge workers move to peer-production. We see a capitalist class moving towards a netarchical capitalism2, enabling and empowering participation as their business model. The first of two political conclusions from this are that we think nature is infinite, we have a false notion of abundance in the physical world and we combine it with the notion that we need to have scarcity in the immaterial world. In other words, we got it wrong in both cases. We are inventing mechanisms that inhibit social cooperation and have a mechanism that destroys a biosphere. If that can be turned around and peer-production based on free sharing in an immaterial world can be implemented we could create a mechanism that respects the world’s finitude. We won’t have a perfect world, but it will be sustainable. The second political conclusion is that our system is facing the problem of extensive development. This is a physical problem. If India and China want to achieve the material wealth of the West, they would have to have the resources of five planets at their disposal. It is simply impossible to sustain this kind of growth for the next 20 or 30 years. We are seeking high energy prices, high transport costs and commodity prices, but together with lower capital requirements in order to relocalize physical production in open design communities. If this happens P2P will become the core logic of our society, both in the immaterial and the material world. I’m not a technological determinist, but we should use the potential at hand and move in that direction.
The circulation of the common, in analogy with the circulation of capital, is the way peer production reproduces itself through open and free raw material as input, participation and inclusionary design as process, and commons oriented licenses as output, and such licenses recreate open and free material for a new cycle of input. Netarchical capitalism is that branch of capital and investment which no longer relies on intellectual property to make profit but directly enables and monetizes participation.
commons. Peer-production is like a permanent meditation on abundance or scarcity. If there is an abundance, you can’t have a market. If there’s no tension between supply and demand, there is no market mechanism. You can’t sell Linux software; you can just download it or copy it. But what you can do is consult it and train for it. You can also create secondary pieces of software.
Principles of Great Stories Be the Story
20th centuryâ€™s Utopian Architecture Amir Djajali The following pages contain sketches of a visual history of utopian architecture over the last 150 years. These include international examples of purely theoretical visions as well as realized utopias, original draw ings or recent images. Progressive or reactionary 20thcentury ideologies gave birth to these projects, promoted either by centralized state authorities or visions of dissident avantgardes and sub-cultures.
1859 Familistaire. Guise, France Jean Baptiste Godin Photo wikimedia commons
1870 Letchworth Garden City, UK Ebenezer Howard
1910 Britz Siedlung, Berlin, Germany Bruno Taut Photo http://flickr.com/photos/schockwellenreiter/2287687575
1920 Karl Marx Hof, Wien, Austria Karl Ehn
1920 Siemensstadt, Berlin, Germany Walter Gropius
1928 Domkommuna N Moisei Ginzburg
1930 Nazi Housing Prototypes, Germany
1930 Project for Magnitogorsk, Russia Ivan Leonidov
1931 House on Embankment, Moscow, Russia Boris Iofan Photo wikimedia commons
1921 Nahalal Kibbutz, Israel Richard Kaufman
1925 Plan Voisin, Paris, France Le Corbusier Photo Fondation Le Corbusier
Narkomfin, Moscow, Russia g
1934 Dymaxion House Richard Buckminster Fuller
1945 New Gourma, Egypt Hassan Fathi
1950 Project for Amsterdam, The Netherlands Hendrik Wijdeveld
1952 Golden Lane Estate, London, UK Allison and Peter Smithon
1956 Forte Quezzi, Genova, Italy Luigi Carlo Daneri
1956 Cumbernauld, UK Geoffry Copcutt
1946 Rovaniemi, Finland Alvar Aalto
1947 Unite dâ€™Habitation, Marseille Le Corbusier
1950 Chandigarh, Punjab, India Le Corbusier
Photo wikimedia commons
1953 Vallingby, Sweden Sven Markelius
1957 Brasilia, Brazil Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer
1957 Brasilia, Brazil Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer
1960 Rome, Italy Studio Asse
1962 Clusters in the Air Arata Isozaki
1960 Plan for the Tokyo Bay, Japan Kenzo Tange
1963 Tel Aviv, Israel Van de Broek & Bakema
1964 Walking City Archigram
1958 Spatial City Yona Friedmann
1962 Ocean city Kiyonori Kikutake
1962 Helix City Kisho Kurokawa
1964 Plug in City Archigram
1964 Plug in City Archigram
1965 Megastructure on the River IJ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Van de Broek & Bakema
1967 habitat, Montreal, Canada Moshe Safdie
1967 Monte Amiata Complex, Gallaratese, Milan Carlo Aymonino
1967 Monte Amiata Complex, Gallaratese, Milan Aldo Rossi
Photo Arjen Oosterman
Photo Arjen Oosterman
1965 Scampia, Naples, Italy Franz di Salvo Photo Arjen Oosterman
1969 Journey from A to B Superstudio
1969 Comprehensive City, US Mike Mitchell and Alan Botwell
1970 ZEN, Palermo, Italy Vittorio Gregotti
1971 New Babylon Constant
1973 New Babylon, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Constant
1971 Continuous Momument Superstudio
1972 Student Buildings, Louvaine la Neuve, Belgium Lucien Kroll
1970 ZEN, Palermo, Italy Vittorio Gregotti
1970 Milton Keynes, UK
1972 Arcology Paolo Soleri
1972 Corviale, Rome, Italy Mario Fiorentino Photo http://flickr.com/photos/ende/10009808
1973 Study for a Large Dispenser of Waltzes, Tangos, Rock, and Cha-Cha Ettore Sottsass
1973 Study for a Study for a Large Dispenser of Incense, LSD, Marijuana, Opium, Laughing Gas Ettore Sottsass
Up-Tempo Urbanism Interview with Reinier de Graaf by Christian Ernsten and Arjen Oosterman The empty desert of the Emirates is presently international architectureâ€™s playground and OMA is one of the star players. Opportunities for substantial turnover and quick results abound, no doubt, but what about old European worries like public interest and cultural values? What does an architectural firm wants to create? Reinier de Graaf introduces their new creative yearning: achieving utopian radicality and cultural sustainability in city design. Are the RAK Gateway and the Dubai Waterfront City potential incubators of cultural resistance in the region?
Christian Ernsten This issue’s theme is engineering society. Within that framework we’re interested in the two urban projects you’re currently working on: the Gateway Project in Ras Al Khaimah and the Waterfront City in Dubai. Could you say a few words about the kinds of cities you’re building? Reinier de Graaf These two projects are designed to
break with the dominant form of urban development in the Gulf. They start from a similar premise as the Renaissance building we did earlier: to produce an antiicon. These projects are a kind of antithesis against the prevailing mode of development. Normally in Dubai one sees low density and a great deal of irrigated green spaces. In contrast to that we’re developing compact cities with a limited amount of natural green in which the external appearance of individual buildings doesn’t determine what it’s all about. The current urban development generates an enormous waste of energy and water. In this sense these projects are an attempt to create an ethical and aesthetic break. The time seems ripe. The Waterfront City in Dubai is a central business district inside a much larger masterplan made by someone else. It will be a city of a million and a half in the last undeveloped stretch of coastal land in Dubai at the border with Abu Dhabi. The Ras Al Khaimah project is a completely new city in another emirate that is still largely made up of desert land.
the reduction in scale has led to a withering of vision. What is seductive about the Middle East is that – the less savory aspects aside – the speed of construction has also put us in a position to realize very good projects without compromise. If you calculate gross-net, there are buildings being built there – take Burj Dubai – with less than 50% useable floor space. Those kinds of megaprojects, almost civil works, always lose money. That will never happen here. Here every building is appraised based upon its own financial feasibility. There the logic is that if one builds the biggest building in the world, then more people will flock to Dubai, fly Emirates airline, hotels will be fuller and more people will spend money here. Thus the macro-economic effects of a lossmaking building are such that on balance it makes money. That kind of thing can go on because the government itself, in this case the royal family, actively participates in project development. Sometimes that leads to a kind of crazy race for height of buildings designed in a macho way to break all kinds of records, but ironically it simultaneously opens the door for a number of radical utopias which we haven’t seen since the start of the twentieth century. That perspective makes it a seductive place to work. And for the time being it is appearing to work. I don’t know when or if the RAK Gateway City project will be carried out, but the other project will begin soon. Often those kinds of projects begin, as a kind of Spielerei… But there is little choice: One must make it a kind of Spielerei because otherwise the scale is so intimidating that you’d be overwhelmed.
CE To what extent are these two projects a reaction to the Disney fatwa you described in Al Manakh?
RdG The Disney fatwa was in reaction to the pro-
nouncements of Western critics regarding Singapore and Dubai. The Disney metaphor has been cynically used as a critique of developments in other cultures. But in fact Disney is a Western product, making the fatwa actually a fatwa against ourselves. In Al Manakh we tried to write seriously about the Gulf without negating the problematic aspects of what’s going on there. The two cities are concrete ideas of how we think we operate in this context. They are not critical of Dubai per se; we would offer this same criticism of this kind of urban development if it were to have been done elsewhere. Arjen Oosterman Your Al Manakh (Volume 12) diaries contain a certain irony.
RdG Yes, but if you place all thirteen pieces side by
side, there is as much irony for Western consultants as for Arab sheiks. It is more a critique of the current state of things in general than of Dubai specifically. Actually, by virtue of its massive immigration Dubai functions as a kind of magnifying glass for the contemporary world as a whole. Everything develops there quickly and that tempo creates a kind of insanity. That’s what I’ve tried to capture.
CE How do you relate your projects to the speed of developments in this region and the hypnotic effect that produces?
RdG We try to use the speed to achieve a certain radicality in the design. The longer a project lasts – one sees this in the Netherlands, for instance – the more there is a chance that the initial enthusiasm a design generates tapers off. The client awakes from his hypnotic trance, as it were. On account of the speed of things in the Gulf we can do more with less compromise and chiefly on a scale which we see nowhere else. Since the eighties
AO As regards thinking and operating, do you place yourself within the tradition of the utopians of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s?
RdG It’s difficult to say because things are so different
now. One of the things we tried in Al Manakh was to initiate a certain rehabilitation of the period. We tried at the very least to bring that early modern tradition from the seventies, which is also present in the Arab world back to the surface. We showed that period too can be an authentic source of pride in the Arab world, and that one does not by definition have to be led back to a kind of Arab vernacular. CE To what extent do you experiment in the design of these urban projects with other social programs?
RdG We principally experiment with ourselves. I don’t
know if you can also call that a social program… In recent years we have investigated the effect of an increased tempo on the creative process and whether one can institutionalize that within one’s firm. At this moment we have a 365-page book that describes the production of landmarks of a single year. We show that by speeding up the tempo we can eliminate doubts and bring back a certain degree of spontaneity in design. Dubai was the perfect occasion for this. Sometimes it’s successful and sometimes not. In addition – and we also introduced this concept at the Venice Biennial – we are busy with ‘generics’. By manipulating standard typologies we eventually develop special buildings. Take a look, for example, at Dubai’s many towers: they all look different, but share the same plan. A very strange kind of contractor’s optimalization took place there. By partially surrendering to that logic we tried to produce yet another kind of building. We no longer try to endlessly reinvent the wheel.
The Palm Cove Canal Site
Photo Frans Parthesius
Model of Dubai Waterfront City
Image © Nakheel
CE In the new way of working you are proposing the main emphasis seems to be put on the design and production process rather than the end result. RdG If it is a matter of an end result, then the time
to enjoy it is very short since it is characteristic of the region that you are very quickly confronted with the need to produce the next end result. If you were to build a single building per year you would have various options from which you would have to painfully choose just one and toss the rest away. We are now in an experimental process in which you continuously only get one chance to hit the mark,. It is a kind of new economy of creativity. AO Is this different for urban development than for the design of buildings? RdG Perhaps. With both the RAK Gateway and the Waterfront city we designed two squares and thus we very consciously created a kind of controllable form, so we would completely be the masters of our own context. In this way we reduced the necessity for compromise with the environment as well as the risk that we adopted the environment’s bad habits. In Waterfront you’ve got a floating island in the city; it is part of the city, but also emphatically separate from it. In RAK we just gave form to a free, new development. And that is more or less what one wants. If you realize a free, new development then you’re able to jump into the 21st century without being held back by compromises with the past, certainly in a place such as Ras Al Khaimah.
AO With the Seattle library OMA attempted to design public space for the 21st century. The design itself is an attempt to raise the question as to the role of public space in society. How do you create publicness in RAK, a place which is to develop so quickly?
RdG Ultimately we design public space by creating dimensions (width, length) and street patterns for pedestrians. Via interventions (programs for everyone) and the augmentation of public space we ensure that people will actually walk around. This is how we create an urban life in which coincidence and accidental meetings can once again occur in public spaces. Dubai is now in a certain way an enormous amusement park; visiting a place there is always a form of consumption. This paves the way for an incredible segmentation. Those who work in construction, that is people from India, Pakistan and Africa and increasingly from China as well, are placed in labor camps. These people remain in these camps sometimes for as long as eighteen years. In a way they are no longer guest workers who return to their places of origin; these people stay. The big question for Dubai’s future has to do with sustainability in the human sense, that is: will there be a permanent part of the city built for these people? These are topics which can keep us busy for some time. Last summer we actively pitched for the Dubai Development Framework, a national spatial strategy for Dubai which must provide a solid structure for these kinds of topics. That would have been a fantastic assignment because now we’re increasingly building parts of the city whose program is partially determined beforehand; that would have been a fantastic opportunity to really intervene at a structural level and do something good. By working in Dubai you run the risk
of seeming complicit in endorsing many of its bad habits. That is unfortunate. CE What could social sustainability in Dubai mean? RdG 85% of Dubai’s inhabitants are not locals. That’s
impressive. The integration system is naturally quite different. While we eventually confer voting rights and permit people to pay taxes in order to integrate, their system is a kind of well-intentioned apartheid. Tax exemptions are given to western firms and expats and as long as one is enjoying substantial tax exemptions the desire for a political voice remains small. Another story are those who work in construction for wages marginally higher than what they would earn in their home country. This is the story of people who the longer they work in Dubai the less important it becomes that they earn anything more than they would in their native country. Eventually they too will start measuring their circumstances to Dubai’s indigenous wealth. There have been protests, but these have been met with silence. For the time being the subject is difficult to breach, but pressure will increase by this group for the right to be a respectable member of this society. At this time actual political rights are restricted to just a small group of Emirate nationals. As an architect you naturally do not have a great deal of influence, but you can try to work on a spatial plan with a certain level of emancipation as a goal. CE How do your designs, for RAK for example, take into consideration the potential residents’ experience of the symbolic environment of the city? RdG This city was in any event for people who didn’t yet live there. There is no demographic pressure. That is the biggest difference with, for example, building a city in China or in India. In India one must deal with an increasing population, in China with the influx of people from the countryside to the cities. Then you’re building for an exigency. What you’re doing here is building a city to attract people. It’s a peculiar reversal of the customary process. This is one of the things we had to get used to: the client said, ‘no, no, no, this city is not for the people who live here now.’ It must be a destination city for people coming from far away. The city becomes a means to attract a certain kind of people. The RAK project developer travelled with the government through the Ukraine, Georgia and China in order to create ties and also to recruit investors for the Emirate. Dubai has a very strong Anglo-Saxon orientation, but RAK is really designed for the ‘new silk road’, the up and coming part of the world. Its target group is thus not Westerners. CE What tools do you use in the development of both cities in order to create a decidedly better urban society? RdG We chiefly create conditions. Kenneth Frampton once used the word resistance as a cultural term and I really think that if you plan cities on that scale you have a duty to combat the natural excesses of the market as much as you can. You can create conditions that eventually produce something other than what would naturally have occurred. That means that in each city you try to buck the trends. That isn’t easy, since everyone wants facilities of all kinds to be located within walking distance, yet at the same time nobody wants to get out of their car. Everyone wants an urban atmosphere, but simultaneously everyone wants a villa. In this sense people have become a kind
Image courtesy Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)
of safari park visitors of their own urban creations. So if you in particular want to save energy but also want to generate a form of social integration, this then demands you become a real participant in this kind of urbanism instead of merely an observer. Suburbanization has resulted everywhere in a kind of comfort zone, where ‘the city’ has become a condition one only visits now and then. It’s still consumed, but it’s no longer a fully fledged environment. This is why in the RAK we make comparisons with old cities in Yemen. The streets in the RAK project are deliberately small. Surrounding the city are a number of big urban programs which normally do not go well with the urban environment. A large conference center, a shopping mall and a sports complex each require an enormous amount of parking. By setting these outside the city this minimizes the need for parking within the city. A streetcar system connects the parking lots with the inner city. In this way the city can accommodate a high density. It is almost an attempt to construct an historical environment via a number of artificial interventions.
that the absolute sovereign in the Gulf is a different type of person from the project developer here in the Netherlands. The absolute sovereign is often so rich that earning short-term money is no longer the first priority. This group, they exist in the West too, shifts his interests to culture or charity, for example. We encounter the most resistance to our ideas in the lower echelons of the project developer. At critical moments we are often supported from above. In principle it is a kind of feudal system, a system which I think will disappear over time. Ultimately these lands will also democratize in one way or another, but it appears that as long as democracy is incomplete we will chiefly find support from the type of dominion which we naturally too think we must distance ourselves in the future. And that is a peculiar paradox. One has support from an absolute ruler who ensures you are able to do good things. CE Can you make proposals for social housing? RdG Right now we’re working on a request for forms
of permanent housing to replace the labor camps.
CE Could you explain once again how you intend to buck the trends? Could you be more concrete? RdG The enormous speed permits one to realize something that, in a manner of speaking, slips under the radar. In this way you can organize trend-breaking architecture by building something confrontational before anyone realizes it. What’s most interesting is
Image courtesy Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)
RAK Gateway City
RAK Gateway City
Image courtesy Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)
Comparison of the AMO, RAK Gateway City and Fostersâ€™ plan for Masdar Devolpment in Abu Dhabi
Packaging Utopian Sustainability Matt Lewis Are carbon neutral cities, Eco-cities and sustainable cities discursive covers up for synthetic design in the desert of Abu Dhabi or something stemming from an honest utopian desire? Questioning Fosterâ€™s scheme for Masdar, Matt Lewis reaches revealing conclusions on the marketing of design in the Gulf.
to develop the goals for environmental sustainability. This group should be able to address all three conditions with a strong level of responsibility and accountability. Environmentally Masdar is a highly calculated system designed to achieve carbon neutrality. This will be pursued through the following methods: zero waste, sustainable transport, local and sustainable materials, local and sustainable food, and sustainable water. Most of these are not new sustainable practices, nor are the specific systems applied, they are just happening on an unprecedented scale. Most importantly of all these is the area in which Foster + Partners appear to hold the most conviction – mobility. First and foremost, fossil fuels are not permitted within Masdar. This naturally means no automobiles. Residents and commuters will rely on a three-tiered transportation network. The first mode is Abu Dhabi’s light-rail which cuts through the heart of Masdar creating a spine for spatial organization. The second mode is a personal rapid transit system, or PRTs, which will provide the principle means of travel above the third mode, which encompasses foot traffic. This third mode, effecting people most directly, also has the largest impact on the urban form. Based on studies from European urban development agencies, a maximum walking distance has been set at 200m. The plan is compact, producing narrow pedestrian streets which further mitigates the climate. Having solidified a maximum distance, Foster + Partners can now calculate an appropriate design density: roughly 400 people/hectare. They can thus calculate a population range within which Masdar can maintain its performance. What is curious, however, is the reliance on an outside workforce to make this plan viable. Only 30% of the development is envisaged for a resident workforce. Does this mean Masdar is only 30% efficient?
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. Abu Dhabi, an early front-runner in this race, has already developed some promising strategies for addressing the problem of polluting cultures. Global alliances have been created as part of the Masdar Initiative, a long-term plan for the sustainable future of Abu Dhabi. This program will help Abu Dhabi position itself as global leader in renewable energy and sustainable technologies. The flagship of the program will be the Masdar development, a carbon neutral city master planned by Foster + Partners. Given the desert environment, the Initiative’s commitment, and the financial backing of the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, Foster appears to be living a planner’s fantasy – building a city from scratch. In the process, however, Foster + Partners are ignoring current discourse to create their own sustainable utopia. One discourse is the conceptualization of modern – or global – cities, the other, a means of achieving sustainable environments. Both notions are upended by a machine mentality and the creation of a closed system. This negates any notion of the open, continuous landscape that currently defines the next generation of city models, and natural, sustainable systems that are defined as a fluid area constantly shifting between change and equilibrium. Foster + Partners deliver a socially engineered cocktail to the marketing team at the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company – a synthetic culture for their synthetic city. Located adjacent to the Abu Dhabi International Airport, nearly 20 miles outside the center of Abu Dhabi, Foster + Partners employ the traditional planning techniques used to build ancient Arab cities. The city is populated with dense, low-rise buildings to create a compact community with narrow streets for climate mitigation. All this is contained within a city wall which defines the 6 square kilometer development. Construction has already begun on this ambitious project, with completion of the first phase expected in 2010. Subsequent phases will span 8-10 years before Masdar reaches its target resident workforce of 47,500. Measuring the success of a project like this can be difficult, but there does exist a generally accepted definition of sustainable development. The criteria are simple, suggesting that three conditions – environmental, economic, and social sustainability – must be met but execution proves extremely difficult. To face this challenge, a ‘dream team’ of sorts has been assembled to support proper development. Foster + Partners are providing the planning and the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company will provide the financial support to cover the projected $22 billion price tag. The World Wildlife Fund is the last member of this team and has been brought in as a resource
Economically the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company is in a position to invest $4 billion of its own capital to initiate the project, but will have to leverage its assets to borrow the rest. To help the project pay for itself they have raised funds on in an unprecedented manner and on an unprecedented scale. Since Masdar will perform better than any pollution regulations require, they are selling carbon emission offsets to companies that do not meet local standards. This should provide an immediate return on investment, in addition to the annual savings of a carbon neutral system. With a built-in method to reduce the time frame of recouping initial costs, Masdar has the opportunity to address even longer term issues of economic sustainability. Therefore the real question becomes: how does this city create a built-in system for sustainable economic growth? To this end, the infrastructure is being developed around the research and development of sustainable technologies anchored by the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. The aim is to foster innovation and funding to attract current global leaders to relocate their operations to Masdar which will permit them to build a financial foundation through the cultivation of products and expertise. Reaping the economic windfall of this emerging market, Masdar can leverage its early entry to become the authority of the sustainable movement.
