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“It’s the Network: The Impact of Global Forces on Architecture” Presenter: Geof Bell Arc. 314 - History and Theory of Architecture: 20th Century and Contemporary Architecture University of Kentucky College of Design Fall 2008

It’s the Network:

No, the challenge for architecture is to develop forms of practice able to survive and prosper in the fiercely competitive global marketplace where intangible things like brands, experience, identity, terror, fear, and even access … are becoming increasingly important. Michael Speaks The Impact of Global “Design Intelligence and the New Economy” Forces on Architecture Architectural Record (2002) The constantly evolving and increasingly global world in which we live has had dramatic effects on the architectural profession. Transnational investment, rapid proliferation of communication and informational technologies, and the impact of free-market forces on local, regional, national, and international economies have shaped the way in which we work in remarkable ways. While there does not exist a single widely accepted definition of globalization, there has been an abundance of publication regarding its effects on architecture. It is the purpose of this presentation to investigate these effects and the ways in which they drive contemporary practice.

Coca-Cola International | 2008

Globalization • • • • • • •

Astronomically expands the realm of possibility, for better or worse; Exponentially depletes the architectural imagination; Exponentially enriches the architectural imagination; Scrambles the chronology of individual architect’s careers; Extends and/or shrinks shelf life; Causes, as in earlier collisions of formerly pure cultures, epidemics; Radically modifies architectural discourse, now an uneasy relationship between regional unknowing and internationally knowing. Rem Koolhaas “Globalization” S M L XL (1995)

E v o lution of a Global World

“Global” is of course nothing new. As we have discussed, Modernism was an attempt to provide a unified way of working, originating (of course) in Europe. This can be described as internationalization; the style originated in Europe, but would be agreed upon by the many different nations who would be affected by it. Continuing on with the advent of Post-Modernism, we see a new concept of the global. The United States have become a significant power, and have begun to export not only styles but products and brands. In a multinational world, corporations based in a single location operate throughout the globe, but maintain their specific brand no matter where they are. The Golden Arches are recognizable anywhere in the world. Even though today, globalization may seem commonplace, the ways in which it is affecting architecture are very new. Globalization has taken on new meaning: a planet-wide system of intensely interlinked operations that at once operate independently, and collectively make up the global market that impacts every aspect of our lives. Or in the words of Verizon,

“It’s the Network”




18th Century to 1960s

1960s to 1990s

1994 to Present




Nation States

Multinational Corporations

Market States



Planetary Courtesy: Michael Speaks

Globalization is: Integration and decentralization of the planet’s economy, infrastructure, and culture. The Globalized Market

Advertisements | Times Square; New York, New York

Two aspects of globalization have played increasingly significant roles in contemporary architecture: The Global City

OMA | Waterfront City Masterplan | Dubai, UAE | 2008

The Globalized Market Kevin Kelley, writer and thinker, has published numerous books, articles, and essays on the importance of keeping up with the global economy. In New Rules for the New Economy, still as relevant as ever, Kelley describes the global economy as an intensely interlinked network of ideas, information, and relationships. As architects, we are a crucial part of this globalized market: providing infrastructure and translating the intangible to physical reality. The Opte Project | Map of the Internet | | 2009

Kevin Kelley and the New Economy:

This new economy has three distinguishing characteristics: • It is global. • It favors intangible things – ideas, information, and relationships. • And it is intensely interlinked. These three attributes produce a new type of marketplace and society, one that is rooted in ubiquitous electronic networks. Kevin Kelley, New Rules for the New Economy (1998)

What is different about

<insert your favorite starchitect> working in America vs China vs Dubai?

How do we as architects respond to this phenomenon? As famous architects become brand names, is there any difference between their work in America, Dubai, China, or anywhere else in the world? Should there be? Architecture, (usually) occupying a physical location, must confront the issue of an increasingly global world. We will examine the effect that a globalized market has on the work of various architects, how they confront and respond to the issues of the local and the global, and how their work responds, not only to the traditional context of the physical surroundings, but the new, global context that begins to inform how we design.

