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, Fenella Collingridge 1. Introduction 2. Organization of the Unit 3. Few Notes about the Background of the Project 4. Unit Readings 1. Introduction In recent years complex form, parametric systems of design and diagrams have become the norm in architecture. If these devices promise endless differentiation and adaptability to multiple situations, identities and performances, the results in fact contribute to a monotonous landscape of (value-free) diversity. Against this landscape, Diploma 14 proposes a return to simple forms – not as retreat into the vacuum of self-referentiality (as in the glossy minimalism of contemporary architecture), but as a polemical way to confront (and understand) the insurmountable complexity of the city. Instead of naively mimicking urban complexity with architectural complexity, the unit proposes to critically understand urbanity as something that provides architecture with its very raison d’être, while being itself irreducible to architectural form. For this reason the unit encourages a rigorous (but not cause-and-effect) relationship between enquiries on the nature of the contemporary city and the development of architectural forms based on the composition and estrangement of physical space’s most literal attributes, such as walls, rooms, openings, connections and obstructions. The aim of the unit is to define an intelligible vocabulary of forms as a basis for rethinking the form of the contemporary city. Consequently, the use of diagrams, gratuitous iconic gestures and parametric complexity is strongly discouraged. The theme for this year will be the design of a building – the ‘Immeuble Cité’ (city building) – with a critical mass comparable to that of the city. The simple premise for such a building will be to reduce the footprint to a minimum impact on the ground, thus countering the sprawl of urbanity. The Immeuble Cité must go beyond the commercial form of towers or any facile iconic or utopian gesture: instead, it is to be conceived as a radical (architectural) test for a number of spatial and political issues such as the relationship between living and work space, new forms of welfare and systems of bio-political government, the will to community or segregation, urban government and the possibility of conflict. The impulse behind this design problem is twofold: on the one hand it aims at a critique and revision of architecture and its specific history, on the other it challenges the present state of architectural form vis-à-vis the politics of the city. The context for this exercise will be the North- Western Metropolitan Area (NWMA), a region of 137 million inhabitants encompassing the old core of the EU (France, Belgium, UK, Germany and the Netherlands). The unit will consider this region as one city and, as such, the framework for the Immeuble Cité. 2. Organization of the Unit
accessibility. elevation.g. Issue that must be considered in the design of this building are: the economy of construction means. the students are asked to develop only one view of the interior. and axonometry. made of line drawings. hedonism has to be thought not as “consumption” or “spectacle” (which are the main modalities through which the management of work operates today). Instead of the traditional formula design follow resarch.2 In the second term. Students are asked to investigate these issues at first by means of design. the critical relationship between repetition and exception. This exercise should be executed as radical demonstratio per absurdum: these models should develop concepts of collective living to their extreme conclusion while being extremely realistic in their design form. and their historical background. and should represented through plan. design. Two fundamental issues that the project should confront are the critical relationship between pauperism and hedonism. In architecture. research.The Year project is divided into three main and consecutive parts. Parallel to this set of drawings. Each student will develop a monographic research into critical aspects of collective living. At this stage any argument. For this reason the Immeuble cite must be thought as the contradictory place of extreme efficiency in management and organization of collective space. section. no value-free flexibility). and will led them to understand that any idea in architecture is simultaneously a projection for . materials and structural framework. This research will help the students to become aware of their design decision. Hedonism concerns the pursuit of pleasure as fundamental aspect of life.600 inhabitants. 2. the view should be subtly narrative and evocative. The immeuble cite is intended as opportunity to put forward innovative and extreme living standards in light of the increasing merging of living and working activities. The Immeuble cité should be able to host a community of 1. or reflection must be advanced by the architectural project of the immeuble cite. proposal. 1 In the first term the students will be asked to develop a siteless model for the immeuble citè. relationship between individual and collective spaces. Within our contemporary form of life where the entirety of our existence is dominated by work. and host all the necessary equipment to make the community self-sufficient. The Immeuble cité should provide space for living and working. The project must be drawn at scale 1:200. students are asked to substantiate their design with a critical enquiry into the project’s references and background. Representation must be direct and simple. and as the possibility of escaping such management. In contrast with the dryness of the other drawings. the dialectic between flexibility and permanence (e. but as truly political state of being. the Unit propose the following sequence: design. as what the philosopher Gorgio Agamben defined as “inoperosità” (state of unproductivity). The project should be accompanied by an explanatory text. 2. pauperism concerns the austerity of form for the sake of affordability. A special workshop will be held about representation and its narrative effects.
