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51–3 Borders Stephen Graham interviewed by Gavin Browning

102–1 Marathon David Gissen and Rachel Schreiber

123–1 Crisis in Crisis: Biosphere 2’s Contested Ecologies Janette Kim and Erik Carver

55–1 Exits Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Mark Hansen, Laura Kurgan, and Ben Rubin

107–8 The Tour Gavin Browning

124 Etopia’s “Utopia” for Green Reconstruction Su Yunsheng

62 Paper–Tube House Shigeru Ban 64–1 Unfriendly Skies C–Lab

1–10 Table of Contents 1–8 Things Will Get Worse Before They Get Better Jeffrey Inaba 3–8 Space In Crisis Mark Wigley 7–5 Design for the Apocalypse John McMorrough 8 From 9/11 To 5/12 Jiang Jun 13–1 Inauguration C-LAB 16–7 Walls Haifa Zangana 19-1 International Style Heritage Lucia Allais Rebirth Brick Liu Jiakun


32 Re–Tumu After Wenchuan Huang Weiwen 35–4 Humanitarian Intervention Eyal Weizman 42–7 The World’s Last Colony: The Refugee Camps of Western Sahara Manuel Herz

66–1 Systems Gone Wild Infrastructure After Modernity Kazys Varnelis 71–5 Cory Booker inverviewed by Volume 74–5 Confronting Crisis Through a Social Infrastructure Omar Freilla interviewed by Jeffrey Inaba 76 Ultimate Infrastructure Jiang Jun 79–5 Obama Urbanism Jeffrey Inaba, Geoff Manaugh, Christopher Hawthorn, Josef Grima and Sam Jacob 82–6 Situational Awareness James McConnell interviewed by Gavin Browning 85–6 Maps Erin Aigner interviewed by Gavin Browning 87–1 Tripping The Light Rail Fantastic C–Lab with labRAD 96–1 Dispatches From an Anaheim 9-1-1 Operator Anonymous as told to Laura Hanna 100–4 Credit Ginger Nolan

Sandbags Steven Hart


Go Bags Jean J. Choi

135–1 Monkeys Jason Zuzga


112–1 Upset Ethics Aaron Davis and Leah Meisterlin

136–5 Tourism Jorge Otero–Pailos 137–1 Where The Wild Things Went C–Lab

113–1 Shopping For Go Bags C–Lab

138 Light Steel Construction Hsieh Ying–chun

114–1 Crisis Devices SLAB 119–2 Tactics Keller Easterling

140–1 Rogue States of Mind C–Lab

120–1 Celebrity Mobilization Martha Rosler 121–8 Public Relations Ina Howard–Parker

146–1 Exclusion Zone Oleg Yavorsky interviewed by Gavin Browning 150–1 More is Less MTWTF 151–1 Foreclosed Homes Geoff Manaugh


Things Will Get Worse Before They Get Better by jeffrEy inaba

Lorem ipsum America’s new dolor administration sit amet, consectetur has brought adipiscing about elit.aSed palpable cursussense euismod of optimism. diam. Duis There luctus. are Lorem high hopes ipsumfordolor the agency sit amet,ofconsectetur government. adipiscThere ing is confidence elit. Quisque thatnec people sapien willnon mobilize nibh mollis for a aliquam. worthy cause. Phasellus Therenon is belief turpis.that Sedeconomic pede dolor, tempus recoveryut,could vulputate begina,sooner egestas rather non,than elit. Duis later. In interdum. architecture Aenean there is tortor a newfound nibh, pretium feeling volutpat, that the fringilla profession vitae, canmattis improve laoreet, cities.purus. But optimism Suspendisse is a egestas, fragile thing. urnaUnfavorable eu ornare tincidunt, events are eratlikely risusto


occur which could dash any such hopes. One way to prevent ourselves from overreacting, and subsequently falling into despair, is to appreciate the nature of crisis. Understanding crisis may help us to judge the unfolding situation and maintain a realistic measure of faith. In this issue you will find wide-ranging examples of crises: how they begin, unfold and, despite attempts at their management, spin out of control. Everything is fluid at the moment and our basic assumptions of how to fix things have proven ineffective. So prepare for things to get worse before they get better. Hopefully, even this helps to cushion the fall. As the second installment in an ongoing editorial project between Urban China and Volume, we have produced this limited edition publication on the occasion of the exhibition Informal Cities at the New Museum. Inspired by the unofficial compilations sold by fans at music concerts, we offer a bootleg issue of Urban China. The bootleg is a DIY format for assembling and disseminating work within a circle of hardcore fans, typically consisting of live work recorded, sequenced and edited by the concertgoer. Unlike a pirated copy or fake which tries to assume the identity of an authorized product and is motivated by a desire for profit, a bootleg announces itself as an improvised, illegitimate work and is largely motivated by a wish to share. Given the urgency of the topic, C-Lab has borrowed the bootleg format to quickly distribute observations, initiated in dialogue with Urban China, on the crisis and its management. 2–8


space in crisis by mark wigley

Images of devastated buildings are the most eloquent and disturbing witnesses of disaster. Broken buildings represent broken people. If most buildings in an area have been damaged, the entire social structure seems to have broken. The severity of the emergency is confirmed by the sudden arrival of helicopters that bypass the everyday horizontal logic of

the city to descend directly into the heart of the traumatized space to extract survivors or drop supplies and rescue teams. We expect or hope that the sight of the speedy arrival of emergency aid out of the sky is the first step in an extended visual narrative of recovery that steadily transitions from the provisional mobile architecture of sandbags, tents, trailers, portable clinics, trailers, and camps, to the restoration of permanent structures as the area heals and a traditional sense of shelter is restored. Having acted as the clearest sign of an emergency, architecture is the final sign of recovery. But what happens to architecture when the situation goes beyond emergency? What happens when emergency turns into crisis as the familiar linear narrative—immediate danger and rapid response followed by careful repair and eventual recovery—does not unfold? What happens when the recovery narrative itself breaks down? What would be the architecture of crisis? Is crisis architecture a contradiction in terms or a crucial unacknowledged force? Outside of architecture, we continually hear about crises, whether they are financial, political, medical, ecological, humanitarian, military, cultural, or psychological. Every sphere of activity seems to be in, going into, or coming out of crisis. We are continuously bombarded by stories about the energy crisis, the climate crisis, the mid-life crisis, the identity crisis, and so on. In fact, the word “crisis” appears repeatedly in almost every issue of each newspaper. Or to put it another way, crisis is always news, the most important news even. Each crisis is usually so dominant that it is soon referred to simply as “the crisis.” It could be argued that the key role of newspapers, magazines, radio, television and the internet is simply to monitor the lines between everyday, emergency, and crisis. More precisely, the media monitor the line between emergency and crisis because emergency, paradoxically, is actually a routine part of the everyday. All systems, institutions, and spaces account for emergency, expect it and deploy resources to deal with it: emergency agencies, facilities, personnel, uniforms, symbols, equipment, warning systems, alarms, telephone numbers, signals, protocols, funds, communication systems, etc. Specific bright colors—typically red, orange or yellow—are used to mark those parts of the everyday environment that can be used to respond to any threat. Even the word “emer-

gency� is part of the everyday environment, appearing on buildings, vehicles, people, and roadways. Every plane, train and building has emergency buttons and procedures written on the walls. Cars have warning lights and carry emergency signs that can be placed on the road wherever there is danger. An extremely dense and sensitive network of devices, personnel and control rooms detect and react to danger signs. A key part of the everyday experience of the contemporary city is the sound of sirens and alarms in the street. Within the home, there is yet another set of alarms, while food packages, cleaning products, medicine, tools, and even plastic bags carry warning labels and instructions of what to do in the case of emergency. All children, workers and passengers are trained in emergency procedures. Spaces are steadily, even unconsciously, monitored for possible emergencies. Everyone has to continuously consider the possibility that almost any person or object in a space could play a role in an endless range of possible emergencies. The everyday environment constantly carries the possibility of emergency. Emergency is an integral part of the space. This is true of all spaces and, in reverse, true of all emergencies. By definition, emergencies occur within a space. They are always contained in a specific territory. The role of emergency procedures is to maintain the limits of a particular space. In a sense, they define the real geometry of that space. The actual condition of a space is not revealed in its visible shape but in the emergency protocols that are used to maintain the shape. One of the most precise ways to analyze the condition of a city, a building, an organization, a company, or a person is to study its emergency response systems, scrutinizing what are treated as threats within its space and how those threats are detected, communicated and reacted to. Every institution has an emergency plan, a way to sustain itself when destabilized. It could even be argued that an institution only becomes an institution with such a plan that simultaneously preserves and produces a defined space. A crisis is the moment that the threat is not just inside the space but is actually an extreme challenge to the space itself, from the scale of an individual psyche or body in crisis to that of a family, an institution, a city, a region, a nation, or a planet. If an emergency is a threat within a system, a crisis is a threat to the whole system. If

an emergency can be at any scale, from a broken bone to a continent, what turns it into crisis is when its effect exceeds the local scale. In a crisis, things spin out of scale and therefore out of control. The whole environment is threatened rather than any object, resource, person or procedure within it. The word “crisis� therefore does not appear in the everyday environment. It has no buildings, people, equipment, colors, sounds, or protocols associated with it. Crises always appear as the failure of a spatial system, a failure of architecture. It is no longer simply a damaged spatial system needing emergency care. Something has so radically lost its shape that it cannot be repaired. There cannot be a crisis plan, a crisis department, a crisis vehicle, a crisis color, or a crisis button. Nobody can plan for crisis since crisis is exactly the name for that which defeats both planning beforehand and response afterwards. Each government, hospital, company, university, or police department sets up a crisis management team. There is usually a special room set up for the team to occupy when a crisis occurs, and a communication system is established, but by definition the reason for activating the team cannot be predicted and the team will be unable to adequately respond when the time comes. A financial crisis, for example, is exactly the moment that all the elaborate devices, regulations, protocols, and management hierarchies that are meant to keep the flows of money within certain limits fail to control the situation. Not knowing what it will face and knowing that it will be inadequate, the mission of any crisis management team is to translate the sense of crisis into one of emergency. Crisis management is the attempt to maintain the integrity of a system under radical threat by producing the effect of emergency rather than crisis, the effect of an urgent but contained problem, which is to say, the effect of a defined and stable space. The very existence of such a team can be an important part of producing this reassuring spatial effect. Since the threat is so extreme, widespread, and unforeseen, the team has to include a diverse range of experts. The problem is always a new one and can only be addressed with multi-disciplinary and multi-dimensional techniques that exceed the current capacity of the organization. The situation demands innovation. The spaces being protected have to change to sur-

vive. Crises produce new forms. If all spatial systems, all patterns, have an emergency state—emergency being, as it were, part of the pattern—a crisis is the possibility that the pattern itself will not to survive, and the result of a crisis is necessarily a new pattern. The crisis is such a radical threat to the environment that it acts as a kind of demand for whole new kinds of policies, procedures, and people. Crises are ultimately productive. They force invention. Breakdowns incubate breakthroughs. Radical destruction gives way to new forms of production. Since the nineteenth century, theorists have often portrayed crisis as a primary agent of forward progress in all aspects of individual and collective life, most famously in Marx’s concept of a series of inevitable crises in the market culminating in a “general crisis” that forces radical change in the whole the socio-economic system. The original meaning of the word “crisis” is medical, derived from the Greek word krisis, for decision, coming from krinen, to draw a line, to separate. Crisis is not a particular condition of the body. It is the moment that a doctor decides that the patient is at the crucial turning point of either recovering or dying. It is usually preceded by a whole chain of events that are only retroactively understood as warning signs. Crisis is something that is announced at a certain moment. In fact, the announcement always comes late. Things are already right on the edge of collapse. The story of a crisis only starts to be told half way through. In the end, it is all about a narrative. Declaring a crisis is declaring that the limit of a problem is not clear, and that a radical intervention needs to be done in the hope of reestablishing limits. To declare a crisis is to declare that design is needed, and the resulting design usually becomes permanent. Architectural design is the child of crisis but the field devotes itself to removing the sense of crisis. Even the word “crisis” that appears so often in other fields is rare in architectural discourse. There can be emergency architects and emergency architecture but there cannot be a crisis architect or crisis architecture. Yet architecture is precisely the effect of crisis. If each crisis acts as an urgent demand for new forms, it could be that every part of the built environment has been shaped by prior crises (medical, economic, military, seismic, social, etc). Our everyday world has been shaped by earlier traumas, and silently carries all their traces. Emergencies modify existing architecture,

through the adoption of new regulations and technologies in response to cultural norms about risk, but crises produce whole new architectures. The image of safety and security that architecture offers is forged in moments of maximum instability and insecurity. Perhaps architecture is simply the name for that which turns what once would have produced crisis into the source of a contained emergency. It is retroactive crisis management, yet is ultimately destined to fail since all crises are first and foremost architectural crises that force new designs. When things spin out of control, architecture, the image of control spins out. In this sense, crisis could not be more architectural, or less. The field of architecture is devoted to suppressing a sense of crisis but is propelled by the very thing it represses. As the art of limits, architecture is always in a dialectic with crisis. The most crucial insights into the evolutions, complications, and responsibilities of the field can be found within the most traumatic scenes. To simply face the spaces of crisis, as in this bootleg of Urban China, is already to rethink our discipline. crisis

Design for the Apocalypse by John McMorrough

Don’t wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good special effects. — Roger Zelazny Utopia, that place of high aspirations and lofty ambition, has been the motivating conceit for a society (and an architecture) of achievable perfection for quite a long time, but across the spectrum of culture there has been a recent turn from the utopian to the apocalyptic, in forms both fictional and factual. Invoking the “apocalypse” brings forth connotations of the end of the world—historically imagined as everything from the judgment of God to nuclear Armageddon. In its contemporary manifestation it has taken the form of various global crises: environmental, economic or unexpected. Of course, the “end of the world” is not a novelty. It has its own history, and is itself a genre of expression as a category of pessimism. A recurrent theme within cultural thought, it is the shadow of the progressive ideal of the avant-garde. What we see in this latest…


From 9/11 to 5/12 Crisis of Modernization and Modernizing through Crises 从9/11到5/12 Jiang Jun, translated by Zhu Fei Mainstream opinion contends that the Olympic Games were not only a milestone of China’s modernization, but also a watershed of Chinese modes of development. It also holds that the Chinese economy will slow after this turning point, and that all crises—hidden behind the curtain of economic boom and demographic dividend— will bubble to the surface. However, no matter how incredible these pre-warning or disaster forecasts might have been, their eventual appearance, intensity, frequency and complexity are far beyond all prophets’ imagination: from climate change to seismic activities, from political dilemma (the Lhasa Riot) to economic risk (the real estate bubble), from internal turbulence (the stock market plunge) to external impact (the upsurge in the price of oil), from bureaucratic negligence (a train crash) to industry-wide fraud (toxic milk powder). Behind the dramatic contrast between tragedies and comedies remains the constant logic of mutual promotion and restraint between growth and crisis: high speed and high risk. As China enters a phase of both high productivity and high risk, and as long as its modernization proceeds, crisis management will become the next critical discipline. The attacks of September 11, 2001 begot an age in which crisis spreads by airplane hijacking, postal service deliveries of anthrax, water supply poisoning, internet hacking and many other channels of everyday life. The result is a systemic threat to our centralized core. Seven years after 9/11, the catastrophic earthquake that struck China’s hinterland on May 12, 2008 highlights the role of modernization in terms of encountering crisis: as infrastructural bases of traffic, communication, water and electricity are destroyed, the quake-affected areas became an isolated island within seconds. Though subsequent state and social rescue and relief efforts strive to replace and repair infrastructure, post-disaster reconstruction requires a long-term restoration of entire systems of disaster-stricken areas. The re-modernization process of these areas becomes a fatal part of the Chinese modernization project. The unspoken problems of the system give birth to systematic transformations. The risk of modernity is its ability to systematize human society through politics, economy and technology, since this ability also provides potential conditions for disaster. In general, disaster is a nonlinear system linking subsystems of climate, ecology, food, hygiene, politics, economy, society and other networks. The local, linear effect of primary disasters breed large amounts of secondary disasters that are based upon modernization systems—thereby generating an integrated disaster effect. The primary disaster is the fuse of the secondary one. Once the latter is detonated, it will procure the same ambiguity and unpredictability as the nonlinear system, which in turn exacerbates the challenges imposed on emergency systems in terms of orientation and scale. Effective narration of the scope of crisis and disaster requires a combination of the strategic thinking of statesmen, economists, scientists and sociologists. An emergency plan typically treats everything as potentially hostile. The Butterfly Effect of large-scale crisis in a modernized system determines that no single field can keep itself from danger. As a crisis occurs within the realm of globalization, its local risks become world-wide burdens—spreading through air flows, ocean currents, transnational trades, energy pipes, international finances, diplomatic affairs and the internet. The community of interests contributed by globalization is by all means a community of risk. Any natural calamity will eventually lead to a social crisis, uncovering leaks and exposing the internal crises. What seems like an act of God is in fact natural calamity amplified by man-made disaster. The natural calamity is an extreme product of the nonlinear systems of nature under critical conditions, but it is no more intrinsic or concealed than the man-made disaster. A personal decision-making mistake, institutional negligence or failed group communication could throw a social system into chaos. The worst natural calamity might form dynamic social cohesion, but one incident of incompetence may cause public panic and mass agitation powerful enough to turn “external invasion” into an “internal problem.” Man-made disasters often end with the resignation of some critical person, regardless of whether he or she is directly responsible. When the man-made disaster occurs on a macro-scale, society will be unable to find the right scapegoat, making the disaster appear as the “handprint of god” or “Da Xiang Wu Xing.”

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Earthquake victims’ temporary living spaces image WANG Xiangdong

cold war-era instructional poster

Supertramp’s 1975 album Crisis? What CRisis?

earthquake warning poster, printed after the tangshan earthquake

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The vast territory of China and its centralized government give rise to a misfortune of being both diverse and comprehensive: China will (and should) adapt a crisis management mode congruent with typical Chinese characteristics. Due to China’s considerable size, large-scale natural disasters produce widespread destruction. China’s centralized system is naturally prepared for multi-dimensional resource assembly and mass motivation of its people. It holds a unique strength and efficiency to coordinate and make decisions in a highly centralized disaster-rescue mission, making massive rescue and aid possible through “concentrating the effort of entire country” and bringing resources from non-disaster-affected regions into affected ones. Highly centralized decision-making processes share the same intrinsic risk with all other centralized modes. An omnipotent government is surely a government that covers all responsibilities. This generates an excessive burden on its shoulder when the power is held in one hand. Premier Wen arrived in Sichuan on May 12, 2008 to direct the overall contingency work and to set up central headquarters coordinating all governmental departments and sectors. Though this signals the contingent abilities of China’s central government in the face of sudden disaster, the temporality of this special headquarter and the indispensable role of Premier involved in every detailed aspect exposes the need of a regular, comprehensive emergency institution with the same management rights within China’s overall systematic structure. As of yet, inter-sector joint conferences or disaster trainings are unavailable. Today, The National Development and Reform Commission, or “the mini State Council,” is the only institution entitled to coordinate relief, but comparatively speaking, this commission mainly focuses on macro-regulation of the national economy and is functionally inclined to chase profits rather than avoid risks. This produces structural shortcomings in every aspect of the Chinese government’s plan. If we agree that paramilitary centralized management model is applicable to emergency rescue at the primary stages of crisis management, then networked cooperation among departments at the same level will also be suitable for the reconstruction process. Central and local governments, local enterprises and aiding enterprises, experts of different areas, displaced population and native residents all require comprehensive and extensive training on complex post-disaster issues. Admittedly, this procedure reduces efficient decision-making; yet it distributes risk, encourages participation and improves each micro-subject’s ability against risks. This reinforces the point made by Premier Wen Jiabao at the beginning of 2008—“Huan Sheng Zhi” (“great order comes from great crisis”)—that the political system is essentially an emergency system generated from crisis, and it will be continuously optimized by the crisis afterwards. The crisis nevertheless puts the system in a critical condition, which pleas for a transformation of its system per se, and reconstructs the system through the process of deconstruction. German sociologist Ulrich Beck, described the Risk Society as the “volcano of civilization” The evolution of modern civilization is akin to the growth process of an active volcano. Just as Japanese citizens living in Pacific seismic zones are accustomed to earthquakes, the people living on the “volcano of civilization” grow gradually accustomed to frequent eruption of crisis. The problem is whether these eruptions will worsen as a result of a mutual upgrade between civilization and its own crises. Will crisis-management capacities catch up with ever-greater crises? One of the basic differences between Eastern and Western civilizations is that the latter was built based on savage conquest—defeating nature with weapons of science and technology, and aware that the last day is written in The Book of Revelations. However, the East has no such doomsday scenario. We posit faith in the endless cycles of Yin and Yang, death and birth, crisis and opportunity. This concept of sustainable development—stemming from agriculture—was interrupted when the West defeated the East in late-modern times, ushering in modern rules of the open market and free trade. Beck’s volcano continues to propel civilization towards crisis through the regular eruption of wars, energy crisis, ecology crisis, terrorist attacks and financial disasters. Through competing interest, it has created a set of rules for international organizations, countries, enterprises and agencies. The rules are continuously being revised in a series of crises, while ruins become the stage for strategic reorganization and reconstruction. In the deconstruction of an orders, crises creates opportunities for new ones. How will China seize upon them?

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…manifestation is not merely the conservative position describing a fall from grace, or the entropic decline of systems and the diminishment of quality over time, but a description of a new prevalent condition. With the intermingling of the improbable and the prosaic (think Katrina and The Day After Tomorrow, or 9/11 and Children of Men), the consideration of the apocalyptic is no longer a matter of fantasy,1 but of policy (one recently referred to as “disaster capitalism”). 2 The question is, of course, why apocalypse now? The genre of the apocalyptic always contains within it a means of working through the problematic of its era. The term itself indicates as much: from the Greek “ποκάλυψις”—literally translated as a “lifting of the veil” and representing, as a concept, the disclosure to certain privileged persons of something hidden from the mass of humankind—its occurrence in narrative is symptomatic of larger issues. However, it reveals the limits and fears of the society that wrote it. For us, it is a combination of factors: it is both global warming and subprime loans, both nuclear terrorism and social ills. All are real. And all are, to some extent, constructs. The real issue with the various evocations of the end of the world has never been about “the end,” but rather a beginning. Anthony Burgess, author of the dystopian classic A Clockwork Orange, once commented that the warnings of apocalyptic tales were really wish-fulfillment.3 In a world of overwhelming complexity—of zero-sum economics and peak-oil—the apocalypse comes not as problem, but as answer. The “end of” also implied a “beginning of”—a chance to re-start and re-think. At the level of fantasy the apocalypse represents the chance to begin anew; the end of the world in film always represents a new start, a chance to have another, unencumbered go at making the world.4 If utopia is an unattainable goal, a literal no place, then the apocalypse is an everyplace.5 In this sense the specter of the apocalypse is another version of the modernist tabula rasa, a leveling of the past to make way for the future. So the end of the world is but a reorientation of sensibility. We can already see evidence of this in the new emphasis on the basic conditions of our existence. What unifies these



inauguration by c-lab

photography by Jesse seegers

Keep calm and carry on. —British Ministry of Information

manifestations is their survivalist undertone.6 The operation of the subject in an environment is not only a thing, but also an action, a mechanism that calibrates itself to need. This mechanism is never in stasis; its needs are never in perfect equilibrium to the available means. Thus, it is scarcity (of food, water, safety, resources, amenity or potential) that is the engine of transformation and change in a variety of environments (natural and artificial, economic and ecological—namely architecture, landscape and the city). These impulses, in light of this symbolic (and increasingly real) economy, can be seen as having strange portents for the projects of architecture. How would architecture act in a post-apocalyptic mode? And what is the relation of architecture to capital when there is no capital? One possibility is for architecture’s disciplinary preservation. Here, if we understand architecture as a historically formulated set of rules and guidelines, then the future of architecture looks dim. One could imagine its on-going continuation, but in a material enactment of an increasingly archaic form of thought. Eventually architecture’s status may be that it becomes a fixture of the university—as a testament of the plentitude of an earlier humanism—next to the Classics Department, as just another repository of dead languages. Or, one could imagine the re-description of architecture’s disciplinary legacy in terms of its performance and effectiveness, with an emphasis on the agency of design as a responsive, problem solving effort. If this sounds like an environmental call to arms, with the earnestness of LEED and green design, of responsibility and stewardship, preservation and prevention, it is not. There are issues of responsibility, of course, but that is not the only manifestation, or even the most useful. The new mode would want to address matters of concern; where environmental matters are no more or less important than the social in terms of either cause or need. The coming apocalypse may or may not be a solvable problem, or it may not be a problem at all, but its existence as even an idea demonstrates a shift that is not only practical, but conceptual. To shift from the utopian to the apocalyptic is not merely to set the terms in an opposing relation, but to understand their similarity. Both describe a condition of radical change; turning from one to the other as a privileged mode doesn’t speak to a preponderance of nihilism per se…

On January 20, 2009 the Mall in Washington D.C. was an expression of a nation’s hope and underlying fear. The event involved two kinds of spaces: one to celebrate a new leader, and the other to protect against threat to him.

The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. —John F. Kennedy

Aaaaaaa…Freak Out! —Chic

crisis crisis

…but to a fundamental recalibration of the imagination (specifically, architectural imagination) from issues of plentitude to those of scarcity. The recent architectural debates regarding criticality and post-criticality can be understood as having changed in light of a shift in cultural imagination away from the progressivism/positivism of late global capital as a preparatory effort to a more apocalyptic framework of environmentalism and peak-zero sum economic models. This would be seen through the survival imperative, as acting on a new understanding of how measures are made. Design for the apocalypse, because ready or not, it’s coming. 1 2 3 4 5 6

Image mazin younis

See Kiel Moe’s “Observations of the Concept of Place in Post-Risk Societies in Recent Fiction,” Places, Volume 20, Number 2, 2008: 42-43. See Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007). Anthony Burgess, “The Art of Frivolity,” Times Literary Supplement (12 June 1992): 22. See Alan Weisman’s The World without Us (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2007). This usage is a reference to the Utopia of Sir Thomas More, within whose famous work of a perfect imaginary island there is the irony that the perfection is not only imaginary, but in a sense impossible, as “utopia” means, literally, “not place” (as translated from the Greek εủ, “not”, and τόπος, “place”). The positive associations attributed to Utopia are in fact the domain of the homophonic “Eutopia” (as derived from the Greek εữ, “good” or “well”, and τόπος, “place”), to which it is clearly related, yet significantly distinct. One of the more interesting specimens of this genre of recent apocalyptic fiction as both indictment and wish-fulfillment is James Howard Kunstler’s World Made by Hand: A Novel (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2008), which extends the arguments regarding the depletion of the world’s oil supply made in The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century (Grove Press, 2006). In the novelization the result of the extended energy crisis is both worldwide economic and political collapse, as well as an increased supply of fresh churned butter, made possible by the newly agrarian existence. For a further discussion of Kunstler’s “Long Emergency” see my own “The Future of Fuelish Building” in Volume 7 (2006).




