studios

Uneven Growth Studio, 2047 (2014 GSAPP studio)

Uneven Growth: Hong Kong 2047

Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Network Architecture Lab

Instructor: Kazys Varnelis, Ph.D.
Associate:  Jochen Hartmann

This studio parallels and informs the Uneven Growth exhibition opening at the Museum of Modern Art in November 2014. The intent of both studio and exhibition is to tackle the complex condition of the megacity and the growing economic and social inequality within it.

As in the exhibition, the Network Architecture Lab’s physical site is Hong Kong and the temporal site is the year 2047. At this point the “One Country, Two Systems,” doctrine that began in 1997 as the former British colony was handed over to the People’s Republic of China is scheduled to run out, and the city is scheduled to lose its status as an exceptional zone within China. We hypothesize that Hong Kong will not disappear, but that instead China will.

We set out to ask how architecture can address uneven growth in Hong Kong and other megacities. Rather than finding strategic solutions, we intend to identify the conditions and location in which to operate.

This studio is conceptual, aimed at developing arguments and polemics, but it sets out to do so using the tools of the architect. We propose architecture based on rigorous programming rather than generative designs or cool forms, architecture as a system of thought that makes abstract knowledge experiential, and conceptual thinking rational and understandable. We maintain that buildings can be constructions of thought in addition to material, conceptual machines that produce arguments and state positions.

Against a cynical world in which architects—and even studios in schools of architecture—have unabashedly agreed to serve authoritarian clients, we believe it is still possible to act. We reject neoliberalism’s doctrine that “There Is No Alternative” together with the self-expressive and performance-based models of design that dominate today as fundamentally incompatible with a future of extreme scarcity and declining populations. We ask not only how architecture can continue to function in this condition but also how it can play a transformational role in it. This studio’s central task is the invention of an ethics of design appropriate to a diminished future.

Students participating in this studio will be required to travel to Hong Kong for site visits. Travel will be funded through the school.

Scenario

“The liberal reward of labour, therefore, as it is the necessary effect, so it is the natural symptom of increasing national wealth. The scanty maintenance of the labouring poor, on the other hand, is the natural symptom that things are at a stand, and their starving condition that they are going fast backwards.”

-Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations(1776)

Demographic projections show that the People’s Republic of China faces a brick wall created by the one-child policy. The demographic dividend created by the country’s large ratio of effective producers (working age adults) to effective consumers (children and the elderly) was a critical factor in the country’s growth to date. In 2013, however, a turning point was reached and the dividend’s growth rate turned negative, with China fairing now worse than many other countries. Within five years, yearly declines in the numbers of new workers fresh from school will become normal in China. Between 2016 and 2026 the population of workers aged 20 to 29 will drop by one quarter. By midcentury, 30% of the country’s population will be over 60. Without young workers dreaming of a better future, productivity will collapse. The result will be a suddenly poor country with a population of aging, bitter men, lacking sufficient pensions, welfare, or other means of supporting themselves. The central government will lose its grip on power, leading instead to a loose agglomeration of regional states, roughly akin to the Commonwealth of Independent States. In an effort to mask the collapse, the last PRC regime will describe the devolution as a natural process to recognize the differences within the country and will negotiate deals to include Taiwan, Mongolia, and post-DPRK North Korea into the commonwealth.

China’s crisis will parallel the condition of the vast majority of the world’s developed countries in which population growth has long past the tipping point. By midcentury, in addition to China, Japan, the European Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the United States will all endure major population declines as both poor and rich avoid having too many children. Even stern government measures, such as Vladimir Putin’s 2006 attempt to offer 250,000 rubles (about $9,200 US) to women who will have a second child, will fail to change demographic destiny. Only the southern hemisphere will continue to grow, although by then the days of its growth will seem numbered too. Although population growth has become a problem lately, its seeming inevitability means that our economies rely on it. As populations decline, economies do as well.