consciously or unconsciously comply with the priorities of the power system in force. work is not political. conjectures anticipating an alternative regime.3 In the third term the students will further develop the Immeuble citè. the contemporary city in spite of its increasing complexities. To realize built architecture. This enquiry will be develop in the form of a text. and thus revised and changed if necessary. media. The task is to render this region in the form of city. 2008). today’s cities are dominated by the pervasive informality of social relationships in which any aspect of human communication and cognition is expected to become a factor of production. . and informalities has become reduced to simply being a site for production. Those architects are often the harbingers of a new political subject. Parallel to this monographic inquiry.the future and a retrospective analysis/judgment of the city of the past. the students will collaborate on a collective analysis of the site of the project. This condition of unlimited extension of work into any sphere of human life has created a new political subject that although we can still address it as working 1 See: Antonio Negri. In other words. Dalla Fabbrica alla Metropoli (Roma: Datanews. In other words. The project will be developed in all its details. the North Western Metropolitan Area which will be the site of the project. architects have to explicitly or implicitly. and its inhabitants are (potentially) the new working class. 3. by means of projects. Indeed there is not an architecture of “opposition”. education and cultural exchange. but bio-political: its domain has finally extended into our entire life. for whom we will envision the immeuble citè. If the factory was dominated by the spatially and temporally choreographed rhythm of the assembly line. Production occurs not only in terms of what we traditionally understood as working activities. contradictions. Thus. and education. 2. Any answer to this questions has to fist carefully consider that architecture has always been subservient to the ruling authorities in human society. Architects whose principles oppose these priorities find themselves unable to realize their architecture and can only postulate. The main argument behind the idea of the Immeuble citè stems from the observation that today the relationship between those who live and work in the city and the city itself recalls the relationship that workers use to have with the factory during the era of industrial expansion1. Few notes about the background of the project A fundamental question held in the studio is what sort of political subjectivity this project addresses. A special workshop will be held on imaginative cartography as a means of urban vision. and all the bio-political means of life (re)production. but tends to coincide with the whole spectrum of social activities as the ones related to culture. The previous model will be apply to a critical site within the North Western Metropolitan Area. Effort will be invested in representation and argumentation of the project. The analysis will be executed by drawing a synthetic and conceptual map of the area. This is evident if we consider the fact that capitalistic production has historically and radically evolved by expanding its domain from the manufacture of goods to production of services such as communication.
and mediatic success. In this light. the more you are productive under the a regime that in order to maintains its power and being productive has to adapt itself to any condition. If work is (always) a form of exploitation is also true that work gathers people together and thus makes real (and tangible) their togetherness. smoothness. Le Corbusier’s Unite’ D’Habitation. sustainability. and economic behaviours is appropriated and interpreted by work as the condition of precariousness of life of the workers themselves. and political boundaries. monumentality will be seen as the tangible incarnation of what exceeds urbanization and its market of values made of flexibility. Beside the fancy and dangerously misleading way in which these workers are label as “Creative Class” – a term used to uncritically celebrate this new wave of immaterial labour as a the eden of work . This precariousness of life is further exacerbated in Europe by the backfiring of Globalization in which work has become the ultimate means market competition. No longer direct manifestation of an imposed order. Furthermore. cultural. in the studio we will assume that monumentality has to take the form of collective gathering points where the combination of work and living in the same place makes evident the positive side effect of work: cooperation. communities. . poets. artists. but that political subjects are made of the balance of powers at stake. Victor Horta’s conversion of bourgeoise steel architecture into the Palace of the People. We will also maintains that political subjects are not the by-product of some sociological identity: lifestyles. professors. but that can potentially express a subjectivity that exceeds its social.class has nothing to do with the traditional features of the proletariat. In all the examples – each of them seen in its time – monumentality and form were interpreted not as celebration. etc.lies the absolute economic instability in which these workers find themselves. consensus.. commercial revenue. This new poor middle-class citizen is called “The Precarious worker”. In the studio we