By Haifa Zangana

Image mazin younis

Image mazin younis Iraqis say that concrete walls and the US embassy are the only real construction in occupied Iraq. One is built to wall-in Iraqis in whole towns or city neighborhoods, the other to wall-in the occupiers and their stooges. The gigantic one billion dollar new embassy itself has been built next to the old Iraqi presidential palace, which had few if any concrete walls during Saddam Hussein’s rule. The US embassy is a neocolonial fortress replete with three concentric circles of concrete walls, manned from the outside by Iraqi and foreign mercenaries, then by the US marines, and then again by the US Special Forces—not counting the walls around Baghdad’s Green Zone as a whole. When rockets fall, the security men, the officials and the prostitutes who work there have several concrete shelters handily scattered every hundred yards or so for them to hide. These walls are called “security walls” from inside the Green Zone. Most Iraqis, however, call them the “occupation walls.” In general, walls, especially in Baghdad, are made of threemeter-high concrete blocks. During the surge— the 30,000 US soldiers increase in Baghdad— “the coalition forces [had] erected more than 3,000 individual sections of concrete blast walls throughout the city….[T]hese barriers included both Jersey barriers — short concrete dividers commonly seen on roadways in the United States—and larger twenty-foot blast walls that commonly surround bases and living areas.” The highly publicized “success of the surge” has scarred Baghdad with barriers, checkpoints and walls. Every wall has one entry checkpoint and one exit, boxing closely linked communities into ghettos and gated communities. Likewise, Iraqi people and their districts have been labelled according to the occupier’s vocabulary. Iraqis are no more. They are: Sunnis. Shias. Radical Shias. Sunni terrorists or Muslim extremists. Subduing Iraq required the creation of propaganda on sectarian violence, and on how to quell it. Walls, in a US

Military statement, were seen as “one of the centrepieces of a new strategy by coalition and Iraqi forces to break the cycle of sectarian violence,” and, as part of “a series of measures long sought by the White House [that were] aimed at advancing reconciliation between the warring Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs”. Yet, walls as a means of control were never mentioned.


International Style Heritage by Lucia Allais

image joanne farchakh bajjaly, archaeologist-journalist


Rebirth Brick 再生砖 Liu Jiakun, translated by Gao Yan Rebirth Brick is made of a mixture of fragmented debris such as aggregate, broken wheat stem fabric, cement, sand and agglutinin. Produced locally, the lightweight blocks could be used as the main construction material in the regeneration after an earthquake—the name refers to the rebirth of both the trash materials, and of the spirit needed to recover. Rebirth Brick—which is still being tested—is a synthesis of pulverized fuel ash, building residue and wheat stem. Although it looks the same as the bricks currently being used, it should perform better in strength and it is cheaper to produce. It is also more environmentally friendly, since it is made without using river sand. Such a substance is very flexible, as (in the case of a postearthquake situation) building debris is easy to find. Also, wheat stem can be substituted with other materials during the short season. Architects hope that Rebirth Brick will represent goodwill, since everyone is able to produce the low-tech and low-cost product in compliance with construction regulations. Based on local resources, handmade or simple machines can produce construction materials with the following features: it does not require baking, and it is fast, cheap, environmentally friendly, adaptable, dynamic, flexible and functional.

debris: one component of rebirth brick

wheat stems: another component

the process

the product

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these objects are features in the CD-rom,interpol-stolen works of art spoils of empire image joanne farchakh bajjaly, archaeologist-journalist

image donar reiskofer

“the destruction work is not as easy as people would think” — minister qudratullah jamal image unesco/j. sorosh-wali

Heritage as Crisis Heritage has become a way to stabilize crises by stabilizing meanings. It is an idea born of crisis: the crisis of the Enlightenment, or more precisely, the crisis of modern nation-building. When the revolutionary fervor that swept late-eighteenth-century Paris began manifesting itself in the destruction of aristocratic property and religious monuments, cultural entrepreneurs designated fragments of these monuments as republican patrimony in order to spare them from destruction. In a sense, this was an emergency measure, devised to avert a crisis. Yet once salvaged, these spoils could not be valued by the same criteria that gave them legitimacy in the eyes of the monarchy: in the nation-state, they became icons of rupture, “national objects that, belonging to no-one, are the property of all.”1 In this sense, the category of heritage was invented not to avert a crisis, but rather to make the crisis permanent, masking the continuity between the cultural values of old and new regimes. Heritage is a distancing device, a spacer. Instead of belonging to the realm of history in which wars and revolutions unfold, it belongs to an abstracted realm where ownership is delayed. This abstracted realm is now a few centuries old and has acquired a complicated geopolitical history. When

a crisis of heritage makes the news, it is usually to illustrate the multi-layered nature of contemporary wars as image-wars. When, for instance, the Iraq National Museum was looted in the early days of the US-led invasion in April, 2003, the New York Times reported that the Pentagon had been briefed on the location of Iraq’s cultural sites but failed to secure them, and that, in contrast, the Allies had successfully protected the monuments of Europe using this same briefing procedure during World War II2. Whether the precedent was applicable was irrelevant. The point was to expose the trampling of not one, but two mythical images: the image of Mesopotamia as birthplace of civilization, and the image of the US as pioneer in the legislation of the rules of war since the Lieber Code of 1863. In part because of this bad publicity, the museum was eventually secured— but only after the international art market had been flooded with antiquities. Soon Iraq’s archaeological sites also became the targets of a vigorous illicit digging campaign, fueling a growing black market in Mesopotamian artifacts. To heritage advocates, this lack of foresight showed that US military planners failed to grasp the concept of “cultural property,” as defined in postwar international law: a type of property which should, in times of crisis, be held in custody on behalf of a collectivity that UNESCO calls Mankind. Indeed the first codification of cultural property, the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, was designed to prevent exactly the combination of military neglect and civilian vandalism that occurred in Iraq. Nor did the US invoke the “military necessity” clause of the Convention, which it negotiated along with the UK, based on the experience of World War II, to provide an exception when cultural property interferes with the attainment of war goals. This clause was originally meant to regulate the choice between preserving monuments and saving lives, but the meaning of “necessity” is notoriously flexible, and in Iraq, Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld argued that looting was a symptom of freedom, with “freedom” the avowed military goal. Rumsfeld might even have pointed out that the US never ratified the Hague Convention, even after having built such a major exception into it.3 But—to put it in terms familiar to Carl Schmitt— Rumsfeld did not even bother making the exceptionalist argument available to him. Instead, he essentially accused the media of heritage inflation: “The images you are seeing on television,” he insisted, “you are

seeing over, and over, and over, and it’s the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it twenty times, and you think, ‘My goodness, were there that many vases? Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?’”4 Ironically, this cavalier attitude pointed directly to where the real crisis lay: the breakdown of the strict export regulations, also written into postwar International Law, that had hitherto carefully kept Iraq’s vast collection of vases and other artifacts “in the country.” If the US publicly snubbed the Hague Convention, quietly it abided by two other Conventions to which it is a party: the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, and the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention. In accordance with UNIDROIT, the US military commissioned a follow-up investigation in collaboration with INTERPOL, which published a list of Most Wanted antiquities. This investigation has unmasked an intricate web of connections between the black market, the First Gulf War and UN-imposed economic sanctions.5 So in a sense, the fate of Iraq’s heritage—its dissemination to an unregulated international market—has been perfectly consistent with the neo-conservative rationale for the invasion, which connected political liberation with economic liberalization. All but two of INTERPOL’s Most Wanted Works of Art have been recovered.6 Yet the dissemination of artifacts has also diluted media coverage. As a collection under attack, Iraq’s heritage made the news. But once the crisis had been laid bare and the story became that of dispersed objects, tracked by INTERPOL, shadowed by traffickers, and periodically appearing on eBay, it stopped being a newsworthy act of iconoclasm. Advocates are now hoping to shame international agencies into stricter enforcement by linking “trading antiquities” with “supporting terrorism.”7 Yet it is not clear how international legal instruments that were designed to protect institutional concentrations of heritage will deal with a broad extra-national dispersal of value and of attention. Even in its incarnation as a set of international laws, heritage continues to focus attention on political crises while obscuring the cultural continuities that lie beneath. International Style Heritage Today these cultural continuities reside in objects and buildings alike, but

heritage law distinguishes between art and architecture as “movable” and “immovable” property. In theory, this distinction reflects a difference in protective mechanisms. In practice, the effect of this split is that theft is considered legally reversible, while destruction is not. A stolen object remains “illicit” until it is returned to its state of origin (UNIDROIT 1995), but an army that has destroyed a building is under no obligation to rebuild it (Hague 1954). Still, even without this obligation, the crisis-relief potential of architecture has undeniably come to carry the same ethical charge–what Elazar Barkan has called an “international morality”—as the restitution of objects.8 There exists today an International Style of architectural heritage restoration, which is sustained worldwide by international agencies of conflict management. By helping to rebuild destroyed monuments, preserving the sites of war crimes, and generally concerning themselves with cultural institutions in crisis, international actors such as UNESCO, the World Bank, NATO and a growing number of NGOs promote the idea that heritage is a peaceful concern, and its preservation a humanitarian activity. These practices create a platform of exchange between certain tropes of architectural preservation, such as integrity and authenticity, and certain tropes of modern warfare, such as proportionality and military necessity. It is the style of restoration, rather than the nature of what is being restored, that provides the crucial link. I use the phrase “International Style” somewhat in jest, although it is a useful heuristic. The style has its origins in the middle of the twentieth century, the period when art historians theorized the first International Style (Gothic art, circa 1400) and architects formalized the second (Modern architecture, circa 1940).9 Early works include projects associated with World War II, such as the reconstruction of the center of Warsaw and the transformation of the Genbaku Dome at Hiroshima into a memorial. More recent examples include the reconstruction of the Old Bridge in Mostar (or Stari Most) after its shelling in April 1993, and the preservation of the site of the Bamyian Buddhas after they were dynamited in March 2001. Like the first International Style, with its monumental picture cycles sponsored by new patterns of courtly patronage, post-conflict heritage acts as a vast iconographic program. It legitimates political institutions of global governance, while seemingly arising from regional rebuilding. Taking a cue from Erwin Panofsky, we may push the

analogy further: just as late-Gothic art was a two-faced display of collective melancholia that announced the rise of bourgeois urbanity while mourning the “autumn” of feudalism, so International Style heritage celebrates collective cultural identity while emitting an unmistakable nostalgia for heroic authorship.10 Certainly the practice of turning sites of humanitarian tragedies into popular tourist attractions has produced a commercial aesthetic out of retrospection and morbidity. But the point is not to force a historiographic parallel. The point is to re-politicize heritage alongside other large-scale iconographic programs that have been vehicles for consolidating power by spreading a cultural message. With the architectural modernism of the mid-twentieth century, International Style heritage shares a more obvious set of architectonic traits, based on structural integrity, volumetric legibility and material consistency.11 International norms of preservation treat every monument as if it were a work of modern architecture, designed for objecthood. The similarity is helped by three facts: that many monuments to twentieth century warfare belong to utilitarian typologies, that applied decorative elements have usually long disappeared, and that their preservation has museumified them into neutrality. The Stari Most exemplifies how the structural rationalism inherited from nineteenth-century restoration theory has combined with twentieth century international diplomacy to produce an unmistakably modernist style of tectonic neutralization. The bridge was rebuilt by NATO, through an agreement between Bosnians and Croats, with aid from agencies in East and West, and under the rationalized supervision of a French bridge engineer. The project unfolded over five years and under the banner of “integrity,” a preservation criterion that says reconstructions are authentic, rather than replicas, if they are conducted with a strict technological ethos based on detailed documentation of the original structure. The NATO-led Stabilization Force, SFOR, made ample use of the engineering metaphor of integrity to publicize its success in enforcing the “Stability Pact.”12 Yet as Michael Igniatieff has shown, all these efforts to maintain the tectonic integrity of the “new old bridge” coincided with its complete collapse as a political symbol of unification, except in the cynical sense that both ethnic factions in Mostar agreed that the influx of money and attention was needed to maintain their city’s value as a bargaining chip in a virtual war.13 It is the impulse to bear witness that

leads restorers to alternately erase or impose destruction. But the signature aesthetic that results—clean-lined and clean-cut, almost Brutalist—inevitably benefits the ideology of international bureaucracies, who imprint every project with a white-gloved neutrality that voids this witnessing act of much of its value. However authentically restored, the Stari Most is a stylized representation indeed, and the only lasting iconographic certainty to have been embedded into it is NATO’s “integrity” as an international force. The phrase International Style is most useful, then, as an artifact of the twentieth century itself: as a historiographic construct, it is the result of a persistent search for monuments to mirror on an aesthetic plane the nascent geopolitical order. The first search found in the Middle Ages a connection between trauma and display, the second found in modern architecture a structural Esperanto, and both built pious display into their historiographies, whether through medieval itineracy or modern museology.14 But it is only in the architectural heritage of twentieth-century warfare itself that the International Style has found a support for both the metaphor of structure as neutrality and the logic of conspicuous display as constitutive of a global aesthetic experience. Sadly, the monuments of this third International Style have little left to display, aside from evidence that the very cultural politics they are supposed to represent—where international governance arises from shared global experience—has repeatedly failed. Monumental Concentrations In the face of this continual slippage, heritage is equally available to iconoclasts and salvagers as a way to concentrate attention and formalize conflicts. The Bamyian Buddahs are a case in point: the Taliban’s 2001 announcement of their intent to destroy the statues triggered a cycle of intensive cultural diplomacy, where UNESCO and various member states proposed to dismantle the statues and reconstruct them outside Afghanistan. To justify this drastic measure preservationists appealed once again to “integrity,” this time invoking the 1972 World Heritage Convention, a third legal instrument whose sole purpose is to ensure that the world is always “briefed” on the location of its heritage. But the Mullahs considered their edict against the Buddahs a type of “briefing” too, and after some

debate, they proceeded with the destruction. Theirs was a pre-emptive image war, a cultural equivalent of the scenario that was later played out in the UN as a build-up to the Iraq war. The stylisic stakes of this heritage diplomacy became plainly evident in the statement made by Information Minister Qudratullah Jamal after a week of silence, when footage of the destruction was finally released: “The destruction work is not as easy as people would think. You can’t knock down the statues by dynamite or shelling as both of them have been carved in a cliff. They are firmly attached to the mountain.”15 Destruction, in other words, followed the same strict professional ethic as reconstruction—it was based on material integrity. UNESCO has now placed the empty niches and the remains of the colossi on the World Heritage List, and is laying the discursive groundwork for an International-Style commemoration at the site: debates over how to reconstruct, plans to display fragments in a museum and bittersweet discoveries of cultural heritage made visible by the destruction. To UNESCO, this project will be a monument to a new type of image warfare that occurs exclusively in the cultural realm.16 To the Taliban and its observers, the episode commemorates the humanitarian crisis that befell Afghanistan as a result of UN-imposed economic sanctions.17 Where both sides agree is that the physical detachment of the heritage project from any specific site of humanitarian tragedy has only amplified its humanitarian overtones. This detachment of heritage-commemoration from the sites of humanitarian trauma marks a shift in the iconography of International Style heritage. A return to the precedent of World War II is useful. If the twentieth century added a humanitarian dimension to the original humanist dilemma of heritage, it is because specific urban morphologies ensured the proximity of mass-murder and monument-reconstruction. The cultural sites protected by the Allies in World War II existed in the same urban spaces as the civilians that they attacked from the air, and all subsequent heritage law has been based on this coincidence of population density and monument concentration.18 In short, a European urbanity is built into current heritage law. This is why the reconstruction of the Stari Most has been an attractive project for aid agencies: apart from being a model of early-modern engineering and a symbol of multiculturalism, the bridge fits into a familiar urban morphology and a reassuring

image of public space that legitimates a concentric type of power. The concentration of effort, on one monument, at the center of one town, in the middle of one region, was presented as a model for conflict-resolution worldwide. The hidden continuity here is between war-time heritage reconstruction and peace-time preservation, both practices invested in urban contextualism. (Hence the first person to petition for bridge reconstruction was the architect-urbanist who spent the 1980s restoring the Mostar city center to a pristine medieval state.)19 In contrast, the shadowy world of internet-antiquities trading—which links tax-haven art collections and mainstream cultural institutions, invisible archaeological diggers and ubiquitous souvenir-hunters—probably offers a better model for understanding the public space in which “Mankind” resides today, or at least a better medium for the public opinion in whose name image wars are fought. As international legal instruments designed to deal with concentration and proximity are increasingly deployed against dispersal and remoteness, the two spatio-temporal categories built into heritage law—movable/immovable and war/peace— become increasingly difficult to sustain. Even embedded monoliths can become movable (as the Bamyian Buddahs show), and even war-time protection requires peace-time institutions (as Iraq’s antiquities show). This blurring of categories goes directly against the stylizing tendencies of international heritage practices, which concentrate in space phenomena that were once distributed in time. Nowhere is this clearer than in UNESCO’s struggle to curate the geographic “diversity” of its World Heritage List, as if global proportionality had its own iconographic value. Finding the Stari Most and the Bamyian Buddahs in the List is revealing: they belong, along with other sites of humanitarian significance like the Hiroshima Dome, the Island of Gorée, and the Aapravasi Ghat, to a rare list of sites valued according to “Criteria (vi)” alone, which derives value from “an event.”20 The first site in this exclusive list, the camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, was inscribed in 1979 only on condition that no other “sites of a similar nature” be inscribed in the future.21 World Heritage only had space for the Holocaust as one “event”, and this precedent has been followed ever since. As with the politics of integrity, this stylization of history relies on heritage to perform a crucial conflation: between proportionality as a military variable (that weighs military ends against civilian means) and…

Re-Tumu After Wenchuan 汶川之后,土木再生 文/黄伟文[深圳] Huang Weiwen, translated by Zhu Fei A snapshot of life at four months after the Wenchuan earthquake of May 12, 2008: the highway connecting Dujiangyan and Wenchuan has resumed traffic (in three months, rather than three years, as experts had estimated); the first rebuilt school has resumed teaching; temporary housing was available for the residents and schools in the disaster-affected areas. Most post-disaster reconstruction plans were announced as being complete. Pacifying Landscapes The State Seismological Bureau announced that the earthquake caused the plate beneath the Longmen Mountain seismic zone to move laterally 238 cm, down seventy, and up thirty. This is equivalent to striking an area of 100,000-square kilometers with a force as powerful as 20,000 Nagasaki-era atomic bombs. Ruining houses and ravaging natural landscapes and vegetation systems, any cataclysmic activity felt on the surface signals an even greater instability underground—where hydrological conditions have dramatically changed. Too often, reconstruction planning fails to fully comprehend the geological conditions that caused failure in the first place, leaving foundations of buildings susceptible to the same mistakes that led to their destruction. In fact, experts from Taiwan—having witnessed the earthquake of September 21, 1999—insisted that the Chinese “speed up in emergency relief, slow down in reconstruction,” in order to gain an accurate understanding of the area’s seismic activity. In Sichaun, all permanent restoration plans should heed the area’s environmental conditions before permanent rebuilding begins. No one knows how long this process will take. However, if the current and ceaseless seismic activity beneath the area along Longmen Mountain offers any indication, stability and relief could be years away. Protection against Development Although deemed the “Land of Abundance,” Sichuan cannot cope with the pressures of over-population. It seems as though limitless land and the richest resources will still not be enough. One need only to look to Gansu province, which is comparatively large, to understand how quickly natural resources can disappear. Although the areas surrounding Longmen Mountain are fortunate to have high mountains and deep valleys, one begins to see that these landscapes are indeed limited in their capacity to sustain such dense populations. Areas adjacent to water sources have been divided, developed and distributed among the wealthy, leaving many of the poorer counties struggling with scarce resources. The people of these regions are so desperate for help that they are willing to sacrifice what precious resources they do have to outside developers. Towns and villages ring with slogans heralding “Increase investment, Improve exporting!” Eastern China has destroyed the environment in the name of development. Western China needs to find the balance between reasonable development and ecological preservation. Last year China’s State Council promoted the planning of four types of development priority zones—optimal development zones, key development zones, restricted development zones and non-development zones—balancing the development priorities of different regions with the help of a financial transfer policy. The best way to help sustain this fragile ecology is to limit or prohibit all development and decrease the population density. This can be accomplished by encouraging population migration. How do you effectively relocate villages? History has proven that village-scale relocation is ultimately undesirable both for the villagers and for hosts. To prevent this, the state should issue an “Ecology Land Coupon.” In exchange for their land, villagers would accept a government “coupon” for job opportunities and living allowances in cities that are expanding but limited by land-use quota on urban construction. The state should also issue an “Education Coupon,” so that later generations of villagers can share equal education chances with their urban peers. Moreover, village teachers in remote areas could be given teaching coupons so that they may receive the equivalent payment as those teaching in the cities. This method of exchanging ecologically sensitive are as with educational opportunities shares the same logic as the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon emissions trading program. In order to continue flourishing, developed cities should purchase “eco-quota” from the western

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regions, which are devoted to water reservation and environmental protection. Only when the western regions promote local GDP growth in eco-quota trading, will there truly be a motivation for sustainability and protection. Cooperation for Better Dwellings The earthquakes killed no one—the shelters protecting the victims are to blame. Walls reveal concrete made from pre-cast slabs without reinforcement or anchoring. It is widely reported that many schoolhouses were built without blueprints, instead, from unrelated construction drawings. We need to address not only issues of quality control, but also the absence of regulation, standardization and expertise servicing during redevelopment. This holds true for all buildings—traditional and modern, rural and urban. Based on reflections during post-earthquake reconstruction, mainly related to geology, environment, society, culture, and construction mode, a group of Shenzhen/Hong Kong based professional volunteers launched the “Re-Tumu” (regeneration of clay/wood construction) initiative. The project explores traditional, contemporary and future models of local architectural construction. It helped motivate a series of reconstruction projects including: the revival of destructed environments; the revival of the homeland, living, and hope; the revival of clay-wood resources (which included materials from destroyed sites); and the revival of construction models suitable to the area (especially in regions inhabited by ethnic minority groups like the Qiang and Tibetan people). As such, “Re-Tumu” was a wholly original method of reconstruction, and it therefore could not easily fall victim to competing building models. “Re-Tumu” also serves as a platform for information exchange and coordination between the requirements of disaster-affected areas and professional services, and governmental planning and unofficial resources. The earthquake generated a great deal of volunteer forces, but many of them (especially the professionals) did not know how or where to give their help. The success of “Re-Tumu” is hinged on the willingness of officials, non-officials and local communities to help and support each other. Ultimately, this collaborative experience will engender a sense of selfless benevolence and promote a community where helping is unconditional and sustained through a sense of social responsibility. This will sponsor not only new and appropriate building reconstruction techniques, but also new forms of civic engineering and shared responsibility. To date, “Re-Tumu” has carried numerous projects including: creating and maintaining the website “Re-Tumu, Rebuild Homeland” (www.retumu.org), which collects disaster-relief stories; gathering requirements and information from disaster-affected areas; frequently sending volunteers to quake-affected areas for on-site investigation and professional study; financially supporting Japanese architect Shigeru Ban to build temporary classrooms with paper tubes for Chengdu Hualin primary schools; offering free designs for four primary schools in Gansu; holding a charity design competition for schools in Gansu; and collecting construction funds for several schools on the aiding agenda. “Re-Tumu” continues to discover new ways for nongovernmental entities to prosper within the ideological realms of a unified and strong government. Although “Re-Tumu” currently relies on the passion of volunteers and cooperation from various support groups, a standardized system is still needed to support and sustain its operations. It remains unclear how long “Re-Tumu” will continue under present conditions, or how much regeneration it will bring. Yet despite these uncertainties, the concept of reconstructing in harmony with the laws of nature endures. We must not forget that the tremendous and destructive forces of the Wenchuan earthquake were part of nature. Now, more than ever, we must be mindful of our own strength and the damages that we inflict on nature. As we heedlessly ignore our boundaries and continue massive urban expansions, we forget that we are not only building new homes and offices, but also new landscapes. This is, in fact, the truly profound meaning of the “Re-Tumu” initiative.