Images courtesy Foster + Partners
Images courtesy Foster + Partners
Aerial and street rendering of Masdar Development
Socially this project becomes more controversial purely from the large pendulum swing required to move Abu Dhabi from one side of the sustainable spectrum to the other. Lifestyles must change, or so the thinking goes among Foster + Partners. In their proposal they have rewritten the script of daily life within the walls of Masdar. Starting with a blank slate – alas, tabula rasa is back – they are able to eliminate contradictory preconceived lifestyles. With a fresh palette Foster + Partners plan to create new standards of consumption and waste through a process of redefining norms. This new, sustainable lifestyle is contextualized against the maximum capacity of Masdar, a limit visualized by the wall zone. This perimeter wall serves as a gate, filter and container of purity. Within these walls the air is cleaner, the people are smarter and all systems are in harmony. Perfection, right? Visitors and residents will have to get used to checking their liberties, like a ‘potentially dangerous’ bag at a museum of antiquity, at the City Gate. Residents’ cars will be confined to parking garages within the wall, and not permitted within their own city. Commuters who do not rely on public transport will also be stripped of their cars at the perimeter. Thus Foster + Partners have replaced the car culture with a ‘personal rapid transport’ culture, leaving the machine analogy not far off. Of course this does not solve all the problems. There is still water use, energy consumption and waste to optimize. Foster + Partners are not blind to these challenges. ‘Individual behavior can have a significant effect on energy consumption, and thus [greenhouse gas] emissions. Individuals accustomed to a certain mode of living to could find it hard to instantly change their behavior once working/living at Masdar.’
Foster + Partners
They have developed a few tactics to negotiate deeply ingrained individual habits. The first of these they borrowed from the public health profession: education. Promoting awareness is not just for condoms anymore. The second strategy is much more of what we’d expect from an architect. Their mission is to make ‘energy- and water-efficient living as ‘easy’ as possible.’ Apparently all you need is an intelligent energy management system, a little calibration, and the residents of Masdar are capable of new lifestyles. This path is likely chosen because incentives do not yet exist to encourage people to make the necessary, radical changes required of a carbon neutral environment. Thus, Foster + Partners must rely on these ancient Arab methods of city planning to control Masdar’s environment. Control applies to both the residents and the climate. So, is Masdar purely about social engineering or is there some broader context at work? On one hand, traditional planning methods help mitigate the climate, but they also serve a not-sohidden agenda. On the other, we are seeing similar eco-cities across the East for China is joining the Middle East in the development of sustainable cities. In this way Foster + Partners’ model may appear to be a popular trend to address the looming environmental
crisis. We don’t have to look as far as China to understand Masdar as a contextual response to the Persian Gulf, however. Additionally in the UAE, Ras al Khaimah and Dubai join the ranks of Abu Dhabi, where Rem Koolhaas has planned Gateway Eco City and Waterfront City. Strikingly similar. This leads me to ask: is an architecture of control the only means to create sustainable development? Perhaps, but perhaps this isn’t the right question. Koolhaas would posit this clear definition of the urban edge is a means of trapping urban energy rather than keeping it out. This sounds viable, but what we’re seeing can be attributed to creating a product. Masdar, for instance, appears to leave very little room for error, almost as if it has been conceived as a packaged product. After all, each party of the partnership is out there marketing Masdar’s carbon neutrality and they need a way to measure it, achieve it and defend it. So, perhaps we’re over-analyzing here and it is purely about selling utopian sustainability to the investors. Excuse me, my PRT is here...
Chinese Dreams Society Under Construction Neville Mars Chinese cities are mush rooming and the Chinese Communist Partyâ€™s creation of an urban, middle-class society seems extremely successful. Yet urban growth engenders great contradictions, which puts pressure on the Chinese dream. Neville Mars shows how fear is dominant in planning and how China is becoming a globally connected fortress.
Rise and shine
Witnessing China’s miracle on a daily basis, the contrast between contemporary hazards and China’s high hopes for 2020 and beyond is not quite so stark. Responding to crisis has been key to China’s success. From the inception of reform, every successive wave of change has had its origin in a disaster. Without a blueprint for a socialist market economy, transition has been a bumpy ride; urban development has been the pragmatic and often relentless tool. As such it has become increasingly streamlined. The socialist market hybrid can expedite any procedure, switching freely between public and private operations. The Maoist dream of collective ownership is auctioned off in bits to a mass of companies and individuals wrestling for supremacy or survival. The state launches its megaprojects, while solo developers sear holes into the once communal carpet to create pristine patches for hassle-free privatization. According to the one-stepup model, bottom-level migrant workers send wages back home to their villages, while urbanites buy their first apartment in the city. Plot by plot urbanization facilitates a controlled unraveling of capitalism with Chinese characteristics.
With Deng Xiaoping’s accession to power China launched its last and boldest dream: individual prosperity. In order to realize this dream it opened its eyes to an alternative reality, its doors to the global economy and conformed to market pragmatism. Since then, a massive wave of progress has engulfed the nation. The success has amazed friend and foe. Today ‘getting rich is glorious’ may have lost its appeal as a party slogan, but it has expanded to become the intrinsic motivation of much of China’s population. Spreading fast beyond the initial testing grounds of the special economic zones, this growing prosperity has nurtured a solid and considerable middle-class and spurred the construction of industry and cities across the country. These cities are modern China’s trademarks and the objective of the Chinese dream: a society of middle-class consumers settled in modern cities. The aspirations of individuals shaping contemporary urbanization resembles the American dream of the fifties, and with rural populations in the developing world flocking together in megaslums, this must be the core component of the global dream. But what is the modern city’s form? How can it be realized? And what kind of society does it beget?
The precise translation of the Beijing 2008 Olympic slogan is ‘one world, one dream’. To Chinese people its interpretation is obvious: ‘the Beijing Olympics will show the world that we can obtain the same living standard as the West’. For those living the dream, the TV commercials of cars gliding past a backdrop of shiny new towers is proof that (this time) it is real. Confronted with so much progress, questioning the quality of the future seems senseless. Mesmerized by newfound consumerism, the young middle-class looks ahead and marches on. The central government is increasingly aware that this passionate adoption of Western-style progress can no longer suffice, however. There are imminent dangers: it will exclude the bulk of China’s citizens from much of the progress being made and present the poorest with the bill for its rampant environmental degradation. Yet the ongoing economic boom has instilled its leaders with a towering confidence to respond. They have acquired the latest architectural and biotechnological techniques from the West. In reality the unique conditions contemporary China faces demand new paradigms. There has been no opportunity to assess the products of a socialist market economy, simply no time to reflect on its outcome. The Chinese dream is not being updated. Instead every new problem – many of which present themselves on a scale previously unseen – is simply countered with a plan for its removal by the year 2020, 2030 or 2050. In perfect symmetry all contemporary shortcomings are directly mirrored to become outstanding objectives for the future. China now boasts radical schemes for (almost) every aspect of society, from welfare to technological innovation, environmental sustainability and moon landings. If achieved, China will become not just a superpower, but the world’s most advanced nation. The West must hold its breath and believe, if only for a lack of alternatives.
‘By 2020, China will complete the building of a comfortable society…cities will lead the way.’ Premier Wen Jiabao Leapfrog
The world observes the Chinese dream with anxiety and anticipation. Set against a backdrop of diminishing resources, a leapfrog development, so often vaunted yet seldom observed, is today demanded from China in order to align progress with global sustainability goals. Radical solutions are required to move beyond such fuel-dependent landscapes as those produced by the western model of modernization. Indeed, to leapfrog effectively this knowledge must be found and implemented nation-wide and now. In 2001 just such a plan for leapfrog urbanization came from within China. The then state minister of civil affairs, Doje Cering, proposed the construction of 400 new cities by the year 2020, or 20 new cities per year of about 1 million residents each. This grand scheme sought to accommodate the projected flood of rural migrants and springboard China to the level of a model, industrialized nation. The obscene amount of new construction became the starting point for the Dynamic City Foundation’s (DCF) research and publication.1 The desire to conceive a complete urban system is highly seductive. In theory, a city built all at once could be free from all the accumulated problems and clutter, and outsmart the predicaments with which ageing cities struggle. We soon discovered that reality is all too often more extreme than China’s big ambitions. During the period 1978–1998 China built more than 400 cities. Then, while urbanization continued to accelerate, suddenly no new cities were recorded. The birth of a Chinese city is a matter of policy. Detailed criteria are formulated to prescribe the ratio of urban to rural inhabitants in an area, and its rural to urban economic output. This is clear-cut, but it often describes environments at odds with our understanding of a city.
The goal to build 400 new cities in 20 years is not quite as absurd as the aspiration to attempt their design. Any traditional notion of planning will be inadequate when urbanization occurs faster than planners can map and it is driven by constructions at the two ends of the spectrum: the macro-planned and the micro-organic. While the planners plan and deliberate, aggregated projects feed the urban landscape in the form of more Market-driven Unintentional Development, or M.U.D.. This is the force of China’s hyper-speed, a changing landscape that can be viewed as a laboratory for
Photos and images: Neville Mars / DCF
Slick and split cities
Unofficial records indicate that some one hundred new towns of substantial size have mushroomed across China in the last decade in the form of mining towns, tourist resorts, suburban enclaves, factory villages, etc. These have taken different forms, but are always clearly delineated from the preexisting. They are slick cities – clean residential strongholds fortified against their MUDdled surroundings. Compared to their predecessors, slick cities look and feel smooth, but there is a price to pay. Slick cities are by nature static. Their walled off space is unyielding to change. The public domain is reduced to the voids in between buildings. Having exploded in size, their architecture negates the necessity for planning beyond technocratic transit space. Urban life as we knew it, so dependent on human interaction, is dissolved. Now fear has entered the planning procedures. The congested points are crowd managed with the insertion of ever larger plazas and walkways. Planning has become the practice of moving people out and voids in. The expansion and fragmentation of the city accelerates. China’s slick cities are loathed but also loved, both at home and abroad. European architects condemn their soulless spaces, while Africa, the Middle East and India herald their scale, speed and rationality. The Indian Prime Minister hopes to make Mumbai (currently 60% slums) into a city just like Shanghai by 2010. But there is little room for nostalgia, nor reason to glorify Chinese modernity. For millennia the Chinese have used cities as a means to safeguard the vast expanse of its rule. As perfect beacons of power they express(ed) the distant control of a harmonious society. These were the first fast cities, the first slick cities. Today successful growth continues to be a precarious balancing act between tight control and hectic release. Exclusive compounds temporarily push informal growth aside, while in reality the walled enclaves are engulfed by the villages of the construction workers who built them. Slick cities naturally generate schizophrenic urban growth. Across the river or train track on an empty plot of land the town is reinvented from scratch. Implementation of self-contained designs ignore all previous incarnations. A split city is born: the new center rapidly turns its back on the old core. In this context even existing cities should be regarded as tabula rasae waiting only to be cleared.
urban growth. Within the time span of a single generation it nurtures consecutive ideologies of planning. Observing M.U.D. formations fractures the persistent beliefs in both the grassroots city and the orchestrated environment. At the street level, China’s new urban realms look perfectly micro planned while the same polished island developments on the urban scale merge together to reveal macro-organic systems. The building blocks of China’s cities are designed in days; the ensuing M.U.D. configurations are then fixed for decades. Midway
Neither leapfrog ambitions nor big schemes and outstanding objectives acknowledge the reality that China is now halfway done. 2008 marks the 30th anniversary of China’s open door policy and subsequent economic rise. If current growth rates continue, in a further 30 years China’s GDP will exceed that of the USA’s. Other significant markers are coming up including the shift in employment from primary to tertiary industry and the move from predominantly rural to predominantly urban settlements. But urban speed, bigness, and copy and paste practices are only the most visible aspects of flash organics. Rural China is also half way done. Here too fear dominates planning. Though urban development is encouraged, the millions of urban migrants from the countryside are barred from settling there and are soon deflected back home. Distrust of slums or potentially unstable concentrations of ex-farmer communities has kept China’s citizen registration system in place. It enforces a black and white division between people with urban or rural status. Yet this division is increasingly outdated by the blurred spatial conditions it produces. City edges melt with floating workers congregating in the villages just outside the city proper, while remittances sent back home spur village growth. A fine haze of nearly a million villages covers the landscape and accommodates almost a billion people. Planning policies intended to stimulate modern centers are effectively urbanizing China outside of the cities. Though mutually interdependent, the two component parts of this urbanizing landscape betray deep schisms. Drawing in unwarranted financial and natural resources from across the country, its conspicuous economic engines are kept strong. Big solutions such as the south to north water transportation project pumps water across the country to the arid north and artificially maintains lush and cool cities. But the villages in between have no taps on these pipelines. Creeping Xiao Kang
Although propagating massive schemes and extreme projects on the periphery, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) centers its trust for the future on the growing middle class – a trust in well-contained selforganization that for the moment seems to be paying off. The ‘harmonious society’ projected onto the future is steadily carved out today with every single producer turned consumer. Confronted with a sizzling hot economy and surrounded by dizzying construction, the average individual is seen by the party as the source of stable progress. The benefits should slowly creep outward from the center to the periphery to eventually reach the countryside. ArchiHome http://archihome.taobao.com
Moreover, the regulations are easily altered. The current political climate in China is geared toward the construction of new cities but preferably without granting expensive city benefits or loosing central control.
Window with opaque glass because most of the view is too close by. This would defy the villa marketing
Eurostyle in Chongqing
Yet while societal shifts first seem to run ahead of spatial organization, urban patterns soon reveal their domination over how society evolves. As China’s economic reforms unfold, the tendency to produce M.U.D. formations accelerates. The grip the urban configuration has on Chinese society tightens; the dream to design a city or society slips away. Parallel worlds
The Chinese dream is at odds with the CCP’s grip on power. Widespread urbanization taxes centralized control. Exclusivity clashes with a harmonious society. Ultimately a designed society contradicts the empowerment of the individual. Behind the scenes the Chinese dream is shifting. Building cities will shape society, but a modern society cannot be shaped by urban construction. The rigid structure of the self-contained city as a tool of control is challenged by two distinctly dynamic forces: the market and the masses. Unaddressed, urbanization will continue to generate conflicting realities – discord at the heart of the socialist market hybrid that resonates through China’s bid for progress. Its leaders are increasingly demanding on the global political stage, yet internal decisions remain obscured. China is the basin of global production and trade, yet its economy is opaque. It is opening up to international corporations, yet its citizens remain barred from global information flows. China is dreaming up parallel worlds; building a globally connected fortress. China will undoubtedly evolve and mature. It has successfully navigated many obstacles to achieve the last three decades of continuous growth. A businessas-usual scenario is not improbable. A good part of China will live the Chinese dream, accommodated in bigger and brighter cities than those that exist anywhere else. However, a strong urban middle class as envisioned for 2020 could bespeak a new society. In 2007 individuals in China were awarded genuine property rights (perhaps the most profound legal change since the birth of the republic). With the consumer-homeowner placed at the heart of urban desire mechanisms, future development will succeed or fail in relation to people as opposed to state objectives. Unwittingly, the middle class may unlock the fortress.
DIY box of the Beijing Boom Tower – a vertical neighborhood for a segregated society. This manual explains how you can make your own ideal city block. A design that adheres to China’s harsh market logic and aspirations of its upwardly mobile citizens, but is gates and guards free. A careful gradient of privacy and prosperity
To move beyond the world’s factory floor and toward an economy of ideas China will have to harness the expanding needs of its individuals. If China is truly to throw off its Communist past, it will need to have many dreams for its cities and allow competition among them. The DCF research forms an investigation into what, in theory, China could attain. Uncompromising and often self-critical alternatives aim to inspire a new course of urbanization. As such it has become an investigation into architecture’s own long-standing dream: the design of the city. While aroused by a love for everything new, the inabilities of planning and design have not been of great concern in contemporary China. The new Chinese city represents another utopian concept: a society under construction.
Hong Kong homeowners happy in Guangzhou
From rubble to riches (in a split Shanghai)
Photos and images: Neville Mars / DCF
‘We’ll see a forest of chimneys from here’, Mao Zedong on Tiananmen Square, 1949. Mao’s vision of Beijing stated at the birth of the republic was a forest of chimneys. This panned out, just not with factories but in residential tower blocks
Manifesto or City Interview with Pier Vittorio Aureli by Christian Ernsten Architect Pier Vittorio Aureli of Dogma billed their design for a whole new Administration Capital in South Korea as a manifesto against modernday facade cities, in his words ‘wallscapes’. They proposed a new strategy for engineering urban consciousness by designing a grid made up of … walls. The question remains as to whether the South Koreans will embrace this endeavor.
Christian Ernsten What ambitions did you have for the design of the new South Korean administrative city? Pier Vittorio Aureli Our ambition was to free architec-
ture from an obligation toward extravagance, from the useless and humiliating invention of new forms. In other words, we were aiming for an architecture free from its current self-celebration as ‘design’ and that would, instead, participate in the form of the city. This was an ambition that we as Dogma – Martino Tattara and myself – shared with Kersten Geers and David van Severen from Office and this why we asked them to join us and enter the competition as a single team. The project was deliberately developed as a thesis about the relationship between architecture and the city rather than as design solution to a competition brief. This is why the project was done very intuitively. It was executed by means of a manifesto and very few drawings and images. No statistics, no diagrams, no ‘research’.
means, could suggest an idea of the city, an idea that – as I have said – goes far beyond architecture but that nevertheless can be staged with architecture. When working on the administrative city project we were very interested in the early minimalist work of Aldo Rossi, in the work of OMA from the late 80s and early 90s, in city projects by Ludwig Hilberseimer, but also in Pierre Patte’s Partie du plan general de Paris – a bizarre but extraordinary project, inspired by Place Vendôme – in which the French eighteenth-century theorist proposed a city made by a constellation of ‘urban rooms’.
CE By using the competition to draw attention to the relationship between architecture and the city did you make the outcome of the design a disciplinary experiment?
PVA Unlike architecture, the city cannot be reduced to any single disciplinary issue. It is simply impossible. This is obvious and this why you always have to address the idea of the city from a strategic and specific starting point. Our starting point was architectural form, which is one of the most crucial manifestations of the city and which fundamentally raises many issues, arguments and subjects. This is why I don’t see the problem of architectural form as the conclusion of the city project but on the contrary as one of its possible starting points, as a conjecture about something that naturally goes far beyond architecture. CE What instruments were you using to realize your ambitions?
PVA I would say that there is only one instrument:
architecture. By architecture I mean a formal language that establishes boundaries, rather than just producing images. The project of a city is more about an architecture which forms boundaries, an architecture that acts as a limit, rather than one concerned with the design of shapes. Boundaries are the very grammar of the city, not only in physical terms, but also in social, cultural and above all political terms. CE You were designing against ‘wallscapes’. What is your own desired idea or image of a city?
PVA It was a city made by the most abstract and con-
ventional architecture possible: a composition of inhabitable cruciform slabs in the form of walls whose outline we simply designed. At the same time, we wanted to render this abstract and conventional architecture as monumental as possible. We wanted architecture to be less self-important and more concerned with what it is meant to support: the life of the city. This is why we choose to use the cruciform slab for walls and the courtyard as the basic forms of the city: we saw the city as a framed stage in which architecture is important, but only as a background.
CE Have you looked at other administrative cities in the world and how these were designed? PVA No, we were more interested in city projects made by architects. We were specifically interested in how architects, drawing on the very limited scope of their
CE How does the wall-based grid proposed in your manifesto relate to your analysis of political and cultural habits and tradition in South Korea?
PVA We executed the competition project with little
knowledge of the cultural and political context. This is the position we took. Designers trying to simulate a kind of sensitivity to a context they have only known through Google images and Wikipedia is one of architecture’s major problems today. In order to avoid this embarrassing situation we decided to be as abstract and conventional as possible. So the entire grammar of the project was reduced to the square and the grid because these forms have no specific regional identity. The issue of the wall can be related to something fundamentally Asian. For example, in ancient Chinese city planning cities were designed as a set of walls. Unlike Western cities where monumental structures played a crucial role in expressing ‘cityness,’ in Chinese and also in Korean cities the wall is the dominant datum. From the external walls, to the ruler’s palace, to the domestic residence everything is enclosed by walls. Although this was the ancient form of cities, the anthropological inheritances from this kind of space remains visible today. For example, it indicates the collective and holistic nature of Asian societies in which the notion of public space does not exist. CE To which urgencies were you responding in South Korean society? Or what – to use your own words – will be this city’s ‘political foundations’?
PVA The political foundation of any city – ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – involves the determination of a collective subject to inhabit a determined place. As I said, when we entered the competition we had almost no clue about South Korea or the site of the competition. We were interested in the brief itself, which called for a new city project. We thought such a brief was the ideal opportunity for us to design something other than another landmark and iconic building, which seems to be the only way to practice architecture today. Given our ignorance of the site and of the particular society that would inhabit that place, we abstracted the topic by critically speculating on the basis of what the brief presented us in the form of expectations for the city. Of course, competition briefs are simply rhetorical devices, but by reading them, by reading in between the lines, one finds critical clues upon which to act. The brief asked for a new city almost two hundred kilometers from Seoul in which all South Korean government functions would be relocated. This relocation is a very dramatic choice with strong political connotations having to do with security and the tendency of many Asian states to function like corporations. Indeed the brief clearly asked for a sort of State version of ‘Silicon Valley’, but unlike many of the new cities
The city as composition of ‘urban rooms’: Pierre Patte, ‘Partie du plan general de Paris’, 1765.