maintains that to propose project at the scale of the entire city today is to address the emergence of this political subject. intellectuals. In the studio we will assume that the powers at stake are: “work” – the fact that anything that exists in society has to be productive and thus must be putted at work. programmers. producing a new “poor” middle-class citizen. and the workers – those who find themselves shaped by this condition of work. social targets. the Bruxelles’s Maison de Peuple. free-lance designers. notions such as architectural form and monumentality acquire a radically different motivation that they use to have in the past. Global competition of work – a phenomena that some economist has called a global “civil war” . groups.the collective. etc.has forced the labour market of Europe to compete with other (cheaper) labour markets by dramatically decreasing the wage power of the average European worker. Peter Berhens’ Vinarsky-hof. coexistence . and unlike the traditional proletariat has still neither political. This precariousness is the very core of contemporary production. but as a socialized collective consciousness. but also of people “like us”: students. nor cultural form. translators. This “new monumentality” is an act of ideological detournamont: is appropriated from its original function to celebrate constituted powers. Charles Fourier’s transformation of the Mall into a Phalanx. and addressed to the dignity of those who work in the city. Economic instability is here the condition in which the so much celebrated value of “flexibility” that is implied in social. cultural. educators. It is like if someone is telling us the following: the more you learn to cope with the instability and unpredictability of working conditions. OMA’s Welfare Palace. This new working class is made of workers in the material and service industry. Architectural types of this “paradoxical” social monumentality are: Benedictine Monasteries.
As such the university cannot be thought any longer through the model of the campus. Subjectivation and Organization in: “Open” Issue 17 (2009). in Jerome Kohn (edited by) The Promise of Politics (Schocken Books: New York. 2005). Introduction into Politics. A point of departure of our re-conceptualization of this model of work will be Cedric Price’s project for Pottery Thinkbelt. In the third term the Unit propose to critically exacerbate the scale and the concept of Price’s Pottery Thinkbelt and to apply this model within the infrastructural network of the North Western Metropolitan Area of Europe. The project proposed mobility and flexibility as the core of the education process.. and extreme flexibility and instability o cultural programs. The Immeuble Cité will be the urban form that simultaneously accommodate the forces of capital. but has to be imagined as something that has reached the critical mass of the city itself. Paolo Virno. In such a Framework the Immeuble Cité will constitute the hubs of this new city. “A . communication. which is the very form of any political subject. social mobility. such as over-abundance of social relationships and opportunities. In the studio we will assume that today one of the most crucial epicentre of work and production is learning and research. and constantly subjected to be adapted to the demands of technological development and its offspring of labour skills. In the 1960’s Cedric Price proposed to convert the rusting railways network that served the industrial area of North Staffordshire into an educational campus. 1958). Precarity as Political Concept: New Forms of Connection. 30-45. that is collective per se. The Human Condition (The University of Chicago Press: Chicago. Brett Neilson and Ned Rossiter. Paolo Virno.Trough these artifacts collective consciousness. and render them explicit and thus critical. Hannah Arendt. pp. More than just the place of the academia. today Universities are veritable social factories that embodied. exceeds the boundaries sets by their economic purpose. and thus what we use to call University. Readings Hannah Arendt. Ironically within post-fordist Capitalism. Subjects. 4. in the most radical terms. but it has become the evocative description of the present condition of the way capitalism and its and reproductive apparatus seizes the city by managing the latter perpetual state of flux and instability. The Grammar of the Multitude: For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life (The Mit Press: Cambridge Ma. Under Pressure: Pictures. This new framework is meant to figure forth the latent welfare capital of this area. 2004). Price proposed the educational apparatus of learning as mobile. which is one of the densest in the world in terms o inhabitants and infrastructure. in Daniel Birnbaum. Cedric’s Price project for Pottery Thinkbelt is no longer a vision of social emancipation. the attributes of post-fordist production. Isabelle Graw. 2008). and becomes political. Three Remarks Regarding the Multitude’s Subjectivity and its Aesthetic Component. flexible. and the New Spirit of Capitalism (Sternberg Press: New York.
Bigness: or the Problem of Dimension. 1999). Kenneth Frampton. Rem Koolhaas. SMXL (Monacelli Press: New York. . 2009). Megaform as Urban Landscape (University of Michigan Press: Chicago.Precarious existence: Vulnerability in the Pubic Domain” (Nai Publisher: Rotterdam 2009). 48-64. pp. Bruce Mau. in OMA. 495-516. pp. Rem Koolhaas.
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