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…proportionality as a cultural control-mechanism (that transforms historical crises into global display objects).22 If much of what passes for straightforward ethical discourse in heritage management today is in fact a set of highly sophisticated architectonic tropes, then one way out of the current mass-melancholia will be to let these tropes reflect more accurately how heritage transforms historical continuities into spatial ruptures: not through neutral integrity but through consolidation of power; not by spatial proportionality, but by historic condensation. Left to its own devices, International Style heritage will continue to mask the growing remove between humanitarian crises and international intervention. This is because international bureaucracies, like nation-states, favor monumental concentration of every kind: of funding, of effort and of attention. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

“Que le respect public entoure particulièrement les objets nationaux qui, n’étant à personne, sont la propriété de tous.” Abbé Grégoire, “Rapport sur les destructions opérées par le vandalisme,” in Patrimoine et Cité (Paris: Confluences, 1999), 37. Translation mine. This “public respect” was to be the antidote to “vandalism,” a term Grégoire also coined. Frank Rich, “And Now: Operation Iraqi Looting,” New York Times, April 27, 2003. For a parallel history of the Lieber Code and “military necessity” see Burrus M. Carnaha, “Lincoln, Lieber and the Laws of War,” in American Journal of International Law, 92/2 (Apr 1998), 213-231. On the U.S and Hague 1954, see “War and Cultural Property: the 1954 Hague Convention and the Status of U.S. Ratification,” in International Journal of Cultural Property, 10/2 (2001), 217-245. Transcript of DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers, April 11, 2003, 2:00pm. First-hand accounts include: Matthew Bogdanos, Thieves of Baghdad (New York : Bloomsbury, 2005); Geoff Emberling & Katharyn Hanson, eds, Catastrophe! The Looting and Destruction of Iraq’s Past (Chicago: University of Chicago Oriental Institute, 2008); Lawrence Rothfield, ed., Antiquities Under Siege: Cultural Heritage Protection After the Iraq War (Lanham: AltaMira Press, c2008); Peter G. Stone and Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly, eds., The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Iraq (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2008). “[T]he four items displayed on the left have meanwhile been recovered. Only the two on the right numbered 3 (gaming board) and 6 (lioness attacking a Nubian) are still wanted.” INTERPOL General Secretariat, Works of Art Unit: Unpublished email communication with the author, 4 December 2008. Matthew Bogadnos, “The Terrorist in the Art Gallery,” New York Times, December 10, 2005. For same in humanitarian warfare, see Thomas Keenan, “Mobilizing Shame,” in SAQ 103:2/3 (2004), 435-449. Elazar Barkan, The Guilt of Nations (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 2000). Barkan’s optimism has been challenged, but the phrase has stuck. The expression International Style is attributed to André Courajod, a sculpture historian who curated in the 1890s the revolutionary spoils Grégoire helped save a century earlier. The high point of usage was the 1962 The International Style exhibit at the Walters Art Gallery; the best review of subsequent work is Paul Binski, “Court Patronage and International Gothic,” in The New Cambridge Medieval History Vol. VII (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995-2005), 222-233. The “autumn” formulation belongs to Johan Huizenga’s 1919 The Autumn of the Middle Ages, until recently translated as The Waning of the Middle Ages. Panofsky complicated Huizega’s story by describing a dichotomy between a “flamboyance” due to the “fluidity … between art production and art consumption” and a “nocturnal aspect” reflecting the way “melancholia… assumed its modern meaning of a purely psychological dejection—a state of mind rather than a disease.” Erwin Panofsky, “The Early Fifteenth Century and the ‘International Style’,” in Early Nederlandish Painting (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953), 72. Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, The International Style: Architecture since 1932 (New York: 1932). Alfred Barr summarized the three criteria invented by Hitchcock & Johnson as volume over solidity, regularity over symmetry, and rejection of applied ornament. As a stabilization force, SFOR operated between NATO’s implementation force, IFOR, and the E.U.’s peace-keeping mission, EUFOR. The rhetoric of constructive success spans from the first report (“Operation Complete,” SFOR Informer, 12 Nov 1997) to the last (“Mostar Bridge is standing up,” SFOR Informer, 7 May 2003). Michael Ignatieff, “The Bridge Builder,” in Empire Lite (Toronto: Penguin, 2003) Art historians and curators actively theorized the relationship between modern and medieval culture: Millard Meiss recounted the variations of the concept of International Style with contemporary moods in his 1974 The Limbourg and their Contemporaries, and Hitchcock saw Modern Architecture as born in “the chief engineering architecture of the past, the High Gothic of France.” Hitchcock, Modern Architecture (New York: Payson & Clark, 1929), 161, 223-229. Adjoining these two narratives yields a grand conspiracy, where the same international style has reigned uninterrupted since the 13th Century. Interview with CNN, 12 March 2001, cited by AP, 12 March 2001. Francesco Francioni, “The Destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan and International Law,” in European Journal of

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International Law 14/619 (Sep 2003). “We are very disappointed,” said Ahmed Faiz, chief of the Afghan foreign ministry’s press department, “that the international community doesn’t care about the suffering people but they are shouting about the stone statues of Buddha.” Kathy Gannon, Associated Press (26 March 2001). This spatial and strategic conflation is the subject of a chapter in my doctoral dissertation, Will to War, Will to Art: Cultural Internationalism and the Modernist Aesthetics of Monuments 1932–1964 (MIT: 2008). The original restoration provoked a debate on heritage inflation when it was awarded the Aka Khan Award for Architecture. See “A call for Affirmative Action,” in Architectural Record (Jan 1987), 94-99. Echoes of these disciplinary debates are heard in recent complaints that heritage inflation is at work in the undeserved attention paid to a utilitarian Ottoman bridge. Image wars and disciplinary wars are complicit in determining the type of international action they attract. See Mostar’ 92: Urbicide. (Mostar: Hrvatsko vijeće obrane Općine Mostar, 1992) and Inga Saffron, “Mostar” in Metropolis (October 1994), 46-54. Criterion (vi) carries a caveat: “The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria.” http://whc.unesco.org/en/criteria/ “The Committee decided to enter Auschwitz concentration camp on the List as a unique site and to restrict the inscription of other sites of a similar nature.” UNESCO World Heritage Commmittee, Report of the Third Session, Paris, 30 November 1979. UNESCO/ CC-79/CONF.003/13. A similar historic stylization is evident in UNESCO’s division of heritage into two timelines, World Heritage and World Heritage in Danger, all while suppressing the one spatial distinction that is consistently encountered by practitioners and scholars alike, namely, the tension between national and international values. See John Henry Merriman’s seminal essay, “Two ways of thinking of cultural property.” The tension can be felt by comparing the discourse nation-states must use to get a property listed as World Heritage list, writing long essays on the value of their heritage that avoid any mention of national history in favor of a proto-internationalist history of civilizations, with the nationalist arguments they must make to appeal for objects to be repatriated, that unless it is physically embedded in a national narrative, cultural property loses its value completely.


Humanitarian Intervention1 by Eyal Weizman

truck outside of smara image manuel herz


Empty grain storage warehouse, operated by the World Food Program, Rabouni image manuel herz

distribution of cooking oil, samra image manuel herz

Throughout the past two decades, “humanitarian interventions” have grown to structure Western states’ response to emergency. At the core of the idea of “humanitarian intervention” is the ethico-political principle recently framed as “responsibility to protect” which lies at the heart of the humanitarian impulse. The problem is that in order to get to the victims of armed conflicts, protect them and provide aid—or at least claim to do so—states sometimes have to engage in military actions. Increasingly (and in places such as Mogadishu, Kosovo and Afghanistan) this intervention has bound humanitarian agencies with the logic of war-making. Anyone working in the humanitarian sector should take Colin Powell’s 2001 statement that NGOs and relief workers are “force multiplier for us. . . .an important part of our combat team” as a cause for serious concern.2 When soldiers in what George W. Bush has called “the armies of compassion” become proxy experts in humanitarianism, humanitarian concerns could easily become a pretext to justify impartiality with respect to unjust and brutal aggressions (as in Sarajevo) or an alibi for a political decision to mount a military intervention against sovereign states (as in Afghanistan and Iraq). The paradox is that, bound with military intervention, human rights and humanitarian action may actually aggravate the situation for the very people it purportedly comes to aid. This scenario is at the heart of the humanitarian paradox. The integration of humanitarian logic into military interventions has, furthermore, been one of the reasons for a steady increase in the number of attacks on aid workers in zones of conflict. In seeking to avoid their instrumentalization in the hands of military, political and other interested parties, independent aid organizations have recently defined a certain opera-

tional distance from states and their militaries and returned to traditional humanitarian concepts of impartiality and neutrality. The term “humanitarian space,” coined by Rony Brauman, former president (1982-94) of Médecins sans Frontières France, is a zone carved out of state sovereignty or the space of war to be kept at a distance from state politics and battlespaces. Although primarily defined in geographical terms as “real spaces,” these “zones of emergency management” are spheres of action that, as Thomas Keenan remarked, “are understood as conceptual as well as physical…[in as much as they are] free of political and military influence,” and in which the infrastructure and the technology of aid organizations could facilitate protecting, policing, feeding, providing health care, but also a place where advocacy and discussion amongst displaced people and between them and international agents can take place.3 Often managed by UN agencies (UNHCR, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, being the largest), national organizations (USAid) or by a combination of more than 500 contemporary-crisis NGOs, these zones designate the formation of a global generic space for “humanitarian management.” While they may appear like rather simple physical environments, humanitarian zones rely on complex assemblages of spatial arrangements, infrastructure, means of communication, legal and organizational procedures. Humanitarian zones—such as those recently established in the DRC after the resumption of hostilities there—quickly give rise to refugee camps, the latter forming the material link between the concept of “humanitarian intervention” and a massive and rapid, although largely unnoticed, processes of migration, construction and urbanization. Humanitarian zones are global spaces— woven into international networks of information-flow through the media and to the global network of commodity-circulation through the products of aid. At present, the 13,000 international aid workers in Darfur (citizens of more than thirty different nations, members of hundreds of different relief organizations) are living in scores of staff encampments built next to refugee camps. Rony Brauman described this growing archipelago of aid workers camps in these words: Trucks, four-wheel drive vehicles, walkie-talkies, satellite phones and computers create an artificial environment, whose perverse effect is

to put the teams in a quasi-virtual world where time and space are measured in different units from those of the country where they find themselves. So they find themselves, almost without knowing it, in a bubble, a “non-place,” a humanitarian mission which could be everywhere and which is nowhere.4 Paradoxically, the establishment of these zones during war might accelerate the movement of people away from their homes, because people naturally flee into protected zones seeking refuge and care. Aggressors have also learnt how to use the presence of aid organizations and humanitarian zones to induce population transfer from areas they wish to ethnically cleanse. Aid could thus affect the development of hostilities and whether a conflict worsens or abets. In many conflicts, aid might have actually worsened the situation on the ground. In his pioneering research on refugee camps in Africa, architect Manuel Herz demonstrated the amazingly rapid process by which anonymous rows of prefabricated dwellings evolve into sites of urban complexity. Within days of relocation, barter and commerce are established. Within weeks, markets evolve to exchange goods and labor with the citizens of the host country. Within several months, clusters and districts turn into a “neighborhood,” and temporary shelters become solid structures of adobe, brick or corrugated sheets. Camps are always “less” than cities, but have a sense of the urban nevertheless. So while the emergency architecture of humanitarian relief often seeks to communicate temporariness, because camp residents often like to demonstrate their intention to return to the places from which they were forcefully relocated, these places may linger for decades in a state similar to what Georges Orwell once called the “endless present”—permanent temporariness without past or future.5 Herz also demonstrated how the internal layout of many camps folds in complex geographies. After crossing a border, fleeing inhabitants of entire territories are handled by humanitarians and organized into a dense (and sometimes segregated) fabric of districts, blocks and repetitive shelters. The physical design of the camps intersects military and medical principles, and their spatial regime of multiple separations and the strict regi-

mentation of time and space are somewhat reminiscent of the principles of the eighteenth century “machines à guérir” (healing machines) of early hospitals.6 Camps are where different nationalities and linguistic groups, refugees of different origins, aid workers and journalists interact for the first time. A reorganization of political relations within the displaced communities often takes place during the process of relocation. For many refugees, camps facilitate a transition between traditional rural and urban life. Emerging powers begin challenging traditional family or clan structures. Moreover, by being sometimes the largest employers in an area, aid agencies impact on the economics and the politics of the societies in which they are working. Thus, although claiming for neutrality, humanitarian agencies, many of them NGOs, engage in effectively building new cities and engage in social engineering. The anthropologist Michel Agier showed how, for their international sponsors, the humanitarian zones and the refugee camps within them represent the most politically efficient form of emergency arrangement of the planet’s populations who are most unwanted and undesirable. Host states (whenever they can enforce it), surround and police these zones, and rich states donate generously into them (partially) so that refugees remain close to their area of origins, and as far away from their borders as possible. Agier describes refugee camps as vague and heavily guarded “waiting rooms…on the margins of the world” while simultaneously functioning also as “laboratories in which still unconceived forms of urbanism are germinating.”7 The imagery of emergency compels us to think about political situations as exceptions to normal life and order, and often forecloses more nuanced ways to understand crises as accelerated processes of social and political change. The loss of homes, villages and towns, the fast migration into foreign territories, the construction of and accommodation to newly built environments and the encounter with a multiplicity of different cultures, languages and technologies, place some refugees in the fastest—and possibly the most traumatic—contemporary track to modernization, urbanization and globalization. In this sense, “emergency,” in the words of the humanitarian scholar Alex de Waal, “fuels the locomotive of history...accelerating socio-economic change.”8

“Emergency” could thus be understood as an initiator and accelerator of irreversible processes of transformation. The challenges posed to the humanitarian practices is that: however strong (and just) the political imperative to return to pre-crisis “normality” is, modernization and urbanizations cannot simply be reversed. Once introduced to urban life, refugees, like all people throughout history who were driven to cities during times of need and crisis, are unlikely to renounce the urban when better times arrive. Do humanitarian agencies have the legitimacy, and should they develop the expertise to deal with such emergent urbanity and social change? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


This entry is based on “Planning Emergency” a conversation between Rony Brauman, director of research at MSF and former president (1982-94) of Médecins sans Frontières France, and Eyal Weizman Columbia University Feb 4, 2008. Laura Kurgan and Peter Marcuse hosted the discussion. This conversation between a physician and an architect was meant to recall the fact that the origins of modern architecture and town planning emerged together with the discourse of medicine and hygiene. At present refugee camps are the clearest embodiment of this principle, designed according to principles that intersect architectural with medical knowledge. Secretary Colin L. Powell, Remarks to the National Foreign Policy Conference for Leaders of Nongovernmental Organizations, October 26, 2001. http://www.state.gov/secretary/former/powell/remarks/2001/5762 Keenan, Thomas, “Tidying UP,” a lecture delivered at the Tate Modern for the conference Sovereignity and Bare Life: Zones of Conflict, November 29, 2008. Brauman, Rony, “From Philanthropy to Humanitarianism: Remarks and an Interview,” The South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol.,103, No., 2/3, Spring/Summer 2004. The temporary nature of the camp is an issue that is constantly reenacted amongst Palestinian refugees, the population with longest refugee status in the world. When in 1951 permanent structures were built by the UN to replace the tent encampments set in 1948, a debate amongst refugees emerged regarding whether or not to accept and enter these homes. Every other set of plans for local- or internationally-sponsored improvements, introduced during the subsequent 60 years, was viewed with great suspicion. In fact it was the discussion itself, the resistance to improvement (but also, mostly, its final acceptance) that performed the temporary nature of the camp and reinforced the calls for return. Herz, Manuel, “The Architecture of Refugee Camps,” http://roundtable.kein.org/node/460 and “Introduction - Architecture of Humanitarian Relief,” http://roundtable.kein.org/node/459. Agier, Michel, On the Margins of the World: The Refugee Experience Today (London, Polity, 2008), 42, 66. Waal, Alex de, “Whose Emergency Is It Anyway? Dreams, Tragedies and Traumas in the Humanitarian Encounter,” http://roundtable.kein.org/node/1078.


The World’s Last Colony

The Refugee Camps of Western Sahara by Manuel Herz

the residential quarter of smara image manuel herz

soccer field, smara image manuel herz

soldiers of the polisario selling food and merchandise, tifariti image manuel herz

The map The World in 1945, published by the United Nations Cartographic Section, uses a wide array of colors to show the status of the world’s countries just after World War II: independent and self governing nations are colored in blue. Red, purple and different shades of green are used to indicate dependencies and colonial conditions. Thus codified, the world of 1945 looks like colorful confetti. The World Today, a map representing the same kind of relationships for contemporary geopolitical relationships, is almost entirely blue. Only one red spot—indicating a dependent state—

remains. Western Sahara is the world’s last colony. The territory is located at the very western point of Africa, where the Sahara meets the Atlantic. Lacking a river and pasture areas, and experiencing temperatures well in excess of 125° Fahrenheit during the summer months, it is one of the earth’s most inhospitable places for settlement. The country is rich in raw materials, such as phosphate, and has substantial fishing waters off its coastline. More recently, speculations about oil reserves located off of its coast have made the complicated and tragic political situation of the country even more vexing. Due to the lack of arable land, the indigenous Sahrawi population developed a rich, nomadic culture, relying upon camel meat as their staple food. A Spanish colony from 1884 until 1975, the country was invaded by Morocco and Mauretania when Franco— as one of the last major political initiatives before his death—pulled troops out of the country. The Polisario (an independence movement of the local Sahrawi population fighting against the Spanish oppressors) in turn launched a guerrilla war against the two new occupying forces, successfully ousting Mauretania from Western Saharan territory. Morocco immediately expanded its area of occupation into these territories, and by 1979, it controlled more than two-thirds of Western Sahara. In response to persistent assaults by Sahrawi partisans, Morocco built a 3,000 km-long berm through the middle of the desert, bifurcating Western Sahara into an occupied western and a fragmented eastern territory: pure violence through planning. The Camps Due to persecution and forced displacement by this time, a large part of the local Sahrawi population had fled from the Moroccan occupied territories to neighboring Algeria—establishing four refugee camps in the very remote region near Tindouf. Early Sahrawi refugees established the first settlement, Rabouni, which later developed into their administrative center. In the following years, four refugee camps were constructed in the area that today house approximately 40,000 refugees each: El Aiun, Awserd, Smara, Dakhla. They are named after the four main towns in the

Sahrawi’s home country. Each camp has a center where administrative offices (mayoral, public services) are located. A commercial area is nearby, with clay huts selling food, clothing, mechanical tools and mobile phones. Although well-stocked, few customers frequent the little shops, as much of the merchandise is simply too expensive. A constant flow of ancient Land Rovers passes over the dirt roads of the camp, and a wild ensemble of garages and repair shops, petrol stations (plastic pipes connected to barrels of petrol suspended in high air) and even a car wash (in the middle of the desert!) testify to this mobile and motorized community. Replacing a Country Added up, the four refugee camps—with approximately 170,000 inhabitants—represent the largest urban settlement within the whole Sahara. The camps have an ambiguous relationship to the concept of home and remembrance: despite having been named with the intention of forging a collective memory of abandoned cities, the camps’ names were designated more or less randomly and have no relationship to the actual origin of the residents living there. Refugees come from all parts of their old homeland. The Sahrawi’s nomadic tradition (coupled with the fact that all of the commemorated cities are of Spanish colonial foundation) further undermines this constructed lineage. Founded in the mid 1970s out of contingency and intentionality, the camps followed a utopian vision. As most men were engaged in guerilla activities of the Polisario movement against the Moroccan occupation, women assumed leadership for running and organizing the camps. Women also put themselves in charge of issues pertaining to trade, education and other community matters. Formerly a conservative, nomadic society, settlement within the camps triggered a substantial and lasting step of emancipation for the Sahrawi women, establishing a social system bordering on matriarchy. The land for the refugee camps was donated by Algeria, which surrendered virtually all aspects of its sovereignty to the Sahrawi: they were free to organize their lives (and refugee status) independently. The allotment and use of land is decided by claims and negotiations of involved parties. If a refugee family intends to settle on a piece of land, put up a tent, construct a clay hut or extend its residen-

tial spaces, it physically marks its planned constructions and the spatial claims in the sand, and negotiates with neighbors and other people of interest. Planning thus operates on a one-to-one scale. Should negotiations remain unresolved, they are conveyed to the mayor of the camp for processes of mediation. This system is based on the understanding that land can not be private property, thus making land speculations impossible and requiring differing interests to be balanced by negotiation. In the early years, the economy within the camps was not based on money, but on bartering and common access to goods and services. Rather than establishing a cash or fiscal economy, the Sahrawi originally operated largely through in-kind trade. Although money was eventually introduced into the social and economic structure of the camps, many aspects of daily life remain rooted in the notion of common ownership and public goods. Transformed from a nomadic society to a settled refugee one, the Sahrawi benefited from services that were previously unavailable or inconceivable. Every child receives primary education, and many continue on to secondary or higher education. The literacy rate has reached ninety percent, making the Sahrawi one of the besteducated people in all of Africa. Standard medical services are available in all the camps with health centers located in close proximity to the whole population. Internet cafes have opened, and most families are equipped with solar-powered televisions, radios and even mobile phones—affording previously unimaginable access to information and communication. The Temporary as Architectural Style As an administrative unit (Wilaya), each camp is subdivided into quarters (Daïras), which are further subdivided into blocks. The residential Daïras of the refugee camps are arranged around administrative and commercial zones, which are located in the center of each camp. Despite having been in existence for thirty-five years, techniques of the temporary prevail in camp construction. Refugee families live in tents or self-built huts, fashioned from clay bricks. Made out of the very ground that they are located on, sandstorms periodically raze these huts, reducing them to the pile of sand from which they came. Therefore, scant investment is made in their design. They are pared

down to the bare minimum, ready to be torn down at a moment’s notice. Interiors, however, are heavily decorated with carpets and cloth, which can be easily packed up and moved. There are neither paved streets nor (physically) networked infrastructure (such as sewage systems, electricity grids, or streetlights or landlines). Everything is movable, foldable, transportable or disposable. Electricity is provided by car batteries and individual hand-held solar panels. Phone service is solely mobile and cellular, as are lights. Fresh water is provided from individual jerry cans and metal containers, which are placed in front of each tent. Beyond the obvious rationale that the refugees are not willing to invest in an area that is not their home, and the possible lack of funds for more durable solutions, these construction techniques are intended to represent and visually express temporality. The camps are built in the architectural language of “interim-solution.” They adopt the canon of the intermediate, and are meant to signify the transitional. This broadcasts the message that the living conditions are not permanent. The temporary has become both architectural style and agent within the Saharan political conflict. The Sahrawi refugee camps expose planning dilemmas within the contexts of people in-flight and humanitarian aid. Borne out of a situation of conflict and tragedy, the camps have allowed the Sahrawi to organize their lives in a radically new way: ushering in processes of general emancipation, education and connectivity. Yet, the camps are also one reason why the underlying conflict and the Moroccan occupation of the Western Sahara remains unsolved. Because the Sahrawi live outside of immediate-conflict areas, and because they are settled in reasonable living conditions, there is little international attention paid to reconciling warring factions. Now that the crisis has been dealt with on humanitarian and architectural levels, it does not need to be addressed on political ones. Compared to other refugee camps, the Sahrawi camps in the borderland between Western Sahara and Algeria offer a new concept of refugee camps not only as technical solutions for fleeing people in situations of conflict, but also as social spaces of exchange and emancipation (previously, most Sahrawis were illiterate, yet

many are educated today). None of the refugee camps were constructed with support from UNHCR, and that organization remains uninvolved in their management. In fact, the camps are largely self-administered. The camps forced a nation—but also gave it the possibility—to radically reinvent itself, and to take certain aspects of its destiny into its own hands. Not just warehouses for people in flight, the camps function as cities: they offer political, cultural and economic life to their residents, but they are also ready to be quickly dismantled should the opportunity arise. crisis


Stephen Graham INterviewed by Gavin BrowninG

arrive alive image candy chang


discuss the new urban security doctrine. What do these terms mean for cities?

fortress california image hidden driver

the political equator image hidden driver

Borders are mutable, and they operate on a variety of scales. University of Durham Human Geography Professor Stephen Graham describes their various deployments for political ends, noting that they can be alternately weakened or fortified during moments of duress, and that someone is always left outside. Gavin Browning You’ve used ideas of “inside” and “outside” to

Stephen Graham The current period is marked by the demise of the separation of the inside of the nation from the outside and the sense of pervasive mobile threats: real and imagined terrorism, disease, cyber attacks, non-state adversaries of all sorts that are organized through networks and permeating the outside and the inside, being and enemy within as well as an enemy without. This leads to a radical militarization of policing, and on the other hand, a shift within the military towards more a more policing set of functions— both inside and outside the state. A lot of these politics of security come together around cities, because cities are the spaces deemed both most at-risk and most threatening. For example, illegal immigration where in particular, neighborhoods where the diaspora and the cosmopolitan mixes are concentrated are perceived to be the threat of both illegal immigration and the threat of internal terrorism. So there’s this radical sense of the security of the world com-

ing together in and around micro-geographies of the city and micro-technologies of the city, and this is also fueled by the sense that cities are open to the outside world in terms of constant connections with infrastructure, with flows of people, with flows of information and so on. This is what Paul Virilio called the “Overexposed City”—the idea that the city can no longer be demarcated from the outside world in any simple way. The security politics that we’re interested in now bring the global and the local together in a very intense way. GB How does this new standard of militarized policing affect or blur borders during a crisis? SG There are many examples of a state drawing borders inside its own boundaries in new ways, such as a state of exception (where there is a call of a state of emergency in which normal laws are actually revoked by the law itself in Giorgio Agamben’s terms) where you have, for example, spaces of incarceration inside the city or within the state where refugees or suspected terrorists are placed without rights of

citizenship, or without rights of trial, or without rights of humanitarian law. Another good example is the SARS crisis of 2003, where it wasn’t really the edge of the nation that was concerned, territorially-speaking. Rather, it was the airport, because the airport is now where the border is located. So there’s a real sense of the state trying to organize and filter-in new surveillance and security devices to stop pathogens—and people deemed to be carrying pathogens—from coming right into the heart of the city. Another example is the Container Security Initiative in the US. There’s an effort being made by the Homeland Security Department to basically change the whole global system of container port traffic, based on its own idea of the homeland being secure. So every container port in the world who wants to trade with the US now has to have its own information systems, its own tracking systems, that operate in a way like a global homeland. While all these borders come together inside the nation, the question about security of the homeland also goes beyond the nation to

inflect global systems of airline traffic, port security, information technology flow, financial flow: all of the flows that sustain the city. This is all about the micro-geographies of the city and the global geographies of the security coming together. GB A crisis carries with it extreme urgency. How do borders function under such moments of extreme urgency and duress? SG Extreme events tend to heighten state efforts to tighten borders. With the SARS crisis, for example, there was a very heavy investment in emergency measures to track people, to scan people, to do new sorts of testing whether or not individuals were carrying infection—this is all about the idea of re-drawing boundaries. Remember, in the 90s there was a huge celebration of the end of geography: a celebration of a neoliberal utopia of perfect mobility. Suddenly, that was all backtracked—bringing in new borders, new ideas of filtering borders, biometrics into passports, face recognition, bringing in borders at the micro-scale. For example, the proposal

by the New York City Council to bring in a surveillance cordon in around the strategic financial district of Manhattan, organized by cameras that can recognize license plates. It’s based on the example in London. Generally, crises breed new borders, they breed new attempts to draw borders, they breed a language which stresses a sense of exposure and a sense of anxiety, and a sense of being exposed to new threats and new mobility which is easily translated into a semi-racist politics of demonizing beyond the border: seeing the civilian as the enemy. The whole discussion around illegal immigration in the US and Europe is very much about demonizing the racialized body that is challenging our civilization, that is threatening our labor markets, that is taking our housing, our jobs, and so on. This is the language of emergency being manipulated for political ends. None of this is new—there’s a whole history of manipulation of the language of emergency for political ends, of course. What’s new are the ways in which the control technologies involved are much more capable—and

much more globally organized—than in previous eras. GB What does this blurring imply for refugee camps, which are often located on or near borders? SG We’re now seeing the militarization of what Teddy Cruz calls the “political equator,” or, the division between the Global North and the Global South. This obviously runs right between the US and Mexico, between Spain and Morocco, and in and around Gaza and the West Bank. So you have the political equator of the world running through the micro-geographies of urban space, and these borders being militarized very heavily—new checkpoints, biometrics, and so on—but there are also efforts being made to create extra-territorial refugee camps. For example, Australia is basically appropriating an island in the Pacific as an extraterritorial camp, and Spain is using some of its historic enclaves in Morocco to try to manage the flows of Africans trying to come north. At the same time, we see intra-territorial camps: highly militarized spaces of incarcera-

tion within Northern nations where the rights of citizenship and human rights are often problematic. GB You state that there has been a blurring of not only physical borders, but also the border between civilian and military security forces. Can you explain? SG The military is being deployed more often within nations than during the Cold War, especially through urban warfare exercises: in the US, for example, the Marines might invade Oakland for simulation purposes. But before 9/11, North America was the only portion of the world that didn’t have a US military command, even though military commands existed for every other inch of the planet. Now we have a military command called NORTHCOM, which is gearing itself towards internal deployment within the North American continent— deploying satellite systems, surveillance drones, all with a view to trying to catch these enemies within, and working with the Patriot Act and other spaces of surveillance such as telephone traffic, internet traffic, financial transactions and

so on. There is a sense of military deployment increasing inside states, at the same time as police are being organized in a much more militarized way: anti-terrorist squads and SWAT teams are increasingly deployed for routine and basic misdemeanors, while police have a much more militarized look as well as more militarized tactics and technologies. And on the other hand, the military is being deployed to do more than fight wars. For example, the military in Iraq were involved initially in a state-versus-state conflict, but since then, it’s been involved in a huge range of peacekeeping, reconstruction and counter-insurgency operations: a whole set of policing-style activities in which you’re never clear who the enemy is.