Clockwise from top | Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, Thom Mayne

UNStudio Ben van Berkel | Caroline Bos

Global Networks and Urban Infrastructure Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos, the principles of United Net Studio, have embraced the global nature of the new economy through what they call network practice. They redefine the role of the architect as co-producing technician, organizer, and planner - as only part of a highly structured co-operative process in which clients, investors, users, and specialist consultants have just as much involvement in the design process.

UNStudio | Move | Goose Press | 2008

UNStudio | Workflow Diagram | | 2008

The first project that we will look at is an urban proposal for New York, through the Canadian Centre for Architecture. UNStudio used a combination of digital techniques to integrate infrastructure, urbanism and varying programs by looking for correspondences and overlaps. Automated design and animation techniques were used to develop a working method to integrate user movement, urban planning, construction, and the potential for programmatic development.

UNStudio | IFCCA | New York, USA | 1999

The in-depth, interactive nature of this working method allows for a network of programs which interact and maintain their distinctions while contributing to the project as a whole. In their proposal, UNStudio writes: The fascination of the emerging global city resides to some extent in its qualities of mutability and instability. Absences, deficiencies, and deformations carry a transformational potential. Allowing within themselves diversity, conflict, and change, these emerging architectural and urban organizations reflect qualities that belong to our time, such as vicariousness, transformability, and the almost limitless absorption of information. So, the organizational structures and the infrastructure of the global city are no longer seen as linear representations of homogenous systems, but scale-less and subject to evolution, expansion, inversion, contortion, and manipulation. The crux of their argument is how, in a world facing increasing homogenization of cities, which cater to an increasingly transnational conglomeration of travelers, will a city such as Manhattan distinguish itself from its replicas to set the tone for the future? Through their combination of techniques, they diagram and map the performance of Manhattan, extracting the parameters by which they will generate their plan for the development of the site. By combining facilities into what they call â&#x20AC;&#x153;critical packages,â&#x20AC;? clusters of well-functioning mixed-program areas, they hoped to provide optimal conditions for the site to function effectively programmatically, economically, and politically.

The term “global city” was coined by American sociologist Saskia Sassen, noted for her analysis of globalization and its effects. She argues, in an essay titled “The Impact of the New Technologies and Globalization on Cities,” published in 2001, that as the world becomes more global, cities would not, as many urbanists had predicted, expand indefinitely, but that the cores of cities would become more important than ever as corporations grow and require direct access to collaborate with other firms and concentrations of intelligence through experts and specialists. “One of the ironies of the new information technologies,” she says, “is that to maximize their use we need access to conventional infrastructure.” Van Berkel and Bos quickly recognized and have embraced the rising significance of metropolitan infrastructure, and many of their projects deal directly with this issue.

UNStudio | Star Network Exhibition | NAI, Rotterdam | 2004

As an example, the Star Network Exhibition, for the Netherlands Architecture Institute utilizes a rail-linked network of distribution facilities, creating an infrastructure, which represents “an ideology of efficiency through connectivity.”

Similarly, if we take a look at a more recent project for a masterplan and train station for Bologna, Italy, we see a strong attempt to redefine a significant piece of infrastructure, the train station, not only as a key node of a transportation network emphasizing efficiency, but as a significant piece of the urban fabric as well, expanding out into the neighborhoods and streets, and beginning to emphasize and even to adjust the unique identity of the city.

UNStudio | Masterplan and Train Station | Bologna, Italy | 2007

Foreign Office Architects Farshid Moussavi | Alejandro Zaera-Polo

Localized-Globalized Architecture Founded in 1995 by Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera-Polo, Foreign Office Architects is based in London, with a portfolio that circumnavigates the globe. Japanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Yokohoma Port Terminal, perhaps one of the firmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bestknown projects, is also a good example of the ambitious approach they take to work in foreign locales. Always a spectacle, FOA also determined attempts to respond to physical and cultural context, striking a delicate balance between architectural significance on the world-stage, and cultural relevance for the city and its inhabitants. Even as it strives to define the local culture, its significance at the global scale transcends the local to redefine its context, making it at once local and global.