Typical Seoul housing slabs called ‘Apathè’ along the Hang River.
emerging from zero, this one was envisioned by the State as a quasi-capital city. For us this was a very interesting and controversial issue to stress in the project. And I think that this controversy – a State acting as an extra-state entity – is its true political foundation. We decided to make the tension between the necessary rigidity of the public ‘background’ and the overwhelming ‘foreground’ of private interest (the extra-state) explicit. The project was a grammar based on a set of very rigid principles established to act dialectically and critically in relationship with the very speed of development of its content. When I later visited and studied South Korea I realized that its extreme economic development, framed by the cold war with North Korea on one hand and economic competition with China and Japan on the other, made South Korean society very anxious and uncertain about its social, cultural and political future. For example, buildings and places are very short-lived in Seoul. A building is considered ‘old’ after twenty years. Almost every Korean has had to relocate, some unwillingly. This process has made Korean society, especially the middle class, both extremely confident about economic development and extremely confused about where this economic development will lead. If I can argue the project retrospectively, I would say that instead of camouflaging this difficult condition with good intentions, taking the image of ‘sustainable’ or ‘friendly’ design, we have made the tension explicit. I strongly believe that consciousness is the very premise of any political action. This political action should not necessarily be ‘designed’ by the architect, but the architect can strategically address the issue, in other words, make it evident on its own terms. CE How do you see this role for the architect materialized in an actual design intervention for this city? PVA The architect’s contribution is the establishment of
a grammar for the city. In our project the grammar consists of defining simple principles such as how buildings are composed and how they establish boundaries. I don’t see this grammar as something in itself, but as something that eventually supports (or contradicts) other factors which are out of the architect’s control, factors which the architect inevitably must confront. CE How does your attempt to emphasize the flexibility of the city differ from Foster’s Masdar project or OMA’s RAK Gateway project in which both attempt to create a certain urban density?
PVA I don’t know these two projects very well, since
we did our project in 2005, before both Foster’s Masdar and OMA’S RAK Gateway were developed. From what I can see and understand from publications, and apart from the mantra of sustainability (the politically correct claim these projects make), it seems these two projects are quite obvious schemes based on the traditional, liberal principle of a grid of streets to be filled in as densely as possible. Precisely in order to criticize this principle, we inverted this rule in our project. The grid became a sequence of cruciform buildings that would contain and thus limit the 70% of the ‘expected program’ (mostly housing and office), while the courtyard would be fully filled by the ‘extra’ or ‘unpredictable’ program the growth of which would inevitably clash with the frame made by the cruciform buildings. The typology of the cruciform
buildings maintains a certain principle at the level of the spatial composition of the city. This spatial composition is seen not as a conclusion, but as the beginning of a dialectical process of confrontation between what is fixed and what changes. This dialectical quality is missing from the schemes you mention because in spite of the grid system and the square form, those projects are very generic in terms of their spatial composition. Both are either too overdetermined in terms of design or too generic in terms of urban principle. CE How were you engineering community life? PVA To be honest I’m rather skeptical, if not openly
critical, of both ‘engineering’ and ‘community’. As you know, engineering is not simply a practice but, philosophically speaking, a paradigm. Engineering was not only the art of solving purely technical problems, but by virtue of its scientific status and presumed scientific neutrality it became the most efficient way to ‘territorialize’ the management of cities. Society as an aggregate of depoliticized individuals is the product of economic engineering. And the very concept of urbanization itself is a product of this ‘political’ instrumentalization of engineering. In a certain sense our project questions the very paradigmatic nature of engineering: its fundamentally non-political status which evades political conflict for the sake of statistical consensus. My skepticism regarding the concept of ‘community’ necessarily follows this line of thought. Today’s communities are in one way or another the product of increasingly sophisticated forms of economic capitalistic engineering which no longer operates according to the old model of ‘civil society’, but rather fragments society into communities. If these communities are made up of those who are ‘included’ or conversely by those who are ‘excluded’, the very nature of their formation still reflects the way capitalism patterns its population. CE In your manifesto you proclaim that your design wants to kick-start a discussion regarding a new idea of civic communality? Can you explain this and, in relation to this, how do you think your city will be used? PVA We used a cruciform slab to compose a courtyard, a Hof, as the very basic urban component. This typology of urban space has a very interesting history, appearing in many different civilizations and cultures. In our case, it became the very logic of the project by radically substituting the traditional grid of streets with repetitions of Hof. In so doing we wanted to emphasize on one hand that to live in a city is first of all to co-exist, to cooperate, to share space whether you like it or not. On the other hand, we wanted to achieve this sense of the communal with the most generic and abstract form so that the idea of civic communality would transcend the problem of identity. CE How does the idea of the Hof relate to cultural practices in South Korea? And to what extent is the introduction of this typology thought through as a social engineering strategy? PVA The monumental Hof was designed to host public facilities such as libraries, schools and so on and also contributes a sense of monumentality to a typology. Until that point the social housing slab was conceived only through technocratic policies of hygiene and political control.
When I went to Seoul for the first time I was impressed, as is everyone who visits this city, by how it is entire built according to one housing typology: the vertical slab of apartments, what the Koreans call Apathè. This typology, built in order to urbanize Seoul as quickly as possible, resembles a realization of Hilberseimer’s famous representation of the Hochstadt, the endless sequence of concrete slabs. Today everybody seems to hate this typology, but I’m very sympathetic to it precisely because of its unmasked brutality, its genuinely generic appearance and the fact that in spite of its exterior monotony, inside it allows great comfort and flexibility. In Seoul rich and poor share this same housing type. Lately, however, a new generation of young architects encouraged by local developers, are proposing to counter this typology with tower complexes taking the very form of capitalism. These new hyper-designed towers such as Mass Studies’ residential project, emblematically called ‘Seoul Commune’ are in fact clusters of luxurious and iconic apartments designed to isolate and distinguish the rich from the rest of the city’s inhabitants. As we developed our project we wanted to counter this tendency by ‘critically’ going back to the Apathè type. However instead of replicating this type as it already exists, we proposed a cruciform composition so that the type would establish a specific spatial situation on the ground. In this way, I realized later, we developed a project with a relationship to one of the most impressive architectural complexes built in South Korea between 1405 and 1485, the Changdeokung, an imperial palace built as a city and composed only of a labyrinthine system of enclosing walls. This is very ironic vis-à-vis our project. The Changdeokung was built as the Ruler’s residence who sought to detach himself from the city which was seen as insecure. This concern with insecurity is the very reason behind the South Korean’s interest in developing this Multifunctional City. Our project wanted to offer workers a place to make them conscious of their identity as a class, rather than as just a specific community within this city. This is why we referred to the generic and monumental type of the Hof as well as to the generic type of the Apathè. Our project emphasizes the contradiction between the ‘facts’ of this city – the need for security – and the possibility for a ‘class consciousness’, two things that are, in fact, opposed.
‘A Grammar for the City’, South Korea, 2005
Capitalist Realism: Mass Studies, project ‘Seoul Commune’, 2006.
‘A Grammar for the City’ Competition for the new Administrative Multi-functional city, South Korea, 2005 (first prize ex-aequo)
‘A Grammar for the City’, South Korea, 2005
Project Context In May 2005 a specially-appointed Presidential Committee announced the opening up of the process to construct a new multi-functional administrative city in South Korea. Concern for the uneven development of the rest of the country in comparison to Seoul’s metropolitan area as a result of the quick economic growth experienced by northeast Asia over the last decades finally motivated radical decentralization strategies which included the relocation of the main political-administrative institutions to a new city. In addition to housing 12 ministries, the new city, which was originally proposed for 500,000 inhabitants within 73 km2 (28 square miles), had to take into account other activities typically found in any multifunctional city with special emphasis on industrial, educational and cultural aspects. The location chosen was the basin of the Geum River in the province of Chungcheongnam, 120 km (75 miles) south of Seoul. The first phase of this process consisted of organizing an international competition whose winning project would be defined as the basis for the development of the city’s Master Plan. Construction was planned to start in July 2007 to be definitely finished by 2030. Although the jury (which included David Harvey, Winy Maas, and Arata Isozaki) awarded our project first prize, the Presidential Committee for the new Multifunctional Administrative City found it too iconoclast and brutal and in conflict with the Committee’s desire for an iconic and complex city form. They ultimately selected the other first prize scheme presented by the Spanish architect Andres Perea Ortega as the basis for the new city.
Dogma, ‘Stop City’: typothesis for a nonfigurative language of the city. Model for a settlement of 500.000 inhabitants, 2007-08.
Location Chungcheongnam Province (120 km from Seoul) Architects DOGMA (Pier Vittorio Aureli, Martino Tattara) & OfficeKGDVS (Kersten Geers, David Van Severen)
Free Urbanism Jeroen Heester According to urbanist Jeroen Heester, the urban planning profession is still in love with its outdated tools and planning ideals. Since inhabitants know what they want, where they want it and how they want it, imposed planning and design have become partly redundant, he argues. Because social and economic functions are shifting from the physical domain towards the digital domain, mobile and programmatic behavior changes as well. Both changes alter urban life in such way that it requires adjustments in urban planning principles. As a result, a planning attitude that facilitates and plans the free will of individuals can be considered.
While in fact, all brands were more or less platform variations from the same Ford Motor Company. In other words, in a society where most of the choices seem to be cosmetic, equally cosmetically oriented architects and urban planners emerge. They are not bad by definition, but merely the manifestation of a new reality. Many cities today compete with one another in order to attract to the same high income groups. As a result many cities today exhibit increasingly similar characteristics and look ambitiously for their own distinguishing image. Since cosmetic interventions are much cheaper and easier to realize than physical ones, most cities choose for branding and slogans. City branding most cheaply defuses political unwillingness everywhere. From another angle, influences of residents penetrate into planning via local politics and undermine the planning process imposed ‘from above’. This does not mean that the influence of residents and politics is bad – on the contrary, it demonstrates the dated character of the current urban planning approach and strongly questions design as a planning tool. Politically instigated cost optimization also changes conditions for what happens on the urban planning scene: a welfare state has to pay many workers. If the public accepts and takes its own responsibilities its involvement will grow and many workers, civil servants and carers can be released from their jobs. The side effect however is a population that applies lessons of self-responsibility in other areas too, meaning that the authorities lose control and (as a result) part of their power. This can be seen as an ageold dilemma, and might explain why reduced government regulation is accompanied by mixed feelings. Finally, the growing influence of process management in urban planning matters reduces aspects of quality to its politically relevant elements. Politically unprioritized aspects of quality are interpreted as needless stress for the process and therefore for the project finance. It becomes increasingly difficult for urban planners to explain that those monotonous newbuild neighborhoods and dull building blocks result from a complex pro-market political process-management, because urban planning seems to be the obvious cause. However, when designers and planners come up with incredibly inventive design solutions in the tight framework of cost management, its outcome immediately produces a precedent for all future projects. In other words, urban planning appears increasingly focused to short-term temptations. The definition of urban planning implies long-term interventions, yet its very existence requires it to serve its users and principals. That is the predicament of planning. It explains why the 4-year political term undermines the advisory role of urban planning and reduces it chiefly to a tool for implementing political promises. Realization of these promises implies negotiating with market players, who serve opposite goals. Overhead costs of a welfare state are high and you cannot butter your bread with idealism. Yet, it becomes clear that the outcome of competing market players contradicts the concept of idealistically planned street sceneries.
High urban density generates subcultures. It stands for a concentration of diverse programs and results in a safe and lively street scene, 24 hours a day. The confrontation of subcultures is supposed to generate mutual exchange, to facilitate debate and to stimulate an independent state of mind. It represents modernism as a makeable ideal for the city, and for oneself. The intended cultural exchange should take place primarily in public spaces. Urban planners therefore manipulate build program and routes in order to produce street scenes with idealistic atmospheres. This has led to an animated urban scenery that imposes our most wishful self-image and represses all undesired appearances of city life. It eliminates and represses conditions for spatial and programmatic free will, mirroring its perfectly composed appearance. Only successfully proven urban typologies are realized. Pedestrian shopping boulevards with their predictable apartment blocks are deliberately desired and planned everywhere. At the same time requested gated communities, malls along highways and unregulated industrial sites are simply not permitted. It is precisely this self-censorship that confirms the impotence of present-day urban planning. As a result, the current urban scenery displays aspects of schizophrenia everywhere. Between ‘successful’ shopping streets and squares that are successfully filled with daily life, fragments of irrepressible urbanity emerge. Streets in residential areas, that were initially designed as lively spaces, look more and more like functional parking spaces. Picturesque little shops in the Netherlands are given unfair preferential treatment by forbidding their much more successful large-scale competitors along the highways. The idealistically imposed, ghetto-free neighborhoods and carefully composed building envelopes have become the standard repertoire of urban planners. The social housing percentage applied in expensive areas (Amsterdam South and Center) stresses the intended residential mobility. Expensive apartments in low income districts (Rotterdam South, AmsterdamWest) have sometimes been empty for years. In fact, imposed social housing in expensive new-build neighborhoods is nowadays transferred to cheaper locations in order to safeguard project financing in the expensive areas. At the same time businesses and companies are looking in irritation for locations that do not have to be so drastically cosmetic. Are we still capable of accepting our reality or is our need for makeability the negative, as well as dramatically affirmative answer?
The examples described seem to underline the changing socio-cultural conditions in which the urban planning discipline is practiced. The solid coalition between capitalism and democracy has far-reaching influence, socially, because both strive for the largest possible target group in order to survive. The fewer production runs, the higher the relative profit, the stronger the (international) business position, the fewer the redundancies and the more satisfied voters. Therefore the ‘frame’ of a certain brand or type of appliance, is the benchmark for other brands. Film shots of the casino parking lot in the James Bond movie Casino Royale show eight different car brands.
Technical changes and their social applications are radically altering conditions for every day city life. It can be seen as an extra argument that labels current
Programmatic need as a rare private development: a (possibly unique) ‘gated community’ in Amsterdam.
Modernist response; images of ‘beautiful people’ and ‘happy life’, 24/7.
Forced nature of relating unrelated ingredients; pedestrian area versus street level functions (Jan van Duivevoordestraat in Amsterdam-Geuzenveld and Oeverpad in Amsterdam-Osdorp).
Photos Jeroen Heester/STEARC
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planning principles as old fashioned and redundant. Increased mobility and network coverage are ‘partners in evolution’: their interactions increase the sense of detachment from a specific place. Vacation flights are booked on the internet while instant MSN messages tell how wonderful and what time it is over there. Optical fiber cables and satellite links enhance the traditional physical place with wormhole-like aspects. All this has made the city concept airborne and rootless, into a global awareness of urbanity. It has shifted the physical aspects of urbanity to an awareness of cohesion: the knowledge that (digitally) you are and can be everywhere. It leads to a new awareness of physical place and the relationship with one’s own physical surroundings. The concept of place and its use frees urbanity from its three-dimensional restraints. Residents’ (physical) mobility has burgeoned, by highway, plane and optical fiber cable. For the first time the entire planet is within reach, so directly for so many people. Relations with the daily living or working environment are partially being replaced by relations with far-away places: ‘Oh, you know that coffee place on that big square?… you should take a look in the side street behind – right at the beginning on your left there’s a very special glassware shop, great stuff, friendly man by the way.’ Meanwhile, at home on Google Earth a couple is experiencing their mountain hike for the third time. At a local level, patterns of movement and related activities are also changing. The traditional combination of daily travel destinations, resulting in route-linked functions and behaviour is already changing though the internet has barely existed 15 years. Web shops operated by supermarkets, gift stores, travel agents etc. combine mass media via the computer with daily shopping…and they deliver to your door! This enables slow traffic flows to become faster and more efficient because their functional tie with the build functions is gradually being replaced by competing functions elsewhere, on the internet. Shopping that still requires the shopper’s physical presence has become a concentrated collective that takes over city centers. Stores that used to sell books, electronics and even tools have made way for imageoriented shops that sell clothes, shoes, cosmetics, cell phones and jewelry. The customary fast-food chains at the beginning or end of today’s shopping street emphasize physical dependence. Essentially it comes down to this: if the use of streets changes, the behavior and needs of its adjacent program (programmatic needs) changes as well. Seen from that angle, it is not necessary to impose services and shops on the street level, to harmonize neighborhoods and to continue linearity of street façades everywhere. Globalization seems to generate urbanity as the large-scale sum of small-scale custom-made developments that exist independent of each other at a local level, and interrelate again at a global level. Nowadays you are more likely to speak anonymously on internet with other neighborhood residents than you are to meet them in your street. The fact that physical aspects of city life (like objects or atmospheres that help identification with a specific place) are partially replaced by an awareness of its global setting, means there is less a need for physical awareness of areas. This implies less need for the design of cohesion bet-
ween areas or neighborhoods. Vinex (Dutch government-designated) sites and urban areas have long been displaying tabula rasa aspects and present themselves as cosmetic ‘free-states’. Sunny vacation destinations have being doing that for years; replicas of the same Peruvian mountain villages are found world wide. Thanks to globalization, specific urban conditions are becoming the same everywhere. ‘Genius loci’ goes global, thereby sabotaging its own existence. Denial
Recent projects demonstrate at street level the forced nature of the modernist denial of the Genius global: obligatory shops and services at street level stay empty because fewer customers enter from the sidewalk. Consequently, building parts at street level are filled with parking garages or housing, sometimes devaluing the traditional street into curtain showrooms and blank garage walls. Community centers, as places to unite the neighborhood, are displaying more and more ghetto-like features and quiet local parks are illegally used as car parks at night. What were intended to be idyllic green landscaped courts in recent newbuild districts have partly been changed by developers into parking spaces for more cars. The functional evolution of spatial necessities produces a new street scene far away from its modernist ideals. The relevant disciplines should not reject this change on account of nostalgia and value judgment, but should analyze its usefulness, necessity and appearance. That does not mean that public space and built program lose their ties everywhere, but that changes should take place when the inadequacies of presentday spatial problems are camouflaged by regulations for idealistic street scenes. Urban planning aspects change since, of late, many of its users know what they want, where they want it and how they want it. It is up to urban planning to facilitate this evolutionary path, as the continuous quest for the most current balance in spatial planning. The forced representation of the present is currently leading to an anonymous and unsafe framework (in social and physical terms) that points public life towards a second ‘ground plane’. Infrastructural transit spaces, such as subway stations, airports and parking garages, serve as modern meeting places and physically connect individuals with the global network. The way back to one’s own front door is long and lonely, however good the MP3 players may sound. It is important to awaken to these changed conditions. Sticking to outdated design behavior strangles the individual’s development and freezes society’s development. It undermines free will and the present right of a discipline to exist. It slows down social evolution and the feeling of happiness, using dated arguments at the cost of spatial planning’s credibility. It is the existential goal of urban planning to serve its target group and therefore keep itself up to date, rather than the reverse. Of course, not everything should be released to the individual; some ‘steering’ still seems necessary in order to merge all the conflicting demands and wishes to guarantee community. However, the fact that there is a knowledge vacuum regarding the way the renewed conditions and wishes merge, compels the urban design discipline to examine these issues.
Planning the will
It is the very essence of global urban design and spatial planning: the world’s surface equally divided up by all the world’s addresses. That is the way new urban developments could start: as a launching pad for the experimental influencing of its own users’ inclinations. If spatial conflicts and aspects of chaos are introduced as a post-educational stage, the program can again become reacquainted with itself. The fewer imposed rules there are, the more authentic and independent the ultimate behavior of the program. In this case, freedom enforces the showcasing of authenticity and enables the urban image to be born. An unambiguous land value exposes the urban domain to the market and facilitates reservations for unplanned, unregulated growth. Indifferently planned infrastructure emphasizes what is unpretentious. Claims on light and space for neighborhood lots can be ‘bought off’, buildings can be connected to one another and alternative ground planes can arise locally. Paradoxically enough, randomly dispersed lots will remain government property in order to guarantee the necessary openness for public functions like market squares, municipal offices, libraries, museums, criminal detention hospitals and police stations. Large numbers of streets and road shoulders provide sufficient space
for possible uncontrolled growth of ‘little Warsaw’s, Chinatowns and illegally built pavilions and market stalls. A policy of tolerance towards illegal inclinations facilitates amenities within everyone’s reach. Densities, shapes and measurements of plots are subject to the battle for individual gain, with the losers obliged to creatively accept second choice. An endless supply of available ‘apartment rights’ makes densities possible where they are apparently desirable. In unpopular areas farmers might even buy out residents. Functions compete with one another, parasitize and collaborate in order to survive – a spinoff of an assumed need. (Re)location of functions is as unpredictable as the variations in urbanity as a whole. Cohesion and clarity disappear, make way for a discovery of the ever-changing neighborhood. Where’s the hairdresser? On which floor? Beside which printshop? In this exercise, self-generated densities and programmatic zoning do not result from planning or imposed assumptions of what is traditional, but from the survival instinct and dreams of the users themselves. Pure will. Planning in the Dutch welfare state, in which amenities remain in neighborhoods and not, as in London, requiring you to travel 30 minutes in the subway with your shopping, is all very well – and wellintentioned. However, it immobilizes initiative and it neglects people’s inventive capacity to find solutions. It eliminates the need for collective behavior, for communication and joint inventiveness and therefore of the possibility of culture… however good the intentions. Students and people with invalid carriages supplementing their income as ‘taxi-drivers’, or tuktuks and shopping couriers, only get a chance if its necessity dictates. The introduction of chaos binds and generates cultures, compels contact, assistance and practical ingenuity. It encourages people to show solidarity. It produces social cohesion as a neighborhood feeling, in short, everything present-day photoshopped reference images try to promise. Urbanity exists by the grace of its conflicting programmatic needs and the human ability to deal with it. To facilitate this is to redefine the concept of current planning and accepts urbanity as it is.
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References Boomkens, R., De Nieuwe Wanorde. Amsterdam (Van Gennep) 2006. Chuihua, J, C. and others (eds), A Great Leap Forward. Cambridge MA (Taschen) 2001. Ford Motor Company, http://www.ford.com/about-ford/ company-information/ford-brands/ford-motor-companyvehicle-brands; accessed 22/04/2008. Jacobs, J., The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Middlesex (Penguin) 1962. Møystad, O., ‘Urban by Implication’ (2004): http://www.ab.ntnu.no/byggekunst/ansatte/ansattesider/ moystad/Urban%20by%20Implication; accessed 22/04/2008. Quinton, J., ‘Scape’ (2007): www.worldpress.com, http://jpquinton.wordpress.com/2007/02/06/scape-part-1/ (part 1, 2 and 3); accessed 22/04/2008. Sloterdijk, P., Sferen. Amsterdam (Boom) 2003. Wikipedia, Globish, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globish; accessed 22/04/2008.