In China, many interior cities, hastily filled with housing, factories, and starchitecture during the first decades of twenty-first century will empty, turning into Detroit-like ghost cities. In contrast, even with dwindling population rates, some coastal cities, having demanded Hong Kong-style autonomy from the diminished central government, will continue to thrive as active players in the global network of city-states. Since 2000, Hong Kong has had the distinction of being the country with the world’s second lowest fertility rate, Macao having the lowest, but with Hong Kong’s history of accommodating migrants from both within China and outside it, Hong Kong will be able to resume growth through migration from other countries in Southeast Asia as well as from Africa which is now becoming extensively colonized by Chinese capital. With its continuing role in global finance and manufacturing, Hong Kong is uniquely suited to lead the Chinese coastal city-states.

Hong Kong’s special status will spread, becoming a model for other megacities increasingly disconnected from the territories around them. Megacities will advocate for such special status within their larger countries, demanding greater autonomy, both economically and in terms of foreign policy. Such super-city-states will band together more formally over time, leaving their nation-states behind.

Even so, as in the rest of the world, inequality in Hong Kong will have grown almost insurmountable. As measured by the GINI coefficient, Hong Kong has the highest income inequality of any developed city in the world (and likely higher still since wealthy families in China habitually understate their income) and that coefficient has trended inexorably higher over the last two decades. Thus, it is unlikely that Hong Kong will deal with its own demographic crisis by allowing permanent immigration. Rather, the government will continue to expand the existing two-tier system, allowing poor immigrants to remain in the territory only on time-delimited visas while allowing the wealthy and skilled access to the system.

After the explosion of the demographic bomb, the world will face a new economic reality. Adam Smith observed that continuous economic growth has historically been predicated not only on growing technological efficiencies but also an increase in both population and the amount of raw materials available. Should any of those three variables flag, growth will cease. Under stagnant or falling populations, economies begin to contract and national wealth decreases and capitalism cannot be maintained in such circumstances. Smith himself never argued that growth in the West would be endlessly sustainable. On the contrary, he uses China as an example of a country much the same as five hundred years beforehand when Marco Polo first wrote about it. China, he explained, is a stationary state, going neither forward nor backward, but rather that had “acquired that full complement of riches which the nature of its laws and institutions permits it to acquire.” China’s past, then, is the world’s future.

The current economic crisis is a sign that capitalism is already in a stationary state and may soon be in an inexorable slide. Starting in the late 1990s, declining profit margins and radical technological changes led economies and financial markets into a pattern of booms and busts. Within the next decade, the world’s financial élite turned away from traditional investments, toward increasingly complex and short-term ways to extract wealth such as high speed trading and quantitatively driven arbitrage so as to ensure that returns would continue regardless of the direction of the market. As a hedge against the ever-present threat of currency collapses, the wealthy also turned to real estate in global cities, helping to drive prices skyward. 

We hypothesize that, booms and busts notwithstanding, these trends will continue. Capitalism itself will have long come to an end, its highest levels being replaced by the algorithmic production of wealth wherever a loophole may still be found. Global city cores will remain strong as well. Highly defended, with a huge population of surplus labor to draw on for services, these will continue to be attractive destinations for the élite to work and play in (although only within a geographically dispersed strategy of global hedging that will include idyllic, defended exurban ecotopias should the shit finally really hit the fan).

Just as high finance will essentially be a game, everyday life for individuals worldwide will follow suit. By 2047, with income disparity high and social mobility low, those unlucky enough to be in the top 1% have little opportunity to better their conditions. Instead, as they eke out a living, they occupy themselves in a world that increasingly dominated by the logic of games. The governments of megacity-states, burdened with debt and facing radically limited budgets turn to tactical urbanism as the only possible way to make interventions in the city and to keep the populace away from the barricades.