FOA | Yokohoma Port Terminal | Yokohoma, Japan | 2002

FOA | Bao’an Airport | Shenzhen, China | 2007

FOA expands upon these concepts in their airport design for the city of Shenzhen, China. Like UNStudio, they are confronting the idea of creating an identity for a foreign city, with a few significant differences. While UNStudio’s train station was meant to reinforce the city’s social ideals by weaving into the fabric of

the city, FOA’s scheme for this airport stands out as an icon of Schenzhen City, and through its shape, an icon of itself. The project is an ambitious effort to resonate with both old and new aspects of the city’s culture and iconographies. This takes form through representations of woven bamboo, the ripples of the nearby sea, and

the floating forms of a ribbon in a traditional Chinese dance. Architecture becomes a form of branding, a logo for the city, one that is, significantly, only visible from the air, alluding to both its purpose (flight), and the increasingly global perspective, which not only made its conception possible, but neccessary.

S e r v o

David Erdman | Marcelyn Gow Ulrika Karlsson | Chris Perry

Network Ecologies

Servo | Dark Places | Santa Monica Museum of Art | 2005

Servo was founded in 1999 and simultaneously exists in four separate cities, all major economic centers. David Erdman in New York, Marcelyn Gow in Zurich, Chris Perry in Los Angeles, and Ulrika Karlsson in Stockholm exploit the network infrastructures of the global information economy to link the architectural cultures of Europe and the United States. Servo’s work exists at the boundary between the physical world that we interact with every day, and the virtual network that spans the globe. They question the way architecture responds to the ever-present electronic telecommunications infrastructures. How do we assign form to such an intangible concept? “How might architects operate at this level of networked intensity?” Certainly, Servo’s

futuristic designs relate formally: “constructed of tubes, conduits for circuits, snaking coils, and chases.” Conceptually, too, Servo attempts to define architecture’s new role. Their work, as described by David Hight, suggests “a shift from focusing on innovating the object of architecture to reconfiguring the subject: the redistribution of borders of the discipline into the power structures of the networked economy.” Plugging-In to the global network, through the way the user interacts with the object, and the object with its environment. Their unorthodox work can be described as “network ecologies,” in that they act as physical infrastructure, or ecologies, in which to interact with and become an integral part of the vast informational networks.

Primarily dissiminating their work through installations and exhibitions, both of the projects the we will look at in-depth are speculative, residing in museums - for now. The first was exhibited at PS1 MoMA in 2004 under the title Vibronic Environments. This project helps illustrate another of Saskia Sassen’s arguments, that much of what we experience as local, is in fact global in that what we think of as local is a transformed condition, merely a localization of global processes. She writes, “Digital space is embedded in the larger societal, cultural, subjective, economic, imaginary structures of lived experience and the systems within which we exist and operate.” To continue to think of the local as “simply local” is no longer useful or adequate. Thus

Servo | Lattice Archipelogics | 2002

Servo seeks to operate within this ambiguity through their exhibition at P.S.1. MoMA. The physical infrastructure of the project invites users to “plug in” and connect to the virtual infrastructure of the information economy, referencing a world where physical proximity is no longer necessary in order to be part of the community; and in fact, unless one is plugged in, there is simply isolation.

Likewise, Lobbi-ports, constructed of a parasitic membrane, carries both people and telecommunications networks. The project conceives of the future of hotel lobbies as cultural terminals, or points of entry, for cities made up of increasingly transnational travelers. “Proposing that hotel lobbies will become the urban living room for local urban dwellers as well as serve the function of cultural

Servo | Vibronic Environments | P.S.1. MoMA NY | 2004

destination for the tourist, the Lobbi-port will thus allow for stays which extend beyond a meal, check-in, or a drink and open the possibility for new modes of interactivity and atmosphere to emerge, where the hotel TV is the lobby and the lounge has become the room.” The implanted systems of enclosure re-wire and re-distribute existing circuits to supply the spaces with light, sound, and

video. The plug-in system redirects the flow, distribution, and direction of information through the implants while at the same time re-defining the cultural and everyday pedestrian urbanism of the hotel itself.