TEXT AND MAPS by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Mark Hansen, Laura Kurgan, and Ben Rubin As the designers of Paul Virilio’s contribution to Native Land: Stop Eject, we have built upon his concepts, centered on the complexities of human trajectories, to assemble a collection of videos, photographs, and data which record and display the global movement of people today. These different images tell a similar story: today, the relation of humans to the earth on which they are born is based less on attachment to a particular place than on movement across it. The exhibition at The Fondation Cartier attends to stationary people who are forced, against their will, to migrate, and to migratory people who are restricted, even detained, in their movements. While the energies behind this flow of people are different and often contradictory, we have organized data about it into three broad categories: political, economic, and environmental. We have focused on tracing and registering the complex forces that shape the pathways of human mobility. They are double, at the very least: people leave or are driven away from the places they live; they are attracted to, or pulled by, new places. This push-pull dynamic is at the heart of our approach. Exits is a two-part exhibition. Exits, Part One presents a living archive of news footage, photographs, and documentaries about global migration, contextualized in the space by a recording of Paul Virilio, who offers insights about the images.

Displayed on a grid of monitors suspended from the ceiling, the content on the screens is choreographed according to visual factors such as color, motion, speed or image composition; groups of related images flock and flow across the viewing field to form multiple associative networks that can be viewed in its entirety, as an ensemble or on single monitors as individual stories. Over the course of the piece, patterns may emerge which suggest links between various global events on the screens—offering an aesthetic re-framing of the media’s coverage of global migrations. Exits, Part Two displays a dynamic visualization of a database of information about global migration and its causes. Using the immersive environment of a circular projection, the installation surrounds its viewers with the repetitive motion of a globe which circles the room as it spins. With each orbit, it writes and re-writes translations of different aspects of the migration data into maps, texts, and trajectories. The maps display several animated scenes from a number of datasets. Each scene first displays a geographic view, then an abstraction, and finally an immersive view of tangible data, allowing the viewer to focus on a particular slice of earth. Once “printed” on the screen, the maps animate dynamically to reveal the specificity of their data structures. The maps are generated by data alone. We do not illustrate the globe, but build maps with global data. Each dataset is visualized to communicate its content by the translation of its actual components: we encode, decode and recode the



datasets into numbers, text, colors and pixels, and locate them on a surface or a map. No dataset is neutral. The information with which we have worked has been collected by specific organizations, for specific reasons. While mindful of the work each organization has undertaken to produce the data, we are intentionally refunctioning them to build a narrative about global migration and its causes. Population Shifts: Cities In 2007, the world crossed a threshold: for the first time, more than 50% of its population resided in urban areas. How do cities cope with patterns of migration, whether for economic, environmental or political reasons? Population change is transforming landscapes: while cities in the Global South are growing, cities in the North are losing their people. The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) of the Earth Institute at Columbia University has collected and assembled data on population density in five-year increments from 1990 to 2015. CIESIN has aggregated this census data into a grid of pixels measuring 1km x 1km, providing a foundation for our visual interpretation. Each pixel holds two pieces of data: the number of people counted that year within its boundary (presented as a color), and its geographic location in longitude and latitude (presented on a Robinson map projection). We have re-aggregated this data into pieces of 100 square kilometers, and assigned it new visual forms in order to communicate its content: human population. The world’s six billion people are represented by

the six million pixels projected onto the surface of the screen at any given time. Each pixel represents one thousand people, and as the animation progresses, we discover that three million pixels are concentrated on only 2.5% of the globe. This density is illustrated with glowing pixels: the more tightly they pack, the more brightly they shine. In order to show population change over time, the data are visualized as a series of straight lines drawn across the globe at specific latitudes, and transforms into a series of graphs. The x-axis displays longitude and latitude, and the y-axis is animated to show population in numbers in a particular year. The increase and decrease in population over this eighteen-year period is also shown. Finally, the pixels are displayed as a population number. The globe’s longitude is stretched to a 360-degree projection where each pixel is rendered as an animated counter. The pixels count up or down according to population change as recorded by census data: the fifty fastest growing cities in the world with over one million people come into focus, with forty-eight in the Global South, and two in the Global North. Remittances: Sending Money Home When people move, money often flows back along a reverse pathway. In 1970, industrialised countries committed themselves at the United Nations to spending 0.7% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on development aid. Almost forty years later, only five countries have fulfilled this promise. A recent UN study suggested that migrants from poor countries send home about $300 billion a year. More than three times the global foreign aid,




REMITTANCES: Sending Money Home


Remittances: Sending Money Home

Political Refugees and Forced Migration

Rising SeAs: Sinking Cities


remittances represent the main source of external funds received by the developing world. Tracking the flow of informal money is very difficult—it travels across borders in large numbers of more than a billion and a half transactions per year. Frequently, it moves in small increments, sometimes by hand, by mail, by bank-to-bank transfers and mostly by wire transfers. Data that has been collected from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank show extreme concentrations of countries receiving immigrants and sending money home, where 15% of the countries (about thirty in number) account for 80% of the immigrant inflow, and 90% of the remittance outflow. To visualize these immigration flows and the transnational networks created by one person at a time, each country is represented as a flag on the map. When data about a “home” country appears on the map, its flag is enlarged, and people move to their “host” countries. Eventually, each nation is re-sized in its new location, proportional to the number of people who have immigrated. To visualize remittances, the direction of movement on the map reverses and money flows back home in the form of thin lines connecting the sending and receiving nations. India, China, Mexico and the Philippines receive the most remittances, while the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany and France send the most. In order to underscore the relationships between the home and host countries, the maps transform, and the data is sifted, reassembled and sorted into a con-

tainer that surrounds the viewer. A chart is built showing the sums of remittances country by country. Political Refugees and Forced Migration The numbers of refugees and internally displaced people (IDP) moving across the planet jumped dramatically from 1992 to 2007. People are forced to leave their homes for all kinds of reasons: environmental disruptions, wars and conflicts, genocide, ethnic cleansing and other forms of persecution. Using data from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for this same fifteen-year period we have mapped the data, which is to say, we have visualized the movement of people in the database. UNHCR record data on a country once a flow of five thousand refugees or IDP’s has been established: people trying to leave various places arrive in camps, at airports and along borders. Making legible the scale and stakes of the rules according to which people are forced to move around and through political obstacles is not a simple task, and we have generalized each flow by movement across borders, and within country borders. The data show that over the last fifteen years the number of IDPs has increased, and the number of people applying for and receiving asylum has decreased. 2007, there were sixteen million refugees and fifty-one million IDPs. In other words, 80% of the migrants that year remained within their region of origin. The maps are drawn in two animated sequences. The first highlights on a global map any country with a refugee flow or IDP build-up of five thousand people, consecutively, from 1992–2007. Arcs are


drawn which display the quantity of flows a country of origin to another. The second sequence highlights the country in which UNHCR has counted the most refugees or IDP’s that year. The arcs (which represent the scale of the flow according to the number of people moving across a border) now show pixels flowing through them. Each moving pixel on the screen represents ten people. Rising Seas, Sinking Cities As greenhouse gases act to warm the planet at the unprecedented pace of 0.2° per decade, the oceans are also warming up. The combined effects of the melting polar icecaps and thermal expansion of the water will cause sea levels to rise an estimated one meter by the end of the century. Visual representation of this is not created with the symbol of the lonely polar bear adrift on an ice floe, but rather by attending to the people who pay the highest price. It becomes evident that the populations most affected will be those living on small islands or in coastal cities, the latter being amongst the most densely populated places in the world. These are also the people whose carbon emissions remain marginal. They are the least responsible for, and will most likely be the most affected by, climate change. This scene assembles multiple global datasets to help tell a story. To explain the first process contributing to the rise in sea-level, bubbles of carbon emission grow much larger around certain cities and countries, displaying inequitable contributions to the atmosphere. Thermal maps then appear in order to visualize the spatial pattern of rising temperatures. These maps are based on climate


simulation models, and present a sequence of predictions at five-year intervals between 2000 and 2100. Temperature rise is more pronounced in the Global South, while carbon emissions are more pronounced in the North. Considering the premise that a mere centimeter rise in sea level could put a million people at risk of displacement, maps display the nearly 10,000 cities which are located within one hundred kilometers of the coast. Collectively, these cities house one and a half billion people: 25% of global population. Which cities are more vulnerable than others, and why? In order to answer this question, the cities are stretched to surround the room, and displayed in elevation. An assessment tool is then used to query the dataset. The Netherlands, which is in large part twenty-three meters below sea level, is much less likely to be flooded than Haiti, which has 53.9% of its population living on incomes of less than one US dollar per day. Mumbai— one of the fastest-growing cities in the world—is building (slums) in an ad-hoc manner on some of the most vulnerable floodplains. The final visualization is at full scale in terms of sea-level rise: one meter of water fills the room from the ground up covering the cities within that elevation zone. Some cities rise out of the water, showing their decreased risk. Others, which are more vulnerable, do not. Project Team Diller Scofidio and Renfro, Mark Hansen, Laura Kurgan and Ben Rubin in Collaboration with Jeremy Linzee, Robert Gerard Pietrusko, Stewart Smith and Aaron Meyers with Michael Doherty and Hans Christoph Steiner.

Data and Sources The following list of organizations have helped us in our acquisition of data. They have not, however, been asked to vouch for or endorse the content of this exhibition; our acknowledgements are merely an expression of our gratitude. Population Shifts: Cities Gridded Population of the World, version 3 (GPWv3), Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Columbia University; International Food Policy Research Institute (IPFRI), the World Bank; and Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), 2004 sedac.ciesin.columbia. edu/gpw/index.jsp The world’s fastest growing cities and urban areas from 2006 to 2020, City Mayors, Statistics www.citymayors.com/ statistics/urban_growth1.html Remittances: Sending Money Home Global Migrant Origin Database (updated March 2007), The Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and Poverty (Migration DRC), University of Sussex www.migrationdrc.org/ research/typesofmigration/global_migrant_origin_ database.html Bilateral migration matrix and Bilateral remittance estimates (using migrant stocks, destination country incomes, and source country incomes), data associated with World Bank Working Paper No. 102 “South-South Migration and Remittances” go.worldbank.org/TGZNEJBXD0 Sending money home: Worldwide remittance flows to developing countries, The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) www.ifad.org/events/remittances/maps/ index.htm Statistical Annex from the 2007 Development Co-operation Report, Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD-DAC), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) www.oecd.org/dac/stats/dac/dcrannex World Economic and Financial Surveys, World Economic Outlook Database (April 2008 Edition), International Monetary Fund (IMF) www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/ weo/2008/01/weodata/index.aspx WEO Groups and Aggregates Information, World Economic and Financial Surveys, World Economic Outlook Database (April 2008 Edition) www.imf.org/external/ pubs/ft/weo/2008/01/weodata/groups.htm Flags of the nations flagpedia.net/ Political Refugees and Forced Migration United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Online Statistical Population Database (scraped September 2-5, 2008) www.unhcr.org/statistics Historical Maps, Field Information and Coordination Support Section, Division of operational Services, UNHCR

Rising Seas, Sinking Cities Global Rural-Urban Mapping Project, Version 1 (GRUMP): Settlement Points, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Columbia University; International Food Policy Research Institute (IPFRI), the World Bank; and Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), 2004 sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/gpw Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change, A Regional Climate SCENario GENerator www.cgd. ucar.edu/cas/wigley/magicc Geographically based Economic data (GEcon 1.3) gecon.yale.edu Self-assessment matrix: Discovering a hotspot, Climate Resilient Cities, The World Bank, East Asia and Pacific Region go. worldbank.org/3NJGDJ6R10 CO2 emissions, Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Gregg Marland, Tom Boden, and Bob Andres) cdiac.esd.ornl.gov The Elevation Query Web Service, USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gisdata.usgs.gov/xmlwebservices2/elevation_service.asmx Gridded Population of the World, version 3 (GPWv3)—National Boundaries, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Columbia University; International Food Policy Research Institute (IPFRI), the World Bank; and Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), 2004 sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/ gpw/index.jsp

Paper-Tube House 纸管房 Shigeru Ban, translated by Gao Yan After the 5/12 Wenchuan Earthquake, the Shigeru Ban Research Laboratory and the Hironori Matsubara Lab at Keio University—together with the Architectural School of the Southwest Jiaotong University of China—built a temporary housing prototype with a paper-tube frame and timber panels. This was done to offer more options to address temporary housing needs that might arise over the following two to three years. Beams and columns are made of paper tubes. All enclosure surfaces are timber panels with degradation foam board in the middle and they are coated with fire-resistant painting in order to meet local regulations. The enclosure surfaces are also waterproof, due to the base treatment of the timber panels. Compared to an existing light weight steel frame in current temporary housing systems, this proposal requires a concrete base of only 100 mm. Therefore, it minimizes impact on the farm land as long as the site is leveled. All of the paper tubes can be completely recycled as paper pulp afterwards and the timber panels can be reused as common construction materials.

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paper-tubes: resiliant

paper-tubes: flexible

paper-tubes: affordable

paper-tubes: ecofriendly

城市中国 63




War Of The Worlds


Two-Minute Warning

Charlie Wilson’s War


Red Planet

Dante’s Peak

The Day After Tomorrow

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

The Constant Gardener

28 Days Later


There Will Be Blood

Wall Street


Encounters At The End Of The World

Resident Evil: Extinction

The Perfect Storm

The Andromeda Strain




The Happening


Filmmakers have given us memorable antagonists who single-handedly level large-scale devastation. Less appreciated, however, are cinematographers’ skill at evoking systematic failure through atmospheric devices: innocent and fluffy clouds part, darken, and hell fire descends. A quick inventory of disaster film-skies reminds us that in the movies--and in real life--crisis may strike anytime.

Iron Man


by c-lab

UNfriendly skies

64–1 crisis 65–1



Systems Gone Wild

Infrastructure After Modernity by Kazys Varnelis

image kazys varnelis

image Steve rowell

image kazys varnelis

image kazys varnelis

For a time, it seemed that US President-Elect Barack Obama’s first move was going to be to take a page from the WPA and invest heavily in the nation’s infrastructure. Played up heavily in the media, investment in infrastructure was to inject massive amounts of capital in the economy and create jobs while simultaneously investing in the nation’s future. But when the House Appropriations Committee introduced its version of the Obama administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan of 2009—a document that reflects the Obama administration’s intents—infrastructure was downplayed, receiving only a fraction of the proposed

$800+ billion. That figure is less than what was proposed for digitizing health care records. The document paints a gloomy picture. Included is the equivalent of less than one year’s worth of funding for the Federal Highway Administration (a drop in the bucket, along with $2 billion of some $50 billion needed to modernize existing transit systems), $1.1 billion to improve intercity rail (the Northeast Corridor alone needs over $10 billion of improvements) and $3 billion out of $41 billion for airport infrastructure (the backlogs listed are all from the House document). Instead of a vigorously rebuilt infrastructural future, we are just treading water.1 So what happened? To understand our present predicament—and Obama’s strategic retreat from infrastructure—we need to go back, before even the WPA, for a brief history of infrastructure. Cities grew tremendously in the hundred years between 1860 and 1960, and infrastructure was the foundation for that growth. Trains, streetcar lines, streets and highways allowed inhabitants to rush around with relative ease. As infrastructure filled past capacity and congestion became bad, the public had faith that the experts would solve the problems by constructing new infrastructure— always more capacious and more technologically advanced. Infrastructure was idealized by modernist architects. Take Vers une Architecture, for example, in which Corbusier extolled the societal transformations that would take place if only the people were to listen to the architect and the engineer. It was, after all, a matter of architecture or revolution. For modernists, a plan and the capacity of a clear idea would bring order to the chaos of the metropolis. In implementing the plan, modern architecture relied on infrastructure above all else. A city’s modernity became nearly equivalent to its infrastructure, as evident in Haussmann’s reconstruction of Paris, the ultra-real technological landscapes of Tony Garnier’s Cité Industrielle, or the wild, electric fantasies of Antonio Sant’Elia’s Città Nuova. Modern architecture would be nothing but pastiche without engineering to support it—merely new clothes for an old body. The engineer, Le Corbusier

concluded, “puts us in accord with natural law.” Only after the engineer laid down a foundation could the architect start to create beauty through form. Infrastructure captured the popular imagination as well, particularly in America. There, it was the means by which Americans tamed the frontier, harnessing untamable nature to transform it into paradise for man. Infrastructure was America’s first modernism: Americans accepted modernism in their bridges and dams before they accepted it in buildings. With the massive burst of infrastructure building under Roosevelt’s New Deal, Americans came to believe that functionalism and technology would lead them to economic prosperity. This reconstructive power of infrastructure is what Obama suggested he might replay with his plan when it was first announced. No doubt many architects warmed to the idea of a reinvigoration of modern ideals, just as the profession seemed to have taken a fatal blow from the economic collapse. But in the end, Obama didn’t turn to infrastructure. By its own admission, his plan underfunds critical infrastructure greatly. It may yet be that Obama sees this only as a temporary stimulus, and will fund infrastructure in its turn through the creation of a National Infrastructure Bank (this stimulus plan was explicitly dedicated to helping “shovel-ready” projects and these have largely been funded already). But perhaps there are deeper reasons. Between 2004 and 2008, I led a team of researchers investigating changing conditions of infrastructure in Los Angeles, producing The Infrastructural City: Networked Ecologies in Los Angeles as a result. Los Angeles, for us, was a case study. A particularly interesting city, but one that proved the rule regarding infrastructure rather than the exception.2 Our conclusions were, first and foremost, that a WPAstyle infrastructural push is impossible today. Infrastructure has changed radically. Whether the Los Angeles freeways, the New York subway, the London Tube, the motorways outside Dublin, or airports just about anywhere, much of our infrastructure exists in a state of perpetual overload. It is under massive stress from the pressures we place on it: overburdened, aged, little loved. This not only true for transportation. The news is filled with failing infrastructural systems: electrical grids overload during peak season,

petroleum refineries break down, floodwater control systems overflow in heavy storms, wastewater plants spill sewage, aqueducts mysteriously leak. Curiously, infrastructure is a new word. The Oxford English Dictionary identifies its first use in 1927. The word only achieves real currency in the 1980s after the publication of a scathing public policy assessment entitled America in Ruins: The Decaying Infrastructure, which raised many of the issues raised here. To understand the technical systems that support a society—roads, bridges, water supply, wastewater, flood management, telecommunications, gas and electric lines—as one category, it was first necessary to see it fail. The current dismal state of the country’s infrastructure is in part because of decades of neoliberal policies encouraging tax cuts instead over investment in capital projects. This is also partially because infrastructure tends to conform to an S-curve during its growth. As money is invested in infrastructure, its efficiency leaps ahead radically, but at a certain point returns begin to diminish. Thus, while investment initially delivers handsome benefits, as the S-curve flattens, returns-per-dollar invested lessen greatly. Obama may well have realized this: infrastructure needs to be rebuilt to remain functional, but pouring massive funding into existing infrastructure is unlikely to restart the economy or even fix all of its problems. Perversely, as the S-curve flattens, many forms of infrastructure enter into a phase in which social engineering becomes as important as physical engineering. Take, for example, Interstate Highway 405 on the west side of Los Angeles. The 405 grinds to a halt every afternoon with regularity as commuters make their way up and down the coastal communities to their homes. Adding another lane to the 405 would cost a staggering billion dollars per mile. Within seven or eight years (no doubt a shorter time than it would take to construct the lane), that lane would fill and the highway would be as congested as before. Traffic planners now understand that congestion itself modifies social behavior. Individuals have a limited tolerance for their commutes, usually forty minutes to an hour each way. If congestion makes their commute grow past their comfort point, they will find ways to modify it, going at odd hours, finding a new job, or finding a new home. Conversely, without con-

gestion, commuters will find no reason to make such plans and will live and work as they wish, rapidly filling the roads. Problems with infrastructure go beyond the S-curve; they also extend to our idea of individual rights. To be sure, the massive infrastructure projects of the 1960s and 1970s—most notably, highways—devastated communities and brought down property values. Since then, homeowners have become greatly concerned about infrastructural developments. Mainly, they think that while they are necessary, they can be anywhere as long as they are “Not in My Back Yard.” Already prior to the economic crisis, homeowners would defend their homes like medieval barons defending their castles, becoming skilled practitioners in mobilizing together to question, forestall, and generally prevent the construction of new infrastructural systems. To think that individuals will somehow overcome NIMBYism when home values are more under threat than ever is ludicrous.3 NIMBYism also has a subtler, equally dangerous cousin in bureaucratic stalemate. Communities have created legal frameworks of byzantine complexity and these can greatly interfere with new infrastructural projects, both traditional and more recent. Poor mobile phone coverage today is less likely to be the fault of telephone carriers seeking to cut costs than the product of communities finding means to prevent construction of new towers. Similarly, fiber-to-the-home rollouts have been slowed by the difficulty of obtaining rights-of-way from a patchwork of governments. What tactics can we look for then, if the strategies of big infrastructure have failed us? Master plans are bankrupt. Of course here and there a pet light rail project will be built and maybe even a high-speed train—assuming it doesn’t become another slow high-speed train like the Acela—but as the economic stimulus plan suggests, these are unlikely to be funded. We’ll give Obama credit for figuring out that big infrastructural projects can’t be built today. So what, then, is an appropriate infrastructural strategy for the new President to adopt? Just as Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown flipped the valence on sprawl and signage in their classic Learning from Las Vegas to lay the groundwork for postmodern architec-

ture, we need to flip the valence on hacking: the serious game of taking advantage of secret exploits in systems or turning to “social engineering,” convincing other people to do what you want by appealing to their own self-interest. One option would be to provide open APIs (a computer programming term for Application Programming Interfaces). APIs function as abstractions, allowing programs to ask other programs to do things for them. As Senator, Obama was involved in a law that led to the construction of a government website, USAspending.gov, that tracks what the government spends money on, and that site has open APIs so that the data it delivers can be accessed by anyone.4 Opening up the APIs for existing and new infrastructures would allow developers to build on this data, making current forms of infrastructure more efficient, or at least easier to use. Here is a concrete example of how this might work: during the past year, I have found myself looking at traffic in the New York City metro area in a much more canny way, simply because of the capacity for Google Maps on my iPhone 3G to deliver relatively up-to-date information about traffic speeds. Google Maps still has a long way to go to make the system usable: not all routes are covered, the data is too coarse and real-time routing is often tricky. Still, instead of suggesting that we add lanes to highways, the government might find a lower-cost solution in simply making more sensor data publicly available to citizens. Thus far, unfortunately, agencies seem to think that the act of making such information available is somewhere between aiding and abetting terrorism and a distraction from their job. Passing a law to ensure that every government agency makes data available should be a priority, and funds should be made available to do so. Even forms of data as basic as subway train schedules are hard to get hold of, often requiring either Google’s muscle or a lawyer and a Freedom of Information Act request. This sort of thinking could be applied to electric power as well. Peak electricity demands are exceedingly costly for power companies and a major factor in grid breakdowns. Large commercial customers such as factories and oil refineries already know when electric power is more expensive and have the ability to plan around that.

Why shouldn’t consumers be encouraged to respond to power fluctuations dynamically? Coming up with new forms of “human hacking” or social engineering is a key to rethinking infrastructure. Simple, relatively inexpensive measures might involve subsidizing fiber to Main Street to encourage the growth of offices in downtowns of suburbs and small towns (often lying half-empty while peripheral areas boom), or adding Wi-Fi to all forms of public transit to encourage commuters to get out of their cars and into existing buses and trains. These quick thoughts point toward the necessity of rethinking infrastructure as hacker-ready in an age of systems gone wild. 1 2 3 4

House Appropriations Committee, “Summary: American Recovery and Reinvestment,” http://appropriations.house.gov/pdf/PressSummary01-15-09.pdf Kazys Varnelis, ed. The Infrastructural City: Networked Ecologies in Los Angeles (Barcelona: ACTAR, 2008). See, for example, William B. Fulton, The Reluctant Metropolis: The Politics of Urban Growth in Los Angeles (Point Arena, CA: Solano Press Books, 1997). Douglas McGray, “iGov. How Geeks Are Opening Up Government On the Web,” The Atlantic Monthly, January/February 2009, http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200901/technology-government


Cory Booker Interviewed by volume


cory booker, essex county college, newark, nj, december 18, 2008


The following excerpt from an ongoing dialogue between Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Volume about Barack Obama’s Office of Urban Policy offers a December 2008 snapshot of what the idea of the Office represents for American cities. At the time of going press, Obama’s infrastructural proposals have shifted, and will undoubtedly shift again as campaign promises cement or fail to materialize. As this plan unfolds, we look forward to continuing this conversation with Cory Booker, one of America’s most dynamic and exciting public figures. Volume You recently met with other New Jersey mayors to discuss Obama’s proposed Office of Urban Policy. Cory Booker Yes. We met—and we had a conference call with dozens of mayors—it was very exciting.

Volume What kind of initiatives and opportunities will arise for cities like Newark from that new department? CB Well, from our perspective of New Jersey mayors, we separated [the proposal] into a lot of different issue areas, such as infrastructure investments. We have a very specific take on it, we don’t want just more transportation infrastructure that eases people getting into cars and driving someplace. Roads and bridges are great, but ultimately we want to see more investments in mass transit—in a green and comprehensive program for creating infrastructure that is sustainable, and that also helps to build up cities and their economic development. So for every area that we talked about, even public safety, we’re looking at ways that we can take things that the government is already interested in doing—with public safety, a great example of that is homeland security—and how can we better leverage those dollars to empower cities to be successful. And for cities, we believe, the narrative of America needs to change—in the past five, six decades, cities have been places

where people see corruption, crime, a draining of public resources—to really become the engines of the economy of the future. For a green economy, the global economy, and we believe that cities that position themselves can be that way. I know for a fact that Obama has this vision: that we need to start creating bridges within our cities to take them from where they were in the American mindset to where they can be really what’s going to secure us in the long run. crisis

Confronting Crisis Through a Social Infrastructure Omar Freilla Interviewed By Jeffrey Inaba

“Infrastructure” that is innovative, sustainable, economical, and relatively easy to implement may already exist. We may not notice them because they don’t fit the conventional definition of the term. One example is a network of environmentally sustain-

able businesses owned by workers. Omar Freilla explains that through efforts like Green Worker Cooperatives it is possible to create a system of businesses that in effect serves as an infrastructure to clean and maintain a community. Jeffrey Inaba What is the relationship between the environment and poor neighborhoods? Omar Freilla Typically, poor neighborhoods—low-income communities, communities of color—wind up getting used as dumping grounds for pollution and waste. These neighborhoods and communities are likely to be left with the serious consequences of our wasteful society, of polluting industries. For example, the South Bronx, which is the poorest part of New York City, has a concentration of industries that other parts of the city have fended off. It’s seen as a place that offers little resistance. You see a heavy concentration of waste facilities, you see a lot of the city infrastructure located here like transportation-related facilities, like bus depots, or power generating plants.