Semester Plan

The semester will begin with a scenario planning exercise to hone what Hong Kong, 2047 will be like. Students will work individually or in teams to identify the drivers in society, technology, economics, ecology, and politics likely to impact the building over the next generation. These scenario plans will be communicated through the technique of architecture fiction. An exhibition exploring these scenario plans will be held in early March. After joining into teams to investigate possible sites, students will individually develop detailed proposals for their scenarios by the end of March. For the final review, students will develop responses to their scenarios.

Course Blog

Students will be expected to maintain and post regularly to a shared course Tumblr blog of their research and design progress. All student work will be posted online tagged by student name (firstname-lastname).

Engineering

Students will work with roving engineers from ARUP during the semester to address the structural and environmental systems in their designs. Even the most speculative of projects can benefit from the advice of these experts.

Representation

We propose that the ultra-realistic renderings commonly used in studios today are inappropriate, corresponding to what Mark Fischer has dubbed “capitalist realism,” a condition in which we are offered nothing but the present, delivered to us through the wonders of technology while we eagerly wait for the next thrill the system has to offer. Evacuated of any critical intent, such work only cements the false notion that modern technology has made communication transparent.

But more than that, if all architects produce a form of science fiction, then to paraphrase William Gibson, we need to remember that as we construct futures, all we have at our disposal is the moment that we are currently living in. The moment we construct a future it starts to age rapidly. Since the crash, along with the development of technologies that were formerly consigned to an endlessly deferred proximate future such as near-universal wireless Internet, locative media, tablet computing, and touchscreen interfaces, it seems that we have exhausted the era of the next new thing, of rapid technological and cultural development and obsolescence.

If Gibson is right and society is gripped by “future fatigue,” then envisioning the future through architecture forces us to follow Alex Galloway’s suggestion that “all media is dead media,” to understand that appropriate representational strategies that might resist capitalist realist representations might emerge out of a new understanding of what Gibson calls a “long now,” a temporally stretched condition out of which we can freely recombine material and representational motifs.

We will look at forms of representation immanent to our topic at hand, both the means of representation that architects and others working on these and similar projects would have used, but also the other means of representation of the day, e.g. schedules, traffic engineering plans, flowcharts, exploded axonometrics, and so on. Such diagrams not only offer rich territory to mine for representational strategies, their close study allows us to better understand how to think and represent visually.


Grading:

20% Attendance and Participation

Students are expected to attend studio sessions, be on time, and ready to discuss their work at every session. By this we mean that students should be in studio at least from 2 to 6 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays unless they have made other arrangements or are conducting research. Please let us know in advance. In no case will we meet with students who arrive after 4pm on that day unless they have prearranged the late arrival with us or there are mitigating circumstances.

Students are expected to participate in group discussions, to cooperate with other studio members by offering criticism, advice, and good spirit.

Students are expected to be at pin-ups and reviews on time with work ready to present. Students who are not ready at the beginning of the pin-up or review forfeit the right to receive criticism. Students are expected to contribute to pin-ups and reviews, both in terms of criticism and questions as well as by working in a team to ensure that rooms are ready to present in (adequate chairs, projectors, and so on).

40% Concept

Students will be graded on the originality and rigor of their concepts. All students need a coherent thesis in this studio.

Columbia teaches in English. There is help available for difficulties with the English language in the university, but lack of understanding is not an excuse.

40% Execution and Presentation

A good concept means little if it is poorly executed or presented. Presentation and execution are not trivial, nor are they mere “polish,” rather the choices made in presentation and execution should inform, and be informed by, the concept.

Students are expected to render and present their work clearly, succinctly, and elegantly.

Work should be thoroughly and completely represented.

Factory Studio, Spring 2011

 Factory
Spring 2011

Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Network Architecture Lab

Professor:             Kazys Varnelis, Ph.D.
Assistant:              Leigha Dennis
 
Description
This studio reimagines the factory for the twenty-first century, setting out to understand the architect as a builder of not merely physical edifices but also social, conceptual, and technical structures.
 