Servo | Lobbi-Ports V.1 | Speculative Hotel Proposal for NY, USA | 2002

Servo | Lobbi-Ports V.2 | Speculative Hotel Proposal for NY, USA | 2004

Globalized Clients and Consumer Culture:


The three existing Prada Epicenters stand as examples of a corporate brand which interacts with the global economy through architecture. In the late 1990s, as the Prada brand expanded, it hired Rem Koolhaas and OMA/AMO to help develop the brand across the globe without losing the aura generated by the Prada brand,

OMA | Prada Epicenter NY | New York, USA | 2001

as typically happens when the number of stores increases. Thus Rem proposed four Epicenters, of which San Francisco was cancelled, where each would use informational technologies to collect local feedback from customers to feed into the larger network of stores and each store would in turn sell its own specialized

goods with the Prada label. Brand destabilization to keep the brand fresh. The epicenters use the context of the local to inform the global.

Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron Prada Epicenter Tokyo | Tokyo, Japan | 2002

OMA | Prada Epicenter LA | Los Angeles, USA | 2004

Globalized Clients and Consumer Culture:

Pre-Fab These projects, however, exist outside of context, to embrace the globalized consumer economy in the production of architecture. Prefabrication is not such a new thing but has been recently re-investigated by the P.S.1. MoMAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Home Delivery Show, a commisioned show where design responds to highly specialized markets made possible by the global economy. With mass production in the housing market, architects have to respond not to a context, but all contexts simultaneously, in some cases resulting in projects that are completely self-sufficient.

Richard Horden & Haack + HĂśpfner Arch. | Micro-Compact Home | 2008

Kieran Timberlake | Cellophane House | 2008

Leo Kaufmann and Albert R端f | System 3 | 2008

Globalized Clients and The Global City

Cities themselves have also had to find ways to cope with an increasingly global world, and have often been slow to respond. For this reason, some architects have attempted to redefine cities to take their new global identities into account. In addition, some municipalities have taken it upon themselves to redefine the city and its place on the global scene.

The World City:

OMA | Waterfront City Masterplan | Dubai, UAE | 2008

World City is not a single bloblike urban conurbation seeping over every acre of the globe. But the vast networks of all kinds that girdle the world are so intertwined that they unite existing cities in a single global urban entity. In these networks, cities are the hubs for making, for distributing, and for consuming. They will succeed in much the same way theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve always succeeded - by adapting to evolving networks of connectivity. Michael Gallis with James S. Russell â&#x20AC;&#x153;World City: Why Globalization Makes Cities More Important Than Everâ&#x20AC;? (2002)

Nigel Coates and the Global City How can you address such extensive ideas as locality, identity, freedom, and diversity as one?

Nigel Coates | Mixtacity | Tate Modern, New York, USA | 2007

The Global City:

The result is not the coherant spatial form of an overwhelming social logic be it the capitalist city, the preindustrial city or the ahistorical utopia but the totured and disorderly, yet beautiful patchwork of human creation and suffering. Manuel Castells â&#x20AC;&#x153;European Cities, the Informational Society, and the Global Economyâ&#x20AC;? (1993)

In Guide to Ecstacity, Nigel Coates invents an entirely new and novel metropolis that takes fragments from seven of the world’s major cities and weaves them into one multilayered urban fabric, whose patterns shift according to the overlap of cultures. According to Coates, “[i]t builds on the sort of complex social ecology that truly global (but not globalized) cities take for

Nigel Coates | Ecstacity Painting | Architectural Association, London | 1992

granted.” The book recontextualizes past projects of Branson-Coates, the practice formed in 1985 by Doug Branson and Nigel Coates, within the imaginary city, to investigate the relationship between locational context and experience, posing the question “how can locality, identity, freedom, diversity, and security” be addressed at once?

His more recent project, Mixtacity, developed for an exhibition at the Tate Modern dealing with the issue of Global Cities, involves a similar investigation, but within an existing context. The projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s intent was to explore the potential of the Thames Gateway in East London to accomodate the diverse range of cultures and lifestyles of the million new inhabitants antici-

pated over the next decade. Rather than a planning model determined by political and economic interests, this project is driven by a more artistic spirit, resulting in apparently casual juxtapositions and relationships that are meant to stimulate individual interpretation.

