Issues Interviews Order
16-10-23 // NEW ISSUE: MONU #36 - NEW SOCIAL URBANISM
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Vulnerable City by Maria Reitano; Free Floating Fascism and Religious Revanchism is The New Neoliberalism by Mark Gottdiener; Social by Definition - Interview with Sharon Zukin by Bernd Upmeyer; Density, Equity, and Epidemics in New York City by Richard Plunz and Andrés Álvarez-Dávila; Do Nothing for as Long as Possible by Tatjana Schneider; The Life Within Buildings: Towards a New Housing Policy by Christoffer Jusélius and Helen Runting; Unforgetting the Public City by Constanze Wolfgring; New Rights, New Needs, New Rules by Nuria Ribas Costa; Spatial Reappropriation through Transformative Practices by Valentina Rizzi; New I Am by Bharat Sikka; Post-Public Space by Francisco Silva; Technology as Medium to Rethink Spatiality by Tatjana Crossley; From the Global Village to the Global Home by Serafina Amoroso; 2091: The Ministry of Privacy by Maxime Matthys; The Strange Bedfellows of Contemporary Urbanism by Brian Holland; San Francisco: From Ghost Town to a New Social City? by Agnes Katharina Müller; Between the City and the Family - Interview with Izaskun Chinchilla by Bernd Upmeyer; The Opportunity for Joyful Cities by Paul Kalbfleisch; The Municipal Services Buildings of Hong Kong by Ying Zhou; Navigating the Work Morphology Shift: A New Perspective on Social Urbanism by Mingming Zhao
How is a New Social Urbanism possible if the hegemonic Western paradigm of space production revolves around the antisocial principle of the individualization of every aspect of life? asks Maria Reitano in her piece Vulnerable City. According to her, long before, during, and after the pandemic, individualization and competitiveness define the (anti)social consistence of the Western neoliberal city. Following Mark Gottdiener and his contribution Free Floating Fascism and Religious Revanchism is The New Neoliberalism: Challenges for Architects and Urban Planners we have entered a new phase of global destabilization amplifying social deficits after Neoliberalisms dismantling of social institutions has been shown to have critically injured the structure of society leading to aggravated and extreme social problems. Sharon Zukin, too, is rather pessimistic about whether a New Social Urbanism is rising, as she states in our interview with her called Social by Definition, pointing out that even cities like New York are increasingly unable to pay for and to respond to peoples needs for housing, healthcare, and education. Richard Plunz and Andrés Álvarez-Dávila confirm the dire housing situation in their article Density, Equity, and Epidemics in New York City, in which they emphasize that, after numerous attempts, the economics of housing production in New York today shows no capacity for producing affordable housing and that the most recent health crisis has only aggravated pre-existing socio-economic and racial disparities in housing insecurity. However, Tatjana Schneider challenges us in her contribution Do Nothing for as Long as Possible to engage with what causes these conditions, arguing that the critique is there, the analysis too, and that there are therefore hopeful rifts and cracks. Because we already have many of the tools and the infrastructures needed to challenge the unequal, cynical, and anti-social system in which we operate as planners, as Christoffer Jusélius and Helen Runting clarify in The Life Within Buildings: Towards a New Housing Policy, but what we do not have - yet - is the collective will to fully utilize these resources. That is why we need to revive a sense of solidarity and shared responsibility, an ethics that constitutes a necessary foundation for the hard work that will be needed to create inclusive cities. Nuria Ribas Costa reminds us in her article New Rights, New Needs, New Rules that such ethics can be stimulated and supported by the implementation of collaborative and grassroots conflict-solving and decision-making institutions, as New Social Urbanism is not only about how the city is lived, but also how it is owned and governed. Thus, envisioning a New Social Urbanism requires a thoughtful consideration of participatory co-constructed strategies that revitalize the urban and social fabric, providing an organic pathway for community development, as Valentina Rizzi puts it in Spatial Reappropriation through Transformative Practices. Her research presents case studies that intervene in the urban realm by combining visual arts and performative arts with the architecture of bodies and spaces, aiming to create transformative experiences of rupture, experiences that are mysteriously graspable in the images of Bharat Sikkas series of photos entitled New I Am. But today our urban realm and our public spaces have expanded due to recent technological progress into the digital domain too, enabling possibilities for human relationships that were once out of reach as Francisco Silva points out in Post-Public Space. According to him, social spaces can become places of reunion that are driven by a design focused on the complexity of the human connection. In a merger of body, technology, and all the structures that surround them, public spaces may finally find a tabula rasa that allows them to return to their very essence - the pleasure of connection. By uploading the photographs of the everyday lives of the inhabitants of one of the last remaining bastions of Uyghur culture in Kashgar into facial recognition software and by rendering the resulting biometric data directly onto the subjects faces, Maxime Matthys illustrates with his project 2091: The Ministry of Privacy what such a merger of body, technology, and surrounding structures might look like. One way of understanding mergers like these is through the concept of hybridisation. To do so, Brian Holland introduces in his piece The Strange Bedfellows of Contemporary Urbanism practices to which he refers as piggybackings that at their best create surprising entanglements that provoke hybrid forms and programs of social exchange capable of promoting greater equity and diversity in the built environment. For Holland the piggybacking practices that he presents illuminate an important form of social entrepreneurialism in contemporary urban life contributing to a New Social Urbanism. When asked about the future of social urbanism, Izaskun Chinchilla, too, believes that we are heading toward a hybrid situation in which we will socialize both physically and digitally, multiplying the spectrum of the ways of meeting and socializing, as she explains in our second interview entitled Between the City and the Family stressing the importance of the neighbourhood for a New Social Urbanism. And as the demarcation between home and work increasingly dissipates, architects, urban designers, and urban planners might be motivated to conceive more third spaces in cities, which are public locations equipped with amenities to serve as communal workspaces, from parks and libraries to cafes and community hubs, as Mingming Zhao forcasts in Navigating the Work Morphology Shift: A New Perspective on Social Urbanism. She envisions a decentralized city, where technological progression and human comfort are intertwined, shaping an urban environment that feels simultaneously futuristic and familiar. We never know what new forms will emerge out of that, although if you think about democracy in a city as a role model, it is always very messy, as Zukin states, but according to her this may be what New Social Urbanism is all about.
Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, October 2023
(Cover: Image is part of Maxime Matthys contribution 2091: The Ministry of Privacy on page 84. ©Maxime Matthys; Music: Queen - I Want to Break Free, Video editing: Danae Zachariaki)
This issue is supported by The Berlage - The Berlage Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban Design; From Urban Andes to Politics in the City! New Architecture & Urban Planning Books from Leuven University Press; Rotterdams Independent School for the City: A 12-week full-time Education Programme on Contemporary Urbanism, Dealing with Right to the City, Climate Change and Superdiversity; and Incognitas Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
17-10-22 // MONU #35 - UNFINISHED URBANISM
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To Be Finished Is to Be Dead - Interview with Mark Wigley by Bernd Upmeyer; Overdesign Is a Problem Too by Marco Enia and Flavio Martella; The Perks and Quandaries of Coming Undone a Conversation with Akoaki; The Unfinished City: Approaches for Embracing an Open Urbanism by Nick Dunn and Dan Dubowitz; The Architectural Non-finito and the Death of the Architect by Wijdane Esseffah; Incompleteness and Play by Ana Morcillo Pallares; Roadside Picnic - Remote Detour around the Worlds Unfinished Nuclear Power Plants by Paul Cetnarski; Unsettled by Isabelle Pateer; California City by Elian Somers; Suspended Urbanities: The Spatiality of Unfinished Architectures in Naples by Maria Reitano and Nikolaus Gartner; Stranded in Limbo: 25 Unfinished Structures by MARS at PBSA; Concrete Sprouts and Unfinished Urban Dreams by Avsar Gürpinar, Nur Horsanal, and Cansu Cürgen; The Unfinished City of Mumbai by Rupal Rathore; Hellas by Maarten Willemstein; Becoming Unstuck: Streets as Gardens, with the Disposition for Ongoing Experimentation by Dan Hill; Unfinishedness, a Practice - Interview with bplus.xyz (Arno Brandlhuber and Olaf Grawert) by Bernd Upmeyer; Unfinishedness as a Transcategorial Condition of Abandonment by Tiphaine Abenia; The Unfinished Interior by Marcello Carpino and Vittoria Poletto; The Temporal City by Ian Nazareth and David Schwarzman; Ordos by Anthony Reed
To Be Finished Is to Be Dead claims Mark Wigley in our interview with him. Because only an unfinished city is a city that is open to unknown and unpredictable transactions and that is what cities are for. To him, urbanism is only urbanism to the extent that it is unfinished and Unfinished Urbanism an urgent call in an age of a pandemic and of predictability, both of which are killing us. According to Marco Enia and Flavio Martella a living city can actually never be finished, because by their very nature cities are unfinished organisms. As long as they are home to a living community, cities will constantly readjust to meet its needs and desires and only stop changing when they start to decay and vice versa. Unfinishedness allows for complex forms of appropriation and participation, creating a stronger bond with the city as they state in their contribution Overdesign Is a Problem Too. Thus, only with an open urbanism that is intentionally incomplete can we design cities that are equitable and sustainable as Nick Dunn and Dan Dubowitz describe the idea in their piece The Unfinished City: Approaches for Embracing an Open Urbanism. If cities are overly finished and too confined they stagnate and exclude, sharpening further existing inequalities while simultaneously using up precious resources, which is ludicrous in an era of climate emergency. To avoid this we need to support the creativity of the authentic (the uncompleted) as opposed to the rampant creativity of the exact (the completed) explains Ana Morcillo Pallares in her article Incompleteness and Play. She recalls an ethos pushed by a cohort of Italian architects and designers active from the late 1960s through the 1970s who were known as the Italian Radical Architecture and who tried to overcome the urbanistic failures of the completed plans of the 20th century through talking, listening and social practice. However, following the arguments of Paul Cetnarski in his piece Roadside Picnic - Remote Detour around the Worlds Unfinished Nuclear Power Plants we reached a point in our civilisation where certain elements of our built environment cannot be erased, making Unfinished Urbanism more of a burden than an achievement. As a result, the uncertainty of unfinishedness can endanger the lives and existences of people in urban areas too as Isabelle Pateer shows in her photo-essay Unsettled in which she investigates the evolution of the Antwerp harbour expansion zone in Belgium illustrating how the inhabitants, their environment and surroundings, as well as their social fabric are affected by these large alterations. Therefore, Unfinished Urbanism can cause many problems too, especially when architectures become abandoned ruins within construction sites waiting for someone to finish them as Maria Reitano and Nikolaus Gartner point out in Suspended Urbanities: The Spatiality of Unfinished Architectures in Naples. They argue that when no urban strategies deal with such unfinished architectures which has been referred to as Incompiuto and even as a new Italian architectural style - they become inaccessible, turning into spatial gaps, interruptions within the urban fabric and the peri-urban landscape, and fragmenting the urban public space. Yet Maarten Willemstein, in his series of images entitled Hellas, shows similar unfinished architectures, though in Greece. He does not want to present them merely as dilapidated buildings, but as echoes of the old classical Greek temples and as structures that are at the beginning of their life, neither as abandoned ruins nor at the end of their existence providing hope for a possible future. Such optimism when it comes to ruins is shared by bplus.xyz (Arno Brandlhuber and Olaf Grawert), who introduce Unfinishedness, a Practice in our second interview: the possibility of a new urban regulation that does not differentiate between office, housing, or commercial functions anymore, but considers buildings as so-called intelligent ruins that are thought, designed, and built in a way to be adapted and reused in the future, enriching the discussion on architecture and unfinishedness on a legislative level. Through such functional resistance, Tiphaine Abenia sees a hopeful disconnection and an invitation to reconcile unfinishedness with a practice of freedom. Like Willemstein she is not interested in the aesthetical fascination and romanticising of decay, which tends to freeze the phenomenon into a necrotic image, but in the dynamic process inherent in abandonment. In other words, she is interested in its unfinishedness as she declares in Unfinishedness as a Transcategorial Condition of Abandonment. Consequently, Unfinished Urbanism might further reconcile the known and the unknown as Ian Nazareth and David Schwarzman conclude in their contribution The Temporal City creating spaces in which people according to Anthony Reed and his contribution Ordos might feel estranged but never lost.
Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, October 2022
(Cover: Image is part of Ana Morcillo Pallaress contribution Incompleteness and Play on page 39. Photograph by Riccardo Dalisi (Courtesy of Archivio Dalisi / Napoli, Italy) Music: Limahl - Never Ending Story, Video editing: Danae Zachariaki)
This issue is supported by The Berlage - The Berlage Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban Design; Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA): Urban Studies MSc; KU Leuvens Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism, Landscape and Planning; Rotterdams Independent School for the City:
Dirty Old Town; Learning From Rotterdam - A Unique 12-week Post Graduate Education Programme; and Incognitas Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
18-10-21 // MONU #34 - PROTEST URBANISM
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Learning from Protests - Interview with Mabel O. Wilson by Bernd Upmeyer; Be Water: Protests in Liquid Public Space by Jeffrey Hou; Ambiguous Standards of Protest by Cansu Cürgen and Avsar Gürpinar; The Archive of Public Protests by APP; Toppling Monuments: Moments of Monumentality by Ben Parry; Not Set in Stone by Maddy Weavers; The Empty Plaza: A Socio-spatial Post-occupancy Evaluation by Dillon Webster; The Different Scales of Solidarity by Ece Yetim; Khaos by Ulrich Lebeuf; Three Squares on a Line: Istiklal Avenue and Its Transition from State to Citizen by Liana Kuyumcuyan; The Magic of Squatting - Interview with Hans Pruijt by Bernd Upmeyer; Protest Repellant Urbanism by Nurul Azreen Azlan; 'TO-BE' Urbanism by Becky Luk and Ching Kan; Revolution Now! by Bing Guan; Contested Urban Identities: Branding and Antagonism in the City of Porto by Ana Miriam Rebelo and Heitor Alvelos; "The Street Is Ours": Feminine Urban Reclamation by Cécile Houpert; We Are What We Are: Chicago and the Paradox of Protests by Aaron Kalfen and Benjamin van Loon; Objects and Spaces of Dissidence by Mario Matamoros; From Barrio Bolaños (back) to Comuna Bolaños Pamba by Sebastián Oviedo, Jeroen Stevens, and Viviana d'Auria
Even though our social media age marks a shift in form and forum, when it comes to "Protest Urbanism" there still seems to be a need for - and validity of - having physical bodies in a public space in order for a protest to have an effect, as Mabel O. Wilson argues in our interview "Learning from Protests". Bodies occupying large spaces or marching through different types of arteries, be it streets or freeways, still appear to be central tactics for people engaging in political protest. It is the visceral encounters in physical spaces that trigger deeper and more emotional connections as Jeffrey Hou states in his contribution "Be Water: Protests in Liquid Public Space". For Cansu Cürgen and Avsar Gürpinar physicality matters too as they demonstrate in their piece "Ambiguous Standards of Protest", introducing real objects of protest into the discussion, such as bananas, hoodies, bras, and cloth hangers that became the symbols of the abortion protests in Poland in 2016. According to them these objects set the ambiguous standards of protest, becoming objects of Protest Urbanism. In APP's photo-series "The Archive of Public Protests" we get a glimpse of how objects such as cloth hangers were actually used during the Polish protests, which became the largest protests in the country's contemporary history. Being part of a printed "Strike Newspaper" the photographs can become a banner in your hand, a poster on a building, or a picture on a wall providing tangible objects, thus offering more than just internet circulation and silent contemplation. However, as Ben Parry points out in "Toppling Monuments and Moments of Monumentality", protests often gather force at the global scale especially via the creation and circulation of powerful media images, Internet memes, and creative expressions of solidarity leading to powerful relations between physical public space and digital public space - the traditional and electronic agora. On the other hand, the notion of designing physical public spaces for protests might require a critical review, Dillon Webster demands in "The Empty Plaza: A Socio-spatial Post-occupancy Evaluation", as protests mostly happen with no regard to, and likely consciously against, intentionally allocated spaces for activism. In his article he presents an example of how designs were rejected by protesters revealing that protests are an improvisational performance in which actors respond to temporal and physical cues, collectively reaching a destination. With his dark and grainy images of the French Yellow Vests protests Ulrich Lebeuf tries in his piece "Khaos" to review the perception of protests too, aiming to rewrite history and not only to inform but also to question. An answer to the question of how urban spaces and even city planning might be influenced by protests is provided by Hans Pruijt in our second interview called "The Magic of Squatting" showing how squatting as a form of protest and as "direct action" achieved to preserve the 19th-Century street grid of a neighbourhood in Amsterdam changing the urban planning of the city accordingly. In the interview Pruijt further emphasises the important role architects, urban designers, urban planners, and other stakeholders in our cities can play in shaping, defining, and limiting protests. He sees a particularly strong connection between architecture and squatting in a squatted old salami factory called "Metropoliz" on the outskirts of Rome. To what extent cities can shape or repel protests and how the very materiality of urban space may be employed to suppress dissent, is examined by Nurul Azreen Azlan in her piece "Protest Repellant Urbanism" pointing out the example of Baron Hausmann's restructuring of the Parisian urban form. Hausmann's big boulevards that cut through the medieval urban fabric had made it difficult for protesters to build barricades, that infamous spatial tactic synonymous with the revolutions in Paris, while making it easier for the police to disperse the crowds. Notwithstanding the power of cities, according to Becky Luk and Ching Kan protests can become breeding grounds for the evolution of urban agencies, as they explain in "'TO-BE' Urbanism". The urban agencies that emerged especially in Hong Kong demonstrate how un-addressed and un-fulfilled claims from protests can readily transform into the most persistent and adaptable energy for long-term urban action. Their creation becomes an infrastructure to counter the existing system and co-create a more democratic system for urban production. In that way protests can serve fundamental democratic functions, as Aaron Kalfen and Benjamin van Loon put it in "We Are What We Are: Chicago and the Paradox of Protests" analysing how protests function as organisms within the larger urban theatre. Following Sebastián Oviedo, Jeroen Stevens, and Viviana d'Auria in "From Barrio Bolaños (back) to Comuna Bolaños Pamba" Protest Urbanism emerges thus ideally not merely as protest against a certain form of authoritarian urbanism, nor as simply a spatial form of opposition, but as a highly heterogeneous call for the reconstitution and recognition of fundamentally 'plural' and relational forms of making and inhabiting the city.
Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, October 2021
(Cover: Image is part of APPs contribution The Archive of Public Protests on page 30. ©Rafal Milach)
This issue is supported by Material District´s Book: Tomorrows Timber, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences And Arts: Master Studies in Architecture in Switzerland, Estonian Academy of Arts (Eka): Urban Studies MSc, Rotterdams Independent School for the City: Dirty Old Town; Act Now! - A Unique 12-week Post Graduate Education Programme, and University of Basel: Master of Arts - Critical Urbanisms. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
19-10-20 // MONU #33 - PANDEMIC URBANISM
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Quarantines and Paranoia - Interview with Beatriz Colomina by Bernd Upmeyer; On Constructing a Semana Santa by Ana Morcillo Pallares; Here Not There Urbanism by Jessica Bridger; Lockdown London: Tale of the Tape by Peter Dench; Grasping for (Fresh) Air: Exposing the Inherent Conflict of Public Interiors by Dalia Munenzon and Yair Titelboim; Balco(n)vid-19: How the Pandemic Can Be Hacked by Michaela Litsardaki; New Top City by Eventually Made (Sebastian Bernardy and Vincent Meyer Madaus); Pestilential Cities - Cities as Spheres for Pathogens, Epidemics and Wellbeing by Ian Nazareth, Conrad Hamann and Rosemary Heyworth; The Great Emptiness by Carmelo Ignaccolo and Ayan Meer; Eternal Silence by Nadia Shira Cohen; Isolation and Inequality - Interview with Richard Sennett by Bernd Upmeyer; Transformation Towards Community Resilience: New Urban Visions by Jan Fransen and Daniela Ochoa Peralta; Drivers of Change for the "New" in the "Normal" by Alexander Jachnow; Real Estate Art in the Age of Pandemic by Kuba Snopek; Bringing about the Adaptive Street by Joshua Yates and Janna Hohn; Can the Pandemic Situation Generate Walkable Cities? by Leticia Sabino and Louise Uchôa (SampaPé!); The Total House During and After Coronavirus: A Virtual Place and More by Anna Rita Emili (altro_studio); Medial Territories by Michele Cerruti But; Augmented Domesticities - The Rise of a Non-Typological Architecture by Pedro Pitarch
One of the most important influences of the current global coronavirus pandemic on cities might be the fact that it has made the invisible city visible: the enormous economic inequities and unequal access to healthcare and to education, as Beatriz Colomina points out in our conversation with her on Quarantines and Paranoia. She further states that the pandemic surely influenced our perception of cities, especially when during the lockdown there was less traffic and the urban background became much more visible which allowed the buildings to appear in a completely new way, beautifully and with so much previously unnoticed details. The entire city was looking very different. The bustle, the scene, the very vibe itself nearly vanished overnight in nearly every city as Jessica Bridger depicts the change in her contribution Here Not There Urbanism, explaining that suddenly people could recognise all of the grocery store employees, where before city blindness had rendered them anonymous. According to her, Covid-19 uncloaked the urban invisible just as it put down 2-meter distance markers on sidewalks, subway platforms, and shop-floors. Peter Dench recognised a similar effect in central Londons red-and-white-striped hazard tape - draped across park benches, wrapped around exercise equipment, adorning statues and forming screens to protect bus drivers - showing the familiar in the city in a different way in his photo-essay Lockdown London: Tale of the Tape. In their article The Great Emptiness Carmelo Ignaccolo and Ayan Meer point out that in the urban silence of Rome, the only sound perceived at the Trevi Fountain was its own cascading water, arguing that with global travel restrictions put in place to curtail the coronavirus pandemic, tourists have become the first pandemic-induced extinct species bringing the tourism industry to a complete halt. How cities will get on without tourism is a question also raised by Richard Sennett during our interview with him entitled Isolation and Inequality. According to him one permanent impact of the pandemic will be economic, which will become especially obvious in big cities. He further believes that to deal with crises such as the current pandemic, we need to create more flexible urban environments with decentralised nodes of concentration that can be reached within fifteen minutes. In relation to this Alexander Jachnow reintroduces the idea of the pocket city into the discussion, given the apparent advantages of such a layout: small, walkable neighbourhoods are more introverted, hence less connected and less vulnerable to the spread of disease. However, although such possibilities of responsive planning patterns are undisputed, he considers their implementation rather unlikely expecting little change in the creation of cities due to the pandemic as he argues in his piece Drivers of Change for the New in the Normal. Nevertheless, for Joshua Yates and Janna Hohn the Covid-19 Crisis provides an opportunity to fundamentally change urban street-spaces as parts of a liveable, resilient city, which has so far taken the form of temporary ad-hoc measures, but these same measures might have the potential to develop into a form of tactical urbanism for long-term change, as they explain in their article Bringing about the Adaptive Street. Other changes might be triggered by technology. In her piece The Total House during and after Coronavirus: A Virtual Place and More Anna Rita Emili states that the catastrophe generated by Covid-19 has actually accelerated the globalisation of virtual intelligence, and that in the era of the Internet the meaning of our world increasingly requires the use of tools, platforms, and infrastructures linked to the Internet. This phenomenon does actually lead to a transformation of social relationships into virtual entities, but does not drag the individual towards isolation. Yet, Sennett sees social isolation increasing - another important effect of the pandemic. In relation to virtual spaces Pedro Pitarch emphasises in Augmented Domesticities: The Rise of a Non-Typological Architecture that while work and home have been opposite spheres in modern life, in the contemporary city - and due to the Covid-19 Crisis - digital technologies have generated a medium that constantly mediates between both, establishing much more complex situations and conditions where new publicness is achieved and performed. Living-rooms become offices, garages function as DIY industries, bedrooms perform as TV sets, corridors as gyms, kitchens as playgrounds, and balconies as plazas. Colomina, too, believes that the fact that we are doing so many more things from home than previously, which might continue after the crisis, will have huge consequences for our cities. It may even put an end to the division between the city of rest and the city of work which only emerged with industrialisation. In particular - because people increasingly work from home - this will create a significant transformation in the ways we live and might make the idea of big office towers and the city of business obsolete, which means that we have to think the city differently. Nonetheless, Jachnow reminds us that cities are complex adaptive systems, capable of producing solutions to the challenges they face and that we should be confident that through responsible collective behaviour of individuals we will overcome not only the threats of the pandemic, but find ways to better deal with the current distressing precautions. And if it could be coupled, as Bridger demands, with the urgently needed responses to the coming climate crisis - for her the crisis to end all crises - then Covid-19 will provide more than a silver lining. It will be the foundation for a new kind of shining, silver city upon a hill.
Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, October 2020
(Cover: Image is part of Peter Denchs contribution Lockdown London: Tale of the Tape on page 27. ©Peter Dench)
This issue is supported by Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts' Master Studies in Architecture in Switzerland, CIVA´s Exhibition: Superstudio Migrazioni, Stroom Den Haags Exhibition: Capturing Corona. The Lockdown in Photos and Rotterdams Independent School for the Citys Three-month Educational Programme on Contemporary Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
20-04-20 // MONU #32 AFFORDABLE URBANISM
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Redefining a Radical Social Market Economy - Interview with Jörn Walter by Bernd Upmeyer; The Architecture of the Peoples Housing Plan by Sasha Plotnikova; Normal City by Christopher de Vries; Urbanism for All by Richard Florida; Can Affordability Be Flexible? by Savia Palate; The Good Fight - Interview with Anne Mie Depuydt by Bernd Upmeyer; Fair Game by Ellen Donnelly and Marc Maxey; Affordable Housing in New York by David Schalliol; Cologne, Open City by Steffan Robel; Benign Neglect by Fani Kostourou, Cecily Chua, and Elahe Karimnia; Affordable Access: the Economic Impacts of Makerspaces by Nate Bicak; City in the Making by Matthias Lamberts, Ken Vervaet, Jeroen Stevens, and Bruno De Meulder; For the Right to Occupy and Hold Ground by Ana Paula Pimentel Walker, María Arquero de Alarcón, Luciana Nicolau Ferrara, and Benedito Roberto Barbosa; The Problem Is the Solution by Tanzil Shafique; Squatting in London by Will Hartley; Kiosk Culture by DK Osseo-Asare; A Home for Housing by Jonathan Tate; Affording Tightness by John Doyle and Graham Crist; The Distributed Cooperative by Scott Lloyd, Alexis Kalagas, and Nemanja Zimonjic
The creation of affordable urban spaces - whether for housing, work spaces, public spaces, urban infrastructure, or other functions - is a complex issue, as cost considerations must be balanced with other important objectives such as social usability, environmental sustainability, beauty, etc. Because, as the former Chief Planning Officer of the city of Hamburg, Jörn Walter, argues in our interview Redefining a Radical Social Market Economy: none of this is worth anything if people cannot pay for it. Following Christopher de Vries in his contribution Normal City, urbanization and gentrification have become synonymous to such an extent that they seem inescapably paired. Global cities such as New York, Tokyo, Berlin, London, and Paris, whilst at the centre of our collective urban imagination, appear increasingly elitist instead of representing shared societal ideals. Although there is much evidence that cities have predominantly been elitist over the course of history, over the last centuries cities have transformed into beacons of civic pride, national self-image, and stages for an increasingly inclusive democratic society, a legacy that is under threat, according to de Vries. Thus he investigates the Normal City to heal our broken system, creating places not as refuges for cosmopolitan elites, but as places of shared identity and belonging that can represent the normal distribution of the larger urban reality. In his piece Urbanism for All Richard Florida outlines some strategies for producing a more inclusive urbanism, reflecting questions about uneven urban development, in order to find concrete paths to improve urban life for all, yet still believing in the value of the creative class as an engine for economic prosperity in cities, but not as an isolated strategy. For Anne Mie Depuydt, in our second interview entitled The Good Fight - Towards a Popular, Original and Productive City, to create more inclusive and affordable cities, municipalities need to find new ways to achieve affordable housing, stressing the fact that people should only become the owner of the bricks and mortar but not of the plot, meaning of the building, but not of the land, referring to countries such as Switzerland and the UK, where such a system exists. This provides the municipalities with advantages such as the increase in tax revenue and an extra bargaining tool in seeking to incentivise certain land use, as de Vries explains using the case of the Netherlands and especially Amsterdam, where this system exists too, although currently under threat of being scaled back or even abolished. Depuydt emphasises further that in order to create more affordable housing, there are - apart from the more obvious and established solution of constructing more units, the provision of subsidies, or the implementation of rent-controls - many things architects still need to improve, such as re-thinking our living and working spaces. To demonstrate that affordable housing can take many forms - from cooperatives that are collectively owned by the residents to not-for-profit developments that rent out units at below-market rates, to public-private partnerships that reduce the prices of single-family homes - was the idea behind David Schalliols Affordable Housing in New York project, providing a fuller representation of public housing in the United States and chronicling the history of a wide variety of affordable housing models in the countrys largest city. How diverse and vital affordable spaces for work can be, especially in a socio-economic sense, is shown by Fani Kostourou, Cecily Chua, and Elahe Karimnia in their article Benign Neglect bringing Londons railway arches into the discussion that are used due to benign negligence by landowners, developers, and the planning systems - by artists, artisans, mechanics, craftsmen, and other businesses so they continue their productive existence within the city. These activities present themselves as resistance to - and counter-strategy to - top-down planning policies and neoliberal market forces resonating with a Lefebvrian plea for rights to the city, as exemplified by the occupation movements of residual spaces across the urban fabric of São Paulo that are brought to our attention by Matthias Lamberts, Ken Vervaet, Jeroen Stevens, and Bruno De Meulder in their piece City in the Making. These urban movements show a valuable capacity to guide and integrate those missing out on proper shelter. How chaotic and difficult, but at the same time beautiful and intimate it can be when people try to claim their right to have a roof over their head and a place to sleep at night, is illustrated by Will Hartley in his photo-essay Squatting in London. In order to make more of our city-spaces available and affordable, Jonathan Tate reminds us - in his contribution A Home for Housing - to reengage with the things that we have left behind to the less inspirational sectors of the market, and that there are cracks in every system and holes in every market through which design can appear to become a generative endeavour instead of merely a decorative art, as he shows using some vacant odd-sized lots in New Orleans that put creativity at the start of the process. In their article The Distributed Cooperative Scott Lloyd, Alexis Kalagas, and Nemanja Zimonjic focus on odd lots too, here in the city of Zürich, which represent unrealized opportunities for smart densification, exploring strategies for re-imaging a mixed-use cooperative housing development, conceived at a neighbourhood scale, and distributed across multiple networked locations. In resisting global shifts towards the treatment of space as an exclusive commodity in order to generate affordable urban spaces, they intend to strengthen the community and eke out more marginal financial gains through trade-offs, compelled by the systems of capital that shape our cities. However, in order to produce more affordable cities it may still be necessary to re-think capitalism, as Walter states, but invent a radically new social market economy since all planned economy counter-models of the 20th Century failed.
Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, April 2020
(Cover: Image is part of Will Hartleys contribution Squatting in London on page 97. ©Will Hartley)
This issue is supported by European Post-master in Urbanism (EMU) - Strategies and Design for Cities and Territories, Bauhaus-University Weimars International Master Course: Integrated Urban Development and Design and Incognitas Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
14-10-19 // MONU #31 - AFTER LIFE URBANISM
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Democratizing Death - Interview with Karla Rothstein by Bernd Upmeyer; The Cemetery of the Living by Miguel Candela; With Seven Bodies in My Backyard by Omar Kassab and Mostafa Youssef; Constructing Memorial Poles as Monuments by David Charles Sloane; Ghost Life Urbanism by Jérémie Dussault-Lefebvre and Sébastien Roy; Death and Burial: In the Past Lies the Future by Carlton Basmajian and Christopher Coutts; Beyond the Grave: Conscious Consumption in Life and Death by Sybil Tong; Cemetery and Crematorium Futures by Julie Rugg; The Silent City by Nicole Hanson; You Could Be Compost by Katrina Spade (Recompose); Mourn by Nienke Hoogvliet; Rest in Pixels - Interview with James Norris by Bernd Upmeyer; Watching the Wakes of Strangers through the Internet by Andréia Martins van den Hurk; Suburban Halloween Decorations by Cameron Jamie; Set in Stone: Humans and Barre Granite by Monica Hutton; Claim Domain: An Urban Case for Burial by Anya Domlesky; Exuberance and Resistance by the Dead by Bruno De Meulder and Kelly Shannon; Coexisting: A Matter of Life and Death by Elissaveta Marinova
To face the urban challenges and phenomena that present themselves due to recent changes in our society that are related to death, and its consequences for cities and buildings, a topic that we call After Life Urbanism, we need to be simultaneously pragmatic and visionary according to Karla Rothstein in our interview with her entitled Democratizing Death. She urges the re-engagement and coexistence with life and death to explore what impacts all these transformations might have, encompassing first of all spatial, but also cultural, social, environmental, technological, and economic aspects. With his images of cemeteries of the city of Manila in the Philippines, where families do not tread in fear of the wrath of the dead but some found a place to call home among the crypts of the dead, Miguel Candela depicts and symbolizes in his contribution The Cemetery of the Living such coexistence of life and death. Omar Kassab and Mostafa Youssef take this thought even further in their piece With Seven Bodies in My Backyard arguing that the idea of the cemetery as an apparatus of isolating death, as a form of escapism from the reality of our own mortality, is deemed obsolete and propose to eradicate the cemetery as a territorial land-use entirely, dispersing it throughout the city leading to a dissolving of the cemetery. How places for mourning can be scattered around the city is demonstrated by David Charles Sloane in his piece Constructing Memorial Poles as Monuments, suggesting to use poles, trees, and fences as Everyday memorials in the public realm. That could be an innovative way to approach the problem that in the near future many urban cemeteries will fill up, and few have room for expansion. However, Carlton Basmajian and Christopher Coutts see human burial, with an emphasis on natural burial instead of cremation and the burying of embalmed bodies, as a vehicle for long-term land conservation and restoration, and for an emotional reconnection to the eternal rhythms of life, death, and remembrance, as they put it in their article Death and Burial: In the Past Lies the Future. According to Julie Rugg cemeteries contribute to the city a unique kind of landscape that is highly beneficial to mental health as these are places where it is not regarded as unusual to be solitary, and to enjoy quiet reflection, contributing emotional intelligence to the cityscape, as she argues in Cemetery and Crematorium Futures. But as long as humans continue to be buried in the ground, whether in a beautiful and meaningful way with intentions of placemaking or not, urban challenges and limitations such as the creation of affordable housing or the construction of dense and compact cities, to name just a few, will remain, and will require new ideas. One pioneering approach might come from Katrina Spade and her company Recompose that offers trailblazing burial and cremation alternatives having developed a system that transforms a body into soil in approximately one month as a new sustainable death-care option that has been legalized in Washington State recently, as is explained in her contribution You Could Be Compost. That technology can also introduce creativity to the discussion is revealed by James Norris, who is the founder of the end of life planning software MyWishes, in our second interview entitled Rest in Pixels. On MyWishes users can plan for death, their funeral, can say their final goodbyes, and post pre-designed content, such as updates, pictures, and comments, at defined intervals or on certain important dates or anniversaries after their death. That information technology, especially in the shape of the Internet, can lead to a broader cultural shift in dealing with death and dying, contributing to the creation of both new and alternative forms of sociability, is shown by Andréia Martins van den Hurk in her text Watching the Wakes of Strangers through the Internet. She thinks that people follow virtual wakes and live-streamed funerals mainly out of curiosity and thus considers an interest in death, dying and its rituals as part of human nature. Cameron Jamie documents this interest quite clearly in his photo-essay Suburban Halloween Decorations, where he depicts the elaborate Halloween decorations in his old neighbourhood in Los Angeles. With the images that show front lawns adorned with skeletons, witches, pumpkins, and coffins he invites the spectator into the hinterland of death while also celebrating with a certain humour its position over that of life through festive engagement, in which death becomes a catalyst for remembrance of life. When dealing with After Life Urbanism a sense of humour can never harm, since its tough dying these days particularly as burials in an urban area are often very expensive, as Anya Domlesky points it out in Claim Domain: An Urban Case for Burial. Cost-cutting strategies can be found in Japan, where temples, such as Ruriko-in Byakurenge-do in Shinjuku, feature locker-style columbariums with high-tech vault systems for up to 7,000 urns, as explained by Elissaveta Marinova in her article Coexisting: A Matter of Life and Death. Apart from saving space the Ruriko-in Byakurenge-do temple bears additionally multiple uses that are all quietly coexisting with one other, something that has a tradition in Japan, where once temples were not only a place of prayer and training, but also a school, hospital and a cultural complex of a museum, concert hall, or library. But following Marinova, such progressive projects can only happen if architects, city planners and policymakers alike address the urgency together and break the taboo by design. Looking beyond the overcrowded, segregated cemetery will mean a wholesome overhaul of our public spaces and a complete reconsideration of the way we accommodate and remember the dead - and as Rothstein says, make them more part of everyday life.
Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, October 2019
(Cover: Image is part of Miguel Candelas contribution The Cemetery of the Living on page 16. ©Miguel Candela)
This issue is supported by University of Luxembourg's Master in Architecture, European Urbanisation and Globalisation and Incognitas Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
15-04-19 // MONU #30 - LATE LIFE URBANISM
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Retirement Utopianism - Interview with Deane Simpson by Bernd Upmeyer; Sun City by Peter Granser; The Great Escape: Domesticity for Nomadic Retirees by Hannah Wood and Benjamin Wells; Stayin' Alive - Interview with Frits van Dongen by Bernd Upmeyer; Bucephalus by Nicolò Calandrini; The Future We Don't Want to Know About by Anuschka Kutz; A Knock on the Door by Rachel Marlene Kauder; Ageing UK High Streets: Adding Life to Years by Luca Brunelli; Developing an Age-friendly Urbanism by Chris Phillipson; Traversing Heterotopias by Rafael Luna; What Kind of Care Do We Want? by Arjen Born; God's Waiting Room by Julienne Gage; Intergenerational Living by BETA; Home for the Elderly by Junya Ishigami; Urban Neurodegeneration: Future Approaches to the Architecture of Care by Jack Sardeson; Mega Family Communities for China's Aging Society by Apple Yi Jiang; Live Smarter Now to Live Better Forever by Matthias Hollwich; Emmy's World by Hanne van der Woude
When debating how architecture and cities will be impacted in the future by societies that become increasingly older due to declining fertility rates and rising life expectancy, a topic that we call "Late Life Urbanism", we have to consider the so-called "Young-Old", a new social group that emerged after the mid-point of the twentieth century, as one of the driving forces of the future, as Deane Simpson explains in an interview entitled "Retirement Utopianism". To him this social group is so important because the lifestyles of the people in this group - liberated from the responsibilities of work and childcare, liberated from the responsibilities of childhood, which involves education and socialization into society, and at the same time largely free from rapid physical and mental decline - correspond to a shift from an ethos of care to one of leisure and entertainment, producing new forms of architecture and urbanism. What such new forms can look like is depicted by the photographer Peter Granser in his photo-essay "Sun City" that portrays one of America's oldest and largest retirement communities in Arizona, where people are supposed to live an "active new way of life" instead of simply hanging up the briefcase and waiting to pass away. To what extent the growing network of young-olds are rejecting an 'aging in place', and a sedentary and formalized retirement, in favour of a life on the move, whether with recreational vehicles, cruise ships, or with the help of online home-rental platforms such as Airbnb, is explained by Hannah Wood and Benjamin Wells in their contribution "The Great Escape: Mobile Domesticity for Nomadic Retirees", in which they describe those retirees as pioneering and adventurous nomads. That people want to remain active and go on for as long as possible is argued by Frits van Dongen, the former Chief Government Architect of the Netherlands, who, after more than thirty years of experience and being in his early 70s, just recently opened a new office that he describes on his website as a "young Amsterdam-based office", in another interview called "Stayin' Alive". Of course, we all wish to live long lives, Anuschka Kutz agrees in her piece "The Future We Don't Want to Know About". But she points out that by creating categories such as the "Young-Old" or the "Third Age" - a period of largely comfortable and often 'successful' ageing - in which we are more or less fit to carry on with our lives as before - the 'fun phase of ageing' of 'never-ending holidays' - we have automatically generated a 'scary room' for those of high age, the "Old-Old" or the "Fourth Age", and for those who are prematurely incapacitated or frail and who suffer disability, bereavement, loneliness, and cognitive decline. To prepare our cities for the old-old, to create an age-friendly urbanism and re-shape urban society in ways that acknowledge the changes associated with ageing populations, the gerontologist Chris Phillipson suggests a range of interventions that he details in his article "Developing an Age-friendly Urbanism: Re-thinking the City for an Ageing Society". He urges us to re-think the way we both live and manage our urban environments and raises the following questions: do older people have a 'right' to a share of urban space? How can the resources of the city be best used to benefit the lives of older people? Is the idea of 'age-friendly' caring communities compatible with modern urbanisation? Furthermore, he emphasizes the importance of ensuring spatial justice for older people as a crucial part of the debate and to develop an integrated approach to demographic and urban change as a key task for research and public policy. According to Rafael Luna, technology will play a crucial role in improving the lives of older people in the future, referring to the case of the city of Seoul in South Korea. In his piece "Traversing Heterotopias" he points out that the future elderly will be a tech-savvy generation that, although it is impossible to estimate the complexities of future technologies, has already lived through the third industrial revolution of information technologies and is advancing the fourth revolution of mass customization, and artificial intelligence that gives rise to a cybernetic heterotopia for the elderly. Arjen Born provides with his photos in his contribution "What Kind of Care Do We Want?" some clues about what such a future - in which health care robots assist in the care for the elderly - might look like. However, the human touch and communal ways of life with a strong sense of camaraderie will remain relevant too when it comes to "Late Life Urbanism" as Julienne Gage argues in her article "God's Waiting Room", in which she introduces the case of Miami Beach, where handymen are resolving issues for old Cuban ladies, doing much more than unplugging their toilets or cleaning their windows. This is especially true for people with illnesses such as dementia who ideally live in an environment that is easy to distinguish, recognize, and remember. In order to produce such an environment Junya Ishigami, in his project "Home for the Elderly", extracted sections from wood-frame houses that are scheduled for demolition in various locations throughout Japan, transported them on trucks without dismantling them, and connected these into one new architectural structure to build a facility specifically for elderly people with dementia. That the role of design can indeed be at the vanguard, creating the right environment and the right support, is demonstrated by Matthias Hollwich in his piece "Live Smarter Now to Live Better Forever". If all of this is achieved, people do not need, despite their age, to lose their love of life and freedom and can maintain the zest for life and creativity in old age, as Hanne van der Woude displays beautifully in her series of photographs on "Emmy's World".
Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, April 2019
Image is part of Peter Gransers contribution Sun City
on page 14. ©Peter Granser/ from the book Sun City, published by Benteli)
This issue is supported by Incognitas Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
15-10-18 // MONU #29 - NARRATIVE URBANISM
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Understanding Urban Narratives - Interview with Cassim Shepard by Bernd Upmeyer; Narrative is the New Black - On the Death of Modern Language by Omar Kassab; Hong Kong Is Land by MAP Office (Gutierrez and Portefaix); Les Grands Ensembles by Pierre Huyghe; Bangkok Domestic Tastes by INDA, Alicia Lazzaroni and Antonio Bernacchi; Talk on the Wild Side: Moving Beyond Storytelling in Cities by Nick Dunn and Dan Dubowitz; Narrating an Analogical Urbanism: Rooms+Cities by Cameron McEwan and Lorens Holm; Storytelling No New York by Lorenzo Lazzari; The Grid and the Bedrock by Tiago Torres-Campos; Geostories by Design Earth; Narrating Motherland through Migrating Architectural Objects by Seda Yildiz; Right to the Narrative Walking Interviews by Amila irbegovic; Wild Pigeon by Carolyn Drake; Detroits Nain Rouge by Kathleen Gmyrek; The Rise of the Kynics by Cruz Garcia and Nathalie Frankowski (WAI Architecture Think Tank); Voices of El Ermitaño - Narrating the Unwritten Urbanism of the Self-built City by Kathrin Golda-Pongratz; A Story of a Masterplan in China by Inge Goudsmit (OMA); Notes on the Architectural Cartoon by Amelyn Ng; The Pathways That Tell the Story of Cities by Phil Roberts; Second Thoughts in the Second City by Benjamin van Loon
To create a better general culture of understanding around architecture, urban design and urban development issues, we need to use all of the narrative tools that we have at our disposal, claims Cassim Shepard in the interview we did with him entitled "Understanding Urban Narratives: What Cannot be Measured" for this new issue of MONU, "Narrative Urbanism". Being a filmmaker, he points out that moving images in this day and age are particularly effective forms of communication as they have the capacity to make people want to engage. For him, filmmaking is a very useful process that taught him how to talk to people, how to listen to people, how to observe spaces critically and with an open mind, in order to understand the unique urban dynamics that make every space special and worthy of care. Without that extra attention many things in our cities can simply be forgotten. With his contribution "Les Grands Ensembles" - a video still of a film depicting model replicas of two modernist high rise buildings in a barren nocturnal landscape in the suburbs of Paris - the French artist Pierre Huyghe attempts to fight such urban amnesia by representing a period that has remained marginalized and overlooked. In order to bring forth latent stories and revelations of places and to contribute to the poetics of future city making through narratives that are often overlooked or excluded, Nick Dunn and Dan Dubowitz suggest in their article "Talk on the Wild Side: Moving Beyond Storytelling in Cities" collective walks through lost parts of cities. In that way one important aspect of Narrative Urbanism can be understood as the effort to make the invisible visible and as a discourse concerning the 'common' of the community, as Lorenzo Lazzari emphasizes in his piece "Storytelling "No New York"", depicting narratives as complex operations, and the result of the union of several parts, that require the consideration of diverse aspects of cities. Following Amila irbegovic in her contribution "Right to the Narrative", Narrative Urbanism thus has the potential to make on the one hand observable the stories of the unheard and the unseen, and on the other hand to create the possibility for architects, urban designers, and city planners to participate in - but also to question and to transform - the conditions of urban sites into which they intervene in their future practice. How to observe the stories of the people and involve them into creative processes, is demonstrated by the American photographer Carolyn Drake in her photo-essay "Wild Pigeon", for which she traveled through the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China, around 3.000 km from Beijing, with a box of prints, a pair of scissors, coloured pencils, and a sketchbook, asking willing collaborators to draw on, reassemble, and use their own tools on her photographs. And once non-experts are involved in creative processes and the shaping of cities, the urban dynamics can change, which leads - according to Kathleen Gmyrek - to participatory narratives, as she argues in her piece "Detroit's Nain Rouge", in which she explains how a myth around a red dwarf known as the Nain Rouge, that inspired a parade in the city of Detroit, offers a public forum for participants to grapple with the political and socioeconomic forces that are shaping the city's future, providing the opportunity to play an active role in framing the narrative of their city. However, since architects are great storytellers too, as Inge Goudsmit from the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) reminds us in her contribution "A Story of a Masterplan in China", they will remain - together with everybody else involved in the creation of cities - obliged to make themselves understood better, using the power of "narratives" to help them to connect not only to experts and intellectuals in the field, but to everybody else too. But as Cassim Shepard clarifies, such "expert" narratives should not merely be used to get communities to agree to new urban developments. What he believes is more important, is to try to bring narrative strategies into the way we understand the complexity of a site from the very beginning, and then throughout the project analyze and interpret and develop what the project is about. For, as Benjamin van Loon points out in his article on the city of Chicago entitled "Second Thoughts in the Second City", only through honest storytelling can design make a difference, because if it weren't for storytelling, would cities exist at all?
Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, October 2018
(Cover: Image is part of Pierre Huyghes contribution Les Grands Ensembles on page 25. ©Marian Goodman Gallery Paris/New York)
This issue is supported by Estonian Academy of Arts MA Programme and Incognitas Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
16-04-18 // MONU #28 - CLIENT-SHAPED URBANISM
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Sympathy for the Devil by Beatriz Ramo (STAR); What Clients Want by Nigel Ostime; The End of the Dominatrix Architect - Interview with Alejandro Zaera-Polo by Bernd Upmeyer and Beatriz Ramo; Expectation and Reality by Leewardists; The Fragmented Public as an Emergent Condition of "Weak Urbanism" by Iulia Hurducas; Arkanum by Aras Gökten; The King As Client by Azadeh Zaferani; Arterial: The Persistence of Flow - After the City, This (Is How We Live) by Tom Marble; Who Is the Client in a "Slum"? Towards a Deterritorialization of the Client-designer Dichotomy by Tanzil Shafique; Makerspaces: Public as Client by Nate Bicak; The Clients They Are a-Changing by Tommaso Raimondi and Paolo Romanò; Behind the Scenes: A Conversation with my Client by Djamel Aït-Aïssa and Beatriz Ramo (STAR); The Glass House by Jon Kandel; Not All about Beauty - Interview with Stefan Paeleman by Bernd Upmeyer; Negotiating the Design of Emerging Urban Futures with Developer-clients by Benjamin Zagami; Client-users and Public Architecture by Ruth Jones and Jennifer Davis; Architecture After the Client by Nicholas Pajerski; Ariadne's Thread - Diverging Trajectories of Architect, Client and User by GruppoTorto; Contested Grounds by Nicole Lambrou; Flat Lines: The Shifting Boundaries of Cleveland's Fiscal Topologies by Jeffrey Kruth
"Are architects at risk of losing their relevance to the client?" asks Beatriz Ramo in her contribution "Sympathy for the Devil" for MONU's issue #28 that we devote to the topic of "Client-shaped Urbanism". We consider "clients" to be crucial participants in the shaping and creating of urban spaces. We intend to find out how to improve things, such as the collaboration between client and architect or urban designer, for a more satisfying outcome for everybody involved and above all for the users and inhabitants of cities. For Alejandro Zaera-Polo architects today have not only lost the trust of clients, but also the trust of society to deliver anything culturally significant, because they have been fooling around with idiotic, self-involved ideas for too long and are now viewed with some level of distrust, as he claims in our interview entitled "Project Managers and the End of the Dominatrix Architect". But he partly blames the clients too for this situation. On the one hand, clients were called in, especially during the 1990s and before the financial crisis of 2008, to do something weird and shocking that would "put the place on the map"; on the other, they increasingly started to hand projects over to project managers, who often took pride in belittling the architect to show the client that they have everybody under their boot, that they are saving money, or that they are tough with deadlines, which is, according to Zaera-Polo, often to the project's loss. To what extent the public can be put down too, and even excluded from city creation processes, is demonstrated by Iulia Hurducas in her piece "The Fragmented Public as an Emergent Condition of "Weak Urbanism"", in which she describes how the client of every urbanism project appears as a ghostly presence, referring to processes in the city of Cluj, Romania. Aras Gökten seems to capture such ghostly presences in his photo-essay "Arkanum". Money is certainly a very important aspect when it comes to "Client-shaped Urbanism" as Tanzil Shafique emphasizes in his article "Who Is the Client in a "Slum"? Towards a Deterritorialization of the Client-designer Dichotomy", revealing how architects are dependent on clients - and bound to clients - predominantly for financial reasons. Thus, if one were to rewrite "Moneytalks", the AC/DC smash hit from the 90's, it would be called "moneybuilds". However, he points out as well that the role of the client as the patron of 'great works of art and architecture' is implicit and 'an a priori' in architectural practice, and that urbanism has been shaped by clients for a long time. Nevertheless, that things can get complicated leading easily to a tense dynamic between client and architect is dramatically displayed in Jon Kandel's photo series about the play "The Glass House" at the Clurman Theatre in New York City, that portrays the particular problematic relationship between Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Edith Farnsworth, who became his client, acolyte, lover, collaborator, frustrated client, spurned lover, and bitter enemy all within a few years. To avoid frustration the Belgian real estate developer Stefan Paeleman stresses that it is of the utmost importance that the client and the architect are on the same team, respecting each other, and working in the same direction to achieve a common goal, as he explains in our second interview called "Not All about Beauty". How architects and urban designers might establish more trust and initiate more constructive partnerships with their clients is an issue discussed by Benjamin Zagami in his contribution "Negotiating the Design of Emerging Urban Futures with Developer-clients": by embracing a co-creation process, escalating the conventional client-practitioner dynamic by enabling clients to become active participants and co-designers. According to Ruth Jones and Jennifer Davis the future users are ideally the clients of projects as they explain in their piece "Client-users and Public Architecture: A Look at the Approaches of French Architect Patrick Bouchain and the French Architectural Collective Exyzt", imagining a collaborative engagement of the public in the creation of architecture while making, and funding, architecture conceived as active sites for the collective construction of citizenship. For whom this sounds too utopian Jeffrey Kruth suggests - since the client-architect relationship has shifted from one of patronage to a broader system of data-driven management practices - that architects re-shape their role into one of dexterity that can consistently be placed in a position of agency to help re-shape the environment in societally beneficial ways, as he points out in his text "Flat Lines: The Shifting Boundaries of Cleveland's Fiscal Topologies". That could lead to new forms of analysis, representation and experimentation, in practice providing agency for designers and planners, that better shape the space in which architectural practice occurs.
Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, April 2018
This issue is supported by Bauhaus University Weimars International Master Course, Birkhäusers Vienna Then and Now, Estonian Academy of Arts MA Programme, Sotines Handmade Jewellery, Incognitas Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
(Cover: Image is courtesy of Aras Gökten. The image is part of his contribution "Arkanum" on page 34. ©Aras Gökten)
16-10-17 // MONU #27 - SMALL URBANISM
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... And Though She be but Little, She is Fierce! by Liz Teston; Build: Losing their Identity by Colin Davies; Dissident Micro-occupations by Ana Medina; Gang Urbanism: Subaltern Bodies Inhabiting Suburbia by Victor Cano Ciborro; A Matter of Zooming - Interview with Stephan Petermann/ OMA by Bernd Upmeyer; Stools as Tools: Tactical Units and Ways of Sitting in Public Space by Avsar Gürpinar and Nur Horsanali; Every Object Is a Crowd! - Interview with Levi Bryant by Bernd Upmeyer; On Triangles in Squares and the Color of Air by Kyle Miller; Raptures by Masha Hupalo; Small Scale Practice by Hester van Gent; Little People by Slinkachu; Stealth Infrastructure by Julian Oliver; All the Small Things by Benedetta Marani; Local Code: Real Estates by Nicholas de Monchaux; Hobby Room: Spatial and Social Infrastructures for Collective Urban Space by James Longfield; The Cabanon: The Smallest Apartment in the World by STAR and BOARD; The Apartheid that Can't Be Flushed Away by Nadine Botha; Seeding the City in Ulaanbaatar's Ger Districts: Urbanisation from the Inside-out by Joshua Bolchover; Small Urbanism for Refugees by Fabiano Micocci; From Small Scale Interventions to the Third Generation City by Marco Casagrande
" And Though She be but Little, She is Fierce!", the title of Liz Teston's contribution using a quote from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", captures the content of this MONU issue on "Small Urbanism" very well. For when it comes to urbanism, small things seem to matter, whether they are actions, small physical elements, information and communications technology, or small-scale interventions. With regard to actions, Teston shows how transient micro-urbanisms of protest architecture can have a significant impact on our cities. During such actions, human bodies can alter public spaces through practices that challenge the arrangement of urban power and convert it into a channel of opposition, as Ana Medina argues in her piece "Dissident Micro-occupations". In her explorations of dissident architectural practices, she reveals that spaces for protests are in fact not designed, but taken over by the dissidents to transform the architectural urban landscape. However, the design of physical elements - and especially small physical elements - appears to be very relevant for "Small Urbanism", as architecture and urbanism seem to remain the key interface of the physical manifestations of our society. Every architectural element, whether big or small, seems to have an urban consequence, as Stephan Petermann from the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) puts it in our interview with him entitled "A Matter of Zooming". How we design things can make a real difference in our lives, both socially and politically, and we should be attentive to that, claims the philosopher Levi Bryant in another interview that we titled "Every Object is a Crowd!". According to him, objects exist, within the framework of object-oriented ontology, at a variety of different levels of scale and all objects are composites of other objects. Additionally, there is a gravity of things and a power of materiality that makes all sorts of profound differences in the world and in cities. With his miniature people, the artist Slinkachu aims to make visible these differences that small things can make, which can easily be overlooked and ignored. He achieves this intriguingly in his contribution "Little People". That small but important objects in our cities can easily go unnoticed, because they are sometimes hidden on purpose, especially when it comes to information and communications technology and in particular to cellular infrastructure that is necessary for mobile phone networks, is revealed by Julian Oliver in his piece on "Stealth Infrastructure". By exposing our cities' less visible infrastructure he aims to remind us of our dependence on a deeper physical reality - and our consequent implicit vulnerability - and that our cities are engineered and technical places as much as they are natural expressions of the Human and the Social. To what extent small information and communications technology tools and devices can be used for the renewal of entire neighbourhoods and the fight against criminality in cities, is demonstrated by Benedetta Marani in her article "All the Small Things". And since information and information technology is growing rapidly, as Nicholas de Monchaux puts it in his contribution "Local Code: Real Estates", where he points out that information is increasingly spatial, and, more than ever, urban in its origins and character, there is good news for the future of our cities. It turns out that "Small Urbanism" is most powerful when it is used as an urban renewal and redevelopment strategy, above all in the form of small-scale interventions. How such strategies can work is shown by James Longfield in his piece "Hobby Room: Spatial and Social Infrastructures for Collective Urban Space", where a series of small hobby rooms, designed for residents to pursue activities either individually or in groups, is inconspicuously knitted into the grain of the housing, as a new site for civic engagement and for the retention of the social ties of a close-knit working class community. Small-scale interventions can also be used as a design methodology on the urban fabric aiming at ripple effects and transformation of the larger urban organism, as Marco Casagrande proposes in his article "From Small Scale Interventions to the Third Generation City". Through his project in the city of Taipei he demonstrates how such interventions, while being in touch with site-specific local knowledge, are able successfully to produce small-scale, but ecologically and socially catalytic developments on the built human environment.
Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, October 2017
This issue is supported by University of Leuvens Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Stadslabs Masterclasses: Darling Intercultural Space and Shenzhen Urban Villages, Rotterdams Het Nieuwe Instituut: Exhibition The Other Architect, Stroom Den Haag: Exhibition Céline Condorelli - Proposals For A Qualitative Society (Spinning), Incognitas Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
(Cover: Image is courtesy of Slinkachu. The image is part of his contribution "Little People" on page 65. ©Slinkachu)
18-04-17 // MONU #26 - DECENTRALISED URBANISM
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(browse the entire issue #26 on Youtube)
The City Is Dead! Long Live Urbanization Interview with Lars Lerup by Bernd Upmeyer; Decentralized Consumerism by David Karle and Caitlin Tangeman; Texas Unbound by Ian Caine; The Legend of Grand Paris, or How Paris Became Great by STAR strategies + architecture and BOARD; Decentralizing the Global City Region: Suburban Identities in Frankfurt and Toronto? by Bernd Belina and Roger Keil; The Road City and the Rurban Potentials by Mario Matamoros Rosales; The Emancipation of the Periphery by Floris Alkemade; The Segmented Metropolis by Carlo Pisano; The 'Divine' Struggle of Building Utopias by Yannis Tzaninis; Opposing Oppositions, All City/All Land by Maarten Gheysen, Kris Scheerlinck and Erik Van Daele; Space as a Media of Innovation - Interview with Keller Easterling by Bernd Upmeyer; The Edge City is Dead by Judith K. De Jong; Tokyo Compression by Michael Wolf; Current Obstacles and Future Possibilities in Post-war Residential Suburbs of Tokyo by Rugile Ropolaite; Cities within the City, Density in the Territory: Public Housing Estates and the Transformation of Hong Kong by Ivan Valin and Natalia Echeverri; The Autoroute State and the Geeks Empire by Constantina Theodorou; Decentralised Suburbanism or Suburban Conditions of Living around Athens by Alexandros Zomas and Mara Papavasileiou; Post-Rural Futures in an Urbanising World? by Bianca Elzenbaumer, Fabio Franz and Hannes Langguth; The City of Six Towns by Mark Power
Centrality is dead. Lars Lerup does not hold back in an interview with us entitled "The City Is Dead! Long Live Urbanization ". In this new issue of MONU we discuss what centrality means for cities today and explore and assess cities that are organized in a decentralized or polycentric way - something we call "Decentralised Urbanism" - in general and as a strategy to plan the growth of cities and their metropolitan areas. Thus, to a certain extent, we continue the discussion of MONU #19, entitled "Greater Urbanism", on how metropolitan areas of cities should be organized in terms of governance, politics, space, architecture, sociology, ecology, and economics, but now with a focus on "Decentralised Urbanism". According to Lerup we eventually should be able to understand urbanization as a vibrant kind of fast and slow moving apparatus, and in a way as a virus that reproduces itself at the same time. But we should see urbanization also as a surface that is not really a surface but a thickness and a force field in which you carry the centre with you. Why a city sometimes has to die to save its periphery and allow urbanization and not centrality prevail is perceptively demonstrated by STAR strategies + architecture and BOARD in its contribution "The Legend of Grand Paris, or How Paris Became Great" in which "Paris had to be killed to save its homeland". Bernd Belina and Roger Keil in their piece "Decentralizing the Global City Region: Suburban Identities in Frankfurt and Toronto?" explain that peripheral places already actively position themselves as players in the area and even as global cities. They argue that these individual regional municipalities essentially practice a form of decentralized urbanism in a centralized world of global urbanization. Nevertheless, Floris Alkemade complains that the general public and developers still tend to assign a lesser status to the periphery reserving their attention and appreciation for the city centres, which has led to a structural underestimation of, and lack of commitment to, our peripheral areas, as he points out in his article "The Emancipation of the Periphery". He considers the periphery as a prime location for radical modernization and an arena for innovation that has the potential, especially with the help of self-driving cars, to deliver particularly attractive residential areas. However, Keller Easterling believes that automated vehicles, although currently discussed frequently in relation to "Decentralised Urbanism" and as the saviour of all problems of movement and infrastructure, may also create more congestion, emissions, and sprawl if people use those vehicles instead of transit, as she states in an interview with us called "Space as a Media of Innovation". Therefore, she advocates inserting the idea of the "Switch" that allows passengers to up-shift and down-shift into transportation of different capacities. Transportation and commuting are obviously crucial aspects of "Decentralised Urbanism". How tough commuting within metropolises and metropolitan areas can be is quite impressively shown in Michael Wolf's contribution "Tokyo Compression". But since the expanding global urbanization process comes with an ever-growing amount of commuting, as Constantina Theodorou emphasizes in her piece "The Autoroute State and the Geeks Empire", it becomes ever more necessary that answers to the problem of the rising nomadic population - whether refugees, commuters, or constantly moving freelancers, who are not citizens of the places they inhabit - are found. To solve this problem of "Decentralised Urbanism" she proposes a new and loosened relationship of power to territory so that other forms of sovereignty can emerge such as the social sovereignty practiced by actors other than the state and detached from a certain territory. Examples of such actors in an increasingly urbanising world are decentralised community economies leading to a decentralised community-oriented urbanism that Bianca Elzenbaumer, Fabio Franz, and Hannes Langguth discovered in future-oriented post-rural alpine regions, as they call them in their article "Post-Rural Futures in an Urbanising World?". And since in the final analysis the functioning of "Decentralised Urbanism" will be largely dependent on the people and their communities, it is quite fitting that Mark Power portrays the polycentric city of Stoke-on-Trent and its inhabitants in his photo essay "The City of Six Towns".
Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, April 2017
This issue is supported by University of Leuvens Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, KotorAPSS Architecture Prison Summer School, University of Liechtensteins Master (MSc) of Architecture, Erasmus University Rotterdams Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (Ihs), Incognitas Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism, The Estonian Academy of Arts Urban Studies MA Programme, Stadslabs Masterclass: Tbilisi Courtyards. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
(Cover: Image is courtesy of Michael Wolf. The image is part of his contribution Tokyo Compression on page 81. ©Michael Wolf)
17-10-16 // MONU #25 - INDEPENDENT URBANISM
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(browse the entire issue #25 on Youtube)
What Ever Happened to Skopje? by Jasna Mariotti; Capital City-Making by Gruia Badescu; A Translocal Capital? Prishtina by Kai Vöckler and Jonas König; Urban Development in Belgrade: The Politics of the New Urban by Alexander Kleibrink; Victory Park by Arnis Balcus; On the Condition of Post-(communist) Urbanism and Urban Public Squares in Lithuania by Tomas Grunskis; Of the New Now by Milda Paceviciute and Burak Pak; Pink Flamingos and Muscular Men - Interview with Bart Lootsma and Dijana Vucinic by Bernd Upmeyer; The Project of the Post-industrial Landscape of Solana Ulcinj by Marco Scarpinato and Lucia Pierro; Infrastructure of Independence by Martynas Mankus; Forming Identity Across Boundaries by Thomas Cole; The Unfinished by Julien Lombardi; Terror and the Miracle - Taiwanese Dreams by Florence Twu; Decentralize, Desecularize, and Deregulate by Suzanne Harris-Brandts; Enclaves of Independence by Joseph Godlewski; The Taxi Rank and the Mega Mall by Claire Lubell; Strategies for a Newfound Freedom - Interview with Gvido Princis by Bernd Upmeyer; The Potential of Weak Urbanism by Sandra Parvu; Transnistria by Julia Autz
A city in a country that recently gained independence is likely to undergo processes of radical transformation and massive restructuring and re-imagining that are not only societal, political, and economic in nature, but can also impact the planning system of a city and influence its built-up environment. Jasna Mariotti makes this quite clear in her contribution to MONU, entitled "What Ever Happened to Skopje?". This new issue of our magazine deals with various phenomena impacting cities of countries that became newly independent which we call "Independent Urbanism". She shows how the centre of Skopje in Macedonia has been remodeled according to an image of the city that never existed as such. Obviously, many "independent" cities are facing major struggles and difficulties in finding their new identity that usually have a lot to do with the fact that the "birth of a country" is a contested process often involving political turmoil, institutional instability, and economic turbulence as Kai Vöckler and Jonas König put it in their article "A Translocal Capital? Prishtina". The way monuments and public spaces that are loaded with a "dependent" past can add controversial issues, collective and personal contradictions, and traumas to this process is illustrated by Arnis Balcus in his photo essay "Victory Park". According to Dijana Vucinic, preserving identity within the cities and cultures that are heading towards the EU is one of the biggest challenges for a country such as Montenegro and for other countries that went through very significant transformations after the era of socialism, as she stated in an interview with her and Bart Lootsma entitled "Pink Flamingos and Muscular Men - Independence is a Relative Phenomenon". To what extent urban and public infrastructure can help here as an important element of nation building and even be instrumentalized to instigate, stimulate, and secure the growth of cities, is explained by Martynas Mankus in his text on "Infrastructure of Independence". Whether so-called "Free Industrial Zones" can be successful strategies for "independent" cities to thrive is discussed by Suzanne Harris-Brandts in her contribution "Decentralize, Desecularize, and Deregulate" in which she highlights the situation and transformation of the city of Kutaisi in Georgia. There seems to be no doubt that an opening up to independent views, different approaches to urbanism, and a building up of international networks are crucial steps for the successful development of "independent" cities. At least this is what Gvido Princis, the director of the Riga City Architect's Office, argues when he reflects on his experience in the city of Riga in Latvia, in our second interview entitled "Strategies for a Newfound Freedom". Only then "independent" cities might get a chance to develop in a way that enables them to fulfil the dreams of a more colourful and more hopeful world especially for the younger generation, as Julia Autz emphasizes with her photo series "Transnistria".
Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, October 2016
This issue is supported by University of Leuvens Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Estonian Academy of Arts Interdisciplinary Masters Programme in Urban Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdams Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) and Incognita's Architectural Study Tours. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
(Cover: Image is courtesy of Julia Autz. The image is part of her contribution Transnistria on page 121. ©Julia Autz)
18-04-16 // MONU #24 - DOMESTIC URBANISM
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(browse the entire issue #24 on Youtube)
The Home as Political Arena - Interview with Andrés Jaque by Bernd Upmeyer; Chantal Akerman, Yasujiro Ozu, and the Poetics of Intimate Space by Sander Hölsgens; The Fridge, the City and the Critique of Everyday Life by Justinien Tribillon; How to Domesticate a City: Adaptive Tools to an Urban Environment by CENTRALA (Simone De Iacobis, Malgorzata Kuciewicz), with Aleksandra Kedziorek; The Minor Composition of Threshold Domesticities by Lucía Jalón Oyarzun; Redefining the Domestic between New Forms of Dwelling and Emerging Social Problems by Luca Lazzarini; The Pavilion by åyr; Re-Addressing Commons by Fabrizia Berlingieri; Housing in Continuity by Aron Bohmann and Charlotte Herbst; A Nice Normal Little Village by Cookies; An Amalgamation of Homes: 3 Micro-stories by Nele Aernouts and Sofie Van der Linden; Domestic Insecurities by Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller (AGENCY); The Circulation of Domesticity in a New Political Economy by Ioanna Piniara; Urbanism From Within by Neeraj Bhatia and Christopher Roach; A Short Guide through the Grand Domestic Revolution by Casco; Socialist Urban Planning and the Housing Question: At Home in Skopje by Jasna Mariotti; The Interior of the Metropolis by STAR strategies + architecture; Live, Work, Play: Learning from the Athfield House and Office by Julia Gatley, Marco Moro and Simone Ferreli; Domesticity - Interview with Herman Hertzberger by Bernd Upmeyer
What happens in domestic interiors appears to be very relevant for our societies. At least, that is what Andrés Jaque argues in our interview entitled "The Home as Political Arena" for this new issue of MONU. This issue, "Domestic Urbanism", deals with the domestic aspects of cities, and everything that is related to the human home and habitat, the scale of the house, people's own universe, things that are usually hidden and private. According to Jaque, a great number of the processes by which our societies are shaped take place in domestic interiors, the domestic realm, and in relation to very domestic elements such as the table setting, the Christmas tree, or the TV remote control. Justinien Tribillon - in his contribution "The Fridge, the City and the Critique of Everyday Life: a Tale of Domestic Urbanism" - describes, for example, to what extent a domestic element such as the refrigerator has changed radically the way we consume the city. Because the domestic infiltrates the urban and, vice versa, the city leaks into the house, the city needs to be seen as a continuous fabric of differential intensities rather than a patchwork of enclosed categories that distinguish between private and public, house and city, or inside and outside. In her piece "The Minor Composition of Threshold Domesticities" Lucía Jalón Oyarzun explains how our private domestic spaces are becoming increasingly more public as demonstrated by åyr, an art collective that focuses on contemporary forms of domesticity and the effects of the internet on the city. In their contribution "The Pavilion" they feature photos of Airbnb apartments that were used as exhibition spaces during the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2014. That the internet plays a growing role in "Domestic Urbanism" is illustrated by the Rotterdam-based collective Cookies in their article "A Nice Normal Little Village", showing how the digital machines of today might articulate our domestic lives tomorrow, based on their research into a care facility for elderly people on the outskirts of Amsterdam. In this facility the domestic environment of the patients is reconstructed retroactively, something which is not so far removed from the simulated domestic environments on military training sites that Ersela Kripa and Stephen Mueller (AGENCY) refer to in their piece "Domestic Insecurities". Neeraj Bhatia and Christopher Roach in their article "Urbanism From Within" show us how to re-imagine and re-think the domestic and the house as one of the smallest and most valuable urban units in order to create new affordable housing units. One solution would be to make use of the many illegal secondary units that exist within a city, such as hidden garages, attics, rear yards, or underutilized spaces of homes. That the needs of people and the relationship of people should to be placed at the centre of all actions while re-inventing and evolving the concept of the domestic and the home is emphasized by Casco, an office for art, design, and theory in their contribution "A Short Guide through the Grand Domestic Revolution" in which they explore the domestic sphere to imagine new forms of shared living and working. In order to prepare ourselves for a future that is once again in desperate need of a revolution in housing, the design of floor plans, and strategies for typologies, we need to end what STAR strategies + architecture describes as the "festival of facades". We need to dare remove the cover and observe with fresh and curious eyes what is happening behind and inside buildings and adapt the homes and the domestic spaces of people not merely to regulations, but to the diverse ways of life and especially the changing ways of life of the inhabitants, accentuating that the true revolution should happen indoors, as they point out in their piece "The Interior of the Metropolis". Similarly, in our interview entitled "Domesticity", Herman Hertzberger underlines the importance of the idea of a small and basic unit, which provides people the possibility - whether they are rich or poor - to turn their houses into what they want them to be, with a broad variety of options. Furthermore, he stresses that architects should stop being too concerned with aesthetics, but ought to create new paradigms with regard to domestic spaces rather than just thinking about creating nice forms.
Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, April 2016
This issue is supported by University of Leuvens Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Erasmus University Rotterdams Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), University of Liechtensteins Master (Msc) of Architecture and Incognita's Architectural Study Tours. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
(Cover: Image is courtesy of STAR strategies + architecture. The image is part of their contribution "The Interior of the Metropolis" on page 106. ©STAR strategies + architecture; Illustrator: Masha Krasnova-Shabaeva)
19-10-15 // MONU #23 - PARTICIPATORY URBANISM
(browse the entire issue #23 on Youtube)
Distributing Power - Interview with Jeremy Till by Bernd Upmeyer; Temporary Urban Spaces as Evidence of Participatory Urbanism by Carolyn Sponza; Towards a New Urbanism - Emergent Strategies by Gonzalo J López; Learning from Advocacy Planning by Verena Lenna; From a Spatial Society to a Spatial Culture by Moana Heussler, Peter Jenni and Stefan Kurath; The Utopia of DIY Urbanism: The Case of the Holzmarkt Cooperative, Berlin by Uta Gelbke; "Make City" in Times of an "Absolute Present"? by Nina Gribat, Hannes Langguth and Mario Schulze; Participation as a Battlefield - Interview with Damon Rich by Bernd Upmeyer; Is Commoning the New/Old Participation? by Stefan Gruber; Commons, Participatory Urbanism and Democratic Participation by Nele Aernouts and Thomas Decreus; Participatory Design as Tailoring by Andrea Spreafico; Rhythm 0 by Marina Abramovic; The Interactionist City by Tom Marble; The Urban Citizens' Extitutional Processes in Madrid by Esaú Acosta, Mauro Gil-Fournier, Miguel Jaenicke (SIC, VIC); Citizen Participation in Chilean Urban Micro-Strategies: I love my Neighborhood Program by Luis Eduardo González; Participatory Urbanism: New Learning-scapes in Contemporary Cities by Serafina Amoroso; Participation Time by Sheryl-Ann Simpson What's Wrong With? by Jaffer Kolb and Anya Sirota; Participants or Consumers? The 'Do It Yourself' Construction of the Twenty-First Century City by Cathy Smith
In order to avoid participation in architecture and urban design becoming merely a politically required token of democratic involvement - a kind of fake participation that does not actually engage the participants in any meaningful way - architects, planners, and designers need to commit themselves and relinquish control, as Jeremy Till claims in an interview with us entitled "Distributing Power". With this new issue of MONU on the topic of "Participatory Urbanism" we aim to find out and reassess to what extent individual citizens really can and should become proactive in the production and development of cities and in the shaping of neighbourhoods, and where the limits of such Participatory Urbanism really lie. However, giving up control and power can be tricky, as planning experts are usually sceptical of participation procedures and tend to consider such procedures an interference in their competences. Instead, they tend to reject the possibility of enrichment of urbanist practice through multilayered urbanistic concepts, as Moana Heussler, Peter Jenni, and Stefan Kurath argue in their contribution "From a Spatial Society to a Spatial Culture". This kind of disbelief, according to Damon Rich, has spawned legions of "public participation consultants" that offer governments in the US a "bulletproof process" that no amount of citizen disruption is able to stop, as he told us in an interview entitled "Participation as a Battlefield". A certain doubt with regard to the functioning and effectiveness of participation procedures is to a certain extent understandable, of course, as such processes easily become too complicated and impossible to manage. Bringing more people at the table certainly does not make things easier, as so many people are involved in architectural and urban projects already, even without citizens' participation. That the process might get complicated and even dangerous when people participate in projects is quite impressively demonstrated by Marina Abramovic in her art performance "Rhythm 0", in which she tests the limits of the relationship between performer and audience and tries to find out how far the public is willing to go, learning that: "if you leave it up to the audience, they might kill you." In order to not kill anybody and to organize participatory design processes in a satisfying way, Serafina Amoroso - in her piece "Participatory Urbanism: New Learning-scapes in Contemporary Cities" - points out that architects and urban designers need the knowledge of the user as expert-citizen through which the process becomes a two-way street and expansive. After all, knowledge is not just 'content' to be transmitted and learnt, but demands a deeper understanding in terms of experience and empathy. Only then can public participation in architecture and urbanism lead to scenarios in which both professionals and non-professionals alike are enabled to become active producers, working inside and in between the existing spaces of their host cities as Cathy Smith states in her article "Participants or Consumers? The 'Do It Yourself' Construction of the Twenty-First Century City". And only then projects can flourish that create a sense of social inclusion and authenticity that cannot be dismissed as little more than 'hipster economics'.
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, October 2015)
This issue is supported by University of Leuvens Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Bauhaus University Weimars International Master Programmes, Luleå University of Technologys Master Of Science in Climate Sensitive Urban Planning and Building, Fontys Masterclass Lisbon 2016, University of Liechtensteins Master (Msc) of Architecture, and Erasmus University Rotterdams Institute of Urban Management (IHS). Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
(Cover Image: Rhythm 0, performance, from Marina Abramovics contribution on page 82. Location: Studio Morra Naples, 1974, Photo: Donatelli Sbarra. ©Marina Abramovic. Image is courtesy of the Marina Abramovic Archives)
20-04-15 // MONU #22 - TRANSNATIONAL URBANISM
Order a copy of MONU #22 here.
(browse the entire issue #22 on Youtube)
Digitalité, Créativité - Interview with Jean-Louis Missika
by Beatriz Ramo and Bernd Upmeyer; On Home, in a World of Non-possession
by Merve Bedir; Rescaling Transnational Geographies by Antonio
Petrov; Third Form Cross Border Cartography - A Middle Eastern Exostructure
by Maier Yagod; Transnational Urbanisms of Asylum Trajectories
by Kolar Aparna; Global Towns in the New Copperbelt by Justin
Hui; Harmony Through Commerce - How Yiwu Embraced Islam by Laura
M. Henneke; Madgermanes by Malte Wandel; Binational Urbanism
- On the Road to Paradise by Bernd Upmeyer; Zeeuws Vlaanderen,
NL/BE: The National Border as Catalyst for a Transnational Periphery by
Pepijn Bakker and Rutger Huiberts; Magical and Mediated: Transnational
Urbanism in Quiapo, Manila by Thomas Mical; Hidden Space - Social
Space - The Spatiality of Temporary Migration Between Home and Host Countries
by Dalal Musaed Alsayer; Actor Map of Korea - And Spatial Scenarios
of Transnational Networks by Yehre Suh; Transit Space in The Straits
Megacity Region by Agatino Rizzo; Discrepant Sea by Kyle
Hovenkotter and Trevor Lamphier; The Urban Pier - Exchanges of Work
by Zoé Renaud; Informal Control - Interview with Ulf Hannerz
by Bernd Upmeyer; New Prospects for Urban Planning by Giovanni
Matteo Cudin; Humanitarian City by Paul Currion; United
Sustainable Urban States by Matilde Igual Capdevila
our cities for the emergence and growth of transnational lifestyles we need
to invent new urban and architectural forms that are adapted to these new ways
of life. This is what the French sociologist and assistant Mayor of Paris, Jean-Louis
Missika, emphasized in an exclusive interview with MONU entitled
Liberté, Digitalité, Créativité
on the topic of Transnational Urbanism. This new issue of
MONU focuses on the impact of transnational processes on cities
in general and the consequences of transnational relations between individuals,
groups, firms, or institutions for cities in particular. We deemed it necessary
to dedicate an entire issue to the phenomenon of transnationalism in
relation to the city, to architecture, and its influence on cities in spatial
as well as social, political, economical, and cultural terms, as these days,
more than ever before, and due to the development of technologies that have
made transportation and communication infinitely more accessible and affordable,
people can create and maintain multiple links, networks, and interactions across
the borders of nation-states. In that regard, Missika stressed
furthermore the importance of an open government: open to innovation and to
innovative projects in which a lot of different people have to work together
and citizens participate in planning processes. Only then can transnational
urban landscapes that support transnational urban lifestyles be created as super
geographies, as Antonio Petrov puts it in his contribution
Rescaling Transnational Geographies, moving architecture
beyond geographical constraints, borders or boundaries and support the flow
of people and information. In such urban landscapes imagined communities
without the need for physical or territorial contact and a communal consciousness
can emerge independently - that is: characterized by small everyday gestures,
acts, practices, and exchanges between individuals, as Kolar Aparna
states in her piece Transnational Urbanisms of Asylum Trajectories.
Under these conditions transnational places can be created in cities where people
can feel at home no matter where they come from, as Laura M. Henneke
argues in her contribution Harmony Through Commerce How Yiwu
Embraced Islam. Due to globalization urban spaces are emerging that
are witnessing increasing intensity of use, mixed desires and mixed codes, cross-fertilizing
urban sites with an enlarged spectrum of identities as Thomas Mical
argues in his article Magical and Mediated: Transnational Urbanism
in Quiapo, Manila. Kyle Hovenkotter and Trevor
Lamphier, in their contribution Discrepant Sea, define
the architectural style that appears under such transnational circumstances
as characterized by duplicity, invisibility, and temporality, in contrast to
the technological fetishism, transparency, and material honesty that distinguished
the first international style. Nevertheless, such multiple identities and temporalities,
according to Ulf Hannerz - a pioneer in urban and social anthropology
whose research on culture in the age of globalization suggested as early as
the 1960s the dynamic, flowing, creative, and continuously changing character
of the process - will not necessarily lead to identity problems of urban spaces,
since the diversity of neighbourhoods will take care of this, as he explained
to us in another interview entitled Informal Control. While
trying to demystify culture, something he sees as processual, he
considers human beings to be agents who keep culture going by doing, watching,
listening, and learning. Understanding Transnational Urbanism as
an urban culture that needs to remain in motion continuously, reinvent itself
perpetually, in order to sustain itself, might lead to the fulfilment of our
desires and cosmopolitan visions for a better future, and a world without borders,
as Matilde Igual Capdevila dares to dream in her piece United
Sustainable Urban States.