If modernity is defined by mass production, then the factory is modern architecture’s definitive typology. Early factories were widely understood as sublime, sites of awe and horror that could only be overcome by the exertion of human reason. Spurred by this challenge, from the eighteenth century onward, architects and social reformers envisioned rational and just factories, not merely workplaces but rather centers of human habitation, places of joy in labor, and envisioned societies built around them.
 
Today, the factory evokes images of structures either converted to art museums, lofts, or abandoned to decay. With factories outsourced, design has all but abandoned re-imagining this critical site of human activity, the one truly new building type of modernity. Our interest is to use architecture and the most advanced thinking in network culture to construct new and better ways of life. In doing so, this studio is engaged first and foremost with institution building and shaping of social behavior.
 
The studio topic emerges from research into how we can navigate a landscape defined not by scarcity but by over-abundance. The very model of economy—the management and distribution of scarce resources— is undone by overproduction and overaccumulation. 19 million housing units are vacant in the United States, 345,000 in Ireland, 340,000 in Dubai, 1.5 million in Spain and 64 million in China.[1] Such stark figures call into question the very premise of building. What is the purpose of building—no matter how sustainably—when it means only more excess that must somehow be consumed?
 
The overproduction in housing has been accompanied by the overaccumulation of capital and overconsumption in advanced countries. The result is a bloated economy that cannot easily restart itself. Even as the stock market gyrates upward, unemployment levels in this and many other countries remain at Depression-era levels. Anticipating the current economy continuing its downturn for a protracted period of time, we feel it becomes crucial to imagine a saner economic structure than the current one. Deriving through financialization and conspicuous consumption based on debt is sheer madness.
 
We set out is to ask not only how architecture can continue to function in this condition but also how it can play a transformational role in it. This studio sets out to re-envision productivist thought for the 21st century, aligning itself with earlier projects targeting the relationship of production, design, and society such as the Gothic Revival, the Arts & Crafts, the Deutscher Werkbund, Russian Productivism, the Bauhaus, the Hochschule für Gestaltung at Ulm, and the Counterdesign movement.
 
Against a cynical world in which architects—and even studios in schools of architecture—have unabashedly agreed to serve and authoritarian clients, we believe in a new ethics.[2] Against all hope, we ask if it is possible to produce a new morality of objects. We reject the self-expressive and performance-based models of design that dominate today as incompatible with a post-scarcity society. This studio’s central task is the invention of an ethics of design appropriate to network culture.
 
Students will develop centers for small-scale manufacture and distribution. These centers will eschew a corporate model for a commons-based model, providing infrastructures, enclaves, guilds, or clubs in which individuals and small groups can work. Our intent is to envision such centers as means of reinvigorating local economies even as they provide models for life in societies if and when our current economic system collapses.
 
Beyond the ambitions of the studio at a societal level, we hope to provoke thought about how graduates of architecture can thrive in an economy that is likely will never again provide traditional positions in sufficiently large numbers to employ them. In envisioning the new factory we will look also to new institutions established by architects or artists—like the Museum of Jurassic Technology, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Telic, Center for Urban Pedagogy, Temporary Services, and the Public School. We will also look at new cultural forms emerging on the Internet such as crowdsourced initiatives, open source projects, piracy, online help forums, Craigslist, Wikipedia, and maker culture that offer alternative models of social interaction.
 
Where Margaret Thatcher’s dictum about neoliberalism, “there is no alternative,” seems to rule, we say, “no, there is an alternative” and set to envision it in concrete terms. Within the network economy, these our factories are meant to embrace short-run, generally high-technology (although not necessarily or exclusively high technology) production. In alternate economic models—or in a severely protracted downturn—these factories may be repurposed for the purposes of retrofitting and repairing existing products.