If spatial developments are focused on the desires and skills of individuals themselves, it might be possible for the Genius global to evolve. A new spatial and social equilibrium may be reached without present-day suppressive legislation. The ability and the will to accept this new reality is the prerequisite for free urban planning. It reverses spatial legislation and accepts that perhaps the only option is to permit programmatic needs. Design as a spatial planning tool is only useful for planning ‘top-down’. As soon as spatial planning proceeds from the resident and user level, the design tool – at that level – is unnecessary, and architects can once more become design coaches, helping users build their dream houses. It invalidates market policy influences in the design process and shifts aspects of process management to the level and wishes of the user. A theoretical experiment justifies combining the urban design repertoire into one single neutrally reactive ‘fabric’. A fabric that reacts and decides independently. It focuses on the urban dweller and his or her wishes, not on planners, politics or prevailing fantasies. From that perspective, the designer’s task is to guide the educational development of that fabric. To teach the fabric how to react to site- and userspecific conditions. It is conceivable that chaos will be created as an evolutionary phase of urban planning. It means that urban planning will be down-scaled to ‘plot level’, applied regionally in a global setting. It makes the pursuit of a design attitude, in which the program itself determines where it would like to be established and which inclinations affect its behavior, extremely topical and worth while. Telework combined with delivery services and other digital possibilities facilitates free location for a growing number of dwelling units. It reduces the programmatic advantage of physical concentration and thereby questions the concept of the traditional city.
Principles of Great Stories Stick to It
Coping with Slums and Slabs Steven Wassenaar A couple of decades ago French urban policy was all-inclusive, meaning that the state felt responsible for providing good living conditions for all who lived within its boundaries. The extensive new town program of the 1960s that regulated and organized Parisâ€™ rapid growth is an expression of that ambition. Todayâ€™s policy is exclusive: being and living there is not enough to be cared for or even accepted. The eradication of ideals of the 1960s, both political and urbanistic, is in full swing.
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.1 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?
I: Slums: Working With Precariousness
Slum neighborhoods are emerging in France again, inhabited by Roma from countries as Romania, Bulgaria and Kosovo, who have fled from discrimination and unemployment. These slums are located on former industrial sites that are often polluted. For instance, there is an encampment with 800 residents in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Ouen beneath the smoke of an incinerator. The huts erected on railway tracks lean against one another, children play in the dirt. The local authority, which initially excluded these children from the schools, does not provide water or sanitation and the refuse piles up.2 The shantytown can compete with Third World slums, with the difference that there they are stable and most countries provide some services. The poorest are not driven from site to site as they are in France. Everything in the twenty slum neighborhoods with 4,000 residents around Paris is made from waste material: huts, stoves, furniture. The Roma find one-day jobs in the building industry, or sell metal that they recycle from appliances. Their standard of living on the fringe in France is higher than in their native country. It is noteworthy that there were slums on the same sites until 1974, in which a total of 75,000 persons lived according to official statistics from 1965, although their number was probably twice as high. Already at that time the slum residents had a long wait before they were issued with council housing, because there were doubts as to whether the immigrants would be able to adapt to the French way of life. History is repeating itself: identical arguments are now being used against the Roma, who are assumed to be incapable of integrating. How do French cities, regions and the state deal with these shantytowns? The state policy of expulsion, harassment and financial incentives to leave implemented by the prefects and police can be summed up in the words ‘clear out’. This policy, which was designed between 2002 and 2007 by the Home Secretary at the time, Nicolas Sarkozy, is inefficient and bears witness to a level of inhumanity that is not often encountered in Western Europe.3 Damage is deliberately caused during police raids against peaceful Rom families by heavily armed riot troops, confirming the reputation for brutality of the French police.4 They are eager to arrest Roma if they are caught ‘stealing water’ from fire hydrants or begging
in the vicinity of slums.5 Elsewhere camps were destroyed by bulldozers so quickly that the residents lost their documents and possessions and all the adults were arrested, as happened in Bonneuil on 24 January 2006, when young children only 3 to 6 years old were left behind with no one to take care of them.6 Still, no matter how often they are driven away, the same slums and Roma pop up somewhere else. They have no choice. Misa Bota: ‘We left Romania in 2001 because my 6-year-old daughter was excluded from the school in Timi oara because she is a Rom’. Misa was expelled from France but has kept on coming back. After seven years in a slum the family now lives in a house, but Misa’s greatest success is that his daughter has now been going to school for seven years.7 Discouragement strategy
The 10-year-old Hanoul encampment is situated beneath a motorway viaduct three kilometers north of Paris; the Communist-run local authority Saint Denis has installed a water supply and four toilets for the 150 residents. The Human Rights Commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles visited the camp in 2005 and wrote: ‘It has not been possible to conceal the deplorable conditions in which people have to live. I was horrified by what I saw. Never before in the daytime have I seen so many rats in such a small area; they were running around everywhere alongside the children.’8 Nothing has changed in this camp, where it is no coincidence that open tuberculosis has been found, since 2005. In fact, the conditions described by Alvaro Gil-Robles have even deteriorated: the doors and windows of caravans in the camp, where children live, were smashed during various police raids in 2006. Fifty police entered the area on 5 January 2007: adults and children between the ages of 3 and 9 were dragged out of the caravans and had to spend an hour and a half lying on the ground while their possessions were thrown out of the caravans and coffee was thrown over the beds.9 This strategy of discouragement and harassment is combined with collective deportation to Romania, in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights, or, more recently, with blackmail: if the Roma do not accept the financial incentive to repatriate, their homes are destroyed and they are left with nothing.10 The advantage of this is that the expelled Roma can be included in the target figure of expelling 25,000 illegal immigrants every year, 30% of whom are Roma. Malik Salemkour of the Human Rights League: ‘The official policy discriminates because it is intended to block access to work, education and medical care for one ethnic group: racism against Roma is tolerated.’11 The response that Nicolas Sarkozy gave to a question in parliament is proof of the prejudices that are held in the highest circles: ‘It appears that these persons [...] do not have a means of subsistence, as can be seen from the conditions in which they live and their begging. Their behavior is incompatible with public order: prostitution, incitement to vice, theft [...] and aggressive begging. These persons must be removed from the territory [...].’12 According to Médecins du Monde, the violent clearance of slums causes serious traumas and all accomplished integration is nullified. This policy, which was designed to deal with the few thousand Roma in
special laws between 2002 and 2007, is thus based on criminalizing the representation of poverty, the slum, and making the lives of its residents impossible. Successful integration
A comparison between the situation in the shantytowns in 1974 and those in 2008 shows that in the 1970s local authorities offered the immigrants free education, transport and holiday camps, while the state forced housing associations to accommodate slum residents and built temporary flats. Certainly, today non-governmental organisations such as Romeurope provide assistance and some local authorities only clear up slums after consultations have taken place. A slum mushroomed in Bobigny between September 2006 and January 2007 and was only destroyed after the 250 residents had agreed to accept temporary housing in reception centers. This more humane strategy of consultation is the softest of the measures for clearing up bidonvilles, but it does not seem to work: the social upgrade from slum to apartment requires counseling to make it work, and many return to the slums after a few weeks. How is the problem to be tackled? In Aubervilliers, where 30% of the 72,000 residents are foreigners, there were slums with 600 residents. A neighborhood of prefab homes, mirroring the social structure of the slum, was created in 2006 for sixty persons. According to Marie-Louise Mouket of Pact Arim 93, better living conditions should be the basis of the search for further solutions.13 The Roma receive counseling via evaluation and work placement to achieve a job and permanent accommodation within three years. The families sign a contract obliging them to learn French and to have their children educated. As the prefect was in favor of the project, a multi disciplinary procedure14 could be signed, by which the state funded 50% of the project while the region and the town paid the other half of the € 1 million building expenses. Eleven of the eighteen heads of families have a permanent job and will exchange the project for a flat. After this success, a similar initiative has been begun in Saint Denis for twenty-two Rom families on a site with caravans and good sanitary facilities. These projects show that Rom families can integrate with few resources: slums are not inevitable.
conditions under a motorway for eight years, by Alvaro Gil-Robles in 2005 and again by Miloon Kothari of the UN Commission on Human Rights in 2007. The dreadful conditions in which these children born on French territory have been growing up for years are a cause for indignation, but Europe is also responsible for this continual inhuman treatment of the Roma because it has compiled inventories of the unacceptable situations but does not sanction failure of the French to make improvements. Moreover, the integration projects that are already under way in France, offering housing, work, and social counseling, can be better funded and encouraged by Europe.
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Role for Europe 12 13 14 15 16
Since 2007 Romania and Bulgaria have become members of the European Union and their citizens can circulate freely in the EU. Although the ten million Roma are the largest minority in Europe, people seem to know nothing about their centuries of persecution and are indifferent to their situation, which has grown worse in many countries since 1990. The French integration policy for slum residents in the 1970s – direct access to the employment market and soon afterwards to the housing market – shows that at that time the country was a smoothly running integration machine, while in 2008 it has closed the employment market to Roma for discriminatory and electoral reasons15, at a time when there are 500,000 vacancies that cannot be filled, the economy is paying a high price for jobs that are not taken, and the loss of revenue for the pension funds is running into billions16. Attention was drawn to the Hanoul camp in Saint Denis, where children have been growing up in appalling
Migrant workers recruited to solve the housing shortage ended up in slums. Press release, Médecins du Monde, January 2007. ‘[Roma...] live in deplorable conditions in makeshift camps and are continuously forcibly evicted, either through police raids, often particularly violent, or through a pattern of constant threats, searches, destruction of property and other forms of harassment’. Always Somewhere Else, Anti-Gypsyism in France, European Roma Rights Centre, Nov. 2005, p. 12. […] I learned about several cases of violence and rape involving police officers from the Saint Denis police station‘ in ‘On the effective respect for human rights in France’ Report by Mr Alvaro Gil-Robles, Commissioner for Human Rights, 2006, Point 175-177, Full report on www.coe.int. ‘When [Roma] exercise various activities in order to survive [...], they face constant harassment by police’. Op. cit., note 3, pp. 20 & 269. Full report: www.errc.org ‘During one eviction in July 2005 in Vitry-sur-Seine, children were left alone on the site without assistance or protection.’ Op. cit., note 4, point 350. Interview with Misa Bota on 23-04-2008. According to UNICEF, 30% of Rom children do not have access to schools in Romania. Op. cit., note 4, Point 93. Complaint by French member of parliament Patrick Braouzec, 11-01-2005, to the National Security Ethics Commission (CNDS). National Agency for the Reception of Foreigners and Migration (ANAEM). The financial incentive to leave is € 300 per adult and € 100 per child. Interview on 25-04-2008 with Malik Salemkour, League for Human Rights. Response to parliamentary question n° 17477, 5-05-2003. Pact Arim helps the 100,000 French homeless and those who live in unacceptable conditions – slums. www.pact-arim.org. The procedure in which multidisciplinary teams work together is known as ‘maîtrise d’œuvre urbaine et sociale’ (MOUS). Employers have to pay the ANAEM (cf. note 7) € 900 to employ a Rom. Government reports therefore call for immigration: report of the ‘Commission pour la libération de la croissance‘, Jacques Attali, 2008, p. 172.
Slum housing Roma from Romania and Bulgaria in Bobigny. Volume 16
Slum housing Roma from Romania and Bulgaria in Bobigny and in the background dalle Karl Marx, Bobigny.
Integration project for Roma in St Denis, caravans.
Integration project for Roma in Aubervilliers, prefab housing.
II: Slabs: Working With Utopia
Districts of Greater Paris have to deal with the dalles that were built in the 1960s and 1970s and have now fallen into disrepair. These slabs were built between the grands ensembles (big ensembles) and were intended for middle-class residents who could step out of their flat onto a traffic-free esplanade to stroll, shop and socialize. Slab urbanism creates a mineral, utopian urban space in which such functions as driving, parking and housing are stacked vertically, but it turned out to generate problems and its viability is up for discussion. Demolish or renovate? The new town of Bobigny is opting for demolition of the Karl Marx slab. In the 1960s this village was suddenly designated as the capital of the new Seine Saint Denis administrative district by the Law for the Reorganization of the Paris Region (SDAURP)1, and in 1965 the urban development master plan for Paris stated that Bobigny was to become a structuring pole in Greater Paris.2 This SDAURP master plan defined the gigantic, multi-centered project of the new towns around Paris, linked by a network of regional trains and motorways. So slab urbanism is an intrinsic part of the history that was still waiting to be written. A priority urban zone procedure3 was outlined for the centre of Bobigny in 1967 consisting of thirty-five 18-floor apartment blocks placed around six raised slab platforms with shops. The car parks and roads are situated below the level of the platforms, while the districts are surrounded by greenery and open space: the ideal town, at least on paper. But Bobigny never acquired the economic importance mentioned in the SDAURP master plan, and the platform system was sabotaged when state institutions refused to connect to them. The economic crisis did the rest and the project was halted, which was to have consequences for the Karl Marx district, which was never linked with the other platforms. This led to two rival structures, the upper town and the lower town. Residents were forced to adopt zigzag routes, made worse by the unclear status of the spaces: were they private or public? The district was left to its own devices. Forty years on, the decay is visible and many shops on the slab are empty. Poverty descended on the town after the exodus of the middle class, and in 1995 it was classified as a Zone Urbain Sensible (problematic urban zone). 4 Annick and Luc Jaume moved to the Karl Marx district in 1972, at a time when their apartment was de luxe. They have seen the glorious era and the decline. Annick Jaune: ‘In the 1970s the dalle was full of life: there were lots of shops and pedestrians’. All the same, they have refused to leave their district and regard it as positive that it is now inhabited by immigrants from Brittany, North Africa or China totaling more than sixty different nationalities. Since 1998 Bobigny has been working on the renovation of the 40-year-young centre. Residents were asked for their views on their Communistadministered, multicultural town, followed by further consultations in 2005 and 2006 in the Karl Marx district in the form of urbanism workshops. Questionnaires revealed that the residents regard the slab as an obsolete obstacle, inaccessible to those with a handicap, and unsafe at night. The local authority decided
to demolish the slab and to restore the district on the natural level of the ground. Lacking the financial resources to clean up the slab and the centre on its own – at a cost of € 132 million – the town was able to fall back on the Borloo Law, whose purpose is to improve the conditions in suburbs. Since 2007 residents can follow the plans on scale models in an information point: the range of housing is becoming more diverse, lower flats and owner occupied homes are being built beside the slab, with a total of 770 new homes. The 244 families from the flats that are due for demolition are being housed elsewhere: an agency carries out a social diagnosis for that purpose and provides counseling for the eighteen-month change of address within the framework of a multidisciplinary team procedure.5 A home ownership scheme6 enables families with modest incomes to purchase their rented accommodation below the market value.6 The demolition of two apartment blocks will open up the district and once the slab has been removed, daylight will be restored to the streets below that are felt to be dark and unsafe. A new street grid is being laid out across the district, dividing it into four classic blocks to make the difference between public and private domains clear. Bobigny will probably develop other scenarios for the remaining slabs. Will it create private gardens or facilities on them, or, after the potential success of the Karl Marx operation, will it make the whole town slab-free? Wasp-waisted tower blocks
There are two slabs in the inner city of Paris that are being renovated instead of demolished. The first, the Font de Seine, which served as décor in Wim Wenders’ film The American Friend, is private property that is open to the public. Designated as a sector due for renovation in the Paris urban master plan7 in 1959, the district was built between 1962 and 1976 and marked a break with the local housing and factories. This onekilometer long, six-hectare slab is flanked by twenty tower blocks with 10,000 residents and 5,000 office employees. It includes schools, a library and two swimming baths; here the slab is the infrastructure that links these elements. Many of the tower blocks have a wasp waist just before they reach the slab to create more light and space. There are many positive aspects: a central location in the city, and a functional combination of work, housing and recreation. In 1998 the concrete structure showed signs of leaking, leading to the closure of the underground car parks. All the other classic problems of slab urbanism emerged too. The routes are labyrinthine, views are obstructed, and the paving is too homogeneous, which is not conducive to orientation. There is access to the slab by escalator, ramp and lift, but these are difficult to locate. The spatial rifts between slab and street, slab and river respectively, lead to dysfunctionalism and isolate the slab. It is noteworthy that the residents have returned spontaneously to the ground level because they use the subterranean entrance, and not the luxurious halls one floor higher. In this case too the residents were consulted, and they wanted to keep the slab, to which they had grown attached. A plan for the renovation was drawn up, to be implemented between 2004 and 2011. Eerie passageways on the
slab were closed and the lighting was made brighter in the evening, while a new paving system will suggest routes between the five neighborhoods. Views towards the Seine are being created and new entrances as a continuation of the existing streets. The arrangement on the slab is being made more clearly differentiated, with open squares on one side next to gardens planted with trees. Architecture as way of life
The folder presenting the Olympiades slab in 1965 was entitled ‘change your life, change your city’.8 It announced that ‘an impossible dream comes true’ because the slab marks the invention ‘a new art of living’. It is conceived as a total city for families in which they can live, shop, exercise and meet friends. Architecture here is more than an environment: it builds a way of life. However, the economic crisis meant that some of the announced services were never implemented. The district was built between 1965 and 1976 by the architect Michel Holley, who abandoned the street as a structuring principle. Thirty tower blocks, some of them 33 floors high, flank a 15-metre-high square, below which are four or five levels of parking space. The 24,000 m2 slab is overlooked by 3,098 apartments, 45% of which are council homes. Beneath it a kilometer of underground roads provide access to 2,700 parking lots, a Buddhist temple and wholesalers of Asian food. The questionnaire conducted among residents revealed that they are critical of their surroundings. There is little for young people to do on the slab, except that it has unexpectedly become a playground for urban acrobatic sports. Every day 6,000 pedestrians walk over the square, but they also – and this was never intended – walk through the underground rue Disque and rue Javelot to avoid the slab. The difficulty of access to the slab is a problem, as well as the long time it takes to reach the street from the flats. In December 2005 the Olympiades were incorporated in the major urban renewal project and renovation could get under way.9 The aim is to make the paving more attractive and to improve the lighting. Other recommendations envisage a better link between the street and the slab, the removal of obstacles on the slab surface, the provision of quality services, and a reinforcement of the shopping function. Private and public areas are to be clearly differentiated, and the plants in pots are to be replaced by genuine parks. Since September mediators from the city of Paris have been conducting surveillance and solving conflicts. In the future the gap above the rails of the Gobelin station, where the slab was never completed, has be filled in or covered.
model, but has been confined to a few experiments which have been scattered here and there in the landscape of Greater Paris. More than curiosities, they bear witness to a rare courage to experiment radically and on a large scale. After forty years of slab urbanism, it is possible to gauge the consequences of this unique urban form, to analyze its ageing, and to examine the relation with the historic city. As one of the last energetic attempts to create the ideal city, slab urbanism proves to produce identical problems. The ambiguity of the space is one of the causes: in the traditional city the public street is accessible to all, but it is also spatially demarcated and is patently distinct from private spaces. The situation on the slab is different, where the spaces that are open to all are bigger and more diverse, while in legal terms they are private spaces. The problems may be identical, but the solutions adopted by local authorities in the poor suburbs are different from those of the wealthier capital: demolition instead of renovation, or new spectacular architecture, as in La Défense. Linking the slab with the natural ground and with the district is a condition for successful revival. Before the slabs are demolished, paying attention to redesigning them is an option, because they are young systems and we probably lack enough distance to be able to write them off immediately. The striking feature is that these districts have been made as if they were petrified, few changes have been made to their total design in the last forty years, no buildings have been added, and the town has nowhere become densified. When it was completed, the slab was not just a utopia – it was a monument right from the start.
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Loi n°64-707 du 10 juillet 1964 sur la réorganisation de la région parisienne. Schéma directeur d’aménagement et d’urbanisme de la région de Paris (SDAURP), 1965. Zone à urbaniser en priorité (ZUP). Procedure for urban development projects that was in force from 1959 to 1967 to combat the housing shortage. Zones urbaines sensibles (ZUS), problematic urban districts that are priority targets of government policy. Maîtrise d’œuvre urbaine et sociale (MOUS), procedure in which local multidisciplinary teams work together. Accession sociale à la propriété to promote social intermingling. Plan d’Urbanisme Directeur de Paris, 1959.
Slab urbanism is a radical solution for the division of space by separating groups of users and is the result of a total vision of the city that was developed in parallel to the architecture of the Modernist movement. It is based on utopian urban projects, Eugène Hénard’s city of the future of 1910, the Athens Charter of the 1930s, and the Buchanan Report of 1963. It proposes the model of a new city and society, a total rupture with the existing city. It has not led to a widely applied
Soon to be destroyed slab in citĂŠ Karl Marx, Bobigny Volume 16
Slab Front de Seine, rupture with street level and old city, Paris.
Soon to be destroyed slab above underground parking and road, cité Karl Marx, Bobigny.
Buildings with ‘wasp waist’, slab Front de Seine, Paris.
Slab system in Bobigny and conserved slab Paul Eluard.
Slab Front de Seine, rupture with street level, Paris
Unfinished slab Olympiades, former partially covered railway station Gobelins.
Principles of Great Stories Make it Compelling
1 in 23 A Day in the Barrio Urban Think Tank / Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner
10:00 am The journey in…
inspection of the inside however we are surprised to learn that there is a middle class standard of living at work: the residents may be stuck in poverty, but they do not revel in it. Many of them, Felix points out to us, work hard for a living but find it hard to move up the social ladder given their situation. These informal housing developments are the living space of much of Venezuela’s working class. Between the blocks, however, is a different story. You get the feeling you’re living in a contemporary medieval village. We are told individual initiative is required for the construction of a house in the barrio; typically, you build your own home. However, much of the underlying decisionmaking – where and what to build, the degree of permissible encroachment on your neighbors – is collective. Where individual interests and the common good collide, the latter prevails. Although technically the state prohibits the illegal occupation of land, it tends to turn a blind eye when that occupation is undertaken by barrio leaders.1 These are generally the residents of the barrio who inspire the rest of the community. They were the initiators of the ‘take over’ of the land, making virgin land habitable. They are the ones to whom families turn when in search of new land, don’t have the courage to take it over or the knowledge how to make a slope habitable for their ranchos. As a general rule, the leaders of the barrio population know how barrio committees and groups work. They know how to solve their own internal contradictions. They are familiar with the financial mechanisms available to them as regards the necessary operations of barrio construction. Sitting here, I’m amazed watching these guys at work. They know how to take advantage of the situation, for example, as Felix tells me. In exchange for votes political parties will feed the illegal occupation of land by working with the barrio communities and allowing squatting on unoccupied land.