JI How has New York evolved in ways that detrimentally affect poor neighborhoods? OF The 1990s saw the rise of a privatized waste industry. What was previously equally distributed, waterbased waste transport became a privatized, truck-based industry. The private waste companies wound up creating a number of waste-transportation centers that are located in just two or three parts of the city. They were all poor, working-class communities of color. The Bronx has become a hub for garbage. JI Sustainability, as a cause, has largely grown as a result of people voluntarily choosing to change the way they live. For example, in the US there is a general awareness that the environment is at risk and some—mostly affluent and middle class—people have made the decision to modify their daily activities for the benefit of what is at times a large-scale and abstract problem. There’s an emergence of green collar non-profits in the Bronx-not only yourselves, but also Sustainable South Bronx,

for example. Why do you think that is? OF Because we have two very big problems: the South Bronx is an extremely poor area, and it is also extremely polluted. It’s only logical that a solution involving creating work and improving environmental conditions would be coming from a place like this. JI So, it is based upon the need to create a solution in light of severe problems facing a local community. As a generalization, I think that when people’s basic needs are met, like having a good job, a nice place to live, then we look to other larger collective problems to tackle. And sustainability is one of those. Your organization is operating in a different situation. You are using green initiatives to prevent a bad situation from getting worse. It is a tool for community improvement rooted in addressing basic needs, rather than in a challenge taken up typically after those needs are met. OF Necessity, the mother of invention. …

Ultimate Infrastructure 终极基建 Jiang Jun, translation by Zhu Fei In Chinese, the world of human habitation is called “tian” and “di” (“heaven” and “earth”). Civilization evolves on the premise of assuming earth as the dwelling and heaven as the roof. Our evolution relies on the operation of tian and di. I Ching is the earliest interpretive attempt of ancient Chinese, and it tends to position the binary of yin with yang as the principle of great variation. As a container for living, architecture is also regarded as a variable: which functions to support both the feng shui of nature and the social order of human existence. In terms of location-selection, planning, design and obtaining materials, people aim to adapt to local conditions and utilize materials as thoroughly as possible. Acknowledging and obeying the uncertainty of the natural environment given by tian and di is one of the fundamental values in pre-modern civilization. Modernization began with the Industrial Revolution, which believed that humanity could conquer nature on the premise of endless energy consumption. Subsequently, science and technology challenged nature, defining the conquered as a manageable constant. Natural disasters remind humans of the existence of basic elements—the atmosphere, ocean currents, lithosphere and vegetation system—that conceal themselves behind monumental infrastructures on peaceful days. However, when a catastrophe suddenly strikes, it proves that the conditions assumed to be “Tian Zao Di She” (created and given by heaven and earth) are anything but manageable, and that human constructions are very fragile indeed. The earth as a place of risk in nature also reflects the uncertainty of the Ark as an oasis from the storm. Compared to the prehistoric flood and Ice Age, or to the comet’s collision with the earth in a science fiction future, Wenchuan’s earthquake appears to be a mere flash in time. However, the image it provides may not be the persistence or competence of human being to fight against disasters, but rather, a force drawing us back home to our ancient world view. That is, one which holds reverence to tian and di, and knows the ultimate truth: nature is the ultimate infrastructure of the great creator—a being too grand for human beings to conceive. Consequently, reconstruction in a broad sense should no longer linger around the traces of human beings, but move forward to readjust the relation between nature and humans to resume obedience and contribution to the entire ecologic system.


Sichuan Province, May 2008

Ultimate infrastructure

城市中国 76

城市中国 77

JI What does Green Worker Cooperatives do? OF We take the position of being proactive and creating alternatives. We seek to create businesses that are locally owned and operated and can actually improve environmental conditions here in our community. So, we are specifically focused on creating, or incubating, worker-owned businesses that are green. We see this as a way to do a number of things: to actually create work where there was none, and to create green alternatives that people can point to and say, “You know, we don’t need to accept any more polluting companies that offer jobs, we can create our own jobs, and do it in a way that empowers us and empowers our community.” JI Please describe a worker cooperative from a business model perspective. OF Well, in a worker cooperative, the workers are the owners. They all own equal shares of the business. The benefits are two-fold. One is the distribution of profits, which go to the workers.

So that means at the end of the day, the profits are more likely to stay in the community. We are creating businesses that are owned by people in the community, so they’re the ones benefiting. And the other benefit is about decisionmaking. Workers are involved in the running of the business. It’s also about creating accountability within a community. A business is held accountable by its workers, and the workers are held accountable by those in their larger community, JI I see. You mean accountable in terms of the environmental impact that it has on the area? OF Right. If the owners of a business live in the community, and people are upset about, say, a smokestack emitting pollutants into the air that goes into the community or trucks lining up in the street, taking over parking spaces and idling in front of people’s homes all day, then that’s something that they raise to their neighbor who works there—who’s an owner. As opposed to a distant owner that they don’t know and are intimidated by

because, you know, they live two states over and fly in two or three times a year. JI Describe Rebuilders Source, the for-profit business that Green Worker Cooperatives started. OF Yes. Imagine a very big building, a warehouse full of doors, windows, sinks, cabinetry, floor tiles, and hardwood floors-everything that you’d want for the home. Everything is either salvaged or surplus, so they are materials that would have been thrown out, but they’re good quality. They may have come directly from somebody’s home, from a distributor that has overstock or the owner of a warehouse whose tenant moved out and left him with everything still brand new. There is an incredible amount of waste in New York City. About 50,000 tons a day of trash, and one-fifth of that—or about 10,000 tons a day—is building material. These items are sold at an affordable cost to anyone who wants to buy them. JI What other businesses do you want to incubate? OF Well, we are actually now

going to let that be driven by the people themselves, so we have something we call the Coop Academy. It’s a training program for people who want to start up worker coops who are from the South Bronx. Our goal is to get the participants familiarized with the worker cooperative structure to help them define their goals and desires as they relate to starting up a green business. Once we do that, we help them actually get it off of the ground. We want to saturate this area with worker-owned green businesses. crisis

obama urbanism

Dialogue with Joseph Grima, Christopher Hawthorne, Jeffrey Inaba, Sam Jacob and Geoff Manaugh

The following are excerpts from an email conversation between Joseph Grima, Christopher Hawthorne, Jeffrey Inaba, Sam Jacob and Geoff Manaugh exploring the possibilities of future urban development in light of President Obama’s Urban Policy statement. To read the discussion in its entirety, go to, www.c-lab.columbia. edu/future

On 1/2/09, at 9:44 PM Jeffrey Inaba wrote: It is a unique situation that a leader of a country proposes to use urban development as a stimulus for the economy, and a rare occasion when politics, the economy and urbanism figure together in the national discourse. More than to serve as a stimulus for the economy however, it appears to be an effort to make use of the crisis to conceive of new elements for the city. Typically, only after a war or natural disaster is there the chance to rethink the way cities work. Very seldom are cities in developed nations ever trans-


formed since the cost of construction exceeds the resulting benefits. The fact that Obama welcomes ideas about urbanism expands the possibilities of the architectural profession in terms of ideas to improve cities as large and historically layered as NY and Chicago. What do you make of his plan? What are you willing to see in it? On 1/4/09, at 9:16 AM Sam Jacob wrote: We’ve seen a particular kind of urbanism over the last 10 to 20 years: one that reflects the nature and structure of the mechanisms of the surplus econ-

omy. Urbanism becomes a gigantic mechanism for generating revenue streams - with the effect that urban space was increasingly privatized and monetized. Of course, this narrative has now collapsed, leaving us with both a terrible scenario to negotiate and a great opportunity to remake the narrative of urbanism in new ways. It’s this that makes Obama’s interest in urbanism both prescient and full of possibility. On 1/5/09, at 9:17 PM JI wrote: The Obama plan seems promising because it could, in exchange for the use of public funding, create incentives that in effect shape the model of urban development in the future. On 1/7/09, at 2:38 PM Geoff Manaugh wrote: Focusing on the city as the twenty-first century arena for economic sustainability and production is spot on. Not only is urban governance appropriate as a model for national governance – but the economics of the city are also the economic model that truly matters. I’m imagining that cities will actually start to welcome back the very things that they once so

carefully regulated out to the fringes, or even to other countries: industry and agriculture. How do you guys see the economic basis of urbanism changing–moving away from retail - and how will this spatially affect the city? I’m reminded of William Gibson’s idea, that the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed. That’s got a strange resonance when it comes to cities. It’s because there are these little pockets of futurity–little infrastructural moments, or a kind of texturally enriched experience of space–which you can find throughout the cityscape. On 1/7/09, at 6:07 PM Joseph Grima wrote: What Sam was saying about the intrinsic and indissoluble relationship between contemporary urbanism and market capitalism points to another fact that often goes unmentioned: that crises are as integral as booms to the “hands off the market” economic model so beloved by the Bush administration. Since the capitalist model relies on the Market to “sort things out,” what we are essentially living through now–in the world of real estate–is the process of the Market flushing the

toilet. It’s ludicrous that our contemporary understanding of urbanism actually relies on crises as a form of Darwinian, selfcorrecting planning tool. Any kind of organ capable of long-term thinking offers some hope. I think Obama irreversibly redefined the very definition of the political process, not so much by using the Web or new technology, but by common sense and a profound awareness of the zeitgeist. On 1/7/09, at 3:06 PM SJ wrote: There is a problem in thinking of crisis as a correction of the mistakes, excesses and over-optimisms of the boom that precedes it. That presupposes that the logic of crisis is somehow more intelligent, cleverer and more informed than the boom. On 1/7/09, at 2:46 PM JG wrote: That’s precisely my point. The mythical “market self-correction” is a brutal misnomer for the hangover that follows the unsustainable exploitation that punch-drunk laissez-faire environments encourage. On 1/7/09, at 5:28 PM SJ wrote: Do you know the Kafka

super-short story ‘The City Coat of Arms’? It’s an allegorical tale concerning urbanism, about three generations building the Tower of Babel: “the second or third generation had … recognized the senselessness of building a heaven-reaching tower; but by that time everybody was too deeply involved to leave the city.” Perhaps this is the story of every city–that what we intend to build never happens. Instead, a series of failures and conflicts are produced. Maybe this could (or should) be the founding text of Obama’s urban policy? On 1/8/09, at 6:03 PM JG wrote: This idea that cities can be enriched by their failures and idiosyncrasies is a kind of taboo in the realm of planning, politics and governance. The hyperrationalist rhetoric that prevails has created a climate that is non-conducive to urban innovation. On 1/9/09, at 6:37 PM Christopher Hawthorne wrote: Some of my thoughts on these issues are entirely bound up with my reaction to a book I’ll be reviewing shortly for the LA Times -The Infrastructural City: Networked Ecologies in

Los Angeles, edited by Kazys Varnelis. If the book has a thesis, it’s that while we created infrastructure largely to control nature, in many cities that infrastructure has now grown so extensive and sprawling that it constitutes a “second nature” that is as wild and unpredictable as the first. One of Varnelis’ major points is that in L.A., recent infrastructure tends to be privately financed, nimble and invisible, like a data network. Six months ago that argument would have been a smart and tenable if not entirely fresh one: Cities are more and more run by invisible forces codes, networks and capital flows - and therefore the more visible something is, the less power it wields in the contemporary city. But the pending stimulus plan turns that idea inside out. If we were able to admit the fact that what counts is not what the infrastructure does, but how conspicuous and reassuring it is, then maybe we could manage to integrate the emphasis on folly or fun. This ties back to a claim Varnelis makes in the book: that modernism to a large degree was made palatable for the American

public through infrastructure. On 1/9/2009, at 4:22 PM JG wrote: Shouldn’t the first task of the urban policy group be to consider what defines the possible meanings of the word infrastructure today? On 1/9/2009, at 9:15 PM CH wrote: Agreed. The first goal is simply to define what infrastructure could mean. It seems to me for example that in certain cities—Los Angeles among them— infrastructure should mean undoing as well as doing. Shutting down one of the lightly traveled freeways in LA and turning it into parkland with federal funding would be hugely controversial but also hugely symbolic. On 1/14/09, at 7:39 PM JI wrote: What if urbanism was not predicated upon high-risk, high stakes, high profile end results, but on trying to inventively rework the basics, like mobility, construction, heating/cooling technology, food supply, waste management? A crucial first step would be to identify what the contemporary city can become through creative but unpretentious forms of social


organization, financing and ways of implementing new technologies. This would create a set of goals and define a body politic very different than those ascribed to the oversimplified distinction between ‘Wall Street’ and ‘Main Street’. What seems encouraging is that there are already places that are evolving in inventive ways. South Bronx is by necessity redefining the goals and mechanism of urban development. There are numerous green collar non-profits whose projects include small-scale initiatives, monumental large scale actions, and forms of organization that create both immediate jobs and long-term competitiveness. On 1/17/09, at 11:27 PM GM wrote: I like this idea that we might just “experiment with the basics.” I think this raises the possibility that “the future” can be sprinkled into our cities without a need for large-scale Haussmannization. We don’t need to build Dubai; we just need to rewire our existing buildings, install some greywater catchment systems and offer free Wifi. In Norway, there’s a proposal for something like a funicular track in the road for bicyclists. What you do

is clip your foot onto this thing and it works like an escalator: it takes you up to the top of a particularly large hill without the need for pedaling. You could take a thousand of these things and put them throughout San Francisco or Denver or LA and see what effect they have on the general infrastructure. Maybe nothing—but maybe everything. Maybe tens of thousands more people would bike to work everyday. Maybe we just need random moments of infrastructural futurity sprinkled throughout the city. At the very least, I hope that more architecture studios will investigate how we, the spatially inclined, might tweak the city. I hope that newspapers, magazines, comic books, novels, videogames, blogs, and movies continue to explore new visions of the city. On 1/18/09, at 10:05 PM SJ wrote: I’m reminded by Geoff of some early projects that we undertook at FAT–long before we even imagined we might become an architecture office: interventions into existing urban conditions–i.e., adding miniature facilities to existing conditions (coat hooks at bus stops, electrical sockets in parks (Mod

Cons). These were attempts to change ephemerally - the ways in which we use or understand public space. We might think of these kinds of project as micro-infrastructure–an infrastructure that addresses the immediate (as opposed to the future), the individual (rather than the collective), and the specific (rather than the generic). This kind of work seems closer to art practice than conceptions of architectural practice. It conceives of the city as a found condition rather than a tabula rasa.

new york city, steam explosion, july 26, 2008

Spatial, infrastructural, and demographic knowledge of the built environment informs how decisions are made during quickly changing and volatile situations. In this interview, New York City Office of Emergency Management Geographic Information Systems expert James McConnell notes that maps provide a blueprint and focal point for effective emergency coordination.


Situational Awareness James McConnell INterviewed by Gavin BrowninG

march 18, 2008: a crane collapses on new york city’s upper east

new york city, steam explosion, july 26, 2008

Gavin Browning How does spatial information assist when responding to a crisis? James McConnell During a crisis, one of the main things people talk about is “situational awareness,” and having a somewhat seamless situation to make decisions on the best strategies to go forward, to react. Just to clarify—there are first responders, so if a building is on fire, then the police and fire department go in first. The Office of

Emergency Management gets involved, say, within a half-hour or an hour, or, when it looks like it’s going to be a more long-term event, or when it looks like the complexity has changed, that it’s more than just fighting fire, or more than just managing a crowd at a concert. GB How do you know that a situation is complex? JM Complexity means that you need more agencies involved than just the initial responding agency. A fire is an example: if it’s put out right away, then the fire department did so by itself. But if it’s a major apartment house fire, then you may have to call in Con Ed to turn off the electricity or the gas, or the Red Cross to help shelter these people for the night, or if it’s very hot or very cold, you may have to have New York City Transit bring in buses where people can get in from the elements while they are waiting to be transported to wherever they’re going to be. That’s how you can tell it’s complex—that you need more than one agency to coordinate a response. And maps are one piece of that situational awareness.

Some people have made the statement that successful emergency response begins with a map. It’s a good way of focusing everyone on where the issues are, where people are being deployed to, where equipment is being staged. Maps are one part of an inter-agency conversation. Very soon after an event, they start having interagency meetings—where everyone is, what everyone is doing, what they need in terms of help—and often at these meetings, one or more maps are the focus, and they help to direct the conversation. In our case, we have a vehicle in the field called a Mobile Data Center which has a large plotter, so we can have not just the base information, but also updates from each interagency conference call, and we can print out large copies that people bring out into the field. Maps are a good way of visualizing a scene and also visualizing a strategy. They’re very valuable tools. GB Are they updated? JM Oh yes, they are continually updated. Right at the beginning we’ll have a lot of base information, but,

say, with the [March 2008] crane collapse…after the initial assessment of closing the streets, they actually sent people buildingby-building to make an assessment of whether they need to be evacuated, so we immediately update that. And as this goes on for say, a day or so, it becomes the reverse: more and more of the buildings can be re-occupied because they’ve been checked out. So maps help with staging the various response teams that need to go in and check—for either health reasons or utilities or water or structural damage. The maps are constantly being updated to reflect the most recent improvement, or a situation getting worse. GB How is census data used? JM We use census data as one of our base maps. We’re particularly interested in characteristics like age, and also language. If there is a high percentage of non-English speaking people in an area, what are the other languages that need to be somehow brought to bear in order to help the people protect themselves, respond or

evacuate? But we bring in other factors like economic ones, as well as information about each building: the type of use, the square footage, the number of floors. In all of these cases, we have a ton of data ready to be pulled up, so that we can have a useful map for the teams within twenty minutes or so. GB What’s your role before a crisis, or in-between crises? JM Four of our staff members work in what’s called The GIS Data Development Center. They are constantly mining all of our existing datasets, many of which are provided by other city agencies on a regular basis. They’re checking that we have the most recent data, or formatting it in a way that we quickly use it. Sometimes we combine datasets from different sources, or we update databases. We talk about mapping, but GIS is really about databases. A lot of what we do is preparation, and figuring out the best protocols. In a big event such as the crane collapse, we learned which practices worked, and which didn’t, in terms of handling things readily, efficiently and accurately. GB

What do you do during an emergency? JM During an event, the concern is getting information out in a quick manner. The concerns are life safety and the safety of the responders, and then secondarily, property safety. A lot of these situations can be very fast moving. We’re deployed in teams, so there will be two people here at OEM, and two people in the Mobile Data Center, and we communicate back-and-forth. Basically, it’s taking the new data based on the scene, and verifying it. Verification is a very big part of our process, because there’s nothing worse than putting out wrong data since people may base a decision on it that could in turn hurt somebody, or delay the proper response to an emergency. There is some time involved in actually producing a map—dealing with labeling, making sure that all the layers that you want to show are there, and oftentimes, several tables will go with a map. They have to be in a format that can be used. Sometimes we make tables with extra blank spaces for people to

take into the field and mark-up with information. We can then transfer this information back into the database, and later, into a map. So, we’re very busy during an event. GB And after an emergency? JM It’s more about lessons learned. What was difficult to do quickly? What was a new request that we can learn from? What databases should we be getting that we didn’t realize we would need, or that we would be asked for, before this type of event? And then, we prepare for the next. crisis


Erin Aigner INterviewed by Gavin BrowninG


cartography at work image unosat

When a crisis occurs, New York Times Graphics Editor Erin Aigner makes maps. As she describes, data mining is equally important as graphic design when conveying information to the news-reading public. Gavin Browning How do maps function during a crisis? Erin Aigner One thing that maps can do is give information in a more succinct way, or in a way that shows multiple types of information all in one spot. So you might be able to show reference or background information, whether that be the existing population in a place, or the infrastructures that are being affected there. It’s great to be able to see something—to have a visual. Especially because, I think, crisis [response] people want information as quickly as possible, and a visual is a good way of doing this, as opposed to

GB How do you see your role as someone involved with maps in the event of a crisis? EA Being in the news, and I think this is the case with anyone dealing with crises, you’re trying to give good and effective information, but give it quickly. So in some ways what I do is an iterative process, where I’m trying to get the basics out there as quickly as possible, and being a person who creates maps, I continue creating maps that potentially give more in-depth information as I’m able to research it and produce it. So in the beginning it might be something as simple as “this is where this happened,” and then I go back and continue to work more in-depth, and that even continues over a number of days. With both the earthquake in Sichuan and the cyclone that hit Myanmar, we continued to apprise people of the situation—what was happening in terms of aid, in terms of relief, in terms of people evacuated, in terms of people found. GB How long do you continue to make maps after a crisis occurs?

EA In the cases of Myanmar and Sichuan, I made maps everyday for several days, probably three, four, five days after the event, showing more information. GB So as long as it’s in the news, you’re making maps? EA Yes, as long as we can get new information, and as long as there’s something new to display. That’s one of the things that we would be working on during those days—working with a government agency or a relief agency or the UN to get new information. GB Oftentimes the way an event is reported can affect its outcome, especially with a public relations crisis where people are monitoring their media presence and act with that in mind. Have maps ever affected the outcome of an event? EA I’m sure they have, although I’m not necessarily certain of anything that we’ve done here at the Times. I think sometimes they can provide information about how things can be either done in the…



tripping the light rail fantastic by C-Lab with labRAD

In October of 2008, presidential nominee Barack Obama unveiled his plan to create the White House Office on Urban Policy, an agency to oversee a series of projects and direct federal dollars toward American cities, stimulating and using them as economic engines to revitalize the nation. A key strategy of Obama’s plan is investment in transportation, an allocation of $60 billion over ten years. The average American spent 38 hours sitting in traffic last year—resulting in a $78 billion drain on the economy with 4.2 billion work hours lost and 2.9 billion gallons of fuel wasted. Obama’s proposal recognizes that transportation planning is the most immediate way to implement change in a developed city, as it directly affects building efficiency, social and economic organization, and the daily lives of the inhabitants. The Research Triangle region of North Carolina—comprised of the cities of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary—could be a test ground for Obama’s plan. Home to Research Triangle Park (RTP), the largest technology park in the nation, the region is an economic center at the forefront of scientific research. Its relatively low density poses challenges for public transportation, but also makes it typical of dispersed suburban American development. The vast majority of RTP’s 50,000 workers commute by car with an average drive of about half an hour, which in recent years has transformed this formerly bucolic setting—a 10-square-mile preserve of pine forest dotted with corporate office buildings—into a snarl of traffic. A transportation proposal could reorganize the technology park’s relationship to the surrounding cities and concentrate intellectual capital, creating a research city centered on RTP. Taking up the Office on Urban Policy’s challenge, it is an opportunity to rethink mobility in America’s cities as a response to the deepening economic crisis.

There cannot be a crisis today; my schedule is already full. —Henry Kissinger

reading or hearing.



Obama’s plan recognizes that federal investment in cities can drive national economic growth.

RTP is located between four cities, three major research universities, and an international airport. On average, 40% of the population have college degrees or higher, making it the third most educated metropolitan area in the country. Situated about 500 miles from the mid-Atlantic corridor and Atlanta, GA, the Triangle has few competitors for its intellectual resources. Its major drawback is its lack of adequate transportation for commuters traveling from the cities to RTP.

I have found a flaw. I don’t know how significant or permanent it is. But I have been very distressed by that fact. —Alan Greenspan

I hear hurricane’s ablowing, I know the end is coming soon. I fear the rivers overflowing. I hear the voice of rage and ruin. —Creedence Clearwater Revival

Aerial photograph of RTP showing parking lots

While RTP is an economic center, few people live in the area, and its workforce commutes from the surrounding four cities. Existing bus systems in the four cities do not engage the larger region, requiring a fifth bus system to connect all cities with RTP. But the fifth system, Triangle Transit, has the highest budget and lowest ridership, and despite traffic jams around RTP, few commuters use the bus system to get to work. Compared with other metropolitan areas, the Research Triangle has a low percentage of commuters using public transit. Since the 1980s, many other American cities have been looking to light rail as a solution for regional mass transit.


Compared to further freeways or new bus routes, light rail offers a higher density and efficiency of passenger transport. This can be achieved in a low-impact profile, with slim right-of-ways, recessed infrastructure, quiet machinery, low carbon emissions and moderate operating costs. Unlike freeways, light rail actually increases property values and drives development. All of these characteristics contribute to the positive image that light rail enjoys.

Man is not imprisoned by habit. Great changes in him can be wrought by crisis—once that crisis can be recognized and understood. —Norman Cousins

I’m just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened... It’s a friendly call. —President Merkin Muffley, from Dr Strangelove, or How I learned to Love the Bomb



A light rail system for the Triangle Region could unify the existing metropolitan areas and concentrate economic development at the center around RTP. Already, official proposals have been made for a light rail system of 35 or 56 miles. Starting with the shorter distance, we propose not just a light rail route but a light rail loop. Not only connecting existing areas of density, the loop will also create a boundary condition and concentrate development inside the loop. The new system, called TRIP (Triangle Region Integration Project), will fill the center of the loop with new technological enterprises related to RTP, as well as higher density housing and commercial areas.

It’s not that I’m afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens. —Woody Allen

They sicken of the calm that know the storm. —Ralph Waldo Emerson



By connecting the four cities and incentivizing development inside the loop, the center could be one larger metropolis with efficient transportation, mixed use zoning, Transit Oriented Developments and areas of work, live and play. By starting with Research Triangle Park and implementing a controlled, efficient transportation project, the Research Triangle Region can become Research City, a leading national center for scientific and technological advancements.

Well, it was nice to meet you, God. Thank you for the Grand Canyon, and good luck with the Apocalypse. —from Bruce Almighty

Seeking, a little wistfully, for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game. —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby



The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. —Dante Alighieri

Dispatches From an Anaheim 9-1-1 Operator Anonymous As told to Laura Hanna

Incident I Recently, we got calls that a vehicle was stuck on some railroad tracks. An elderly woman had been driving, and when she came to a railroad crossing, she mistook it for a road and turned right up onto the tracks. She was an Alzheimer’s patient who had somehow gotten hold of the family car. Her vehicle became hung up on the tracks. Then she called 9-1-1. She was very confused and flustered about what was happening, and she was afraid that the people who were honking at her—and who eventually began knocking on her windows and door, trying to get her to exit the vehicle—were trying to break into her car. Our dispatchers were assuring her that people were on the way, and the one dispatcher with her on the line was trying to convey that she needed to get out of her car, and that the people at her window were only trying to help. The woman then became further confused, and thought we could not be trusted, either. Just before the train hit her vehicle, the elderly female recognized the train coming head-on, and registered that she was on the tracks. But it was too late—the line just went dead. This all happened very quickly. The period between receiving the first call and the moment of impact was only two minutes.