 

Site
 
Our strategy for site navigates both physical and virtual space. We begin with a concern for situational ethics while plunging headlong into the problem of overabundance and unequal distribution.
The physical site for the studio is the greater New York metropolitan area. Gutted by high operating costs and decades of city policy that aimed to turn Manhattan into a control center for management and finance, manufacturing left the city, eliminating roughly 80% of the jobs in that sector. Instead, New York has become a “global city,” a key urban node in the worldwide financial network. Finance now accounts for some 35% of the city’s wages. The result is a city increasingly unaffordable to anyone but those engaged in the financial sector, ruled by its richest inhabitant who insists he runs it like a business and once dubbed New York “a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product.” We believe that this is not only inequitable, it poses serious questions of long-term sustainability.
 
As finance becomes further virtualized while the city’s telecommunicational base ages, and enclaves like Greenwich, Connecticut become home to more and more large investment funds, we question whether New York will be able to depend on financial interests in a decade. Nor are these issues merely local. The decline in manufacturing in the United States and rise of finance is a key factor in the long-term economic downturn we are experiencing.
 
Each student will be responsible for identifying a site.
 
Architectural strategies of coping with overabundance will also be explored in the use of large datasets that will be exploited for the purposes of site selection. Using information from the American Community Survey we will target areas in the greater New York area in need of economic development having potential to act as bases for the sort of institutions we are developing. In a series of tutorials, studio teaching assistant Leigha Dennis, will instruct students on the use of ArcGIS and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software as well as how to improve the raw maps output by this software in Adobe Illustrator.
 
As a step toward hypothesizing our institutions, we will collectively produce a large-scale map interpreting the New York City metropolitan area over the course of the first three weeks of studio and continue to use and refine it throughout the term

Program

 
Having identified sites, students will devise programs for 21st century factories, specifically commons-based workshop facilities providing members with access to equipment, instruction, means of storage and distribution, and possibly living quarters and other amenities. These factories will set out to satisfy what Chris Anderson calls “the long tail of things,” employing high technology means such as CNC milling and 3d printing for rapid prototyping and small batch manufacturing. Students will develop process diagrams for the activities that take place within their factory and embed them within visual arguments for their projects.
 
Students will identify a set of possible programmatic elements that fit their factory, which will be roughly 15,000 to 60,000 feet in size (between 50% and 200% of the square footage of the Dessau Bauhaus building). Among these will be manufacturing center, media center, dormitory, common area, storage, shipping preparation, loading dock, and distribution.
 
Students will be asked to consider how their factories engage the megalopolis in which they are sited. In the wake of an era defined by the attention-seeking strategy of shaping, it is only appropriate to ask if architecture shouldn’t lose its singularity and obsession with performance. Can we develop architectural strategies aimed at producing less individualistic works that operate in a more ambient register, embracing formlessness instead of shaping, works that build intensity more subtly rather than giving it away all at once, works that question the boundaries between the city and the building rather than affirming them?
 
With regard to means of distribution, although this is not a requirement, it is plausible that some students may want to envision more complex forms of engaging the city through forms of distribution such as a kiosks, stores, or mobile units that might distribute manufactured goods throughout the city.
 
Structure
Students will be responsible for the structure and cladding of their buildings, deciding on systems that are economically feasible while appropriate to the work being done within. Students may turn to CNC milling, 3d printing, and other systems native to their factories but may also engage existing structural systems. Complexity will not be valued for its own sake. Projects are not limited to new constructions or empty sites but may also involve retrofitting existing structures.
 
Representation
 
This studio’s representational strategies are informed by its ethical ambitions. During the boom, ultra-realistic renderings and Photoshop-based montages dominated architecture studios. We propose that this sort of representation is inappropriate, corresponding to what Mark Fischer has dubbed “capitalist realism, a condition in which we are offered nothing but the present the eagerly wait for the next thrill the system has to offer.[3] Evacuated of any critical intent, such work only cements the false notion that modern technology has made communication transparent.
 