The car ride into 23 de Enero, the largest modern social housing complex in Latin America, is like a trip into another world. We find ourselves in Catia on the edge of Caracas and already an odd feeling has surfaced – there’s an unsettling sensation of anxiety that starts deep in your bones and pulsates through your heart. The people begin to change. It’s not just the look but also how they carry themselves; they’re a proud people but you can sense the disillusionment that’s set in after years of broken government promises. Still, a sense of ‘high hope’ lingers. Signs fill the sidewalks just as they do in the rest of the city except here the attitude has changed considerably. Street murals that once promoted ‘Viva la Revolución’ now shout for politics without Chavez, ‘Chavismo sin Chavez’. Welcome to Blade Runner of the tropics. We park the car in La Piedrita and proceed on foot. The fabric of the city reveals itself as we look ahead: the patchwork seems to fuse like a kaleidoscope with the metro that stretches east-west through the city, various towers stand against the backdrop of red clay and concrete self-built medium story buildings that checker the mountainside these are the barrios. Much time has passed since we’ve last seen it. Hiking up into 23 de Enero we are struck by the obvious reality that modern urban life is more vertical than horizontal. In most instances stairs function only partly as a means of access. They are also meeting spaces and living rooms, places for conversation, playing games, domestic drama and day dreaming. We walk up a past project of ours, a system of prefab stairs assembled in panels. You could say the spirit is in the valley landscape yet the split psyche expresses itself more directly in the case study of Carlos Raul Villanueva’s 1958 modern housing complex called 23 de Enero. We have chosen to highlight this area of Caracas as an example of how history is represented in architecture. The co-existence of modern housing block architecture and barrio urbanism in this complex dialogue shows us that architecture exists day by day through history and in its own history created day by day. The 15-story blocks rise like castles from the sea of hundreds of thousands barrios. While some 60,000 people live in the blocks, about seven times that number live in the houses in between them. Like a threat or a promise, the shacks sit along the cliff like a fort engendering feelings of both dread and pride.
12:00 pm Meeting our guide…
We meet Felix, a Venezuelan community activist in his mid-30s. An avid martial artist, he is also the father of four young children. He has participated in the establishment and construction of about seven barrios in Caracas. His first intervention took place in La Vega Parish where he was in charge of establishing a committee board. He says he established the first barrio in order to have a house for himself and his family. It is a peculiar feeling to step into an apartment in 23 de Enero. It is initially easy to dismiss these living quarters as dirty and unorganized given the amount of trash that builds up outside the houses. This is both due to neglect from the residents and the aftermath of torrential rains, which wreak havoc on these communities due to poor infrastructure. Upon closer
1:30 pm community meeting…
We walk into a barrio meeting already in progress. Usually when one thinks ‘committee’ one imagines a table filled with people in charge of a common situation. We’re surprised to learn that in some circumstances the committee is no more than a single person who carries out all of the committee’s functions. We can sense urgency in the air as the residents discuss personal matters regarding their homes. It doesn’t matter what you call these barrio meetings, they’re nothing other than another of the many ways residents organize to ensure their possession of the land, the realization of a minimal arrangement of land, and to ensure those indispensable services of urban life (water, sewers, transportation, etc.). The creation of these barrio organizations can be promoted from outside the barrio by private organizations, political party leaders or State institutes normally related to barrio improvement. In most instances the State has been able to solve, to some extent, some of the obstacles encountered by groups or individuals unable to urbanize because of their lack of land ownership or the necessary technical and financial resources to complete construction. The State then becomes a key agent in the production of ranchos. The State gives tacit
Photo Pablo Souto & U-TT
consent by helping individuals build on appropriated municipal and private land, hiring construction companies or permitting users themselves to act as builders. Since many residents lack the wherewithal to acquire market housing, build by themselves or hire somebody else to build housing, common people become real estate agents or promoters of their own residence and its urbanization. The people create a tight relationship with the real estate agent appointed by the State (through its diverse agencies). The State can use ‘underground’ politics to establish a barrio. In several cases the concealed intervention occurred in difficult situations, for example, when there was no immediate housing for homeless or when the State did not have land to build low-income housing. Thus homeless families occupy land that the State helps urbanize by hiring construction companies or permitting users to act as builders with or without the aid of specialist technicians. Although some may affirm that the growth of barrios is due to a real estate speculation made by the promoters or builders of these settlements, the results of our investigation reveals that 60% of the houses in a typical 20-year-old barrio district are built by their the final users. Making a parallel comparison with the construction and promotion of real estate, the committees themselves take over the roles of real estate promoters or construction managers. The committees can also carry out the functions of the general contractor, construction worker, etc. The barrio organization owes its existence to the defense of occupied land, its groundwork and provision of services, but it can also serve other functions to ensure the production of the built environment. In many cases the committee can be transformed into a promoter of cultural and sports activities once the barrio or the sector where the committee lives has successfully provided its services. Nevertheless it would seem that when the barrio is in danger the committee’s priority is once again the defense of the built environment. During the day they build the formal city and at the night the same workforce builds the ‘informal’ city.
3:45 pm Lunch, Reina Pepiada…
We gather around a street vendor to lunch on ‘reina pepiada con todo’ (the ‘Queen’ of corn meal ‘arepas’ sandwiches) and reflect on the history of this barrio as it was told to us. We wonder how 23 de Enero came about in the first place. The story of 23 de Enero is one of explosive urban expansion during the 1970s oil boom which fueled the construction of new housing blocks and, in turn, lured thousands of migrants to the city. Ironically, such public works, intended to modernize and improve living conditions as well as integrate communities, have typically resulted in even greater segregation, raising nearly insurmountable barriers. 23 de Enero is however a different story of design, one with a double story: of building social housing and of adaptation and annexation. The story goes that on December 2, 1955, Pérez Jiménez inaugurated four groups of housing units, made up of thirteen 15-story buildings and fifty-two four-story buildings each with approximately 2,400 apartments. These are located in the sector of ‘la Cañada’, in ‘Monte Piedad’ and ‘La Iglesia’. The rest of the housing blocks to the west had already been
built by the time the Pérez Jiménez dictatorship fell in 1958, but had not been handed over to the public. The government advertised the new apartments as housing preferably for poor families who lived in shacks that had previously occupied the land taken by the super-blocks, thus providing them the opportunity to legally obtain proprietorship of the apartment. They were portrayed as a self-sufficient housing complex with commercial and recreational services. Nurseries, included as part of a plan to take care of the children of working mothers, would be run by welltrained personnel and doctors. Government policy was to create healthy and comfortable housing for those not able to own their own home. Immediately after Pérez Jiménez’ fall, on the 23rd of January, the people of Caracas invaded the vacant apartments. Some 17,000 people invaded apartment, commercial and educational buildings. People tried to get in through doors and windows. Trucks full of furniture would continuously go up and down the hill. Some would break locks in order to gain access to the apartments, while others would buy keys from swindlers only to find the apartments already taken when they got to them. A few days later there were laundries, bakeries, food markets, etc. up and running. After the fall the provisional government decided to improve barrio infrastructure and identify its potential. The barrios entered a new phase. The State accepted the squatters as developers of housing and the name of the district was officially changed to 23 de Enero by the government in the 1960’s in memory of the end of the Jimenez dictatorship. Moreover, on January 24th, 1958 more than 18,000 people gathered in the National Stadium. Eighty books were filled with the names of people who needed housing. Yet this action had no results. People continued to invade apartments and nothing could be done to return money spent on fake keys or remove those who had taken over apartments illegally. Even today there are residents in the 23 de Enero who never paid any money for their apartments. Five years later, in 1963, the Worker’s Bank gave proprietorship documents to those who had paid for their apartment. Remembering a conversation with Paul Spencer Byard, head of Historic Preservation at Columbia University, who came to visit us in Caracas, we consider that given the deteriorated economic and social conditions of Caracas, 23 de Enero poses a provocative question for historic preservation. 23 de Enero seems to be a great learning model of how modern architecture practices can be retrofit and how the human condition changes over time. With its vertical towers, 23 de Enero survives today precisely because it has functioned as a hub where the barrios have successfully plugged in. It is worthy to propose the current 23 de Enero project as the anti-hero archetype of modern World Heritage Sites because as an architecture project it has evolved over time in an exemplary way, changing as society’s conceptions of the modern super-block changed. 5:00 pm Design of conditions…
As we walk the pathways of the modern 23 de Enero blocks, globalization issues are central to the discussion of the temporary and often unstable process
11:08 pm Take away…
Looking back on our trip through 23 de Enero with Felix, we have come to a new understanding of the complexity of the barrio problem. Our hope is that this understanding of 23 de Enero will prompt innovative thinking and real urban solutions and proposals by reversing the flow from North to South and from South to North, from Urban-Think Tank in Caracas to NY and back again. With our exploration into unorthodox building types, U-TT wants to contribute the idea of searching for new models of practice in architecture in the Global South as an exploration into a collective territory of thought at the intersection of design in complex socio-political domains. We like to call this research a kind of non-aligned architecture(s) that can suggest a new paradigm for research that trans gresses hemispheric boundaries in search of new global sights of intervention. For this purpose we created the S.L.U.M. LAB, the Sustainable Living Urban Model platform that operates both at Columbia University’s GSAPP (www.slumlab.org) and our office in Caracas. The idea of this platform is to work toward a practice of architecture that aims to reflect on the spatial necessities of a society in need of equal access to housing, work, technology, services and education as a principal right for all social classes.
We ask ourselves, if sustainable architectural design solutions are about building for today with the future in mind, then how can we design sustainable solutions in the city of the South where the future is uncertain and today’s urban necessities more than overdue or in a state of emergency? How can we think of the future when the needs are immediate? Besides, how can we design for the future in places in relentless politic, cultural and economic flux? For those who understand the state of constant change know also that the world is about the now. The understanding of time is different for each civilization. Medieval societies, for example, were concerned by eternity and not their future. Their time was a time outside of time, they knew well that the world was condemned to extinction and as a result they organized their societies around saving the soul and not the world. Modernism had a different outset; it was not about saving the individual soul but the human race. The collective would be saved through progress and so modern societies had a secular and almost mechanically precise understanding of time. So you could say, today Latin America has regressed from the land of the future to the land of a sort of Darwinian survival of the present. The reality is that we now live in a conjunction of spaces, histories/ epochs and points of view that have synchronized confluent and converge time into the pure present. For the past decades the practice of city building, of which 23 de Enero is a reflection, has been largely oriented toward the fast and furious capturing of the moment, whether dictated by capital investment or a need to survive by the marginalized. 12:10 am Afterthought…
23 de Enero is a complex living organism, brought on by the bureaucracies of modern government. The barrios inside are being blamed for the social problems they sought to address and because their ‘urbanism’, with its willingness to destroy the 20th-century urban fabric in the search of something better, has made them seem the problem rather than the solution. Meanwhile, the modern blocks in their mutation as programs and buildings, stand as important witnesses to possibly the most important event in contemporary cultural history: the divide between formal and informal urban planning. 23 de Enero’s hybrid urban project, is today a marker for a urbanism plug, exemplifying a new form of continuity of the modern ideal within a contemporary condition that embodies both an ancient and modern spirit.
U-TT would particularly like to thank Stephanie Trainer and Anna Wachtmeister for their contributions to research for 23 de Enero. In The Mystery of Capital (New York: Basic Books, 2000 , pp. 55-56) Hernando de Soto states that government policy for social housing is often so inadequate (referring to Peru and Venezuela), that the State ‘in the face of the evident ineffectiveness of the legal system, (…) had to resort to extra legal regulations, and specifically to invasion to create a housing project’. The housing deficit in Venezuela today is over two million units…
of cities and contemporary life. In the city there is a sense that important global and local forces are at work. All this is a dialogue about the relations between material life, technology, social relations, ideology and so on. These ideas direct us to look at the points of articulation between layers of social existence and the production of the city. Buildings should be designed and executed with the lasting ability to either absorb or undergo change and retain essentially the same structure and identity while continuing to give feedback to the city. We at Urban Think Tank design from the conviction that the dynamics of all linked human and natural systems emerge from three complementary attributes: resilience, adaptability and transformability all of which can be manipulated through urban acupuncture. Within this system of urban ecology, adaptability is the capacity of the design project components to be classified as sustainable or resilient over time. Transformability is the key with which architecture in a highly aggressive, constantly mutating environment such as the megalopolis of the Global South can survive. The capacity of the architectural project in its genesis to recognize and build on some aspect of design intelligence recognizes this rapidly mutating environment. Design intelligence is the capacity of the scheme to create fundamentally new systems whether ecological, economic or social. We believe that the opposition of ‘legal’ and ‘peripheral’ urban areas, the rich and the marginalized, are equally constitutive and therefore a new vision for the city model must be implemented for developing cities. Strategies for sustainability must change. There are desirable and undesirable pressure points that insure that a system either intensifies or decreases a threshold between public spaces. Obviously strategies employing this concept are dependent upon what exists and which itself constantly changes over time and is inherently complex.
Photo Pablo Souto & U-TT
Photo Pablo Souto & U-TT
A Retroactive Lens on the Bijlmermeer Wouter Vanstiphout The Amsterdam extension district Bijlmermeer (1965-1975) is famous both nationally and internationally as a problem area. In the meantime more than half of the ten-storey apartment blocks have been demolished and replaced by predominantly low-rise housing for the medium and higher incomes. The surrounding districts, which were built after and in reaction to the Bijlmer, are ripe for intervention. How much engineering can the city handle?
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The main problem of the Bijlmer (or Bijlmermeer) is perhaps that is was built as a statement, and was subsequently demolished as a statement, while the fact that people lived and worked there, who had an inside view of how the Bijlmer gradually changed into something completely different, has been totally ignored. That is the effect that an overkill of attention from the professional world of architecture and urban development, from the politicians and from the media can have. Is it possible to agree on a form of positive fatalism when it comes to issues of this kind? This would imply that we recognize that people cannot be collectivized, assimilated, integrated, secularized, collateralized or turned into bourgeois citizens, neither from above – by the corporations – nor from outside – by the architects and artists.1 Architecture and urban design are deployed for Heesterveld, the recent renewal of the Bijlmer, less as a technical or spatial specialization working with a clear quantitative program of requirements than as a cultural phenomenon with designers, curators, a public, exhibitions and a book. A complex and drastic socio-economic operation is here interwoven with a set of images, ideas and statements that are evaluated in terms of their creativity and originality, and only in the second instance of their applicability. To make Heesterveld suitable and attractive for the target group, the Ymere housing corporation is keeping all alternatives open, from renovation of the blocks to demolition and rebuilding, with an implicit preference for the latter. At any rate, the approach will be integral, in other words, physical social and economic. What distinguishes a process like Heesterveld from the renewal of the Bijlmer ten years ago is the role of the architecture institutes, and as an extension of that the role of architecture and urban development itself. In 1997 the magazine Archis devoted a special issue to the renewal of the Bijlmer, in which a serious debate was conducted on the desirability of demolition, how to create a new cohesion within the Bijlmer, alternatives to the demolition of the flats and their replacement with a classic urban fabric; now the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) plays a completely different role, not as commentator and curator after the fact, but as consultant to Ymere in the choice of designers and other professionals.2 Heesterveld and its current problems, and thus the need for a drastic approach, are placed by Ymere and the NAI within a broad architectural historical narrative that is both riddled with clichés and strange. The question I would like to raise here is: How do we explain this remarkable repetition of moves, this vicious circle of technocracy and amnesia? Why is it that, in spite of the increased pace of changes of course and model in urban renewal, the outcome turns out to be the same one each time: disappointment – demolition – rebuilding – disappointment – demolition – rebuilding? I would like to propose that a part of the explanation lies in the narrative – the word that is used to refer to the truths supposed to adhere to a presidential candidate, for instance – in which we package these urban renewal projects. It is a cultural narrative, with a big role for the designers, clear connections between socio-economic problems and the built volume, and with a repetitious story line of learning from the mistakes of our predecessors and doing something
entirely different now. The main theme is that in the past people used to think and work on a large scale in a top-down way, barely paying attention to the residents or the human scale, with a strong belief in engineering society via drawing board architecture and urban development; now we work on a small scale, paying a lot of attention to the residents, with an organic architecture and urban development. A key word is integral, that is, firing simultaneously from three barrels: physical, social, and economic. One of the things I got worked up about in my earlier essay on the Bijlmermeer was the fictionalizing of raw reality. Ashok Bhalotra, who drew up the master plan for the renewal of the Bijlmermeer, turned his back on the Bijlmer type of urban development because it was imposed on society from above, forcing that society into a straitjacket, which was why society simply did not accept the Bijlmer any more and thus why it had to be demolished. Bhalotra thematized the multicultural aspect of the Bijlmer with metaphors like ‘the street of 1000 cultures’.3 While on the one hand the Bijlmer was demolished because it was felt that other people should come to live here instead of the poor immigrants, on the other hand the immigrants themselves were presented as an almost tourist theme to attract the middle class. Bhalotra aroused my anger at the time because, as a genuine master planner, he replaced the old Bijlmer with a new one, including new residents, by means of demolition and rebuilding, but concealed the demographic implications of his project with multicultural metaphors. Less than five years later, however, Ashok Bhalotra was himself dropped by his former principals with arguments that closely resemble the ones with which Bhalotra had condemned the original urban development of the Bijlmer to oblivion. In a 2002 publication by the major owners of the Bijlmer – the Amsterdam Local Authority and the Patrimonium housing corporation – architectural historian Anne Luijten wrote: ‘The area by area approach of the structural vision of Ashok Bhalotra of Kuiper Compagnons from 1997, De Bijlmer is mijn stad [The Bijlmer is my city], turned out in practice to be a late and feeble attempt to achieve cohesion. The question is whether that is necessary. The area is too large to be contained in a single vision and implementation strategy. The notion of cohesion has the association of something from a remote past that did not work then either.’4 The same publication contained a report by Willem Kwekkeboom on the renewal of the Bijlmermeer. Kwekkeboom was manager of urban renewal of Patrimonium, the superlandlord of the Bijlmer, owner and administrator of all 10,000 homes. In that report he described how one sectoral plan after another was revised in the course of the renewal until there was not really any central vision or strategy left at all. ‘The urban development that came out of this step by step approach had an organic character: a new form emerged for each area within very diverse limiting conditions (minimal quantitative demolition criteria to qualify for rebuilding, borders of the planning area, financial considerations, wishes of the residents, wishes of the corporation or the local authority).’ This paragraph is astonishing for more than one reason. First, Kwekkeboom describes urban development as something that ‘comes out of’ the demolished and built results instead of preceding them.
Drawings Wouter Oostendorp, Jouke Sieswerda
1973: The honeycomb structure is almost completed. Shopping facilities are provisional. In the south the first low rise antiBijlmer, Kelbergen, is completed.
1982: The metro connection to downtown is opened, as are the local shopping centers situated under the elevated road system. The last towers and high-rise blocks are added to the south-eastern part as is an alternative large scale block, Hoptille, to the west.
1992: Part of the ‘central reserve’ is filled with low-rise neighborhoods. City center Amsterdamse Poort, next to the train station, finally does justice to the fact the Bijlmer has over 50,000 residents. First demolition plans for 25% of the flats renew interest in the original concept. A ‘classic’, five-story enclosed building block area (Venserpolder) has been added to the north-western ‘corner’ of the Bijlmer.
2001: Lowering of the main arteries; ‘new’ typologies replace demolished apartment buildings. In the meantime, to the west an office complex for over 50,000 employees (few from the Bijlmer itself) has mushroomed and new leisure center (including the Arena Ajax soccer stadium, theatres and cinemas) is under construction.
2006: Larger part of the Bijlmer apartment building demolition operation has been carried out (ultimately 55% of the honeycombs will be torn down). Small scale neighborhoods (mostly row housing, but also some four-story blocks) replace them. That Bijlmer faithful can withdraw into the Bijlmer Museum, part of the original concept that will stay. Multiculturalism becomes a theme for the development of targeted neighborhoods.
1968: Elevated road infrastructure is finished. The first residents of the first quarter, area H (H-buurt), get their keys.