There is not a single landmark or intersection within the Anaheim city limits that I don’t associate with some kind of crime or horrendous accident. I am afraid from the moment I drive outside the gates of the police department until I am out of the city. I see the City of Anaheim as crime-infested. It’s bizarre…I live in Lake Elsinore: meth capital of the Inland Empire; more sex registrants than just about anywhere in the county. However, because I don’t know the details of the crimes, and have not talked to the victims for the past twenty-two years, I feel safer there than in Anaheim. Occupational Stress When an officer is involved in a shooting, he is automatically given (a mandatory) three days off. This is not only to address the legal issues and the beginning stages of any investigation, but also to allow the officer to cope with the stress and seek departmentprovided counseling. Nothing like this exists for dispatchers. Because it’s not mandatory, it is up to the dispatcher to say, “Hey, this lady just died on the phone with me, I’d like to go home and process this,” or “I’d like to talk to someone about this.” In fact, the dispatcher would be required to use his or her sick days or vacation time if they were to go home or take a day off. So basically, while it is recognized that dispatchers suffer greatly from stress, there has been no attempt to institutionalize the handling of that stress. I’m not explaining myself very well, am I? Okay, it’s just that with a cop, he doesn’t have an option about taking time off. It is required. So potentially, he can be full


of bravado and claim that he doesn’t need help, that he’s fine. Yet he still gets the time off. A dispatcher in contrast has to ask for it, explain why it is necessary, and as a result, have all their co-workers talking about what wimps they are because they took a day off for “stress.” Police culture still struggles to recognize stress of operators and dispatchers. Stress is a taboo topic. At most, someone might jokingly say, “You’re not gonna get any sleep tonight.” An aggressive attitude prevails. If you do react poorly, or if you are affected, your supervisor might wonder if you can handle the job. So most people react after work. They drink, they self-medicate, they use anti-depressants, they quit. I’ve seen coworkers become cold and cynical. There is a tendency to detach from society when all you hear and see are the bad parts. Incident II When we receive a 9-1-1 call, we push a series of buttons. That causes the location information from the 9-1-1 screen to be transported to the call screen. This is called the ALI (Automatic Location Information). We once received a call from a teenage boy (I think approximately sixteen years old), that someone had broken in to their home and shot his nine year old sister. She could be heard moaning in the background. At the beginning of this call, there was a delay of a second or two before the ALI information came up on the 9-1-1 screen. So when the dispatcher hit the buttons to transport the information to her call taking mask, what actually went on the mask was the location information from her

previous 9-1-1 call. The dispatcher, attempting to enter information entered as quickly as possible, did not notice that this system error had occurred. As a result, police and paramedics were sent to the wrong location. The error was not realized until approximately fourteen minutes into the call, while the girl was bleeding and eventually losing consciousness. When the error was realized, emergency services were rerouted and help finally arrived twenty-two minutes later. By that time, the girl had died. The dispatcher was severely traumatized by this and had a difficult time dealing with the guilt she felt. She said she had nightmares of the little girl moaning. She retired not long after. Incident III A few years ago, I dispatched several units to a scene where a man was threatening people in the street with a machete. The first officer to arrive at the scene was very nearby when I had put out the call, so she arrived several minutes before her backup officers. The man with the machete observed that the officer was alone and waiting for back-up, and ran to confront her. She was on the air, yelling for help. I was coordinating the responding units and air support, and kept the radio frequency as clear as possible. It was a very tense situation, of course, and adding to stress, this officer was a personal friend of mine. Hearing her on the air, screaming for help, obviously in fear for her life, caused me great anxiety! All dispatchers experience this when officers are in trouble. It’s compounded when you can actually put a face with that voice. As


In the event of a pressure loss, all our lines are busy now. I will be laughing out loud anyhow. —David Byrne



The time is out of joint. O cursed spite that ever I was born to set it right! —William Shakespeare

her back-ups began arriving, she came back on the air, yelling “998.” This is the code for an officer-involved shooting. The suspect with the machete had begun threatening onlookers, and then rushed her. She was forced to shoot him. During these types of incidents, good dispatchers go into autopilot. You would never know by their voice that anything outside of business-as-usual is occurring. The sense of calm that the dispatcher displays will carry over to the units in the field, reassuring them that help is on the way. A calm voice helps to keep them focused on their task at hand. This incident occurred several years ago, when a “good old boy” mentality still prevailed in police work, and female police officers were simply tolerated. Even though this officer’s actions were beyond reproach—numerous witnesses that said they were amazed she had not shot the suspect sooner—the thing that the cops talked (and laughed) about the most afterward was that she had urinated in her pants during the confrontation and shooting. Of course this is a natural bodily function that occurs when the fight-or-flight instinct kicks in, and is the body’s way of readying itself for battle. It is no more within our control than sweating. She ended up leaving and going to work for another agency out of state.

anaheim, california is fifty-four square miles, with a population of 350,000. IT hosts twenty million visitors per year. in 2008, 132,976 emergency 9-1-1 calls were made. that is an average of 11,081 calls per month, or 364 calls per day. images hidden driver

Emotion I have been working at this job since 1986. The positive aspect is that there is zero paperwork, no inbox. Nothing stacks up, waiting for my return. I like the adrenaline rush when things start happening, and most of the time, you feel like you are helping people during their time of need.

Although there are no papers, there is a pile-on of emotion. Stress has an accumulative effect. I used to experience vertigo at work. I have gone through periods where I haven’t slept for months, and I’ve self-medicated with liquor and antidepressants. I feel wary in my home life. I look around before I get out of my car. I’m paranoid for my loved ones. I’m very aware of my surroundings.

I am walking over hot coals suspended over a deep pit at the bottom of which are a large number of vipers baring their fangs. —John Major


…future. Once a crisis has happened, how do you rebuild? For instance, remapping a flood plain. If you saw, okay, here’s where Hurricane Katrina flooded, maybe there could be either some new regulations or policies developed. But being in the media, our aim is to report the situation as quickly as possible. And if those maps in turn later affect policy, that’s great. 100–4



by Ginger nolan

right back at you

1975 New York City’s Mayor Abraham Beame prepares a statement on October 17, announcing that the city is bankrupt. 1977 In Chantal Akerman’s News from Home, an endless script of graffiti-smeared trains (the pre-eminent symbol of New York’s decade of “crisis”) streams by, not as a menacing torrent but as a quiet, melancholy river. When all the crises that we think of not as crises but as “city life”—the constructions and destructions, the displacements and replacements, the transactions and retractions—when these suddenly fall quiet, then the real crisis begins. In Akerman’s film, the city-dweller is haunted by the inability to repay the debt of love infinitely expended by family back home. “We love you, we miss you, why don’t you write?” The letters broke no reply, save the quiet rush of traffic. In exchange for the “credit” extended by those back home, Akerman offers only the collateral of mute imagery— strangers in a subway, lonely streets with long shadows, an eternal river of graffiti. But perhaps these are collateral enough. Perhaps images of the city are fair trade for all manner of investments, but the currencies are different, and the exchange rate is unknown. Might credit be infinitely expended in trust of an undefined collateral?

Why, after President Ford’s infamous (though apocryphal) 1975 invective to New York City to “drop dead,” did the Fed rescue New York once again? New York had been on the Federal dole for over a decade, and was widely considered a drain on the national economy. It had been on the brink of bankruptcy countless times, since at least as early as 1908. But apparently there was some collateral worth investing in repeatedly, regardless of recurring defaults: that is, the collateral of crisis itself. New York had always promised to investors the latent lucre of upheaval. But in the recession of the 1970’s, mired in stillness, the city would not only be unable to repay its debts; it would be unable to generate more debts, and New York’s debts were immensely profitable to its stakeholders. Robert Moses, in previous decades, had exploited the collusion between usury and urban development. In creating continual crises—the massive human displacements effected by his projects—he had perpetually adverted crisis. By the late 1970’s, after a decade of refusing its role of purveyor of crisis, New York had to show its investors that it was ready to jump back in the fray, to accept the eternal curse (the eternal blessing) of crisis. 1978 Mayor Koch describes his campaign against graffiti in militant terms, gloating over the purchase of ferocious dogs to patrol the train yards. In his dreams, he says, he would hire the Saudi police chief, and suitable draconian punishments—presumably dismemberment—would be meted out to teenagers wielding spray-paint. Concurrently, graffiti was being peddled in major art galleries, suggesting a certain complicity. The war against graffiti was a tactic not to suppress crisis, but rather to shift crisis back into the hands of its rightful perpetrators. The image of crisis was to be produced by art galleries—not by youth from the ghettos—while the operations of crisis would be enacted by bankers, planners, and developers. 1978 In light of continuing deficits, the Senate Banking Committee urges local bankers to invest more in the city. They contend that if indeed the city goes

bankrupt then the “banks would be among the biggest losers.” 1982 The New York Times reports that bankruptcy was the newest growth profession. Another article claimed that the 1978 Bankruptcy Reform Act had effectively softened the stigma of bankruptcy. By declaring bankruptcy, Beame essentially pledged to the city’s lenders that the city was theirs to govern. Crisis took command in the guise of private-public partnerships. It is not surprising that New York would then direct its re-development efforts towards attracting international banks to its soil. Once the investors had moored upon this rocky ground of speculative wealth, the city’s debt was no longer simply the banks’ asset but also, supposedly, their liability.




by David Gissen and Rachel Schreiber



Start Anyone with proper training can run a marathon, and a marathon can be run in any location. It is a distance (26.2 miles), an event and an adjective for any feat of endurance. Jean Baudrillard argues that the marathon has become a setting in which to stage an image of collective suicide: a space in which one presses their body and mind to the limit and hopefully claims at the end, “I did it.”1 The marathon is also an evaluative tool of a city’s interaction with the human body in this state of physiological crisis, and a barometer of a city’s physical, environmental and political health. Can the air of a city support the runners’ lungs under such intense circumstances? Can the financial and political apparatus of the city support the required infrastructure? Can a particular route transform often-tumultuous spatial histories into positive media representations? These questions should ring true to anyone familiar with the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Between 2006 and 2008, over 350 articles in major newspapers speculated on Beijing’s ability to support an Olympic marathon (even though one has been held there annually since 1981). The key issue was pollution, but others considered how sites such as Tiananmen Square would be integrated into the route, or whether paving conditions would be up to par. The environmental quality of the host city can be discussed relative to all Olympics events, but with the marathon—an event that by design exceeds the rarefied boundaries of the Olympic compound—these issues often reach a fever-pitch. The debates surrounding the Beijing 2008 Olympic marathon epitomized larger discussions regarding the interrelation of marathons, runners, the health of the cities that host them and media relations both within the city and abroad. Breathe One central issue haunts the ability of a city to host a marathon: air. Because athletes generally, and marathon runners specifically, metabolize air at a faster rate while taxing their respiratory and circulatory systems, the chemical content of air can have potentially disastrous consequences, even being “deadly to marathoners, triathletes and cyclists.”2 Citing concerns over the air at Beijing, the world-record holding marathon runner Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia decided not to compete in the Beijing

Olympic marathon. An asthmatic, he stated to reporters “the pollution in China is a threat to my health and it would be difficult for me to run fortytwo kilometers in my current condition.”3 Other athletes and trainers demanded the provision of special masks to help mitigate the seemingly horrific pollution of Beijing (registering five times the recommended limits of the World Health Organization), and the British Olympic Commission worked with scientists to develop a mask for use during training. These efforts to essentially unhinge athletes from the atmosphere of the city were described as precautions, but such precautions unfairly criticized the air of Beijing compared to other major industrial cities, and among them, other Olympic host cities. Evaluating the suitability of urban air for marathons began much earlier, however, with the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, where elevation—not pollution—was the source of outside concern. Dubbed the “high altitude peril” by the New York Times, Mexico City’s air was believed to potentially “kill, maim or ruin an athlete.”4 This form of “atmospheric orientalism” views non-Western air with fear and suspicion: a double standard that becomes evident in comparison to the language used before the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Despite worse air quality—so fierce that the British Equestrian team developed special masks for their horses—the sheer ability of the United States to either host or manage the Games was not questioned, and particularly not on the basis of its air. The city’s smog was so severe, in fact, that it was blamed for the swollen eyes and wobbly gait of marathon Olympian Gabrielle Andersen, a famed Olympian who staggered toward the finish line in the women’s marathon. Perhaps the most startling development in Beijing 2008 was the Chinese authorities’ fundamental reworking of the urban metabolism to accommodate the lungs of athletes. In order to address smog levels in Los Angeles—1984 brought the worst the city had seen in a decade—drivers were asked to voluntarily cut back on recreational driving, and factories were asked to consider voluntarily reducing their production by eight percent. In Beijing and the surrounding municipalities, driving was limited to two or three days per week per vehicle, while numerous factories in and around the city were either closed or relocated for the summer season preceding the Olympics. Typically, Olympics are

used to bolster the economic prospects of cities, but the factory closures actually resulted in increases in unemployment and a reduction of China’s blistering export economy. These closings coincided with signs of weakness in the larger national economy.5 Imagine staging the Olympic games in post-war Detroit and the asking the Big Three to either shut down, or to relocate. Such an unimaginable demand might bolster the strength of a runner’s lungs, but would momentarily cripple the economy of the region. Run Just as athletes’ lungs interact with the complexity of the city’s ecological metabolism, so do their feet traverse complicated political geographies. Urban marathon organizers face their share of politics while determining routes, often attempting to show their city in the best light to runners and spectators alike. Such “dressing up” of cities has often involved forms of urban control. For example, while the authorities in Beijing responded to international pressure to transform their city’s air, they simultaneously built walls around, and controlled media access to, some of the city’s most sensitive sights. Such forms of route-control have also entered the planning of marathons in the United States. In the 1990s, the Washington DC marathon route was devised in such a way as to avoid the city’s poorer, AfricanAmerican neighborhoods. In comparison to this more familiar history of municipal and governmental power, one of the most surprising marathon routes was that staged in the New York City Marathon of 1976. Here the marathon’s urban interaction was redesigned precisely in order to enable runners and spectators into some of the city’s most troubled spaces. During the city’s most severe post-war fiscal crisis—a crisis that exacerbated the city’s intraurban tensions, diminished its international reputation and devastated its public infrastructure—the organizers of the marathon decided to change its route. Originally, the marathon consisted of four laps around the relatively idyllic Central Park but its route was then altered to traverse all five boroughs, including some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods. The new route brought a degree of democracy to the event by opening the marathon spectacle to the entire city, and indeed the nation—one history describes it as “the first-ever Marathon race for the

masses.”6 The event was billed as citywide, good-spirited competition, with New York Mayor Abraham Beame as the starting racer. The image of runners moving through ethnic, working-class and poor neighborhoods of the outer boroughs was intended to address the city’s reputation as a fractured and dangerous place: these problems could be overcome. Fred Lebow, the marathon’s grassroots organizer, gathered support for the event based on its potential to unify the city. As Bob Glover, a New York City marathon trainer, described, “One of the ways that Fred sold the concept of a five borough marathon to the city was that the city needed something positive.”7 The 1976 marathon was a success, and in 1977, the new route of the New York City Marathon was used to reimage New York City as a vibrant and healthy urban totality. In the pages of New York Magazine, the editors developed a map of the marathon route, illustrating strapping young men running throughout the city. The runners do not move through a decrepit, crisis-ridden city, but through a visage of clean air and robust urban buildings and infrastructure. The fantasy image of the urban marathon appears in this image of the route, and of these young men. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Jean Baudrillard, America (London and New York: Verso, 1998) 19-20 2http://www.prlog.org/10086453-beijing-air-pollution-will-kill-few-olympic-athletes-alarmed-us-training-expert-takes-pre cautions.html (last accessed, December, 1, 2008) Thomas, Katie, “Citing Pollution, Gerbrselassie Opts Out of Olympic Marathon,” New York Times, March 11, 2008. Litsky, Frank, “Peril of High Altitude to Athletes Called Exaggeration,” New York Times, October 24, 1967. Scott Tong, “China Clearing Air for Olympics” American Public Media, July 8, 2008 and “China’s Economy looks to Rebound After Lackluster Olympics,” August 25, 2008, http://www.moneymorning.com/2008/08/25/china-olympics/ (last accessed January 9, 2009) http://aimsworldrunning.org/marathon_history.htm, accessed December 14, 2008. From the film Run for Your Life, Screen Media Films, 2008.


The Tour by gavin browning


the tour: october 5, 1977

president carter with patricia roberts harris, secretary of housing and urban development, and new york city mayor abraham beame, at charlotte and boston road in the south bronx image the jimmy carter library Flanked by emergency workers, George W. Bush’s September 14, 2001 bullhorn ballyhoo atop the ruins of the World Trade Center reassured a panicked public that its leader “can hear you! I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people—and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” Years later, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that she too had heard a panic-stricken public—having witnessed the post-earthquake rubble of Sichuan Province, she stated I was very moved by the people of the affected earthquake area. They clearly are showing great spirit. There’s been a major effort to relocate them, and the government has worked very hard at that. Yet it was really the spirit of the people that comes through, because they are determined to restart their lives.1 110–8 Empathetic, concerned, alternately donning hardhat or furrowed brow— the spectacle of politicians being led through sites of trauma appears again and again for a reason. The Tour signals that they do indeed hear affected publics. Yet, it is hardly a Bush-era phenomenon. Abraham Lincoln walked the charred earth of Antietam, Winston Churchill toured the ruins of Coventry Cathedral and in 1977, Jimmy Carter’s limousine took a detour, rolling up to what might have been Dresden circa-Slaughterhouse-Five: Charlotte Street in New York City’s South Bronx. President Carter’s visit

to this bleak landscape was a break from the past. Covering the event, the New York Times noted: “no one could recall when Mr. Carter, or any other President had visited an area like the South Bronx.”2 The wreckage he toured that day was not specific to one crisis in particular, but rather to the ongoing crisis of being poor in America. Opportunities blockaded by monolithic highways and housing projects, residents had seen once-stately neighborhoods suffer what urban epidemiologists Deborah and Rodrick Wallace call a “contagious fire epidemic” that coincided with municipal cuts to fire departments and federal urban renewal funds under Richard Nixon. Jimmy Carter’s tour helped steer funds and policies toward the recuperation of Charlotte Street, and toward those who felt ignored by their government. Carter asked the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to “[s]ee which areas can be salvaged,” suggesting that “[m]aybe we can create a recreation area and turn it around.”3 The Tour can be many things: photo op, ill-timed political misstep (the American public never forgave George W. Bush for not taking a tour of New Orleans immediately post-Katrina as he chose to survey the devastation from Air Force One instead), symbolic gesture, or in the case of Carter’s tour of Charlotte Street, the beginning of something new. 1 2 3

http://www.state.gov/secretary/ rm/2008/06/106367.htm Dembart, Lee, “Carter Takes ‘Sobering’ Trip to South Bronx,” New York Times, October 6, 1977. Ibid.


Sandbags by Steven Hart


the sandbag: a survivor Made of burlap, jute or woven plastic, sandbags have long been a key element in disaster relief. A wall of carefully stacked sandbags, while not completely waterproof, is a vital means for channeling floodwaters. Long lines of sandbags, stacked pyramid-style along the tops of levees and bulkheads, are a first line of defense against floodwaters. The sandbag is an outgrowth of the gabion, a wicker barrel open at top and bottom, which medieval armies turned into a fortification by setting it on end and filling it with sand, earth or rocks. When artillery started to become part of European warfare in the fifteenth century, rings of gabions would shelter gunnery crews as they went about the slow work of preparing to fire their cannon. The concept of a gabion was simplicity itself: a light barrel of wicker, easily carried in an artillery train, but capable of absorbing tremendous violence once filled with dirt. The sandbag improved on the principle. Lighter than wicker barrels, they could be stored much more efficiently. The first sandbags apparently appeared in the 1790s and played a role in the American Civil War, but they really came into their own during the mechanized fury of World War I, when the combatants were able to field huge numbers of soldiers who could create long lines of sandbag-topped trenches at a rapid clip. Centuries before environmental concerns began to rise, the sandbag was an example of low-impact technology. The material filling the sandbags was available on-site; if the bags were left untended for a few months, the burlap deteriorated and the materials returned to the earth. A few handfuls of sand and a pile of sacks may not seem like much, but once the bags are properly filled, sealed and stacked, the resulting wall can seem as solid as brick and heavy as stone.

Go Bags by Jean J. Choi

cactai, bowling ball, lampshade— what’s in your go bag?

Every household should pack a Go Bag — a collection of items you may need in the event of an evacuation. A Go Bag should be packed in a sturdy, easy-to-carry container such as a backpack or suitcase on wheels. A Go Bag should be easily accessible if you have to leave your home in a hurry. Make sure it is ready to go at all times of the year. — New York City, Office of Emergency Management At five o’clock in the morning, the violent tremble of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake shook me out of my sheets. Instincts took control and rolled me under my bed. I lived on the fourth-floor of an eight-story apartment building in West Los Angeles. If it collapsed, how would my pitiful twin-size steel frame bed protect me? I already knew that most survivors of homes that fail live on the top floors. Those who live on the


lower floors are usually doomed. The better thing to do would probably have been to sprint down the fire escape into a clear parking lot, offering a panoramic spectacle of my home crumbling to the ground—with Go Bag in hand. Growing up, I had to carry around a Go Bag at school. It consolidated the back-then essentials within one quartsize, Zip-Loc plastic bag: one can of Vienna Sausages, one juice box, one colorfully-printed bandage, one miniature flashlight, one compact aluminum blanket, one napkin, a dollar’s worth of spending cash and a letter from mom explaining that everything was going to be just fine. This, of course, would sustain me in case of a crisis. Packed under the guise of looming natural disasters, my Go Bag covered a broader range of problems: it was a survivalist remedy for the cornucopia of crises that distinguished Southern California in the 90s. At that time, its sunny, glowing exterior was warped with failures more rampant and terrifying than the effects of an earthquake. Racism shook violently through the streets during the Los Angeles Riots, and social skepticism became visible through immigrants’ failed utopian dreams. In addition, a highly publicized criminal trial flooded mass media, where a certain celebrity was acquitted for double murder. My Go Bag was a therapeutic conglomeration of things that functioned as a remedy to any crisis. It jiggled and clanked at the bottom of my backpack—a hard, heavy elixir for an array of diseases afflicting those that had come to Southern California from around the world.



Upset Ethics



a conversation between Aaron Davis and Leah Meisterlin

By c-lab

The Hedonist




bottoms up

What does it mean to have a choice during a time of crisis? Do we momentarily suspend our democratic convictions in favor of centralized government, or do we uphold our freedom of choice and potentially paralyze ourselves with options? Urban planner Leah Meisterlin and architect Aaron Davis reflect on these questions in the conversation below. Leah Meisterlin Disaster exposes the weaknesses of institutionalized power. Katrina exposed many levels of bureaucratic corruption and incompetence through the breakdown of…

The Caretaker

Crisis Adventurer

The Leader Buying stuff to protect against the perils of disaster is a comforting act. But during these worsening times, we may soon acknowledge the futility of shopping our way out of uncertainty. Yet, old habits are tough to break. Here are variations on the Red Cross-recommended “Go Bag,” for the person interested in some last minute wish-fulfillment.

Do you believe in rapture babe? A terrible hit strikes today. A terrible hit for the parade. Burnin’ eyes seek Jesus comin.’ Jesus comes to pave the way. —Sonic Youth






For One vs. For All Sanctuary Devices Air Force One personal transportation from harm for one individual; relies on visibility to function as a symbol of power and control; requires the use of a decoy system to create actual sanctuary for mobile individual NOTE: only one survivor guaranteed; may give false sense of security to others Confessional sanctuary through spiritual communication; symbolizes assistance through its presence and creates sense of comfort; access provided in known, fixed locations WARNING: salvation not guaranteed

Unique vs. Ubiquitous Assistance Devices Bat Phone single phone used only by the mayor to reach Batman when Gotham City is threatened by crisis WARNING: superhero may not be on other end Emergency Call Phone used in a variety of situations to alert authorities of crisis; found in many locations and can be used by anybody; represents protection by its presence, multiplicity, and uniformity NOTE: nearest device could be in any direction and difficult to locate

Benevolent vs. Sinister Control Devices FEMA Trailer home designed for temporary housing in natural disasters CAUTION: contains materials that may be toxic or cause mold; delays the need to address real housing crisis Rubber Grenade crowd control device used as a non-lethal alternative to more violent weapon; discharges rubber pellets, noise, bright light, or more insidious chemical agents WARNING: situation may require actual grenade


Nothing is so aggravating than calmness. —Oscar Wilde

We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it. —Tennessee Williams


Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia. —Charles Schultz

We are not free. And the sky can still fall on our heads. –Antonin Artaud

crisis crisis

…decision-making. Bureaucracies have to collapse for the sake of making decisions as fast as possible, or the solution becomes its own disaster.

are too bound by partisan politics and constituencies. You almost need…

AD A social equivalent of minimum wage.

LM The benevolent dictator?

Aaron Davis People expect institutions, because it’s in the nature of their definition, to make the right decisions.

AD Not benevolent, but just. Ethics is not about making decisions, but understanding givens. The ethical problem is that people in power are elected to be prescriptive. The decisions are made before the crisis happens.

LM That’s a question of the even distribution of opportunity and choice. Most would say that the answer is that anyone regardless of socioeconomic status should be afforded choice. How you make that happen, or if you can, becomes the ethical question. Or if you can’t make that happen, what you do becomes the question.

LM That’s the sad thing in the reality of any event-crisis. We, and our most serious bottom-up advocates, look to the top. AD We’re all being tested. Their ethical choices and our democratic choices are both vulnerable. LM [During Katrina,] What was the failure? AD It was structural in the way institutions are ostensibly created to deal with crises, and are completely paralyzed when they happen. LM Should there be an institution to handle crisis management? AD If there is, at least make it a third-party elected position. Appointed officials

LM The tricky thing is that crises are moments when we are willing to take prescription. AD What is the ethical crisis of urban planning? LM Typically, we talk about the scale of the city and the distribution of resources and opportunities. AD But those things have limits. LM So the balance you strike is not that everyone necessarily has the same material things, but that everyone has equal access to choices.

AD So the ethical charge of power is to provide choice. LM Yes, but ethics should not be codified, it’s one thing that constantly depends on the present. LM What’s the ethical crisis of architecture? AD We have separated the image of space from the production of space. That’s why we have optioneering. We don’t have one reasoned option that works, we proliferate glossy lies. LM The crisis is the inability to say “This is what should be done,” and not “This is

what could be done.”

lematizing non-issues?

AD Yes. A common critique is that architecture isn’t challenging conventions of what we know, but why does architecture need to manifest that challenge? The naturalized crisis is difficult, so why build a monument to it? What happened to “health, safety, and welfare?”

LM Because either we’re bored, or we’re bastards.

LM It goes beyond that. That’s line one. The AICP Code of Ethics is similar. It starts, “You must uphold the public good,” and then “You must uphold the goals of your employer and the client.” We have both talked about choice. There’s something there. The ethical mandate is to provide choice.