Nigel Coates | Mixtacity | Tate Modern, New York, USA | 2007

Global Cities and the Perception of Culture The Olympics are a perfect illustration of the way cities have reacted to the forces of globalization. Every four years cities around the world compete to host the global competitions. Each are looking to the Olympics as the perfect vehicle to showcase themselves on the world stage. Cities carefully cultivate the image that they want to project when the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eyes fall on them. China, recently becoming a part of the World Trade Organization, wanted to project a new devotion to change and progress to match a new government. Architecture is used as a powerful tool to present this visage to the rest of the world. These buildings (often by foreign architects) become a source for deep nationalistic pride.

FOA | Stratford Bridge and Olympic Stadium | London, United Kingdom | 2008

Zaha Hadid | Aquatics Center | London, United Kingdom | 2008

Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron | Olympic Stadium | Beijing, China | 2008



Cities are caught between opposite polarities; global and local, foreign and indigenous, cultural and identity, economic benefit and social integrity, acceptance and resistance. Dr Hesham Khairy â&#x20AC;&#x153;Globalization and Beyond: Architecture, Communities and Settingsâ&#x20AC;? (2005) Abu Dhabi, like many of the UAE cities, is experiencing what could be described as a tabula rasa of physical context and of means. Vast amounts of recently acquired wealth have allowed for an unprecedented building boom in which the desire to develop an image to project into the global discourse has caused a hunger for name-brand architects. The traditional local culture is re-invented in order to interact with the global market.

“Welcome to Abu Dhabi, where luxury and style are infused with traditional values of hospitality and respect. Where sunny weather, tranquil beaches, lush oases, vibrant city life, and a mixture of culture and traditions come together to create a holiday experience like no other. Explore the emirate’s old souqs, sip a fragrant Arabic coffee, ride the dunes on an exhilarating desert safari, or dive into a dazzling marine life - there is something for everyone in Abu Dhabi.”

Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron | Olympic Stadium | Beijing, China | 2008

The Global Community … The big question is whether or not changes in the western lifestyle can be used beneficially to alleviate the worst conditions in the developing world. Roger Zetter, Rodney White “Planning in Cities: Sustainability and Growth in the Developing World” (2002)

Teddy Cruz Up to now I’ve discussed globalization in very abstract, general terms. Koolhaas’ diagrams portray globalization as an oppressive force, dividing the world into those who are integrated into the global economy and those who are excluded. Sociologist Manuel Castells predicts how globalization will polarize cities, increasing the gap between rich and poor. In response, practices have begun to appear which try to respond to

globalization at the local level. Estudio Teddy Cruz operates at the border of Tijuana and San Diego, where, in his words, politics of discriminating zoning, a catch-22 of development restrictions and economic incentives prevent the immigrant communities from developing. As means of production increasingly follow cheap labor markets south and human migration goes in the opposite direction, the two cities divide and repel

each other even as they overlap. The work of Teddy Cruz responds to these factors, and he describes his work as “radicalization of the local to produce alternative readings of the global.”

Cruz does this in several ways: first, by embracing the informal. In Manufactured Sites, a framework was developed to be set up as an ad-hoc architecture of addition, not imposing form on the local but allowing it to form itself. This type of concept might recall the infrastructure projects of Yona Friedman, where a system was put in place to allow for future development, but here the intention is to avoid imposing any sort of specific arrangement, allowing the culture to take over by simply

framing the informal, similar to the phenomenon that Cruz points out in Retrofitting Levittown, where immigrants, moving into the vacated housing of Levittown began to impose their own culture onto the existing structures.