Market place Kraaiennest
119 Aerial Bijlmermeer
Photo archive Kees Hund
territorial dispute, not only between Amsterdam and the Weesperkarspel Local Authority that was to be annexed, but also between the different departments of the Amsterdam Local Authority: Urban Development, Housing and Municipal Works, as well as between politicians at local and national level. Because they were already designing the Bijlmer before the Bijlmermeer had been annexed, and were thus formally working for the impotent Weesperkarspel Local Authority, the urban planners and architects had a free hand during a crucial period. They took advantage of this to impose a historical obligation on themselves: to show that Amsterdam was still a world leader when it came to large-scale urban development for the entire community. After the ring of canals from the Golden Age, Berlage’s plans for South Amsterdam, and Van Eesteren’s garden cities in the West, the Bijlmer was now to confirm the leading role of the Urban Development Department of Amsterdam. After the presentation of the plan in 1965 and the annexation of Weesperkarspel, the plan for the Bijlmer by Siegfried Nassuth and his team still had to get through the jungle of rival departments, arbitrary state policy, bargaining with building contractors, and so on. First of all the subsidies for industrial building were abolished in 1966, resulting in a painful process of cuts for the flats, enabling the building companies to drive the local authority more deeply into a corner. Second, they failed to attract the residents of Amsterdam with medium incomes to move to the Bijlmer, and thereby to make the historic housing districts available again to those who were looking for a new home in the centre because of the construction of the metro line and the new building in the Nieuwmarkt. The growth hub policy offered the medium incomes less expensive homes in the surrounding districts, so that the basis of the Bijlmer was already swept away before it had been completed. But the most indicative problem was the fact that the Bijlmer was a meticulous composition of large homes, a luxurious green park and potentially fantastic connections, and that all of these components were interlinked by the collective amenities and infrastructure. It was precisely the collective elements of the Bijlmer that slipped through the cracks of the compartmentalized bureaucracy: they did not fall under the Housing Department – they did the homes; they did not fall under the Municipal Works Department – they did the roads. That is why these features had difficulty in getting off the ground, if they ever did, and they were not included in the planning of the departments, each of which took care of its own particular preserve. That, plus the cuts on the garages – which were given a purely technical form in the end instead of the symbolic one that they were supposed to have –, and the reduction of the public space inside the apartment blocks were to lead to a serious impoverishment of the concept. All the same, what always survived intact, majestic and unique, was the scale and the splendor of the whole and the unique quality of the flats. The Bijlmer was thus the victim of a lack of cohesion and a lack of top-down, autocratic leadership rather than being the ultimate product of cohesion and hierarchy. Bolte and Meijer therefore qualify the Bijlmermeer as ‘fictive urban development’ because an image of the city is created that is designed to form an escape from reality, which is in fact too chaotic ArchiHome http://archihome.taobao.com
Second, he describes this urban development as organic. This is a reference to the natural growth of the historical city, with players who have deposited their layers on the city for countless generations. ‘Organic’ implies such qualities as informality, authenticity and human scale. In the Bijlmer, however, the process was carried out at lightning speed, mainly directed by only two parties. The entire area is administered by the Amsterdam Local Authority, the vast majority of the homes are owned by Patrimonium, the process was begun in 1992 and must be completed by 2010. Kwekkeboom uses an example to show how this extremely centralised urban project can nevertheless produce ‘organic’ urban development effects. The Geinwijk and Gerenstein flats were demolished in the early 1990s to make room for a low-rise neighbourhood. A series of small and slender tower blocks were designed to create a transition from the nearby Echtenstein block, which was to be left standing. A few years after the completion of those small blocks, it was decided to demolish Echtenstein after all and to replace it by low-rise housing. Kwekkeboom is positive about the result precisely because it was not planned. ‘The diagonal line with the small and slender tower blocks would never have appeared on the drawing board like that, but it is absolutely an improvement.’ Is the city supposed to be organic here because one local government department and one corporation are unable to uphold those urban development choices for even five years? The tone adopted to distance himself from the previous generations, including Bhalotra, is harsh and ideological. The whole word ‘cohesion’ has acquired a suspicious resonance for the chroniclers of the Bijlmer renewal. Kwekkeboom writes about the ‘organic’ model: ‘Such a growth model was a curse in the ears of the admirers of Nassuth and his team and the advocates of grandiose cohesion’.5 What Kwekkeboom suggests is that urban renewal no longer needs urban planning, except at the level of the neighborhood, because urban planning implies centralized power and the ideology of the society that can be engineered. Urban development on a large scale and with a position as initiator is simply removed from the process and replaced by a neighborhood by neighborhood integral growth model. In 1997, during my tirade against Bhalotra, I could not have predicted that not only he, but in fact his entire profession would be dropped by his principals. Of course, what is happening in the Bijlmer is not unique in the Netherlands. Gigantic demolition and rebuilding operations are going on everywhere, often on the basis of the pasting together of sectoral plans, with urban development agencies that present structural visions when the homes have already been almost completed. Still, what is happening in the Bijlmer is acquiring an almost mythological status because of the significance of the location. In several respects we could consider the renewal of the Bijlmer as the perfect reversal of the design and construction of the original Bijlmer. The critical Delft study of the Bijlmermeer by Wouter Bolte and Johan Meijer, Van Berlage tot Bijlmer [From Berlage to Bijlmer], published in 1981, presented a very different picture from that of the downright autocratically designed Ville Radieuse that one finds in the national mythology. The Bijlmer was the stake in a bitter
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to make plans of this kind really workable.6 The process of the creation of the Bijlmer is thus an illustration of the claim of Ed Taverne and Kees Schuyt that the reconstruction of the Netherlands in the 1950s and 1960s steered a course ‘between chaotic planning and planned chaos’.7 The Bijlmer is both a heroic attempt to build a coherent and collective image of the city in spite of everything, and an attempt to hide the internal chaos and ineffectiveness of the planning and housing departments from the outside world. The renewal of the Bijlmer is a perfect reversal of this. Since 1983 all of the 10,000 homes have been in the hands of a single corporation, first Nieuw Amsterdam, then Patrimonium. In the course of the 1990s and 2000s the corporations have taken over an increasing number of the tasks of the municipal departments in the field of educational premises, public space, welfare, and so on. In the case of restructuring, this has come to be called the integral approach. The social problems of the postwar housing districts have given the corporation a large amount of selfconfidence. Only major intervention in housing, combined with the integral approach to social and economic problems, would bring them back to life again. The Bijlmer has become the biggest symbol of a problem district, and its renewal is on the largest scale that we know. One difference with the equally large-scale building of the Bijlmer is that this is a project on all fronts, from the demolition of the flats to taking an interest in the residents even behind their own front door. This centralization of public tasks in the hands of a single private party, plus the draconian interventions in the occupation of the Bijlmer through the demolition of flats, is disguised by a project that presents itself as small-scale, organic and interactive. The narrative of the renewal of the Bijlmer, however, is a good deal more negative than that of the construction of the Bijlmer. Because the designers of the Bijlmer believed in cohesion and coherence, all the coherence and coherence of the renewal is concealed behind the fiction of an organic growth model. While the urban planning of Nassuth conjured up a dream of collectivity and energy from a swamp of bureaucratic compartmentalization, the renewal of the Bijlmer throws a smoke-screen of small-scale and organic operations around a ruthless demographic policy using the wrecker’s ball and the concrete mixer. The city form is the medium in which the oligarchs of the Bijlmer (mis)inform. The eerily quiet and suburban Bijlmerdreef, the cramped low-rise neighborhoods where the flats once stood, the extreme makeover of the shopping centre, the office district on the other side of the railway line that is completely abandoned in the evenings and weekends – they are all examples of the most banal of all that has sprung up without effective planning on the outskirts of cities and beside motorways all over the Netherlands in the last fifty years. A ‘worst of’ selection from the New Map of the Netherlands has found its way as a malicious mix to a neighborhood that once wanted to distance itself as much as possible from the normal run of things in the Netherlands. The picture of the Bijlmer as a place where some tinkering is going on here and there is being deliberately presented, in my opinion, to disguise the fact that what is going on here is large-scale, top-down and authoritarian. The removal of urban
planning from the process is a cunning way to avoid an open debate on the issue: there are no easy targets any more. And Heesterveld? The special feature of Heesterveld is the modest approach of this project: it lacks the ideological content of Nassuth’s Bijlmer to show what the city of tomorrow can be, and it also lacks the ideology of the small-scale and the (pseudo)interactive. It is not an architecture that seeks to rise above reality with an ideal alternative or a symbolic form. There is no split between fiction and reality here. The building is what it is: as precise an organization as possible of elements of reality in an architecture of character and distinction. Heesterveld is an oasis of metaphysical calm in a sea of self-delusion. People have ended up there who have not chosen to live there, even who have not chosen to live in a house at all. However, the complex has such a large degree of architectural clarity that it can work perfectly as a threedimensional grid with which the totally different use and housing requirements of these groups can be contrasted and can lead to surprising and functional use. As a radical alternative to the demolition and rebuilding that Ymere favors, we could pay heed to Carel Weeber’s call to give such complexes to the residents; we could give them to the residents for them to do up themselves under certain conditions. We could implement the more activist and bottom-up proposals of architects and artists. But these artistic or political statements with a lot of media effect still drag Heesterveld back into the world of myths and symbols, of smoke-screens and optical illusions. All that I would wish for Heesterveld – it is too late for the Bijlmer – is that the corporations, architects and curators would exercise a little self-restraint.
2 3 4
This article is a version, shortened by Volume, of a longer article originally written for the publication Blikveld 1:500 Ontwerp Heesterveld. Stimuleringsprijsvraag voor wonen en woonomgeving Ymere NAi 2007. After discussions of the content of the text between the author, the publisher (NAI Publishers), the initiator (NAI) and the sponsor (Ymere housing corporation), the author decided to withdraw it from publication. See: ‘The New Bijlmermeer’, Archis, 1997, no. 3, theme issue on the Bijlmer reconstruction, Marieke van Giersbergen, ‘Goodbye to Utopia, Interview with Ashok Bhalotra’, Archis no. 3, 1997, pp. 43-45. Anne Luijten, ‘Een modern sprookje, de Bijlmer in verandering’, in: Dorine van Hoogstraten and Allard Jolles (eds.), Amsterdam ZO, Centrumgebied Zuidoost en stedelijke vernieuwing Bijlmermeer 1992–2010, Bussum (Uitgeverij Thoth) 2002, pp. 7-25. Willem Kwekkeboom, ‘De vernieuwing van de Bijlmermeer 1992–2002, ruimtelijk en sociaal’, in: Dorine van Hoogstraten and Allard Jolles (eds), Amsterdam ZO, Centrumgebied Zuidoost en stedelijke vernieuwing Bijlmermeer 1992–2010, Bussum (Uitgeverij Thoth) 2002, pp. 7-25. Wouter Bolte and Johan Meijer, Van Berlage tot Bijlmer, Architektuur en stedelijke politiek, Nijmegen (SUN) 1981, pp. 192-391. Kees Schuyt, Ed Taverne, 1950, Prosperity and Welfare; Dutch Culture in a Euopean Perspective, Assen, 2004, p. 163.
Smart Governance Erik Gerritsen and Jeroen de Lange Erik Gerritsen, former Amsterdam city manager, and Jeroen de Lange, his head of staff, recount their experience in leading the changes to Amsterdamâ€™s administration to make it more effective and relevant to the new urban context. Along the way they developed a number of smart governance principles.
of urgency based on a common understanding of the problems and a shared vision of the way ahead. An explicit change management strategy such as those used to turn businesses around was not formulated, but the core ingredients of change management were implemented along the way.
Reality hit hard when Amsterdam’s new city manager confronted city hall with dysfunctional operations which were disconnected from the increasingly complex and chaotic urban context. Serious problems were not being tackled effectively; promises by politicians and targets set in policy documents were not being met. These problems included the failure of immigrants to integrate, decreasing levels of social capital, high numbers of long-term unemployed, school drop outs, failing youth care, urban congestion, the slow speed of construction, pollution, widespread feelings of being unsafe, and large numbers of drug addicts. Local government was not able to tackle these problems and it seemed that its ability to effectively intervene in urban society had been seriously eroded. This situation was not unique. City administrations all over Europe face these wicked and messy problems that seem resistant to policy making and the standard repertoire of government interventions. Wicked problems are those that cannot be easily defined and solved. They have incomplete, contradictory and changing requirements. Many administrators recognized the problems identified by the new city manager. This group of people shared a sense of urgency to improve the capacity of city government to be able to intervene more effectively. They made up the core group of those who were to set in motion a process of change. An investigation of trends that had led to this situation followed. The new urban population had become particularly diverse: the highly individualistic and hedonistic lifestyle of the upper classes who demanded excellent services co-existed spatially with lower social classes excluded from society and the economy. Increasingly informal social relationships and the horizontalization of power relations had made the old ways of doing things ineffective. The hype focused behavior of the media compounded the complexity and uncontrollability of the urban context with which a city administration must connect and for which it must be relevant. Simple command and control from city hall no longer existed; most public institutions and stakeholders had multiple lines of accountability. Political power was fragmented and spread thin across many organizations and those organizations often did not cooperate effectively to tackle shared problems.
The pitch: a new design for local administrative interaction
After having made an inventory of challenges to the relevance of the city administration, the new city manager and his team asked themselves how to design and implement new principles that would steer the internal working processes and the interaction of the city administration with other public actors and citizens toward becoming an effective player in the new urban context. On the one hand, the city was full of messy problems, yet on the other hand there was a city administration with roughly 22,000 civil servants and an annual budget of about five billion euro. How could they make this machine work better? New principles needed to be firmly grounded in the reality of the new urban environment. Both design and implementation required change management. A guiding coalition needed to be build that would share a sense
Emergent vision: governance around wicked problems
Early on in the process of change management the crux of the matter that guided all the actions was formulated: we had to organize governance around (difficult) problems, not problems around government. Governance instead of government, since governmental organizations are no longer the only organizations involved in policy making and implementation. Policy making and implementation takes place within policy networks made up of many public stakeholders. The key problem of government nowadays is the dominance of vested, sectorized interests of these public stakeholders which take precedence over solving society’s complex problems. It is thus not these vested institutional interests (their budgets, power, prestige, careers and so on) but the societal problems to be tackled that became our point of reference, our analytic starting point and our goal. The real challenge was to dismantle these vested interests so that governance became possible. For example, if you want to improve service delivery you do not want to bother citizens with the complex way you are organized internally (the city of Amsterdam consists of 14 boroughs and 30 central directorates), it is important to show citizens one consistent face. Ultimately governance is not about tackling difficult problems but about co-producing public values: an educated, healthy population, clean, safe and attractive public spaces, and economic selfreliance. Difficult problems frustrate co-production by public stakeholders and citizens of these values. Developing new principles – they were named principles of smart governance, as opposed to governmental protocols – went hand in hand with implementing them. We started with rather simple and straightforward actions and continued to search and struggle our way forward. We were searchers, not planners. Our action was our analysis, and we learned by doing. The guiding coalition grew incrementally and in tandem so did the vision of smart governance. ‘It is the process, stupid!’ A second basic point of departure for change management was the process approach: rather than taking official structures as the subject of analysis and intervention, we took the work processes. Only organizations whose work is organized in smooth functioning processes are able to organize themselves around the urban problems to be tackled. Immediate uncontroversial needs: start simple
From the start there was a shared urgency among a group of city administrators regarding the city administration’s fragmented and inefficient support processes. The problems with the support processes were rather straightforward and non-political but frustrated effective and efficient administration. This is where we started. The vision to solve these problems was already present among many city employees but needed to be articulated. Our first observation was that the city
No escape: systemic change
The strategy of temptation had built a guiding coalition. We had made it crystal clear to all parts of the city administration that we were all in it together but that there were rewarding ways out of the institutional paralysis. We had tempted people into a process of change. Once they were in, they engaged more with the overall process of change once they had seen the first successes. Thus we created an army of change managers that worked from practice, not protocol. Now we needed to transform that practice into prin ciples, to support endemic system change. Improved support processes were a pre-condition but not enough to enable the city administration to perform better in the governance of wicked problems. Sustained better performance demanded a systemic change in the way the administration worked internally and interacted with other stakeholders in the pro duction of public values. Again, we found that the vision was already there among people working for the city and for other public bodies, but it again needed to be made explicit and the sense of urgency to really change needed to be fed by continuous communication.
We put the problems at the heart of this communication and confronted public managers with street level reality: the aggressive psychiatric patient that neither the police nor the city psychiatrists wanted to deal, the hard core young criminals responsible for a large part of crime in the city, criminal drug addicts, etc.. Many organizations were involved with these problems, but they did not work together. Our approach was in essence simple: we asked these organizations what the ideal solution would be and how they should work together to achieve this. The concept of chain management and network management techniques aimed at getting the noses of all the public agencies involved aimed toward the same common goal became another principle of smart governance. Based on a common goal and shared understanding of the best strategy to achieve that goal, the details regarding linking the work processes of the different organizations involved could be discussed. By applying these principles of smart governance, serious urban problems were tackled more effectively: aggressive psychiatric patients are being taken care of by the police and mental health workers in good cooperation, young criminals are being arrested much more often and more quickly and they are more often convicted and fed into rehabilitation programs because all the institutions involved (i.e., the police, the district attorneyâ€™s office, local government, youth workers, etc.) now work effectively together. In vertical relations between layers of government and public institution red tape and unnecessary control and perverse financial relations frustrated effective and efficient cooperation. Here the solution was the CFA concept (Clarity, Freedom and Accountability in vertical management relations): giving more room to government agencies and professionals working on the implementation of the projects with regard to the question of how to achieve results, in exchange for strong accountability. This concept was introduced, for example, with regard to channeling central government funds meant to tackle urban problems. Instead of micro-managing from city hall how that money had to be spent, targets were agreed upon that boroughs had to achieve. They had the freedom however to decide on the best way to achieve those targets. Each year they had to account for the money spent and the results achieved. Finally a systemically different way of working was introduced by redesigning working processes using principles of process management, logistics and modern ICT. A feature of process redesign is the parallelization of work processes in such a way that most time and energy (on average 80%) is devoted to the cases that demand specific attention and the least amount of time (say 20%) is devoted to the standard cases (80% of the cases to be dealt with by an administration) since these can be dealt with in a standardized way. The service delivery of products for handicapped citizens was greatly improved using this principle of smart governance. The principles of smart governance enabled the city to play a more effective role in governance. Most of the steps described here constituted a radical break with the past. The city administration was slowly starting to look and work very much like the city it was dealing with. Making use of actual rather ArchiHome http://archihome.taobao.com
administration needed more cooperation between the different decentralized sectors of operational management which could be accomplished by using shared systems, shared (ICT) standards, and shared service centers. This became the first principle of smart governance. Because of the absence of vertical power relations, the only way to get cooperation for change from boroughs and autonomous central directorates was by tempting them to take part in these efforts to improve the common support processes. With a coalition of the willing, able and desperate we started to implement improvements in support processes by providing simple solutions and products for free to those parts of administration (boroughs and directorates) that wanted to participate. Examples of those products include collective advertisements in newspapers for jobs and software to build a standard web site. We did not wait for all parts of the administration to get on board. It was more important to simply start. Nothing succeeds like success. With time more boroughs and directorates expressed interest and joined the growing coalition. We started to communicate successes weekly to all civil servants: change works! The vision is not just empty talk. Support processes and thus organizational capacity improved and costs went down. One logo was introduced for the entire city administration; one simple website design was introduced; one telephone number for the whole city administration was put into effect; and one ICT standard for the whole city administration was implemented. When there was no more money to invest in improvements we used budget scarcity to tempt boroughs and directorates to cooperate more with each other. We offered a proposition, like collective tendering for standard products, shared service centers and a single administrative database. These cooperative programs would save money if enough boroughs and directorates participated. This proved to be a relatively easy way of dealing with budget cuts.
than dreamed-up incentives. This meant it was finally recognizing the multi-layered, multi-party, messy and complex nature of the cityâ€™s challenges. This observation made us stumble into the last phase of our redesign project. Citizens enabled to co-produce
Citizens play a crucial part in the co-production of public values. The production of public values is a shared responsibility between government, citizens, private enterprises and societal organizations. Nothing is more effective for improving public health than less drinking and citizens eating a more diverse diet (Jamie Oliver on tv!). Nothing is more effective for improved output of the education system than parents actively supporting their children. Nothing is more effective for improving safety in public space than responsible and active bystanders. What we did was to empower citizens, businesses and societal organizations by putting them in the driverâ€™s seat and letting them come up with the solutions to social problems themselves, that is, making them co-producer of government policy and partner in implementation. A coherent set of mutually dependable principles
The principles of smart governance work in interaction with each other. ICT-based, shared and uniform support processes are a pre-condition for a smart city administration. They are a pre-condition for network and chain management, a pre-condition for effective interaction between front and back offices. The CFA concept is another pre-condition for chain and network management: without enough freedom for the actual implementers of policies they cannot improve the way they work with each other using network and chain management techniques. The CFA concept is key to enabling parts of the city administration to deal with complex realities within a common framework that makes responsibilities clear and sets legal boundaries. Continuous change and adaptability had become the adage. The principles of smart governance give a firm basis for reflective and adaptable organizational behavior. But every new politician and city administration needs to keep on building this new type of governance. It is work never finished. People can build these reflective and adaptive organizations that organize themselves around problems if they want it and have the vision. We are social beings and our actions are not determined by the laws of physics. Therefore we believe in optimistic governance as a principle and as a duty.
How Sim City Changed the Game of Planning Edwin Gardner The God complex could acquire new meaning for an upcoming generation of architects and planners. Some of them played a ‘God game’ growing up called Sim City. It’s God’s point of view minus the attitude. As teenagers they learned to operate within the dynamic forces of their own home-grown cities. While these boys and girls have exchanged the sandbox for the construction site, Sim City has changed its scope from city planning to social engineering.
games underlying principles. ’A fundamental aspect of the paper was to stress how it reflected real world conditions, and what aspects were ignored or sent to a second plane.’3 Last year another incarnation of Sim City was released: Sim City Societies. This time it’s a different Sim City. The rules of the game have changed. Where the object of desire in the game used to be the ‘the city’, now it’s the ‘society’ it houses. What are the tools and rules of Sim City in its new guise, where the Godlike mayor has turned social master-planer? The game revolves around six societal energies: productivity, prosperity, creativity, spirituality, authority and knowledge. These energies manifest themselves in the kinds of buildings you put in your city. A certain building embodies a certain program with regard to certain societal energies. The clown school is a happy fairground looking building, which will stimulate creativity around it. The cryogenic prison is where you can effectively exercise your authority and freeze unproductive members of society. In contrast to the old Sim City where a city grows from a sketchy composition of interlaced with infrastructure and tweaked by tax policies, now you must choose a combination of buildings which radiate a cocktail of social energies to effect the city and its citizens. Instead of architecture following society, now society follows architecture. The script of the city is no longer just the interrelation of the functionalities of zones, electricity, laws and taxes, but an organism with citizens as its blood cells. Citizens are pumped through society’s multiple hearts: its working places, its housing and its venues. These multiple hearts irradiate citizens with the six social energies because in the end your citizens are society. In the real world one could say that most of these social energies are more or less balanced, but in the game you can really force your society in certain directions, from Orwellian dystopia to artist colonies and suburban utopia to dictatorial hyper-capitalism. It’s all possible, but the operating system under which the six social energies function is still the market economy, and in this game even God needs money. In this case it’s up to God how many hours he wants his citizens to work per day, how many days a week, and how he will keep his citizens at it. If citizens are unhappy and go on strike, God’s tools for countering this are ‘venues‘: theaters, malls, theme-parks, but also gulags. These are basically different ways to condition your society, some more benevolent, others more authoritarian. So what kind of God are you? Although the game won’t say if you’re evil or good, there are enough clues in the esthetics your city develops. Generic music will change, all of a sudden CCTV cameras spring up on the facades of your buildings and the ambient color of the city changes from bright blue skies to a murky brown haze. So while you’re exercising your social engineering skills, the game designers have built in some mood engineering of their own. In addition to the esthetic hints, your conscience is played upon by your citizens. Each one indicates their mood on an individual happiness scale. So how would you feel if your society consisted of a happy few successful industrialists exploiting the city’s workers who are on the verge of depression in the factories and sweatshops of the elite?