By Keller Easterling

sichuan province, may 2008 image jiang jun

AD But not frivolous choice. Provide a choice within a limited set. Which is exactly it: you work with what you’re given at all times. LM The ethical mandate is decision making. AD That’s ethics.... So why spend so much time ignoring constituent limits or ignoring our own by prob-

sichuan province, may 2008 image jiang jun



Celebrity Mobilization

sichuan province, may 2008 image jiang jun

Well, it’s official: I’m never sleeping again. —from End of Days

by Martha Rosler

Aspirational Beloved Bewitching Encounter Bling Botox Brand-Name Brangelina Break the Mold Cause Célébre Class Act Drama Queen Dynamic Edginess Eye-Catching Exclusive

Exotic Extravagant Fabulous Fantastic Fashion-Forward Flash in the Pan Heading for a Fall Heroic Image Maker Insider Secrets Inspirational Legendary Mom Job Nightlife Overdose

Passionate Attachment People Meter Phenomenal Prenup Provocative Pulsing with Energy Quintessential Radiant Shocking Show Stopper Sophisticated The Popular Imagination Touch your Life Unsolicited Testimonial Vibrant

Absolute Submission Crisis management typically involves the deployment of logistical forces to fight against a gargantuan event of war, weather or disease. Yet some crisis management techniques operate with seemingly counter-intuitive logics, advocating absolute submission and acknowledgement of defeat. Obscured by dominant remedies associated with strength and willpower, these inverted techniques are often relegated to vaguely mystical 12-step mottos and popular prayers.1 Still, the organizational disposition of submission in the face of catastrophe is very effective, since it allows necessary information to flow. Tense symmetrical competition with catastrophes creates an escalating and dangerous confidence game of lies that obscures need and information. For instance, victims of Katrina and the cyclone in Myanmar experienced exponentially longer aid delays as they lingered in information-poor situations, waiting for officials to shape face-saving stories. In contrast, China’s choice to submit to the influx of media coverage after the Sichuan earthquake instantly placed the faces of grieving parents on screens around the world. The rare display of defeat without cover-up dissolved resistant sentiments around the world while accelerating aid. Similarly, China’s willingness to show Beijing under a cloud of pollution taught the world more about environment than any attempt to mask the problem with trumped up displays about a “green” or “eco-friendly” Olympics. Overt Covert Operations In the run-up to the Olympics, China rehearsed another seemingly inverted logic of crisis management: mass anti-terrorist spectacles. On the playing field of a stadium, armies of specialists created precise formations for synchronized martial arts and fire-fighting drills. Against puffs of smoke and other pyrotechnics, young women Karate-chopped wood and laid on the ground in the shape of the Olympic rings. Squadrons of men took aim with submachine guns while

steering a moving Segway with their knees. Men in matching orange jump suits and white hard hats sawed through steel rods in a modified kick-line. SWAT teams demonstrated their skills in theatrical vignettes. What the CIA, Scotland Yard or the KGB might have hidden, China openly displayed with Busby Berkeley choreography and graphic costumes. In the CIA/FBI version, a thousand men holding their hand to their ear would have to sit on the field in a perfect phalanx of evenly spaced desks. Some might be wearing matching plain-clothes golf shirts and shorts, while others would be costumed with pinstriped banking suits in the most beautiful shade of indigo blue. While awe-inspiring, the techniques also initially seem comedic and anachronistic. As if lacking previous experience with terrorism, Chinese officials plan to manage the problem with older, perhaps even misdirected, displays of strength. Yet, when the smoke lifts on the field to display the sheer numbers of personnel, the feminized anti-terrorist dance drill is vaguely terrifying. One considers what a bad idea it would be to perpetrate any sort of terrorist act in this climate. While nations often use aestheticized aggression to enhance their violent acts, animals (and some people) use it to avert violence.2 Here, the technique, in its preventative mode, brings a potentially effective overt display to techniques that were once hidden. 1 2

Gregory Bateson and observations of Alcoholics Anonymous. Konrad Lorenz and observations of aggressive displays in animals


Public Relations By Ina Howard-Parker


purity and danger Public relations during a crisis is mass psychiatric care meant to reassure a panicked public that its ontological frameworks are meaningful and safe, and that the event described as a crisis is an anomaly. Tragedies are common and acceptable—war, crime, injustice, disease, death, failure—as long as they occur within established cognitive frameworks. War, it follows, is necessary and honorable, crime happens in dangerous areas, illegal drugs kill, the bad and the weak fail. It is when the storylines with which we make sense of the world are corrupted—“our brave troops” are exposed as torturers and rapists rather than honorable killers, violent crimes occur in the wealthy suburbs, FDA-approved medicines take the lives of innocents—that tragedies become crises. One is taught to handle crisis communications thus: divulge information as accurately, quickly, and thoroughly as possible. One major, singular tear in our cognitive fabric can be decisively repaired—reestablishing and in many cases strengthening our sense of order and security. Small, drawn-out disclosures, on the other hand, are a thousand small cuts. They produce endless anxiety that another, and yet another, could come any time. They forever undermine our sense of security. The most famous, and most often praised, case of crisis communications is the “Tylenol Crisis” of 1982. Seven people were killed when Chicago-area Tylenol bottles were laced with cyanide. While the poisonings were quickly established to be the result of local tampering, the notion that one of the safest brands of a mundane, over-the-counter medicine could kill stirred nationwide psychological terror that far outweighed the number of deaths or the actual threat to the public. Tylenol recalled every bottle of its product in the country at great

short-term cost to the company, but at great long-term benefit too: Americans once again believed that over-the-counter medicines were safe, just as they’d always understood them to be, and in fact came to see Tylenol as the country’s selfless protector. Had Tylenol withdrawn only those bottles in Chicago, or only those in the effected pharmacies, a persistent fear might have accompanied the swallowing of every pill thereafter, undermining trust in the industry and cutting into sales indefinitely. The very same week as the Tylenol crisis (now a canonical case study in business and communications books), thousands of Palestinians were massacred in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps as Israel troops stood by and watched. For Americans accustomed to the idea of the Middle East as a violent place, the event was a distant tragedy, but not a crisis. It attracted far fewer column inches, TV hours, or days in our collective memory than the Tylenol poisonings. For the Muslim world, however, the event fit perfectly into their collective ontological models in which Israel— and by extension America—willfully seeks their destruction. Ignored by Americans, the event strengthened and radicalized a divergent worldview, and has arguably cost far more American lives in the long-term.


Crisis in Crisis

Biosphere 2’s Contested Ecologies by Janette Kim and Erik Carver

paradise lost image janette kim


Etopia’s “Utopia” for Green Reconstruction Etopia的“乌托邦”绿色重建 Su Yunsheng, translated by Zhu Fei Challenges: Post-Disaster Reconstruction in China’s Sichuan Earthquake Zone In Sichuan nearly 700,000 units of rural housing are under construction, with over 130,000 completed and much of the latter occupied. Meanwhile, in the large urban resettlement area of Dujiangyan, Sichuan, about five to seven million square meters have been reserved for permanent urban construction. The rebuilding plan calls for all construction to be completed before May 2010. Integrated Green Reconstruction In confronting the challenges of the Sichuan earthquake, China’s domestic construction professionals are at a loss. Several months following the disaster, specialists remained silent due to the shortage of technical knowledge. Architects who normally served the high-end markets created a beautiful plan of reconstruction for the rural community. However, they could not offer a cost efficient, fast and quality controlled reconstruction solution. Sustainable and environmentally friendly plans—comprehensively covering material production and logistics—were rejected by the government. China’s Construction Ministry organized several conferences to discuss the reconstruction plans, but each meeting ended without resolution. During that time-sensitive period, without the technical knowledge and approval of quality standards, the solution with the least advanced techniques and political risk was chosen—traditional brick and concrete with perimeter beams.

the delivery

the challenge: Post-disaster reconstruction

the process

etopia’s sample house

Etopia’s Sample House Practice Etopia—a new, ecological and customized approach to housing construction—made full use of its own integrative ability. Its first example was a light, steel-framed sample house in the Gaogeng village of Dujiangyan. Etopia used the sample house to publicize this integrated green-rebuilding concept in the earthquake-stricken areas, while other non-governmental institutions struggled without integration efficiencies or technical studies. Construction in the post-industrial age has coincided with the development of IT systems, which can overcome many drawbacks of modernism making a system of individualized, customized cell blocks. Through the adoption of BIM, building information modeling, it can support comprehensive green integrated construction and project management techniques to combine customized production, logistics and installation. This will expand the vision of traditional construction while perhaps identifying a transition model to go from “manufactured in China” to “created in China.” Construction and Evaluation System of Post-Disaster Reconstruction Etopia’s practice answers the question of what types of construction should be offered to the vast village areas. Moreover, it addresses the professional concerns of pre-mould building versus on-site building, local versus non-local material, standard versus nonstandard parts, individual versus collective building, concentrated or decentralized, low-build cost or high-maintenance cost and high or low-grade technology. Etopia has made proposals for the government’s reference, including the sample house, as proof of the validity of its approach. It is offered as a solution to the housing problem concerning farmers and low-income citizens that provides mass-produced and customized houses. Etopia believes this effort is far more important than the completion of one or two beautiful projects. With this efforts, we wish to change the Chinese construction evaluation system, which only emphasizes cost as opposed to the life cycle of the construction process.

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城市中国 125

“Nature is Inside” — Bruno Latour2

the world in three acres image janette kim

cave dwellers image janette kim

“[There is] a crisis of misalignment between the biosphere and the technosphere. These seem to be out of balance; a catastrophe… Biosphere 2, instead, creates a balance between biosphere and technosphere.” — John Allen1

Every symptom—thinning ozone, missing species, growing slums, dwindling oil, acid rain, DDT, mushroom clouds—confirmed the diagnosis of impending world destruction. For Biosphere 2, conceived in the swirl of post-Hiroshima environmentalism, the crisis was fueled by a breach of spiritual and technological equilibrium. It prescribed nothing less than a new world wrapped in a three-acre bubble. Emerging from the Arizona desert in 1991, Biosphere 2 enclosed eight humans, 3,800 other species, and seven biomes for two years. Its crisis-response balancing act sought to repudiate the arrogance of the past in favor of a monastic harmony between biosphere and technosphere. Today, a generation after Biosphere 2’s launch, Al Gore continues to check the planetary balance.3 But Biosphere 2 is in a new kind of crisis mode. The windows have opened. The monkeys have been sent away. New neighbors are crowding in. Biosphere 2 has finally succeeded, if only as a model of catastrophe. It simulates global warming. And, while never achieving a seamless web of life, it manages to assemble a fantastic menagerie of displaced specimens. Biosphere 2 initially mouthed conservationism’s obsession with restraint (consume less, switch bulbs, recycle…). But in practice, it embodies the Obama administration’s provocation “we never let a crisis go to waste.”4 Rather than ameliorate crises, it exploits them. Equilibrium and Escape The Institute for Ecotechnics’ (IE) 1982 “Galactic Conference”5 in Les Marronniers, France brought Buckminster Fuller together with Phil Hawes, a Frank Lloyd Wright student who pitched a scheme for a spherical, spacetraveling greenhouse. Fuller leapt on it: “If you guys don’t build a biosphere, who will?”6 Two years later, IE launched Space Biosphere Ventures (SBV). In 1969, Fuller had famously called for managing the planet as if it were a spaceship.7 SBV reversed Fuller’s metaphor, and proliferated its rationales. Not just a spaceship prototype,

Biosphere 2 was alternately a shelter from nuclear winter (“Refugia” 8 ) and a laboratory to model planetary homeostasis. To John Allen, co-founder of IE and 9 president of SBV , these diverse missions worked towards a singular vision of ecology in tune with egalitarianism, global spiritual consciousness and the “delicate web of life” on Earth (AKA Biosphere 1). “Ecotechnics” was itself an extrapolation of Lewis Mumford’s organic concept of “Biotechnic” design, in which production and consumption are trained to nurture the group and culture the personality. 10 Biospherians synthesized theories of such IE speakers as ecologists James Lovelock and Eugene Odum to portray the planet as a cybernetic organism that self-regulates to achieve a “climax state” of maturity, health and efficiency. 11 The name itself was inspired by Vladimir Vernadsky’s 1926 book The Biosphere, which posits three stages of evolution—geosphere, biosphere and noösphere or sphere of thought—each stage radically transforming the previous. Vernadsky and Teilhard de Chardin followed up with the Omega Point, a transcendent, singular state of maximum evolution in global complexity and consciousness. Allen similarly compared Biosphere 2 to a giant mandala of global unity, and admitted that this syncretic vision would have been impossible without psychoactives. 12 Like a trip, Biosphere 2 escaped, momentarily, from the atmosphere of earth. Precarious Stability Biosphere 2 was built as the world’s most airtight building, designed to leak no more than 10% of its air per year (half the rate of the Space Shuttle). Without 1970s advancements in hermetic enclosure, it was sealed to tolerances only dreamed of by machine-age architects. Facade consultant Peter Pearce patented the “Multi-hinge” node-less space frame triangulated to minimize thermal flexing. Structural silicone was factory bonded to two layers of glass and plastic laminate. 13 Sealant was applied in two colors (white and gray) to make redundant enclosure legible. A skin of welded stainless steel plates lined concrete slabs and foundations beneath two to six meters of soil. Neoprene spanned 158-foot diameter steel drums housed in geodesic domes to create “lungs” that expand and contract as Biosphere 2’s interior air heats and cools. Hunting for leaks, installers waved incense under the glass and shot compressed air through

“sniffer tunnels” to verify welds. Equilibrium was engineered by instrumentalizing two distinct ecological theories: Darwinian competition and cybernetic regulation. In addition to the “Intensive Agriculture Biome” and the humans’ “Habitat,” there were five “Wilderness” biomes, with some species grown in greenhouses and others trucked in as entire landscapes. Swaths of tropical rain forest were sampled from Venezuela, savanna from French Guyana, desert from Baja, marsh from the Everglades, and the ocean from the Yucatan. At the suggestion of William S. Burroughs, bushbabies were introduced to supply companion primates. 14 Biosphere 2 designers included “more species than the scientists thought might finally survive, so that if one species failed, another would thrive, finally reaching self-organized stability.” 15 Unlike those of the prevailing reductionist science, this would be a new kind of lab: operating with a large number of variables to study systems at the scale of the earth’s ecosystems, while (in theory) being able to track “every atom in the Biosphere’s systems.” 16 Ultimately, however, the atmosphere seeped back in. Biosphere 2’s sixty-mile long, termite-proof, silicone seal was eventually penetrated by ants, creating an insect network that united its biomes with the Sonoran Desert outside. Due to unforeseen oxygen absorption by the raw concrete, oxygen plummeted from 20.9% of the atmosphere to 14% (equivalent to respiration above 10,000 feet) in six months. 17 A measured amount of air had to be added for survival. If Biosphere 2 was headed towards homeostasis, it was not the Arcadia imagined at the outset. Biospherians soon went hungry, lost an average of 14% of their body weight and reported caffeine withdrawal headaches. A hot-dog stand [was set up] not far from the Biosphere... Sometimes we lined up …and took turns peering through binoculars at fat people who were spurting ketchup on sausages and shoveling them into their mouths. We were culinary voyeurs. 18 Few imagined that their Eden would be overrun by ants, roaches and morning glories. Five species of roaches were included to recycle dead leaves, but a stowaway species from Australia multiplied into the millions.

The person on night watch had the chore of creeping into the kitchen to catch them unawares. Armed with a vacuum cleaner, he or she flipped on the light and vacuumed up as many of the roaches as possible before they all scuttled away. 19 Captured insects were fed to the chickens, whose eggs in turn were fed to the humans. Biospherians were constantly exhausted from work. Starvation and the psychological pressures of isolation left little energy or desire for the ambitious roster of philosophy lectures, meditation and theater initially designed to promote collectivism. The anticipated new civilization receded amidst outbursts by “master manipulator” John Allen. During morning meditation, Allen bellowed, “You have no discipline, no interest in the Synergia!” 20 The self-sustaining community became a monastery in a high-tech shell: outfitted with the latest machinery, but without the economies of scale that would provide enough caffeine or alcohol to intoxicate. The Space of Mononaturalism Biosphere 2 was largely dismissed by reporters and scientists as “science fiction” performance: a commune founded upon “New Age masquerading as Science.” 21 Only two of the eight had graduate degrees in science. These claims were reinforced by images of the Biospherians wearing suits that looked “like a cross between a scarlet prison jumpsuit and a Star Trek uniform.” In true utopian style Biosphere 2 was built on a mythology of consensus based on natural principles. Vernadsky, Odum, and Lovelock described an image of nature so pure and purposeful that social policy should submit to its imperatives. 22 Odum called for birth control and fiscal policy to discourage economic growth. Lovelock writes, “Let us forget human concerns, human rights, and human suffering, and concentrate instead on our planet, which may be sick.” 23 This version of nature-in-crisis made no provision for dissent. A holistic nature was enclosed in a single interior, forming a continuum of the world’s major landscapes. But its monolithic shell was articulated into a neighborhood of iconic architec-

tural forms from distinct cultures: the Great Pyramid, Babylonian Vaults, Kennedy Space Center, Monticello. 24 Unlike Le Corbusier’s modernist dream of neutralizing walls and a “single building for all nations and climates, with respiration exactly at 18°C,” 25 unlike Hawe’s original spherical spaceship, Biosphere 2 was decidedly postmodern: superficial, multicultural variations enclose a substantial, universal Nature. Yet, the project soon erupted into a battlefield for nature wars. Midway through the first mission, the venture split between those who—like Allen—pushed for the primacy of containment, and those who doubted the value of enclosure. 26 The debate over whether this was an engineering feat or a science experiment grew louder. While Biospherians translated Odum and Gaia into blueprints, 1970s ecologists had turned away from steady-state theories. They instead favored “shifting mosaics” or more aimless and anarchic models. Ecologists like Daniel Botkin saw the landscape as flux: “wherever we seek constancy…we discover change.” 27 In the end, Biosphere 2 succeeds or fails not in maintaining enclosure or homeostasis, but rather in its ability to effect new agendas, debates and decisions on scientific hypotheses. Viva Las Bio-dome 28 Trees inside the enclosure developed soft bark due to lack of wind: Biosphere 2 was better at creating new ecosystems than modeling existing ones. Once homeostasis and holism ran dry, Biosphere 2 came alive. Built to last 100 years, it outlived its founding premise in less than three, and its massive space-framed atmosphere now absorbs any and all programs (and invites the manufacture of new content to fill its void). It produces a strange world with buttons and switches that allow for the continuous production of new relationships. Allen named the mechanical realm housed in CMU walls beneath the biomes’ “artistically modeled” concrete grottoes the “Technosphere,” after the manmade world that Biosphere 2 sought to bring into alignment with the planetary ecosystem. 29 Here, urine was converted into irrigation, drinking water was captured from transpiring plants, and air was cooled and heated by a dedicated power plant. 30 Designed for stable state regulation, the Technosphere has become an environment machine that subse-

quent housekeepers 31—now inspired, disgusted, or otherwise provoked by this first model—can adjust. Following SBV’s two closed missions, it has been managed as a controlled ecology lab by Columbia University (1995-2003), and the University of Arizona’s B2 Institute (2007-present). Academic scientists replace enclosure with regulation: windows are opened, and a system of fans and sensors has been installed to control atmospheric conditions. In B2, air can be fresh or recirculated as long as its chemical makeup is controlled. Plastic partitions subdivide the dome, isolating the biomes and allowing multiple experiments to go on simultaneously. 32 In practice, Biosphere 2 is a blur of many spheres. In place of Allen’s idealized philosopher-scientist, contemporary Biospherians include tourists, school children, grad students, retirees, scientists and international researchers. They take guided tours, exchange information with research teams in the Venezuelan rain forest or participate in high school outreach programs33 Even during the first mission, the enclosure membrane restricted molecules and bodies, yet allowed heat, photons and electricity to pass freely. Telephone, email, videophones, satellite TV and radio all cycled through a control room at the center of the Habitat. 34 Biosphere 2 performs equations of efficiency and contingency that decide who is present, who is responsible to whom and who gets their way. Each of its spheres defines a broad constituency including humans and nonhumans, enclosed territories and sites of shared concern. The global environmental crisis is not just scarcity and global warming. It is the failure to contest standards of distribution, efficiency and value necessary to run the house. Biosphere 2’s own crisis engages in debate over research priorities, ecosystem construction and resource distribution. Having never proved eco-holism, it becomes a machine for actively connecting sites, organisms and systems according to shifting eco-politics. Biosphere 2 began with the belief that we can be most responsive to the pressing charges of environmental crisis with ascetic sensitivity to homeostatic equilibrium. It claimed to provide an architecture of limits based on the authority of Nature, an updated

container for a low-impact life. But at the same time, it cleared land, synthesized ecologies, manufactured infrastructure, patented new building systems, expanded universities and published volumes of data. In doing so, it became the scale model of an ambitious new collective. 35 Dreamland of a Warm Age Walt Disney sought to showcase life in a utopian city with futuristic life support systems and no private property: a vision ultimately spun off into edutainment (EPCOT) and New Urbanism (Celebration). Biosphere 2 is today’s Lilliputia. The life of the future is tested in a contained environment, then broadcasted to the public. “Self-sufficient buildings” and “ecocities” such as Masdar (in Abu Dhabi) or Dongtan (near Shanghai) seek their appropriate place in the biosphere by acting as biospheres themselves. Responsibly efficient—with zero-carbon, zero-waste, zerogreenhouse-emissions, zero-water usage and zero-energy standards—they suffer from the same domestic problems as Biosphere 2. That is, pursuing conservation as though it were possible and desirable to withdraw from nature. What if this were reversed? Biosphere 2’s crisis offers possibilities for aggressive, informed inclusion of nonhumans in an expanded city. As Biosphere 2 reunites with Biosphere 1, Cañada Del Oro Ranching and Development LP (CDO)—who purchased the Biosphere 2 site in 2007—draws plans to build a retirement village with commercial and resort developments nearby. Like Biosphere 2, these new buildings will regulate their perimeters: air conditioning systems will calibrate and filter the air, windows will be airtight and shielded with optical coating films, utilities will monitor consumption. Houses will be as big as local tastes allow. Shells will be a series of membranes and moisture stretched across lightweight steel framing. Office buildings built will likely express their triangulated exoskeleton rather than the individual office. Our buildings are now domes—machines that optimize and express atmospheric enclosure. They react to the crisis of manmade world destruction by building more and better little worlds. Skin has replaced basement as the site of refuge. Architects have taken on biology. Plastic sheeting and duct tape is the new bomb shelter.

This involves nothing less than a progressive un-balancing of natures and publics. Anything else would be wasting a crisis. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33

Allen, John and Anthony Blake, eds., Biosphere 2: The Human Experiment (New York, Penguin Books, 1991), 10. Speaking at “Nature Space Society” Tate Modern, 2003 while showing a slide of Biosphere 2. Gore, Al, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, (New York, Rodale, Inc., 2006). “Rule one: Never allow a crisis to go to waste. They are opportunities to do big things,” Rahm Emanuel. Zeleny, Jeff, “Obama Weights Quick Undoing of Bush Policy,” New York Times, November 9, 2008. Papers included The Galaxy: A Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Challenge by R. Buckminster Fuller, Principles of Evolution of Life in the Galaxy by Richard Dawkins, The Interdependence of Inner and Outer Space, by Dr. Albert Hofmann, and Architecture for Galactic Colonies, by Phil Hawes. Poynter, Jane, The Human Experiment: Two Years and Twenty Minutes Inside Biosphere 2 (New York, Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2006), 20. Fuller, Buckminster R., Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth (Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press, 1969). Broad, William J., “As Biosphere Is Sealed, Its Patron Reflects on Life.” New York Times, September 24, 1991. Allen headed SBV with architect Margret Augustine. He studied sociology and geology at Colorado School of Mines, attained an MBA at Harvard, and was a General Manager of the “Synergia Ranch” commune in New Mexico. Here Allen befriended Biosphere’s principle investor, Ed Bass, in the 70’s through the acting troupe, the “Theater of All Possibilities.” Bass, billionaire oil heir, former Yale architecture student, and ‘ecopreneur’ invested $150 billion in the project. See Broad, 1991. Odum, a pioneer of ecosystems theory, posited that organisms are linked in a “healthy state of order” in which ecological succession leads to a “climax state” of maturity, health, and efficiency. Worster, Donald, Nature’s Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas, (Cambridge; New York, Cambridge University Press, 1994), 368. Odum, a pioneer of ecosystems theory, posited that organisms are linked in a “healthy state of order” in which ecological succession leads to a “climax state” of maturity, health, and efficiency. Worster, Nature’s Economy, 368. “It’s impossible to fully appreciate the Amazon, or anything as complex as a tropical rainforest, without special states of consciousness.” Brown, David J. and Novick, Rebecca M., eds., Mavericks of the Mind: Conversations for the New Millennium, (Freedom, CA, Crossing Press, 1993). Pearce is a student of Fuller’s and author of Structure in Nature. For more on the Pearce Multi-hinge System see Chilton, John, Space Grid Structures, (Oxford, Architectural Press, 2000). One of them dies exploring a transformer box. Poynter, Human Experiment, 75. Ibid, 204. Sniffers produce a daily “weather report,” tracking oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. A homemade scrubber turns carbon dioxide into limestone using sodium and calcium hydroxide but cannot offset the oxygen depletion. Poynter, Human Experiment, 191. Ibid, 191. Ibid, 107. SBV infighting during the second mission in 1994 is so fierce that when an investor takeover led to a communications blackout, two former Biospherians raced to the building and break its seals, to let their voices and the atmosphere rush back in. See Ayres, Drummond B. Jr., “Ecological Experiment Becomes Battleground,” New York Times, April 11, 1994. Zimmerman, Michael, “Review: Biosphere 2: Long on Hype, Short on Science,” Ecology, Vol. 73, no. 2 (April, 1992), 713. “Users of the term ‘ecosystem’ were retaining modernism’s basic defect, its penchant for composing the whole without the explicit will of those humans and nonhumans who find themselves gathered… in a totality constituted outside the political world, in the nature of things. The ecosystem integrated everything but too quickly and too cheaply. The Science of ecosystems allowed us to dispense with the requirements of discussion and the due process in building the common world.” Latour, Bruno, Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2004). Worster, Nature’s Economy, 386. Allen, Biosphere 2, 89. Quoted in Banham, Reyner P., Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment, (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1984), 156. Dissenters included an advisory council of scientists hired by Bass. See Poynter, Human Experiment, 225. Worster, Nature’s Economy, 397. Quoting Botkin, Daniel, Discordant Harmonies, 10, 62. Bio-Dome. DVD. Directed by Jason Bloom with performances by Pauly Shore, Steven Baldwin, and William Atherton, (Los Angeles, MGM Home Entertainment, 2002). Poynter, Human Experiment, 76. The technosphere sits within the seal of Biosphere 2 and includes air handling units, water storage tanks, the carbon scrubber, and a patented waste-recycling system, WastronTM, converts human urine into agricultural irrigation, while water transpired by plants is captured as condensation for drinking water. External to the seal on Biosphere 2’s campus is a natural gas and diesel plant, using 6 million kW hours per year at a cost of $1.3 million per year, enough for 600 homes. Many have noted that ecology, the study of the household (“oikos” in Greek) is a term derived from economy, or household management. See, Worster, Nature’s Economy, 37. Columbia researcher Guanghui Lin, for example, tests rainforest’s ability to absorb carbon at different concentrations. See, Marino, B.D.V and Odum, H.T., Biosphere 2: Research Past and Present (Great Britain, Elsevier Science, 1999). Travis Huxman, director of B2, celebrates the opportunity for tourists to interrogate graduate students working alongside

34 35

elevated viewing platforms, arguing that they provoke and assist students in framing their work. Visitors and self-described “inmates” would kiss through the glass, or put their hands up in a “Biospherian handshake” while talking on a prison-style visitors’ phone next to the airlock. A skill Latour identifies with economists.


monkeys by Jason Zuzga

guarding hanuman’s temple Monkeys present a cognitive crisis for humanists, undermining the distinction of the human from all other, what with those faces and hands. Monkeys thus must be kept clearly secured beyond the legal and physical bounds of the human. Monkeys, secured in laboratories, may be subject to tests that would be beyond consideration for any human subject. Monkeys camp through bare life, grinning at us aggressively (never smile at a monkey), about to snatch a sandwich from our hands with theirs, responsibility-free. Rhesus macaques are held “responsible” for the death of S S Bajwa, the Deputy Mayor of Delhi. He is said to have been reading the newspaper when harassed by marauding monkeys to the edge of his balcony, then over the side. Rhesus macaques are held “sacred” as incarnations of the God Hanuman by Hindu fundamentalists, including the political party Bharatiya Janata (BJP) of which Bajwa was a member. Throughout India, the urban monkey population explodes as the green inner patches and outer edges of the cities are folded into the sprawl. The monkeys move from the trees to the middle, encouraged by the abun-

dance of food, the ethical prohibition on monkey-killing and the active feeding of urban monkeys on the part of Hanuman-worshippers (especially on Tuesdays and Saturdays). Newly municipally employed monkey catchers earn a killing by sending monkeys to some sanctuary beyond the city, from which these monkeys continue to escape and wreak havoc in the nearest town. Male monkeys can be caught, microchipped, sterilized, and released for the equivalent of US$35. Well worth it. This monkey line gets crossed on occasion and crisis may ensue beyond the scope of human control, planning or study. See elsewhere Planet of the Apes. See elsewhere Human Evolution as some monkeys start to think more about themselves and plan ahead, assuming the ability to manage any crisis with words and numbers. Crisis-free monkeys with delusions of grandeur risk global catastrophe, one that we critical humans will surely manage. Rhesus macaques in psychology laboratories in the 1950s chose to starve to death in the comfort of cloth mother rather than suckle on cold metal mother’s milk. Rhesus macaques can have their fingertips guillotined off to see whether or not these fingers will regenerate, may be intentionally infected with HIV, or they may be turned into heroin addicts in order to test addiction-breaking hypotheses. In Spain, the Parliament voted in July 2008 to honor the principles of the Great Ape Project, making it a crime to torture or kill any great ape--orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, humans--except in self-defense. Chimpanzees and apes are included under the newly legally protected and recognized. “Monkeys” are not. Rhesus macaques in Spain would not find their zoo habitats altered by law. In crafting the principles [of the Great Ape Project] Mr. Singer…left out lesser


apes like gibbons because scientific evidence of human qualities is weaker, and he demanded only rights that he felt all humans were usually offered, such as freedom from torture — rather than, say, rights to education or medical care. There is a crisis ever erupting between person and human. There is Hanuman’s temple, one right around the block from the Deputy Mayor’s home, where the faithful bring food for the monkeys. There is the crisis of the metal mother and the live monkey’s humanesque frolics and laboratory martyrdom for cures. Hanuman is believed to protect humans from accidents. A monkey escapes management and crisis ensues.