In the next project, Living Rooms at the Border, Cruz again investigates the concept of â&#x20AC;&#x153;an infrastructure of ambiguity,â&#x20AC;? where a series of empty spaces provide a framework for the informal. What is most important about

Teddy Cruz | Manufactured Sites | Tijuana, Mexico | 2005

Teddy Cruz | Retrofitting Levittown | Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions | 2007

Living Rooms, though, is that it reacts to and relies on the existing political and economic systems in its development. The real project was figuring out how to work through the legal restrictions in order to get the politics on their side. The entire program of housing, community space, and the headquarters of a nonprofit organization had to be sited on a single parcel, and the structures had to be designed so that they could call it â&#x20AC;&#x153;public art,â&#x20AC;? to work around the development restrictions. The parcel was made into an infrastructure for growth at the local level through infrastructure that frames the complexity of the informal.

Teddy Cruz | Living Rooms at the Border (Casa Familia) | San Diego, USA | 2006

Teddy Cruz | Manufactured Sites | Tijuana, Mexico | 2005

Teddy Cruz | Living Rooms at the Border (Casa Familia) | San Diego, USA | 2006

Teddy Cruz | Living Rooms at the Border (Casa Familia) | San Diego, USA | 2006

I end in the same place that I began: even in a constantly shifting environment, Koolhaas’ evaluation of globalization is as applicable now as ever. While the effects on architecture are abstract and difficult to define, they are unavoidable, and must be acknowledged, if not necessarily embraced, by anyone who wishes to compete in the global marketplace.

Globalization ...destabilizes and redefines both the way architecture is produced and that which architecture produces. Architecture is no longer a patient transaction between known quantities that share cultures, no longer the manipulation of established possibilities, no longer a possible judgment in rational terms of investment or return, no longer something experienced in person – by the public or critics. Globalization lends virtuality to real buildings, keeps them indigestible, forever fresh. Rem Koolhaas “Globalization” S M L XL (1995)

References: Hight, Christopher. “Scalar Networks, Super Creeps: Approaching the NonStandard in the Architecture of Servo.” Network Practices: New Strategies in Architecture and Design. Anthony Burke Jamal Al-Qawasmi, Coates, Nigel. Guide to and Therese Tierney, eds. Abdesselem Mahmoud, and Ecstacity. Princeton Architec- Princeton Architectural Press: New York (2007). Ali Djerbi, eds. The Second tural Press: New York (2003). International Conference of Koolhaas, Rem. Conthe Center for the Study of Ar- Cruz, Teddy. “Retro- chitecture in the Arab Region fitting Levittown.” Harvard tent. Taschen: Germany (CSAAR 2007): Tunis, Tunisia: University Graduate School of (2004). Volume 1 (2008) pp 285-299. Design. Koolhaas, Rem. “Glo Bullivant, Lucy. “Non- Foreign Office Architects balization.” S M L XL. standard Networking.” Atlas. with Loom Concept Ltd. ForOcean. Ocean Design Issue 23, November 2005. eign Office Architects. http:// Research Network. http:// (2008). www.ocean-designresearch. Burke, Anthony. “Toward a Protocological Archi- Gallis, Michael, with net/. tecture.” Network Practices: James S. Russell, AIA. “World Sassen, Saskia. “The New Strategies in Architecture City: Why Globalization makes and Design. Anthony Burke Cities More Important than City: Localizations of the Global.” Perspecta. and Therese Tierney, eds. Ever.” Architectural Record. Princeton Architectural Press: New York (2007). Al Halim, Dalia Wagih Abd. “Cities Under the Stress of Globalization: The Case of Cairo.” Regional Architecture and Identity in the Age of Globalization.

Castells, Manuel. “European Cities, the Informational Society, and the Global Economy.” Journal of Economic and Social Geography. (1993).

References (Continued): Sassen, Saskia. “The Impact of New Technologies and Globalization on Cities.” Cities in Transition. Arie Graafland and Deborah Hauptmann, eds. (2001). Servo with Jeremy Whitener. Servo. http:// Speaks, Michael. “Design Intelligence and the New Economy.” Architectural Record. January 2002. (pp. 7276). Speaks, Michael. “Prada LA: Chatter About the Global Brand.” A+U. UN Studio. Effects (Move). UN Studio and Goose Press: Amsterdam (1999). UN Studio with Bloemendaal & Dekkers and iWink. UN Studio. http://www.

It's the Network  

The Impact of Global Forces on Architecture

It's the Network  

The Impact of Global Forces on Architecture