But more than that, if all architects produce a form of science fiction, then to paraphrase William Gibson, we need to remember that as we construct futures, all we have at our disposal is the moment that we are currently living in.[4] The moment we construct a future it starts to age rapidly. Since the crash, along with the development of technologies that were formerly consigned to an endlessly deferred proximate future such as near-universal wireless Internet, locative media, tablet computing, and touchscreen interfaces, it seems that we have exhausted the era of the next new thing, of rapid technological and cultural development and obsolescence.
 
Thus, envisioning the future through architecture forces us to follow Alex Galloway’s suggestion that “all media is dead media,” to understand that appropriate representational strategies that might resist capitalist realist representations might emerge out of a new understanding of what Gibson calls a “long now,” a temporally stretched condition out of which we can freely recombine material and representational motifs.[5]
 
Specifically, given our subject matter we might look to industrial processes, which have produced a vast body of drawings—from exploded axonometrics to cutaways to flowcharts to process design drawings—all more attuned to serialism and reproduction than architecture has ever been. Such diagrams not only offer rich territory to mine for representational strategies, their close study allows us to better understand the topic we are involved in. Precise, unshaded hidden line drawings, plan, section, elevation, and axonometric offer us a carefully and logically articulated system of delineation appropriate for a manufacturing facility.
 
In addition, appropriate architectural forms of representation responding to the post-bubble condition recession can be found in the representational strategies produced in Japan during the Lost Decade of 1990 to 2000. In contrast to the overly exuberant and formal bubble architecture of the 1980s, post-bubble architectural representation—particularly that by Atelier Bow-Wow—was restrained even as it toyed with the absurd, tending to produce extremely rich drawings that chronicled a proliferation of contextual quirks and impossible conditions as well as drawings embracing a video game aesthetic to explore superflatness and pixilation.
 
Grading:
20% Attendance and Participation
 
Students are expected to attend studio sessions, be on time, and ready to discuss their work at every session. Students are expected to participate in group discussions, to cooperate with other studio members by offering criticism, advice, and good spirit.
Group meetings, regularly scheduled once per week allow us to share our research and constantly re-tune our method and approach to the material.
 
Students are expected to be at pin-ups and reviews on time with work ready to present. Students who are not ready at the beginning of the pin-up or review forfeit the right to receive criticism. Students are expected to contribute to pin-ups and reviews, both in terms of criticism and questions as well as by working in a team to ensure that rooms are ready to present in (adequate chairs, projectors, and so on).
Students are expected to maintain a tumblelog of their research at tumblr.com and to keep up with the tumbleogs of other students. All students are expected to mail the instructors with the address of their tumblelog by the second class meeting.
30% Concept
 
Students will be graded on the originality and rigor of their concepts. All students need a coherent thesis in this studio.
 
Columbia teaches in English. There is help available for difficulties with the English language in the university, but lack of understanding is not an excuse.
 
30% Execution and Presentation
 
A good concept means little if it is poorly executed or presented. Presentation and execution are not trivial, nor are they mere “polish,” rather the choices made in presentation and execution should inform, and be informed by, the concept.
 
Students are expected to render and present their work clearly, succinctly, and elegantly.
Work should be thoroughly and completely represented. A brief bibliography of books on design and presentation is appended.
 
 
A Brief Bibliography of Books regarding Design and Presentation
 
Elam, Kimberley. Grid Systems: Principles of Organizing Type. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004.
Hurlburt, Allen. The Grid: A Modular System for the Design and Production of Newspapers, Magazines, and Books. New York: Van Norstand Reinhold, 1978.
Jardí, Enric Twenty-Tips on Typography (Barcelona: ACTAR, 2007).
Muller-Brockmann, Josef. Grid Systems in Graphic Design. Zurich: Niggli, 2001.
Samar, Timothy. Making and Breaking the Grid. A Graphic Design Layout Workshop (Beverly, MA: Rockport, 2002).
The Grid System, http://www.thegridsystem.org/
Tomato, Bareback: A Tomato Project (Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press,1999).
 