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/ 13weekinreview/13mcneil.html?pagewanted=all




by Jorge Otero-Pailos

innocents abroad


Everything is blooming most recklessly. —Rainer Maria Rilke



The presence of feral animals in urbanized areas is an ominous sign that things are not normal and are likely to get worse. Here are some examples from the wild kingdom.

Light Steel Construction 轻钢建筑 Hsieh Ying-chun, translated by Gao Yan Rebuilding Village Housing Project Based on the current rural house construction system developed by our studio, and considering local factors such as dwelling type, architectural materials, life style, custom and building patterns, we created a low-cost construction method to help various reconstruction aid groups in disaster-affected areas to implement selfconstructed sustainable village houses and local communities. By simplifying the mode of construction, all capable people can participate in rebuilding their own houses, rebuilding their self-confidence in the process. Classified Collection Sanitary Toilet Promotion Plan Our aim is to assist all reconstruction aid groups to push for self-constructed public toilets, to reduce environmental pollution and to avoid infectious disease. Urine-Feces-Separated Steel Structure Toilet Benefits: 1 Easy to assemble and disassemble 2 Simple fabrication, low skill required, easily mass-produced 3 Components are flexible and can be added or removed according to various economic situations 4 Non-toxic (with urine and feces processed respectively), dry, no foul smell, no flies or mosquitoes 5 Water-free to reduce waste emission

the construction process

funded by the xiang bai foundation

urine-feces separated steel toilets

built by fifteen volunteers

With a light steel structure, bamboo roof, and bamboo-panel walls, each toilet has six cubicles, one urinal area, and a mechanism that separates urine and feces. Double Combination House in Jiulong Town, Mianzhu The double combination house in Mianzhu was funded by the Xiang Bai Foundation and built by fifteen volunteers. Commenced in August 2008, it is nearly complete. The owners of these two units are relatives who both lost their homes on 5/12. The frame was ordered in Chengdu and assembled within three days (after sampling and drilling) on-site. The construction procedure was driven by the owners and builders’ imagination. We provided a professional primary steel frame. The villagers undertook further work.

城市中国 138

城市中国 139





by c-lab

While it may seem like the crisis is fully upon us, it will get worse. New subjects will emerge in the aftermath of multiple crises yet to come.

petro state decline Russia’s largest corporation, the state-run natural gas company Gazprom, is $42 billion in debt, and the price of oil continues to fall fast. Political power in Russia is deeply connected to Gazprom—before becoming president, Dmitri Medvedev was its chairman, and Vladimir Putin used its revenue to nationalize opposition media companies. When Gazprom fails it will destabilize the government, but in the meantime, the weakening of the petro state will only bring more brutal and desperate political repression. Former oligarchs invested in Gazprom become alternative energy dissidents. But for now, they are excluded from political and economic power.

And we will all go together when we go. What a comforting thought that is to know. Universal bereavement, an inspiring achievement. —Tom Lehrer

He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows what part of his life he is going to have to act in next. —Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Rogue States of Mind

drought Drought is a reliable predictor of civil war in many areas of the world. The economic shock caused by low rainfall and crop failure leads to unemployment, indebtedness and famine, a dangerous mix in countries with already weak governments. Future farmers are both scientists and warriors: chasing biotechnical advancements in a futile attempt to keep pace with climate change while arming themselves in a paranoiac defense of their increasingly precious resources.


Senior Epidemic The aging of the boomer generation and rapidly rising medical costs are driving a healthcare crisis. In the coming decades, Social Security and Medicare entitlements will exceed workers’ payroll contributions by trillions of dollars. These “unfunded liabilities” are the most serious long-term threat to the government’s financial future. The boomers’ fixation on spiritual and physical health alongside advances in medical technology will give them relative immortality, but at a great expense—an epidemic of oldness that financially cripples future generations.

chinese financial implosion After a decade of robust growth, China’s industrial export economy is tanking due to its dependence on foreign economies that are now hurt by the financial crisis. Thousands of factories have closed, and millions of workers have already lost their jobs. During the boom years, the central government used the profits from exports to invest in American debt, amassing treasury securities equal to about one quarter of foreign-owned debt. A rogue trader in the Chinese central bank, the child of migrant workers, sees threats to the solvency of the US government. She sparks a sell-off of securities, bankrupting America and further devastating China’s economy.

We like nightmares. They test our fitness ¬—The Who

Shhh! Quiet! Let’s get out of here before something else happens. —Jiminy Cricket



Everything is blooming most recklessly. —Rainer Maria Rilke

altamira: brought to you by the spanish ministry of culture

vagary: endorsed by god

downsizing In the wake of the economic crisis, the federal government decides to sell off its under-performing units. States with the lowest GDPs are auctioned to other nations in an attempt to jettison dead weight and reinvigorate the economy. Vice President Joseph Biden is chosen for his working class credibility to deliver the bad news to the populations of the newly foreign territories, including his former constituents in Delaware. The union is eventually dismantled, leaving only a few wealthy states, geographically isolated and increasingly paranoid about their neighbors.

The monuments of the world are beyond their carrying capacity. But the number of visitors increases by the day. In 2007, twenty-five million people visited the Memorial Parks of Washington DC. That is more than forty-two times the resident population of the city. Between 30,000 and 50,000 people walk into Notre Dame de Paris every day, which is only 48,000 square meters. The Great Wall of China is the eleventhmost visited tourist attraction in the world, drawing ten million visitors per year. The numbers are staggering. According to the United Nation World Tourism Organization, international tourist arrivals have increased in volume by more than thirty-two times since 1950, and they are expected to reach 1.6 billion in 2020. Visitation damages monuments, sometimes irreparably. The most

innocent acts, like breathing, can alter the humidity ratio in delicate environments and destroy them when multiplied by thousands. For instance, the amount of exhalations is a serious concern in the prehistoric caves of Altamira, Spain, which must limit visitation to 8,500 people per year. In 2000, the Spanish Ministry of Culture built a replica of the cave right next to the original, to accommodate excess visitors. Another older replica of the caves also exists in Madrid’s National Archeological Museum. Historic preservation is undergoing a fundamental transformation in order to manage the crises caused by mass tourism, turning from the public sector to private enterprise. Specifically, by recognizing that thanks to mass tourism, the great monuments of the world now have larger audiences than some television shows and incorporate advertising. Private companies are vying to use the most-visited sites as media to broadcast their brands within the meaningful, experiential context of memorable vacations. Take for instance the façade of Milan’s Duomo, which is currently partially hidden behind a huge billboard for companies like Camper Shoes and Vagary Watches. American Express awards yearly preservation grants to historic places around the United States and abroad. In exchange for their sponsorship, it receives the right to present its logo at sponsored sites. By encouraging private companies to usurp the preservation of national monuments, the state’s power to endure—and preserve itself—appears symbolically weakened. As an instrument of this weakening effect, historic preservation reveals itself to be part of the greater process of globalization, which is a collective dream of the demise of the nationstate. We are perhaps not far from wish fulfillment.


GB Do you remember the meltdown?


Exclusion Zone

robbers image gcs game world

Oleg Yavorsky Interviewed by Gavin Browning

loners image gcs game world

loners image gcs game world

scavengers image gcs game world scavengers image gcs game world

scavengers image gcs game world

killers image gcs game world

trespassers image gcs game world trespassers image gcs game world

killers image gcs game world

explorers image gcs game world

adventurers image gcs game world adventurers image gcs game world

explorers image gcs game world

robbers image gcs game world

The computer game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (Scavengers, Trespassers, Adventurers, Loners, Killers, Explorers, Robbers) unfolds in the abandoned plains, communist boulevards and apartment blocks of postChernobyl Ukraine. Gavin Browning recently spoke with Oleg Yavorsky, the Director of Public Relations for GCS Game World, about the challenges of representing the infamous zone, and about what it means to be a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Gavin Browning Tell me a bit about the game. How did it come about? Oleg Yavorsky The idea of a game built around the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone came to us quite some time ago. We were witnesses to the accident back in 1986, so we felt we could deal with this sensitive topic properly, and that we could deliver a message to the outside world about the problems that remain.

OY I was a kid at the time. My parents evacuated people. Like them, a lot of people were involved in the destruction of the actual sarcophagus and the evacuation procedures. [As kids] we were so close to the site, and I remember a lot of discussion about the meltdown. However, due to the specifics of the Soviet era, a lot of information was not disclosed. It’s only really now that we’re beginning to hear hidden and devastating facts, like people shoveling radioactive fuel with their bare hands. A lot of terrible things happened. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. takes place in the exclusion zone, and we tried to make the game universe as authentic as possible. We went to the actual zone on a number of exploration and research trips. We took thousands of photos. So, the structures and the houses that you see in the game…they are actually the authentic ones from around Chernobyl. It’s not that we recreated this place perfectly. It’s more that we recreated the most wellknown and notorious objects and places, such

as Prypiat, the ghost town—a totally barren and empty city that used to have 50,000 residents—and the sarcophagus of the Chernobyl Power Plant.

recreating that atmosphere in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

GB A Ferris wheel appears in the game, too?

OY Yes, there’s no need to go there. You can see it in the game. GB What is the premise of the game?

OY Yes, that’s located in the central core of Prypiat. In fact, it’s an interesting story: the Ferris wheel was never switched on. It was built for May Day—a big holiday back in Soviet times—but the accident happened just beforehand, so it was never used. When we were in Prypiat—which is the most interesting place in the zone—we went through lots of flats, through the library, down the central streets, and you still see communist propaganda in the shop windows. To me, it’s like….well, I remember what it was like back in my childhood, back in Soviet times. Now, it’s absolutely about seeing how nature gets the upper hand. There’s a lot of wildlife in Prypiat. But the wildlife mingles with newspapers dated back to 1986, old communist books, and a lot of other traces of that time. That makes this place very special, and we paid a lot of attention to

GB It’s a way of traveling there without traveling there.

OY We wanted to create an alternative story: a “what if” scenario, a worst-case scenario. We imagined things at Chernobyl going fully out of control, and we placed it in a futuristic setting. It takes place in the year 2012, and at this time, we imagined a second melt down of the Chernobyl Power Plant [which according to the story takes place in 2006]. In this six-year period, a whole universe has been established: a zone within the exclusion zone. And strange things occur there. We included a lot of the conspiracy theories around the meltdown. For example, there is a huge antenna in Chernobyl. One theory goes that it emitted psychoactive waves after the meltdown into the West, as part of a governmental experiment on psychotro-

pic weapons. These ideas were integrated into the storyline, along with ideas of energy…energy is available in the center of the zone, and this is very enticing to scientists. GB To scientists? OY Yes. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.s go into the zone to look for artifacts, which are basically common items that have absorbed enormous energy, and they are now very valuable to the scientists and corporations who want to study it. GB So the S.T.A.L.K.E.R.s sell these items? OY They’re marauders. They earn their living by going into the zone, risking their lives, fighting mutants, fighting each other, looking for artifacts and bringing them to the outside world. There’s a whole community of these S.T.A.L.K.E.R.s, and there are different factions with varying philosophies. Some of them rival each other—they fight for resources such as artifacts, but also over territory. Sometimes, they fight for truth.

They are also trying to find a way into the mysterious center of the zone, which is believed hold a bonanza of artifacts. It is commonly believed to have very valuable and precious things. GB Where is the center? Is it the center of Prypiat? OY No, the ultimate level is the located in the center of the power plant—the sarcophagus—where there’s a monolith. It’s a super-mindpower monolith that controls the whole zone. A player approaches it and makes a wish. Depending on how the player has played the game, this wish determines the ending. GB How does a player win? OY There are seven different endings. Five of them are false. In one of the two true endings, the player wins by actually making the zone disappear, and restoring peace and happiness to this world. In the second true ending, the player wins by joining the supermind-power monolith, and becoming one with the zone.




devalued more is currency less by MTWTF c-Lab

“Hasta La Vista, Baby.” —The Terminator

100,000,000,000,000 Drachmai, Greece 1944

50,000,000,000 Dinara, Serbian Republic 1993

500,000,000,000 Dinara, Yugoslavia 1993

foreclosed homes by Geoff Manaugh

50,000,000 Marks, State of Thuringia i923

10,000,000 Cordobas, Nicaragua 1990

5,000,000 Rublei, Belarus 1999

2,000,000 Zlotych, Poland 1993 5,000,000,000 dollarS, Zimbabwe 2008

image todd hido

60,000,000 Yuan, China 1949

1,000,000 Zaires, Zaire 1993

When a country experiences hyperinflation its currency rapidly loses value and as a result consumer prices increase. Notes of higher and higher denominations are printed to avoid having to carry around wheelbarrows of cash. In these instances the higher the numerical value of the bill, the lower the currency’s purchasing power.


image todd hido

image todd hido

image todd hido

image todd hido

image todd hido

In the otherwise unwatchable 2005 film Fun With Dick and Jane, actors Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni watch in dismay as their front lawn is repossessed. The turf is literally peeled off the surface of the earth, rolled up like wallpaper, and carted away in the back of a pick-up truck. The natural landscape of their suburban world is revealed as very literally superficial. It is not a landscape at all, you could say, but a commercial product whose lifespan has nothing to do with biology and everything to do with affordability. The couple has fallen behind on their payments—and their prosthetic terrain is taken away. “Not everybody could afford a landscape like that, eh?” says Hector, the gardener, as he packs an armful of turf into his truck. Not everybody, indeed. I’m reminded of an article by Charles Montgomery from the October/November 2008 issue of The Walrus. On a visit to Stockton, California, a town particularly hard-hit by foreclosures, Montgomery stumbled upon a bizarre growth industry: painting the dead lawns of foreclosed homes green using athletic turf dyes. “It seemed fitting that realtors in Stockton should consider it normal to paint these lawns green,” he explained to me over email. “It was only the appearance of vitality that mattered. Homes that looked palatial from the street were fragile inside: thin walls, cheap lights, shelves pinned to cardboard-thin drywall. Everything about Stockton’s suburbs felt temporary, as though the place was a movie set—built to be consumed and abandoned.” Of course, foreclosures in the US continue to accumulate, with no genuine end in sight—whole suburban developments now reduced to ghost towns when they were expected to

be booming. Lawns are drying up, if not repossessed outright; pools are turning green with algae, or simply evaporating to form illegal skate parks; garages sit empty; upstairs bedrooms have gone silent. In some cases, wild animals have actually begun to colonize the derelict homes, like some avant-garde backdrop designed for a particularly exotic zoo. Mountain lions sleep atop uninhabited ranchos, sunning themselves on pinewood decking. This is the spatial residuum of the financial crisis. Like a modern-day Pompeii, it is a geography of collapse— in this case, an immersive archaeological site distributed nationwide. But we mustn’t forget that these foreclosures did not begin today. In the mid-1990s, for instance, photographer Todd Hido had already begun to document repossessed homes in the greater Los Angeles area. These houses, forcibly abandoned and emptied of not quite all their contents, were sealed behind locked doors and left to accumulate dust. However, those locked doors included coded lockboxes, and those lock-boxes contained keys—and it was these keys that Hido figured out how to access. The codes, he and a realtor friend discovered, were nothing more complex than an abbreviation or anagram of the name of the bank that foreclosed the property. “Home Savings of America was HSA,” Hido pointed out in a telephone interview. Enter that code—and you can enter the building. “You could always tell what bank it was by the signs in front of the houses. I probably made it into forty or fifty of them that way, and then I started taking pictures.” When I asked him what he hoped to find there, Hido replied: “I was definitely more interested in the ones that weren’t cleaned up. A lot of times somebody would come in and wipe the place clean, but I concentrated more on the simple little marks and the simple little traces left behind. You could tell where pictures were hung, for instance, as if there were still stories on the walls themselves.” The photos he produced are an odd kind of spatial portraiture: the inner lives of abandoned buildings. It’s as if we’ve come across some little-known burial practice in which twenty-first century homeowners have been entombed with none of their possessions. They are antechambers to the afterlife of the American dream. In sheer volume alone, our living rooms now far outweigh the pyramids: for every

stone tomb in the world, there are a thousand unused dens full of cat hair and dust. For every cemetery, there is a dead lawn in Stockton. Take away the possessions and the electric lights, and perhaps it is not a landscape meant for the living at all: the suburbs become a giant sepulcher. Perhaps the most astonishing thing here, then, is to realize how mundane it will be when the world really does fall apart. It won’t be all fires and riots and warfare, but empty dining rooms and leaking sinks. Perhaps the only things we’ll leave behind are some carpet squares, maybe a broken lamp, perhaps some loose thumbtacks on the garage floor. So much for the monumental. Hidos’s photos are all the more bleak for being so ordinary. There are stained rugs and scuff marks. Old mattresses. Weak afternoon sunlight filtered through cheap drapes. Oil stains on concrete. Perhaps it’s much worse to realize that there isn’t some apotheosis of the suburban landscape on the way, a geographic rapture that will complete—and finally justify—our built environment. There is no moment in the end when it will all make sense: we’ll evacuate a world we hardly knew, a purgatory of broken drywall and reclaimed lawns constructed by ancestors we will pretend not to understand. 156–6

crisis This issue of Urban China has been bootlegged by C-Lab for Volume

Founding Editors Ole Bouman, Rem Koolhaas, Mark Wigley

Editor Jeffrey Inaba

Volume is a project by ARCHIS + AMO + C-Lab + Urban China

Managing Editor Gavin Browning Editorial Consultant Benedict Clouette Graphic Design Glen Cummings / MTWTF Dylan Fracareta Urban China Editors Jiang Jun Zhu Fei Volume Independent quarterly for architecture to go beyond itself Editor in Chief Arjen Oosterman

Archis Lilet Breddels, Joos van den Dool, Amir Djajali, Christian Ernsten, Edwin Gardner, Maria João Ribeiro AMO Reinier de Graaf C-Lab Jeffrey Inaba, Benedict Clouette, Dana Karwas, Arielle AssoulineLichten, Shumi Bose, Greg Bugel, Cody Campanie, Wayne Conger, Dana Karwas, Zach Heineman, Winnie Lam, April Lee, Kate Meagher, Talene Montgomery, Annabelle Pang, Jesse Seegers, Liz Stetson and Troy Therrien

AMO is 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 ARCHIS is a magazine for architecture, the city and visual culture and its predecessors since 1929. Archis—publishers, tools, interventionsis an experimental think tank devoted to the process of real-time spatial and cultural reflexivity. www.archis.org C-Lab, The Columbia Laboratory for Architectural Broadcasting, is 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 Urban China is a multidimensional text combining profound issues and simple narration, formal official discourse and vivid folk interpretation. It currently has studios in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzho. http://www. urbanchina.com.cn/ Printed by EAP, Seoul, Korea. Administrative Coordination Jessica Braun Editorial Office Studio-X 180 Varick Street, Suite 1610

New York, New York 10014 http://www.c-lab.columbia. edu/

Jeffrey Inaba is the Director of C-Lab at Columbia University GSAPP.

Volume has been made possible with the support of Mondrian Foundation Amsterdam

Janette Kim is the Director of the Urban Landscape Lab at Columbia University GSAPP.

Contributors Lucia Allais is a BehrmanCotsen Fellow at the Princeton University Society of Fellows. Erin Aigner is a Graphics Editor at the New York Times. Shigeru Ban is an architect in Tokyo. Cory Booker is the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Gavin Browning is the Programming Coordinator of Studio-X at Columbia University GSAPP. Erik Carver is an architect in New York. Jean Choi is pursuing an M. Arch at Princeton University. Aaron Davis is an M.Arch. candidate at Columbia University GSAPP. Diller Scofidio + Renfro is an architecture firm in New York City. Keller Easterling is an architect and writer from New York City. Omar Freilla is the founder of Green Workers Cooperative in the South Bronx. David Gissen is an Assistant Professor of Architecture and Visual Studies at California College of the Arts. Steven Hart is the author of The Last Three Miles: Politics, Murder, and the Construction of America’s First Superhighway. Laura Hanna is a filmmaker and co-founder of Hidden Driver.

Stephen Graham is Professor of Human Geography at Durham University. Joseph Grima is the Director of the Storefront for Art and Architecture. Mark Hansen is an Associate Professor of Statistics at UCLA.

at Columbia University. Jorge Otero-Pailos is an Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University GSAPP. Martha Rosler is a visual artist and the author of numerous books. Ben Rubin is a media artist based in New York City. Rachel Schreiber is the Director of Humanities and Sciences at California College of the Arts.

Christopher Hawthorne is the Architecture Critic at the LA Times.

SLAB is a Brooklyn-based architecture firm run by Jeffrey Johnson and Jill Leckner

Todd Hido is a photographer of landscapes and people.

Su Yunsheng is the redactorin-chief of Urban China.

Hsieh Ying-chun is an architect in Taiwan.

Kazys Varnelis is the Director of the Network Architecture Lab at Columbia University GSAPP.

Huang Weiwen is the Director of the Shenzhen Planning Bureau. Sam Jacobs is a founding director of FAT.

Eyal Weizman is the Director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College.

Jiang Jun is the editor of Urban China.

Mark Wigley is the Dean of Columbia University GSAPP.

Jeffrey Johnson is the Director of China Lab at Columbia University GSAPP.

Oleg Yavorsky is the Director of Public Relations for GCS Game World.

Laura Kurgan is the Director of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University GSAPP.

Haifa Zangana is the author of City of Widows: An Iraqi Woman’s Account of War and Resistance.

Liu Jiakun is the chief architect of Jiakun Architects Studio.

Jason Zuzga is a poet and the Non Fiction Editor of Fence.

Geoff Manaugh is the writer of BLDGBLOG. James McConnell is the Director of Geographic Information Systems at the New York City Office of Emergency Management. John McMorrough is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Ohio State University.

Manuel Herz is an architect based in Cologne and Basel.

Leah Meisterlin is an M. Arch. candidate at Columbia University GSAPP.

Ina Howard-Parker is the founder of Represent Agency.

Ginger Nolan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Architecture History

Crisis Devices Research and design by Egbert Chu, Jessica Dobkin, Aimee Duquette, Allan Horton, Jeffrey Johnson, Taka Sarui, Magda Wala Tripping the Light Fantastic Research and graphics by Greg Bugel, Benedict Clouette, Zach Heineman, April Lee, Troy Therrien and LabRAD (Wayne Congar and Arielle Assouline-Lichten). Unfriendly Skies Research and graphics by Kate Meagher

Animals in Cities Research and graphics by Shumi Bose, Talene Montgomery and Kate Meagher Shopping for Go Bags Research and graphics by Talene Montgomery Inauguration Photographs by Jesse Seegers C-Lab would like to acknowledge the following for their kind support: Mark Wigley, David Hinkle, Danielle Smoller and Janet Reyes, Office of the Dean, Columbia University GSAPP; Devon Ercolano Provan, Julia Fishkin, Esther Turay and Melissa Cowley Wolf, Office of Alumni and Development, Columbia University GSAPP; Ben Prosky, Director of Events and Public Programs, Columbia University GSAPP; Jiang Jun and Zhu Fei, Urban China; Richard Flood, Karen Wong and Benjamin Godsill, The New Museum; Kate Meagher and Talene Montgomery for advertising sales; Alison Laichter for assistance in Newark; Shumi Bose and William Brian Smith for copyediting assistance; and Jin Jung for printing coordination. Disclaimer The editors have been careful to contact all copyright holders of the images used. If you claim ownership of any of the images presented here and have not been properly identified, please contact C-Lab and we will be happy to make a formal acknowledgement in a future issue. © copyright Columbia University, 2009. All rights reserved.

Urban China: informal Cities febrUary 11– MarCh 29, 2009 The new MUseUM aPriL 25 – jUL 19, 2009 The haMMer MUseUM, La sePTeMber 12 – deCeMber 8, 2009 The MUseUM of ConTeMPorary arT ChiCago

The Three M ProjeCT is a series organized by The new MUseUM, new york; The MUseUM of ConTeMPorary arT, ChiCago; and The haMMer MUseUM, Los angeLes, To CoMMission, organize, and Co-PresenT new works of arT. additional support provided by the Toby devan Lewis emerging artists exhibitions fund. special Thanks to The Bowery Hotel, the New Museum’s Official Hotel Partner. additional support for “Urban China: informal Cities” is provided by the robert Mapplethorpe Photography fund, and the United nations environment initiative, which aims to utilize the universal language of art to generate environmental

The Three M ProjeCT is sPonsored by deUTsChe bank

Profile for Columbia GSAPP

Crisis: Urban China Bootlegged by C-LAB for Volume  

As the second installment in an ongong editorial project between Urban China and Volume, we have produced this limited edition publication o...

Crisis: Urban China Bootlegged by C-LAB for Volume  

As the second installment in an ongong editorial project between Urban China and Volume, we have produced this limited edition publication o...