The next generation of architects, urbanists and planners got their first lessons in their trade before they entered the university or the schools of their respective disciplines. They didn’t learn their first lessons from a book, from their parents or a teacher. They learned it from a computer game, a computer game in which you couldn’t win, a game without a plot, a game without game over. Revolutionary at the time, nobody could conceive that a game in which winning was not the objective would sufficiently engage players, let alone become one of the biggest hits in the gaming industry. The game is Sim City. I remember sitting in a small attic room fixated on the monitor (black and white) of my XT computer (imagine a hard drive of ten megabytes and a working memory (RAM) of a fraction of a megabyte!). I sat there for hours on end, making a city, watching it grow, making the right configuration of residential, commercial and industrial zones, sprinkling in a good distribution of fire and police stations across the city and keeping my citizens, or Sims as they are called, from rioting out of discontent with their mayor’s policies. That’s what you were, the mayor, but also master planner, urbanist and politician. In short, you were God. Sim City in this sense was the birth of a new genre in gaming: the God Game, because you could not only create everything, you could also destroy it. There was this dangerous array of buttons with which you could unleash tornados, earthquakes, floods and even Godzilla like monsters upon your city. Yet even God has to play by rules. Although they can be bent, they can’t be broken. Sim City was the brainchild of game designer Will Wright. He designed the algorithms that guide the choices in the game. There were many factors to calculate: optimum ratios and the proximitys of the three zone types, commercial, residential and industrial, to each other. So Sims like to live close to commerce and away from industry. Commerce wants good infrastructure; industry needs a huge power supply and flourishes best if you tweak the tax and pollution laws in their favor. The kind of problems you’d solve as mayor included traffic congestion, budget worries (somehow there was never enough cash), power-grid failures and crime. But the rules upon which the game was built weren’t purely Wright’s invention, he had ‘coauthors’ who are probably more familiar in the architecture and planning circles. For Wright the inspiration mainly came from Jay Forrester’s Urban Dynamics1 and Christopher Alexander’s essay ‘A City is Not a Tree’.2 Since its initial release in 1989, Sim City has been continually developed. Sim City 2000 (1993), Sim City 3000 (1999) and Sim City 4 (2003) evolved and expanded over the years parallel to the explosion of the computer into our everyday lives. Sim City added more and more planning parameters, sustainable energy options and added in addition to a flat topdown God view, birds eye views and eventually street view and more God like tools such as terraforming. Yet the game’s basic premise remained the same. In the education of student planners and decision makers a Sim City analysis exercise has been used to help students understand the dynamics of planning and governance. For example, David Lublin, Professor in the Department of Governance at American University, explains how his students wrote papers analyzing the
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Sim City lets you learn about certain dynamics which are also active in the real world. In this case it lets you learn about the dynamics of a society, but of course this simulation also has a source code which limits the kind of things we can learn from it. The market economy is a given for instance, but what is perhaps more noteworthy is that the esthetics of the game give an implicit judgment. This isn’t a problem really. The Orwellian perspective is communicated as something bad, although few will have a problem with this. More problematic is that the transparent facades or sunny skies may not necessarily cover an open and balanced society. Singapore is nice on the surface, but the regime that hides behind that surface is less benevolent than its façade. Although the game allows social conflict, you, the player, remain instrumental in bringing this about through building specific venues in a context that conflicts with it. Therefore I propose an update for Sim City Societies: a feature called neighbors. Nearby cities, outside of your view in the game and built by other gamers who upload and share their cities and connect them to each other influence your game play. In this update players would be confronted with refugees (economic as well as political) leaving or coming to your city, what kind of immigration policy will you put in place? Perhaps your citizens have reached perfect happiness, but somehow they are missing something, what will they do, where will they go? Will your openminded city fall victim to populism, or will you be the first to successfully establish a genuine utopia? These considerations once again raise critical questions for the game designers as well as its players. The designers will have to write rules that govern the game, and in this case not buildings radiating social energies and contaminating the blood vessels of a societal organism also known as your city. In this case they have to write the script of human behavior itself and calculate the basis upon which individuals make decisions. Would Maslow’s pyramid suffice? Should emotions, intelligence and memory play a part? What would happen if your citizens were actually able to learn? And what would a gamer take from playing this game, especially those who may one day become planners and architects? What if their citizens fled to a neighboring city and learned about communism came back and spread the word? What if communism seemed a very tempting alternative in contrast to the regime you’ve been exercising over them? What if your people declared you, the gamer, the God of the game, dead? What if they supported regime change and installed a new government? Perhaps societies do have a moment of game over. What would you, future architect, learn from that? Would you learn that you can lose, but can’t win? Or that no matter the result your computer always anew: ‘New Game?’
Jay W. Forrester, Urban Dynamics, Cambridge, MA (MIT Press) 1969. Christopher Alexander, ‘A City is Not a Tree’, Architectural Forum, no. 1 and 2, 1965. Daniel G. Lobo, ‘Playing with Urban Life’, in: Borries, Walz and Böttger (Eds.) Space Time Play. Basel/Boston (Birkhäuser) 2007.
The top- down city view in the city editor, Sim City on the Macintosh (1989)
Citizens request lobby for money to build a stadium, Sim City on the PC (1989)
An overview of info-graphic maps and timeline displaying: population density, growth rate, crime rate, traffic density, power grid and land value, Sim City on the PC (1989)
A New Arena For Collective Activism Jeremy Hight The breadth and coverage of our realities keep expanding, but they are converging in our awareness of space and time. More and more is happening at the same time and is experienced in the same space. Where once the devices that wired us up to the rest of the world were distinct objects that needed manual operation, now the interfaces that separate man and machine are slowly creeping under our skins.
Imagine one world overlaying another like a thin film, only this overlay does not involve established visual technology such as film projectors or video screens. Imagine projecting visual information, art, movies, etc., from the thin membrane of something as seemingly flimsy as a contact lens. Think of a supercomputer lying right on the eye, able to run at the speed of the human brain. This is augmented reality, a new and emerging level of interaction. Augmented reality is a system of technology and visualization that allows information to be placed in the field of vision as one moves. This ‘augmentation of reality’ can consist of text, images, video or even three-dimensional objects that can be manipulated as though real. The more pop cultural sense of this reality has been seen at many sporting events and even Olympic events with virtual logos, slogans or markers placed in the broadcast as though actually there. The growth of social networking programs such as Facebook, Flickr and YouTube as well as rss feeds and the growing number of linked blogs is increasingly creating a space that is a new interconnectedness. Its surface is rife with entertainment, sharing of cursory information about current events, birthdays and cats among other things. There is also a deeper and more charged space increasingly emerging from these networks. The emerging protest movement in Egypt which has utilized Facebook is a prime example of how social networking can be a galvanizing catalyst.1 According to globalvoices.org, the networking power of Facebook has transformed what was once a simple bulletin board urging protesters to rally against the rising cost of food into a movement to overthrow the present regime. Instead of the static medium of the internet, augmentation can bring a more immediate urgency and awareness of various situations around the world. True, augmentation is not readily available, but we are close enough to create a near future scenario as to what this fusion will likely be: 20:34
You are walking down a city street in the early evening. You shoot video of the light of the setting sun over the rooftops, but the light is caught in a brown-yellowish cloud of smog hanging over the city. Through voice recognition you command your camera to send the video to both your environmentalist and clean air advocacy networks. This video is sent to 12,000 people within a few seconds. 21:02
You recall the news you heard earlier today about escalating tensions in several countries in Northern Europe and the attacks upon the protesters. You call up a live video stream from a contact in Norway. While the video streams you select a percentage of field of vision you want to see, setting the size of the video image, opacity level and placement location in your field of vision.
As you walk another few blocks you come to a seemingly innocuous subway entrance. As you move closer you scan the Wikipedia database and find that
it is in fact the most frequently used subway station in the city and that a grand speech was given here when the station was opened three years ago as the network’s flagship station. Fuel prices are currently so high that many are enraged that the subway system and the city are taking advantage of this by raising public transport ticket prices. 21:28
You pause, turn on the photo function, adjust it to the right framing and light values of the entrance and its sign. ‘Click.’ The image is encoded with a time stamp as well as your GPS coordinates. You figure this will be a great location for a shut down action. ‘Send.’ The photo goes off to many community discussion forums and to the organization for fair transit. 21:40
You note that several of your acquaintances are within a few hundred feet. You consider messaging them or heading over to meet them, but need to focus on some tasks at hand. You’ll catch up with them another time, so you tag yourself as ‘Busy.’ You note an older car in front of you and wonder what model it is. You send a visual scan to Google Images as a ‘Match Image’ query. Voila: it’s a 2003 BMW 330i series. 21:41
‘Incoming Message.’ The message contains an encoded VR object of a way to block the subway using storage containers and the help of bike messengers at rush hour sometime this week. You rotate and examine the VR object. You note that twenty other people are logging on to this feed. A plan is emerging.
See for instance: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7382598.stm; http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2008/05/10/egypt18800.htm
Images Jeremy Hight
Dossier Social Engineering in the Amsterdam Metropolis Office for Social Engineering What makes a good society? What makes people happy? Can societies be engineered for the better? Addressing these existential questions eventually implies taking position in the debate on ‘social engineering’. Essentially it boils down to this: do you believe in it, or not? For starters, could we categorize happiness in a universal fashion so it transcends earthly time and space? And if we believe so: which set of perspectives, methods and tools should be applied to realize this enlightened state of being? Furthermore, who should we sanction to sit in the social engineering cockpit, geared to improve the human condition: politicians, architects, scientists, the market, god…? Or even ordinary people? Quite a fashionable line of thought, since the postmodern nebulous concept of diversity, individualism and relativism has thrown dust in the eyes of 20th century high modernist planners, who were devotedly striving to homogenize subjects, standardize practices and centralize power to enfold their totalitarian blueprints of utopia. So now what? Is it ‘all individuals now’ (like Margaret Thatcher enjoyed to proclaim) engineering their own micro–utopia’s of living, working, culture and identity?
‘Laissez-faire was planned, planning was not’
From a social engineers point of view: the point is taken. Many 20th century schemes to improve the human condition have failed, dramatically; to paraphrase the anarchist anthropologist James Scott, whose volume Seeing Like a State has functioned as ‘deathbed’ literature for the creature of social engineering. And indeed, often springing from an amalgam of benign intentions and high modernist hubris, we have witnessed efforts to ideologically engineer public and private life turn into megalomania and misanthropic projects. In the process, taking democracy and freedom as its first victims, usually at the expense of the general population. So, has social engineering died? The answer irrefutably has to be: no way! Nor the desire (ideology) for, nor its apparatus (centralized power) of interventionist politics has died. The reality of the ‘end of ideology’–era has been pulled over our eyes to hide us from the truth – to paraphrase character Morpheus from the movie The Matrix. For example, the very tombstone under which the USSR was buried was in fact a clear cut case of classical social engineering: the 100 days of liberal-economic shock therapy by which the 80 year old soviet command economy was to be replaced by one run by the free market. The economist-philosopher Karl Polanyi catches it beautifully: ‘Laissez-faire was planned, planning was not’. So if we bear in mind that planning is intrinsic to human behavior, and we take into account that social engineering is of all times and places and will continue to occupy the wishful minds of society’s most smart, determined and powerful. How can we best cope with it? How can we deal with the eternal wish to intervene in society based on a particular idea to make society better? And again who should be at the steering wheel, and with what perspective, method and toolkit at hand? Social engineering 2.0
Significant questions that need to be scrutinized in a meaningful way, in order to set the beacons for a new, 21st century style of social engineering. Doing so would imply a combination of critical reflection on existing practices and action research exploring new ones. And that is what we did. Our first act was the founding of the Office for Social Engineering (OSE), in an effort to dust off, reclaim and operationalize the concept social engineering for future use – a provocation, that too. The OSE set out to spark the discussion on social engineering: if we are disposed to engineer everywhere and all the time, we might as well discuss the most suitable ideas, methods and instruments. For one reason: to do no harm, and for the second: to maybe even succeed. That’s when we determined to search for a new, less disaster-bound type of social engineering, compliant with and respectful of specific political and cultural contexts as well as with technological standards. In order to achieve that end we realized we needed fresh minds and an open learning environment, with the daring to jump in and stumble on practical experience.
Taking it home: Social Engineering in the Amsterdam Metropolis
With the aim to jump, stumble, learn and improve we decided to initiate a course in social engineering. In
order to gain critical mass we decided to compile an interdisciplinary team of students that would search, with us, the limits of the possible of social engineering in a concrete context: the city of Amsterdam. We contacted the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Our experimental learning scheme seemed to be right up their alley, so the course: Social Engineering in the Amsterdam Metropolis was born. Then we selected our critical crop from the many student applications for our course, and then, in our search for practical cases, went to the municipality where, after some autistic responses, we kicked in the right door. The former City manager got fired up right away, this project symbolized the freshness of mind he fancies. So the aim of the course was to have students from various backgrounds (sociology, architecture, history, economics, anthropology, arts, etc.) engage themselves in real, existing ‘puzzles’ of social engineering provided by the municipality of Amsterdam. These are either social or physical spaces that do not ‘work properly’ in the perception of the city government, or that demand further research. In the end we collected four compelling puzzles: Damrak street as a ‘trashy’ entrance to the city ‘Invisible’ Moroccan girls in the northern city peripheries ‘Hangsters’ in neighborhoods old and new The creative challenge posed by dangerous and dirty ‘ghost spaces’ in Amsterdam The multi-disciplinary student teams ‘made camp’ on site and effectuated a ‘laboratory for social engineering’. For 16 weeks they got embedded and engaged with the aim of designing a concrete intervention (not another report, please!). The student teams were lectured and supported to be able to do this in a meaningful and academically sound manner. In this case it came down to ‘reading’ their puzzle in a multidisciplinary fashion with no underlying interest but to find out: ‘what is actually happening here?’. On the basis of thorough analysis of the data they would strategize and design an intervention that would be implemented during the course! ‘Masters of Intervention’ were invited to advise the students with respect to their research (‘reading the field’), and possible interventions, but also to contribute to the public debate on a particular site or problem area. Masters of Intervention included Yale professor James Scott, Saatchi & Saatchi creative mind Dick de Lange, P2P guru Michel Bauwens, Architect working with McKinsey: Michael Shamiyeh, and Creative Media mind Andrew Bullen. Curious whether our new school of social engineers pulled it of? The preliminary results can be found in the dossier below.
Photo Lard Buurman
Case # 1 The Decay of Damrak Street
Case # 1 Damrak Street is the gateway to the city of Amsterdam, an urban canyon through which 100,000 commuters and tourists enter and leave the city on a daily basis. Recently, both mayor Job Cohen and his deputy Lodewijk Asscher embraced the idea of a drastic facelift of the degraded street. The Amsterdam local government wants to get rid of its visual vulgarity and image of snacks, beer and tits. The urban developers of the Project Management Office, a subsidiary of city hall, consider its esthetization fundamental in the branding of Amsterdam as a top-notch city. The redevelopment of Damrak Street amounts to the creation of an envisioned self-image. But which self-image do we desire? Options range from excessively sleazy cheapness to posh consumer decadence. Contractor Project Management Office (PMB),
municipality of Amsterdam Assignment How to turn Damrak Street into a
gateway worthy of the Amsterdam Metropolis? Student team Eline Veninga, Richard Nooij,
Jasper Overweg, Jort Schuitemaker, Jenne Meerman LAB Beurs van Berlage Context city branding, esthetization
The Damrak Reconquest Amsterdam’s Damrak is a transit port through which some 100,000 people pass every day. On the Damrak people don’t live with each other, but alongside one another at stampede tempo. The City of Amsterdam has already declared that a sense of community is missing and has sought control in the form of surveillance cameras. Now the city has opted for a fundamental, spatial, functional make over, after all, ‘A degraded environment will attract more unwanted behavior. By the same token a well tended appearance will generate more desirable behavior and developments.’1 Is this measure patronizing or is it really necessary in order to provide citizens and visitors a better Damrak? The current selection of stores provides for a number of basic needs: eating and souvenirs. The city classifies these as ‘low value’ functions. Yet must it be well-known, expensive store front signs that will soon determine the street’s look? ‘Low value’ is a qualification which fails to consider the preferences of a large part of the population plus those who disdain regulations. Charm can also be found in those places that don’t fit in such as street musician James, artists Ori and Jan and their friends who amuse themselves in the Sex Museum. In ‘The Generic City’ Rem Koolhaas wrote about representation: the old city is becoming a caricature, a kind of open air museum.2 When you simplify an identify there is an appreciable chance that it then becomes generic. The city’s plans attempt to create an identity which is not representative of the street or its users. The danger is that this will kill the city’s true dynamism. We Damrakkers have the ambition to ensure that a particular cadence comes into being in the development of the city. As regards physical shape and functionality, we share the city’s opinion. It takes effort to find the west side of the Damrak pretty. If you examine how the buildings are used, you see that some are empty, others abandoned, a kind of lassitude. But look at how public space is used then you see vitality, an enormous difference and a pleasing dynamic. Just as with architect Le Corbusier’s plans, we are scared that visitors to the Damrak will be expected to find pleasure in fitting logically into a rational plan, a plan that must give Amsterdam a high-quality image. A place where there is no longer a place for a mishmash and a kind of autonomy.
Back to cadence
We feel called to reconquer the Damrak in order to cultivate a new feeling of ownership for tourists and Amsterdammers. The city must not be the only one to lay claim to ownership of the street. The Damrak is generally known and many have memories of it. This can be a source of strength for the transformation of this street. The Damrak can see a new day via the organization of events and positive publicity. This can make people aware that it is their street, that it is worth the effort to think about modifying the street.
This consciousness appears to be missing at the moment among those who, in addition to the city, play an important role on the Damrak. It is the art of activating a feeling of responsibility within citizens, visitors and entrepreneurs. The Damrak lacks political representation. Amsterdam’s Department of Research and Statistics reports that attendance at information and participatory meetings has fallen.3 The attendance percentage for the city center district is a distressing 7%. Have people lost their belief in these participatory meetings? One explanation is probably that citizens are involved in the transformation process only very late. Much more than marginal adjustment is thus no longer possible. For this reason we argue for a multimedia, interactive participation machine in the form, for example, of a wandering tree. The challenge is to find a form with which you can once again address citizens in their role as critical citizens and bind them to the space. ‘Neighborhoods decline when the people who live there lose their connection and no longer feel part of their community. Recapturing that sense of belonging and pride of place can be as simple as planting a civic garden or placing some benches in a park’ (Jay Walljasper, 2007). Citizens as well as the government are actively involved in transformations of public space. As street photographer Theo Niekus says: ‘becoming conscious only penetrates where “consumers” are “citizens” again.’ The city ought to be civilized disorder. ‘The city is a threshold world between order and chaos, between the private and public spheres, between market forces and government, between the masses and the individual, between legality and illegality, between home and strangeness’. (René Boomkens in de Volkskrant, 29 March 2008). A top-down approach which tries to run things will not work. The Damrak is a typical example of this civilized disorder. It disguises an attraction for the visitor, but also a danger. Freedom must be treated with respect. The Damrak is the welcome mat into the city’s living room which means: feel at home, behave likewise. Finally we turn our attention to the entrepreneurs. They play a major role in the physical as well as the functional use of the Damrak. This group does not appear to understand that they can mobilize for the street’s improvement. A cultural reversal is necessary. Entrepreneurs and the city are not all that informed as to the possibilities for the advantages of working together. As ‘Team Damrak’ we have two advantages: an uncontaminated reputation and an independent position. At the beginning of June we will organize a forum with entrepreneurs, city representatives and external experts. An improved awareness of other people’s desires and space for accommodation (on both sides) are the keys for entrepreneurs to feel that they have a valuable position play on the Damrak. Thus it must be made clear that prosperity can only be achieved if it is shared.
1 2 3`
Nota Uitgangspunten Rode Loper, May 2007, p. 15. Rem Koolhaas, Bruce Mau, S,M,L,XL, New York (Monacelli Press) 1995. Amsterdamse Burgermonitor 2007.
Case #2 ‘Invisible’ Girls in NieuwendamNoord
Volume 16 Photo Anouk Steketee
Case #2 The Dutch government wishes to help its subjects on the road to happiness and successful coexistence. The Amsterdam North sub-council sees young Moroccan women as being isolated from social and economic life, even invisible, and wishes to elevate this supposed ’disadvantaged’ group to active and successful citizenry. The results so far have not been encouraging. Benign community workers packed with dropout- and unemployment rate statistics visit these women in their homes, only to leave disillusioned since they find nothing but perceived incomprehension. What’s going wrong here? The sub-council’s slogan is ‘social participation’. But the question remains: participation in what, what for, with whom and to whose benefit? What do these stimuli mean for the specific group of Moroccan women? How do they experience attention (or intrusion) from above? What do they make of the relation between government and citizen, between public and private? In short, what lies behind their veil of invisibility?