 



[1] Adam Quinones, “America Has 130.7 Million Housing Units. 18.8 Million Are Vacant,”Mortgage News Daily, November 2, 2010,      http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/11022010_q3_homeownership_and_vacancy.asp, Frank McDonald, “345,000 homes vacant, says report,” Irish Times, March 5, 2010, http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/0305/1224265631515.html, Vincent Fernando, “There Are Now Enough Vacant Properties In China To House Over Half Of America,” Business Insider, September 8, 2010, “Spanish market will need at least four years to deal with property glut, experts predict,” Property Wire, December 22, 2010, http://www.propertywire.com/news/europe/spanish-real-estate-glut-2010122..., http://www.businessinsider.com/there-are-now-enough-vacant-properties-in-china-to-house-over-half-of-america-2010-9.
[2] Kazys Varnelis and Robert Sumrell, “Advanced Studio V: Evil,” Columbia University, http://www.arch.columbia.edu/work/courses/studio/f09-evil.
[3] Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism. Is There No Alternative, (Hampshire, UK: Zero Books, 2009).
[4] Scott Thill, “William Gibson Talks Zero History, Paranoia and the Awesome Power of Twitter,” Wired Underwire Blog, posted September 7, 2010, http://www.wired.com/underwire/2010/09/william-gibson-interview/all/1.
[5] Alex Galloway, “Cory Arcangel (Beige) and Paper Rad’s The Mario Movie" (2005)http://www.deitch.com/projects/press_text.php?pressId=29. Michael Parsons, “Interview: Wired Meets William Gibson,” Wired UK posted October 13, 2010, http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-10/13/william-gibson-interview.

 

 

 

Evil Studio Video

This is the six-minute presentation on the evil studio that I gave at the lottery at Columbia yesterday.

 

netlab network culture studio review tomorrow

The Network Architecture Lab for fall 2007 invites you to our review tomorrow, from 2 to 6 in room 114 of Avery Hall at Columbia University.  
 
This review is based on the model of the gallery. Students will display work in a variety of media—image, model, and text—but will present it primarily through brief videos that hopefully will be completed and uploaded to the Internet tonight. Videos willl also be shown alongside finished work in the review. Students will be available to discuss the work in the review. At 4.30 we will hold a round table discussion that we hope you can attend to talk about the trajectory of the work as a whole.  
 
Review brief below:
 
Since the Renaissance, architecture has responded to new sociocultural eras (the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, modernity, postmodernity) with utopian and dystopian schemes (ideal cities, Piranesi’s Carceri and Campo Marzio plan, Boullee’s visionary architecture, Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse, Sant ‘Elia’s Città Nuova, Hugh Ferriss’s Metropolis of To-Morrow, Hilberseimer’s Metropolis, Archigram’s Walking City, Archizoom’s No-Stop-City, Rossi and Scolari’s drawings, Koolhaas’s Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture, City of the Captive Globe, Lebbeus Woods’s visions, and so on).  Such fantasies have not only served to advance the discipline, they are a means by which architecture can research, analyze, and investigate society.    
 
It is the Netlab’s contention that we are living in a new era defined by the network. During the last fifteen years, the Internet has joined us together and gone wireless; computing has become mobile while applications are increasingly network-based; the mobile phone has become the world’s most successful gadget; virtually any form of publication has become available to virtually everyone. But these technological changes are only part of a broader shift in society. If in Fordist modernity the individual was located in a hierarchical system and in post-Fordist post-Modernism the fragmented individual was in a system of flexible production and consumption, today we conceive of ourselves (and are conceived of) as networked dividuals, composed of a myriad of flows of people and things.  
 
By and large, architecture has failed to deliver visionary proposals for this moment. This studio hopes to remedy that situation. Students will respond to our contemporary situation by studying an aspect of network culture in depth and producing schemes based on an exacerbation of that condition that could be utopian, dystopian, or both utopian and dystopian.      
 

 

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