Contractor Sub-council North (Amsterdam) and housing association Ymere Assignment What’s the meaning of the invisibility of Moroccan girls in Nieuwendam-Noord? Student team Sanne Schot, Katusha Sol, Mandy Lauw, Paul Adriani, Lydia Sprenger, Tanja van Nes LAB IBAN (Individual citizen advisory body Amsterdam North) Context social integration, framing of good citizenship, cultural diversity
Invisible or Unnoticed People do not resist change; people resist being changed
As regards integration, the Nieuwendam-Noord district of Amsterdam has dedicated itself to the participation of immigrant groups according to the 2003 policy document Integration: work in progress. One of the groups the district is concerned about are ‘invisible’ Moroccan girls. We are dealing here with second generation Moroccan girls between 18 and 26 who have not completed high school. The term ‘invisibility’ is used because these girls do not show up in statistics. They neither work nor receive government payments and are thus not ‘seen’ by government agencies. Most are drop-outs who are no longer obliged to attend school by virtue of their age and are thus no longer enrolled in one. The Dutch government’s campaign for equality, participation and control is the basis of the need to make difficult-to-see groups visible. The NieuwendamNoord district’s campaign to improve its residents’ socio-economic position via participation in education and working life can be seen as a component of the national program. Their motto is: ‘Be part of society’. Although the district acknowledges that the number of Moroccan women who experience their lack of socio-economic participation as a problem is unknown, they nonetheless want to chart this specific group. We note, however, that this continuous charting of these people emphasizes their position as immigrants and/or minorities. If we closely examine young Turkish and Moroccan women they do much better at school and in the labor market than their parents. In an article entitled ‘For new citizens it’s not about culture’ (NRC-Handelsblad, 12 April 2008), Tariq Ramadan wrote that it mustn’t be forgotten that these women live here and are as familiar with the laws and history of the Netherlands as other Dutch. By focusing on those women who are less successful in this regard attention is placed on less good examples of integration within an already tense public debate. Ramadan says that just as ‘you start getting the feeling that you belong when integration is no longer the topic of discussion’ women will feel less left behind when the district does not classify them as invisible. What is at stake here is that categorization is used as a ‘public accusation’. The complex network of supporting social agencies forms another aspect of this case. That complexity prevents the city from seeing these people. In Amsterdam-Noord too is there an excess of (mostly municipal) agencies which target various groups. Because these target groups have overlapping fields a complicated network of communication and rules arises between the city and its agencies. This results in much energy and money being lost. A lack of coordination within this network appears to the problem and it is this which has made this
target group invisible to the city and the city invisible to this target group. A number of our observations are summarized below: · Interviews have revealed that it is better to look at all women in Amsterdam-Noord rather than focusing specifically on problem cases or ethnicity. · Some girls report that trust between a social worker and those in need of help is essential for the admission of a problem. · Social organizations report that the bond between individual girls and social organizations is formed more quickly with someone who has had similar experiences rather than with someone who is an ‘outsider’. · It is important that the environment of ‘the example’ matches that of the person to whom the example’s story is being told. A girl who had been in this situation, Khadija Aulad-Achmed, reported that someone struggling with school, possible unemployment and financial problems was not waiting to hear the success story of someone who had started his own firm. They are waiting to hear someone say, ‘I am familiar with your problems, for I’ve had them myself. I then went there and they helped me.’
Photo Aukje Dekker
Case #3 Ghost spaces in a crowded city
Case #3 Large parts of the area neighboring the Amsterdam city ring highway are mainly suburban, residential mixed with large office spaces. Shops and cultural facilities are scarce and at first sight the area lacks any ‘hot’ spots for grass root creative enterprises. This has serious consequences for the area’s local economy and quality of life. How can functional diversity and socioeconomical dynamics be improved, when logistical conditions and exploitable space seem to be lacking? Startgoed Amsterdam B.V. is a corporation driven by the municipality and market participants to develop creative small businesses in unexpected and unused spaces. They explore vacant or ‘left-over’ spaces under bridges, railroads, highways; even the exploitation of old tunnels is an option. These places are usually dirty, smelly, shady and rather unsafe corridors connecting different areas and neighborhoods. By turning these vacant spaces into ‘hot’ spots the benefits could vary from increased quality of life, safety and work, or meeting space for creative minds. From hell to ’hot’ spot? Contractor Startgoed Amsterdam B.V. Assignment How to add new fragments of
creative enterprise to a crowded city? Student team Nick Naber, Ruth Stoffels, Lynn Koppe, Iris Pauw, Socrates Schouten, Björn König LAB at Startgoed Amsterdam B.V. Context Urban planning, functional diversification, creative industry
Tunnel visions Central Amsterdam – the historic city including its 19th- and early 20th-century expansions – is a walled city. It is surrounded by an almost perfectly circular mound, a six meter high dike on top of which the Amsterdam ring road (A10) has been constructed. Beyond this highway lie the post-WWII extensions. Numerous viaducts and tunnels allow for passage between the new and old city. Most of these tunnels are robust and efficient. Their definition is spatial, logistical, functional and transitional; although people use them, the tunnels lack a distinct social dimension. They have no emotional, historical or social value. They are junk space: residual space in the liminal zones of highspeed infrastructure, consequential by-products of high-tech and high-speed modernization. We focused on the throughways under the western ring road as well as the metro and train tracks parallel to it, in particular the more open ones that, upon closer inspection, stimulate many fantasies regarding their potential. What is the potential to activate these non-places?
Speed, function and ownership
First, we set out to read the places. The layers of meaning are not so much a consequence of use, but rather of speed, function and ownership. The elevated highway is designed for high speed. That speed has induced a high level of simplicity. Contextuality and complexity have been reduced to rules and signs. The freeway is highly systematized and does not allow for much variation or dissent, but a different speed can be found in the adjacent urban field. A reduced speed makes for more variation, complexity and social interaction. It allows for various directions and activities. Because of the difference in speed and its consequences, the freeway and the city are two distinct worlds. The tunnels, the ring road, the city extensions are all part of the general outline of the post-war suburbs and strictly separate functions. They constitute a grand design, attempting to divide the area’s possible uses: living, recreation, shopping, work and transportation. Whereas the original design has been slightly tampered with by residents, resulting in overlapping functions to some extent these days, the tunnels have remained true to their original design and are still highly singular in function. Upcoming plans for the New West, the western district outside the ring road, include massive demolition and densification. Space, air and green are being sacrificed on the altar of the ‘living city’. Separation of functions is to be avoided. The first combinations are living with working and recreation; we are curious where and how social collaboration with the infrastructure will be achieved. Apart from speed and function, the area can be read through its different owners and users. We identified an initial level, the government, a second, the district, and a third (least involved) level, that of the neighborhood and the people using the passageways. For the government, in this case the national
bodies responsible for transport, these residual spaces are literally gaps in their plans, unaccounted for spaces. To make sure they do not interfere with the larger plans, they would rather have them boarded up or fenced off. One of the means to promote the quality of living by the sub-council is to promote small scale business. Residual spaces could be interesting to such business. Finally, we have the neighborhood, the actual users of the tunnels. For most of them the tunnels were transition spaces where one never lingered because there is nothing there but occasional trouble. A fourth level of use: tunnel visionaries
These tunnels are nothing, yet can become anything, everything. In a city as clogged as Amsterdam, we found that merely pointing out the presence of empty or junk space provoked a cascade of ideas and positive reactions. We would therefore like to bring in a fourth level of users, the creative class; the introduction of new ways to use these spaces can serve as a platform for other potential users to reassess and develop the tunnels. The ring road is a rupture. It is a symbolic and social barrier, and as such a rupture in the urban fabric and the social continuity of city life. How can transitional space be transformed into meaningful space? How can a pasture be made from a desert? We saw three ways to proceed. The first option was to take away the need for a tunnel by removing the ring road. The second option was to take away the negative consequences of the tunnel by raising the city level and bridge the road. To carry out either of these solution would consume considerable political and financial assets, which we don’t have. That is why we will be working on option three. Make these tunnels into an attraction, a destination. Key to this transformation is a social program to fill the social vacuum. Through a process of co-creation on different levels we need to make the city engage with these spaces, so light won’t be confined to the end of the tunnel, but be brought right in.
Photo Roger Cremers
Case #4 â€˜Hangstersâ€™ in Amsterdam Zeeburg
Case #4 A clear-cut example of supreme social engineering: the municipality reflects on methods to anticipate and intervene in the prosaic act of kids hangingabout in the streets. Youth-policy usually tends to be reactive and therefore approaches problems on the basis of symptoms. But who or what exactly is the problem? There seems to be no mutual goals, ambitions or culture shared by youngsters and the municipality. The ‘Indische buurt’ or Indonesian quarter is a typically old, ‘blue collar’ neighborhood, with many immigrants, youngsters and a vibrant street life. The local government and housing association Ymere recently decided to give the area fresh stimuli. Timor Square in the heart of the neighborhood can now boast a Stay-OK youth hostel, as well as Studio K, a cinema/café run by students. These initiatives aim to revive the area and facilitate, integrate and regulate youngsters’ behavior. Do we need to fear a pre-emptive strike on real, existing urban loitering? To what effect, how and more importantly why?
The sign says: Agreements between youngsters, residents and sub-council Zeeburg: 1. The square is for adults and children 2. No noise after 10 pm 3. Speak and act with respect for each other 4. Don’t shout, talk 5. No scooters or cycling on the square 6. Throw garbage in the garbage cans
Contractor Zeeburg sub-council and housing
corporation Ymere Assignment How to deal with outdoor meetings
of youngsters in the city? Student team Maaike Poppegaai, Annemarie Niks, Leonne van Vlimmeren, Martin Gevonden, Johan van Breda, Olivia Somsen LAB a former shop on the corner of the 2e Atjeh Street and Sumatra Street Context quality of life, public nuisance, youth policy
Criminal Act or Social Affair?
The Indische Buurt or Indonesian quarter is an old neighborhood within the eastern district of Zeeburg in Amsterdam. Most of the housing dates from the 1900s; the population is generally made up of poor, large families of non-western, mostly Moroccan background. This neighborhood has undergone a scheme of radical renewal in recent years. Almost a third of the current housing stock (all social housing) will be ‘upgraded’ to more expensive housing, resulting in an influx of young urban professionals. We focused on hangsters, a neologism created from the Dutch word hangjeugd (kids who hang around) and ‘gangsters’. We examined their place in the neighborhood and how the ‘youth problem’ should be addressed. The sub-council told us they ‘had had it with seventies-style pampering’. As a consequence, the welfare system in this district has been outsourced to a commercial group. Three takeovers in less than five years sacrificed all but the local welfare workers. Neighborhood centers were closed, their knowledge, archives and hard disks got lost. ‘No loss at all’, according to one bureaucrat, because ‘kids wouldn’t be found in there dead.’ After the destruction of the old infrastructure, a new system was designed and implemented. Loitering young people are dealt with through what is known as the Ferwerda method. Ferwerda, a criminologist, was called upon to deal with what otherwise could have been understood as a cultural, social, educational or even leisure issue. His method takes a tough approach. Police and private security personnel (euphemistically called ‘neighborhood coaches’) surveil the neighborhood at night collecting data and photographs in order to build dossiers on the young people. Every square and most streets have CCTV all wired to a 24/7 monitored video wall. On many streets you can find public notices detailing the things for which you can be fined. Against this background of an urban war against loitering young people, we decided early on to work beyond the stigma and the stereotype. Inspired by the work of American urban ethnographers, we plunged into our action research. To understand the area and the kids at stake we felt we had to engage their world and feel what they feel. For several nights we loitered on the other side of the rift. We got to know some of them, an experience which turned out to be far less exotic and dangerous than we had been led to expect from the public opinion of them. We conducted research using participatory observation, interviews and meetings; the output was organized and classified online. Are they disturbing the peace or are they reacting to the perpetual high-tech observation of their peace? These young people are encouraged to turn their back on the police, the neighborhood and the municipality. Even more, we found that the neighborhood, the former social workers and the young people had become more frustrated and distrustful. We could feel the atmosphere of despair and distrust.
One of the profound problems we identified early on is the total lack of communication between policy makers, neighbors and young people. We found that the (mis)communication between the involved parties – residents, policy makers, implementing organizations and young people – centered along two main themes: trust and control. The parties involved all have a radically different outlook as to where the neighborhood should go, who should be trusted, and how control should be organized. At the same time, everybody seems to agree that young people should be allowed a place in the neighborhood. It struck us that many young people want nothing more than a place they can call their own, a neighborhood house they can be proud of. It almost sound pathetic but most of them just want to hang out with each other, very much like old people, truckers, students or church-goers. A youth center, to our surprise, is also just what social welfare workers in the area would like to see. They see it as a place they can meet, keep an eye on things and facilitate. According to one social worker, ‘in here, the laws of the street do not apply. If you have them in, you can get to know them. If you get to know them, you can influence them.’ A simple place – a squat, a mobile unit, an antisquat – should make use of a combination of push and pull. It should be built through participation, a combination of self-organization and regulation, of freedom and responsibility, of support and sanctions. A simple plan that can be backed by a number of comparable and very successful youth centers in other parts of town. Centers that in addition to their social function serve as a place for debate, entertainment and production. Municipal affairs cannot be a zero tolerance business. It should be grounded in education and upbringing, a combination of sticks and carrots. Yet it seems policy makers have a fiercely negative stance toward a possible youth center and are most likely unwilling to cooperate, let alone facilitate. They seem to be missing the point altogether. In a city space is limited per definition. However every group should find a place that is respected by others. At the heart of the ‘youth problem’ lies a rather fundamental question of mentality. Some perceive loitering as a criminal act, others as a social affair. Avoiding rigid group-think is most important. Participation by all concerned is key: address what people want, not what you want.
Archis 8 (2000)
Archis 7 (2000)
Contemporary calls for social engineering
Lucien Kroll, ‘MANIFESTO for the G8 meeting on March 2nd 2001’, Archis 2 (2001) 53.
Archis 12 (2000)
Look also at recent issues in which Volume went beyond merely reporting or signaling events to actual intervention such as Volume #4 Break through! which contained shareware, a free exhibition and plenty of opportunities to start engineering your own society. Archis (2001) 5
Grassroots social engineering
Muhktar Husain, ‘Planning on the micro level. Arif Hasan, Karachi, Pakistan’, Archis 12 (2000) 26. William de Bruijn, ‘Controlling the local power network. Electric power station in Schönau, Germany’, Archis 12 (2000) 72. Gil M. Doron, ‘A new urban paradigm. Kyong Park in Detroit’, Archis 9 (2000) 67. Gil M. Doron, ‘Guerrilla Gardening: Reclaim the Streets in London’, Archis 7 (2000) 48.
Archis 5 (2001)
Charles Landry, ‘Urban vitality: a new source of urban competitiveness’, Archis 12 (2000) 8. Jaime Lerner, ‘Making it happing. Curitiba and the potentials of the city’, Archis 12 (2000) 18. Roberto Segre, ‘The city shaped by community hope. Viva Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, Archis 12 (2000) 40.
Archis 9 (2000)
Urban Heroes, Urban Vitality Archis (2000)12
Archis 2 (2001)
From the Volume archive: new ways of social engineering Joos van den Dool Apart from describing great and grand examples of social engineering by architecture or design and how they influence millions of people more or less by accident, since the late nineties Archis has developed an interest in grassroots, bottom-up efforts by people to change the circumstances under which they life. Let’s call this the hopeful part, the part that testifies to people’s optimism, activism and vitality. Have the examples mentioned below been durable? You may take it for granted that many of these examples come from developing countries. But aren’t just these approaches needed as badly in the west, in countries developing as well?
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Colophon Volume 14 VOLUME Independent quarterly for architecture to go beyond itself
editor in chief Arjen Oosterman contributing editors Ole Bouman, Rem Koolhaas, Mark Wigley features editor Jeffrey Inaba editorial consultants Carlos Betancourth, Thomas Daniell, Markus Miessen, Kai Vöckler VOLUME is a project by ARCHIS + AMO + C-Lab + MIT… ARCHIS with Lilet Breddels, Joos van den Dool, Christian Ernsten, Edwin Gardner, Bart Goldhoorn, Niloufar Tajeri AMO with Todd Reisz, Reinier de Graaf C-Lab with Jeffrey Inaba, Benedict Clouette This Volume is materialized by Irma Boom and Sonja Haller
The VOLUME project interpolates ARCHIS, magazine for Architecture, City and Visual Culture and its predecessors since 1929. Archis magazine and Archis RSVP Events are experimental think tanks devoted to the process of real-time spatial and cultural reflexivity. www.archis.org Other protagonists in this project AMO, a research and design studio that applies architectural thinking to disciplines beyond the borders of architecture and urbanism. AMO operates in tandem with its companion company the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. www.oma.nl
C-Lab, The Columbia Laboratory for Architectural Broadcasting, an experimental research unit devoted to the development of new forms of communication in architecture, set up as a semi-autonomous think and action tank at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation of Columbia University. www.arch.columbia.edu VOLUME is published by Stichting Archis, The Netherlands and printed by Die Keure, Belgium. English copy editing David Lee, Peter Mason Administrative coordination Valérie Blom, Jessica Braun Editorial office PO Box 14702, 1001 LE Amsterdam, The Netherlands, T +31 (0)20 320 3926, F +31 (0)20 320 3927, E email@example.com, W www.archis.org Subscriptions Bruil & Van de Staaij, Postbus 75, 7940 AB Meppel, The Netherlands, T +31 (0)522 261 303, F +31 (0)522 257 827, E firstname.lastname@example.org, W www.bruil.info/volume Subscription rates 4 issues, € 75 Netherlands, € 91 Europe, $ 121 World Student subscriptions rates, € 60 Netherlands, € 73 World Prices excl. VAT Cancellations policy Cancellation of subscription to be confirmed in writing one month before the end of the subscription period. Subscriptions not cancelled on time will be automatically extended for one year Back-issues Back-issues of Volume and Archis (NL and E) are still available through Bruil & van de Staaij (see below) Advertising Niloufar Tajeri, email@example.com For rates and details see: www.volumeproject.org, click ‘info’ General distribution Idea Books, Nieuwe Herengracht 11, 1011 HR Amsterdam, The Netherlands, T +31 (0)20 622 6154, F +31 (0)20 620 9299, E firstname.lastname@example.org IPS Pressevertrieb GmbH, PO Box 1211, 53334 Meckenheim, Germany, T +49 2225 8801 0, F +49 2225 8801 199, E email@example.com
VOLUME has been made possible with the support of Mondrian Foundation Amsterdam and The Netherlands Architecture Foundation Rotterdam. ISSN 1574-9401, ISBN 978-90-77966-14-3 Copyright 2007, Stichting Archis Authors Artgineering is an interdisciplinary office based in Rotterdam, the collaboration of Stefan Bendiks (architect) and Aglaée Degros (urban planner). Azra Aškamija is an Austrian artist, architect, and architectural historian based in Cambridge, MA, USA. Her work has been widely
published and exhibited. BOEM is an Amsterdam-based design office. www.boem.nu Ole Bouman is director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam. Matthijs Bouw is the director of One Architecture, an Amsterdam based architecture and planning firm. He has published, lectured and taught extensively in the Netherlands and abroad. Elizabeth Demaray is an artist based in Brooklyn, NY and is head of the Sculpture Concentration at Rutgers University, Camden, NJ. F.A.S.T. is the Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory, an architecture practice based in Amsterdam. www.seamlessterritory.org Bryan Finoki is a freelance writer, Senior Editor for Archinect, and the author of the blog Subtopia: A Field Guide to Military Urbanism. Alicia Framis is a Spanish artist currently living in Shanghai. Her interdisciplinary installations relate fashion, architecture and design. Andrea Giacomelli is an environmental engineer; he holds a PhD in Hydrology and is one of the founders of GFOSS.it. www.gfoss.it Harmen de Hoop is an artist based in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Katrin Korfmann is an artist based in Amsterdam. She received several major awards. Since 2000 her work is shown internationally in galleries and realized site-specific projects in Spain, USA, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. L.E.FT, a NYC based design collective, is comprised of Makram ElKadi, Ziad Jamaleddine, and Naji Moujaes. Established in 2001, L.E.FT is dedicated to examining the intersections of cultural and political productions as they relate to the built environment. Ersela Kripa currently lives and works in New York City as an architectural designer. Katherina Matoukis is an artist who lives and works in Thessaloniki. Stephen Mueller currently lives and works in New York City as an architectural designer. Hugo Priemus is a researcher at research institute OTB, TU Delft. He advices and conducts research for city councils and the national government. Priemus is also co-founder of the department Real Estate and Housing at the Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft. Wang Qingsong is an artist. Starting as a painter he switched to photography. Most of his work is stage set-ups which host his observations on the present-day modernization program in China. Rebar is a collaborative group of creators, designers and activists based in San Francisco. www.rebar.org Sašo Sedlacˇek is an artist based in Ljubljana. His work is defined with theories of disposal, with use and reuse of cheap technologies, waste materials and its recycling. Michael Shamiyeh is head of DOM Research Laboratory and Shamiyeh Associates. Recently he was awarded with the Architectural Review Award for Emerging Architects. www.michaelshamiyeh.com Dik Smits is a manager, consultant and jurist in the building industry. He was responsible for managing the building process of the new terminal of Eindhoven Airport. Studio Beirut includes Steve Eid, Pascale Hares, Bernard Mallat, Nabil Menhem, Joe Mounzer Rani Rajji and Michael Stanton. Team TCHM is Kirsten Algera (Art historian) and Felix Janssens (Designer). Since 2000 TEAM TCHM developed a hybrid practice in design, writing and research. Daniël van der Velden is a graphic designer, writer and researcher based in Amsterdam. Kai Vöckler is an urbanist and publicist based in Berlin. Founding member of Archis Interventions/Berlin. He is heading the Prishtina project. Hans Wilschut is a photographer based in Rotterdam. The last two years Wilschut worked on his project named Megapolis. www.hanswilschut.com Zus (Zones Urbaines Sensibles) is Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman. The office based in Rotterdam has been involved with design and research in a broad field, ranging from fashion to urban planning. www.zus.cc Office for Unsolicited Architecture is conceived by the MIT Unsolicited Architecture Studio under the direction of Ole Bouman. Thanks to Yung Ho Chang, Alexander d’Hooghe, Ute Meta Bauer, Eric Howeler, Christine Boyer, Adèle Santos. Student editors of the portfolio are Andrea Brennen, John Snavely and Ryan Murphy. Student researchers from MIT are also Michelle Petersen, Gabriel Chan, Damian Chan, Shirley Shen, Dan Smithwick, Lena Vassilev, Dickson Wong, Andrey Dimitrov, and Edmund Kwong. HKU (Utrecht, The Netherlands) student researchers are Tim van de Weerd, Sarah Yu and Nataly Engel. Page 117 Google image translation of page 116 by Katerina Matsoukis – Mi Magazine, Issue 5, Page 1 of 10.
Disclaimer The editors of VOLUME have been careful to contact all