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, April 2015)
This issue is supported by EMU - European Post-masters in Urbanism, Bauhaus University Weimars International Master Programmes, Fontys Master of Architecture and Master of Urbanism, University of Liechtensteins Master (MSc) of Architecture, University of Leuvens Master of Human Settlements, Erasmus University Rotterdams Institute of Urban Management (IHS), Incognitas Architecture Trips, and Studio for Immediate Spaces - Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
(Cover Image: Sleeping room of Nelson Ernesto Monheguete with cooker, TV and other relics from the former GDR from Malte Wandels contribution Madgermanes on page 52. Photo is ©Malte Wandel.)
20-10-14 // MONU #21 - INTERIOR URBANISM
(browse the entire issue #21 on Youtube)
Enfiladed Grids: The Museum as City by Jonathan A. Scelsa; Scalar Liaisons: Claiming The Public Interior by Amin Alsaden; Dark Transparency by Colleen Tuite; Some Notes Towards an Interior Archipelago by Brendan Cormier; From Domestic Housh to Consumer Mojama'a: The Social Space of Women in Kuwait by Dalal Musaed Alsayer; Kinder Egg City by Mireille Roddier and Keith Mitnick; 3D Nolli - Interview with Winy Maas by Beatriz Ramo and Bernd Upmeyer; Analogous Spaces: Notes towards a Postal Interiority by Jesse Vogler; Endless Architecture: Accidental Manifestos for the Interior by Michael Piper and James Khamsi; The Psychology of Public Interiors by Candida Höfer; Mind the Gap:Reading a City through its Subway System by Shriya Malhotra; Interior Urbanism in two Asia Pacific Cities: Spatial Intensifications in Hong Kong and Hanoi by Serafina Amoroso; The Development of the Urban Council Building OR by Christiane Lange and Susanne Trumpf; Hong Kong: A Sky-less Urbanism by Michelle Xiaohong Ling; Hong Kong Outside In: the Dual City by Inge Goudsmit and Adrienne Simons; Into the Wild- Conversation with Petra Blaisse by Beatriz Ramo and Bernd Upmeyer; Mall Futures by Judith K. De Jong; The Roof is NOT flat by David Karle; Second City: Chicago's Accessory Urbanism by Kyle Reynolds; 24 Hours in the Renaissance Center by Jordan Hicks
While our world is progressively becoming more urban everywhere, a process is on its way that seems to penetrate increasingly every part of our life and does not appear to stop at the thresholds of our buildings, but influences interior spaces, in particular public interior spaces, as much as everything else. According to Jonathan A. Scelsa this becomes evident in contemporary designs of museums as he argues in his contribution to this new issue of MONU on the topic of "Interior Urbanism", that deals with the urban scale and urban aspects of interiors and especially of public interiors. In his piece "Enfiladed Grids: The Museum as City" he shows how museums today are being conceived more and more as interior cities within cities. Museum architecture, for example, is informed and driven by urban grids. For Brendan Cormier urban life is an interior affair anyway as we spend ninety percent of our lives indoors. Thus, the city is a massive aggregation of interior environments; our homes, our workplaces, the restaurants and bars that we socialize in, our daycare services and schools, or our doctor's office. In his article entitled "Some Notes Towards an Interior Archipelago" he imagines a city life that is composed of a series of different and highly individuated interior islands. Individualization and especially personalization play an important role as well for Winy Maas when it comes to interior spaces, as he explains in an interview with us entitled "3D Nolli", where he stresses the necessity and importance of generosity, to express yourself, and to be able to influence, shape, and personalize your environment to ultimately feel welcome and at home in interiors. In reference to his "Book Mountain" project he argues that to his mind public libraries are one of the last remaining real public buildings of our generation. Candida Höfer in her contribution "The Psychology of Public Interiors" illustrates the rich and varied interiors of libraries. Winy Maas introduces the Nolli map into the discussion on urban interiors as a tool to analyze to what extent public interiors are becoming gradually more urban, although he acknowledges its limits as it is only two-dimensional and do not tell anything about heights and facades, for example. As a sort of updated and reloaded hyper-version of Nolli's map, Serafina Amoroso - in her article "Interior Urbanism in two Asia Pacific Cities: Spatial Intensifications in Hong Kong and Hanoi" - portrays the city of Hong Kong. Urban spaces, regardless of the public or private nature of their stakeholders, form a continuum of collectively used spaces that link urban routes and new interiors of social life with a particular atmospheric presence, energizing and activating them. But for Inge Goudsmit and Adrienne Simons the atmosphere of Hong Kong's indoor spaces is by far too orchestrated, too private, and too controlled, supporting social segregation and creating an uncomfortable grey area between public and private spaces, in which no room for spontaneity or chance encounters remains, as they point it out in their piece "Hong Kong Outside In: the Dual City". For Petra Blaisse too, with whom we held a conversation entitled "Into the Wild", public interior spaces can easily become too regulated to provide room for chance, surprise, improvisation, and a certain kind of wilderness. However, she thinks it is possible that such "wilderness" may be combined with very well-controlled and well-ordered organizations. Under such conditions public interior spaces can act as dramatizations of urban spaces - able to celebrate the collective psychological pleasures of cities as Jordan Hicks explains in his contribution "24 Hours in the Renaissance Center". He further states that even though you might not see a protest or a complete and proportional depiction of one city's demographics, places such as Detroit's Renaissance Center are hardly elitist pleasure palaces; a city's urbanism is often more visible indoors than on any street downtown.
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief,
This issue is supported by University of Leuvens Master of Human Settlements, University of Leuvens Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, University of Liechtensteins Master (MSc) of Architecture, Inside - Master Interior Architecture, Erasmus University Rotterdams Institute of Urban Management (IHS), and Incognitas Architecture Trips. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.
14-04-14 // MONU #20 - GEOGRAPHICAL URBANISM
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On the Geographical Organization of World Urbanization by Nikos Katsikis; A Geographic Stroll Around the Horizon by Rania Ghosn and El Hadi Jazairy; 22º54´S 43º 10'W by Michael Oliveira; We Dig Your Land by David Morison; Working with Geography - Interview with Bernardo Secchi by Bernd Upmeyer; Underneath it All: Geo Urbanism by Jessica Bridger; Strait by Neyran Turan; Geography and the Identity of Fear: The Other Battle of Mexico City by Felipe Orensanz; Post-Human Tectonics - A Geology of Power by Roger Hubeli; Seduction and Fear by Edward Burtynsky; Valleys, Rivers, Pathways: Narrating the Urban Landscape by Thomas Kohlwein; Contested Terrain: In Search of Niagara by Kees Lokman; Agency and the Multifaceted Stories of Hybrid Places by Ryan Dewey; The Contour and the Block by Lucas Correa-Sevilla and Pablo Pérez-Ramos; Urban Fringe Landscapes on Mountains by Maider Uriarte Idiazabal; The Geography of Geology by Sean Burkholder and Bradford Watson; Geography, Urbanism's Critical Cousin by Christopher de Vries; Urbanism After Geography: The Network is Context by Clare Lyster; Beyond Branding - Interview with Bart Lootsma by Bernd Upmeyer
Contrary to the simplified linear causality of the environmentalism of the past, which posited that natural geography shapes urban patterns, it is now thought that contemporary urbanization shapes the surface of the earth. Nikos Katsikis explains this tremendous current shift in the meaning of physical geography for cities in his contribution "On the Geographical Organization of World Urbanization", putting the discussion of the 20th issue of MONU on the topic "Geographical Urbanism" in a historical context. For Bernardo Secchi this is not much of a problem as he is no fan of natural geography anyway, a position he reveals in our interview with him entitled "Working with Geography". According to him our task today is to understand, and to learn from, natural geography, but to correct and improve it and design useful projects of artificial geography. What is important to him - and which is the reason why he considers physical geography the starting point of all his ideas on planning - is that over time people transform geography, and especially topography, into topology, something that concerns social, economic, spatial, and phenomenological interactions. To what extremes natural geographies can be manufactured is shown by Edward Burtynsky in his series of photographs entitled "Seduction and Fear". However, the natural geographical features in his images are not only introduced as victims, but also as partners, protagonists, baits, sources, threats, and pleasures. How such manufacturing can result in hybrid places, with bridges and buildings to our left and rivers to our right, where rural forms intermingle with urban forms and geography penetrates the city, is described by Ryan Dewey in his piece "Agency and the Multifaceted Stories of Hybrid Places". In these hybrid locations cities and geographies converge in a story of identity and imageability, turning "Geographical Urbanism" into a sort of autobiographical tale, in which geography provides us with a kind of physical scaffolding that allows us to use land as a place to store our memories. That way, physical geography becomes more meaningful for cities than something that is merely used for its picturesque qualities or resource value as Sean Burkholder and Bradford Watson state in their article "The Geography of Geology". Because cities and landscapes are much more complex than that, and can generate - together with the inhabitants - a multiplicity of narratives as Bart Lootsma emphasizes in our interview with him entitled "Beyond Branding". Although he believes that there are aspects of, for example, the "Generic City" that are absolutely true, yet he does not find them necessarily threatening, he is convinced that no city will ever be the same because of natural geography. He even thinks that it is crucial for architects and urban designers to reconnect with geographers - not just to achieve better and smarter planning and design but, to put it more dramatically, also to save our democracies and develop them further.
Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, April 2014)
(Cover: Image AMARC#3; Tucson, Arizona, USA, 2006 from Edward Burtynskys contribution Seduction and Fear. Photo ©Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto/ Flowers, London.)
14-10-13 // MONU #19 - GREATER URBANISM
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Unlimited Greatness - Interview with Antoine Grumbach by Beatriz Ramo and Bernd Upmeyer; Greater Moscow by Anton Ivanov; From Utopia to Real World by Fabrizia Berlingieri and Manuela Triggianese; Grand Paris by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners; Greater Singapore: Exporting the Model City-State by Calvin Chua; Metro-Detroit Faith Territories by McLain Clutter; Out of Obscurity by Magorzata Kuciewicz and Simone De Iacobis; Metrocology: The City Unseen by Tom Marble; Fragmentation vs. Unification by OMA/ Text by Clément Blanchet; One Hundred and Ninety-Nine Miles by Rob Holmes; A Brief History of Speculative Urbanization by Christopher Marcinkoski; Life on the Edge by Hannah Hunt Moeller; Skopje, Great, Greater, Grandeur by Ognen Marina; Greater Connections by James Khamsi and Emily Goldman; Crushed Ground - The Fragmented Territory of Austerity-Stricken Athens by Panos Dragonas; Reconsidering the Greater Urbanism Agenda by Petros Phokaides, Iris Polyzos, and Loukas Triantis; Facemap by Julie Bogdanowicz; Notes Towards a Botanical Urbanism by Jennifer W. Leung; Metropolitan Strategies - Interview with Rikhard Manninen by Bernd Upmeyer; From the Kremlin to Dachas by Flavien Menu
It appears that cities of today, and especially big cities, all around the world, are all struggling with similar problems, as they all have developed huge territories - their metropolitan or "greater" areas - during the twentieth century that cannot be properly understood by anyone in terms of their form, but that now need to be recognized as something that truly exists, because it is a form that is in perpetual transformation and without limits.This is where Antoine Grumbach sees the main difficulty when it comes to "Greater Urbanism" as he explains in an interview with us entitled "Unlimited Greatness". In such unlimited spaces infrastructure plays without doubt a crucial role constructing a connected geography and reconfiguring new urban morphologies, as Fabrizia Berlingieri and Manuela Triggianese argue in their piece "From Utopia to Real World - Construction of a Unique Metropolitan Space of Europe". But a metropolitan strategy that focuses exclusively on mass transport remains incomplete, as is demonstrated by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners in their contribution "Grand Paris". They argue that the voices of the metropolitan region outside the centre demand representation. To what extent architecture can visually address and represent the urban public in "greater areas" is shown by McLain Clutter in his piece "Metro-Detroit Faith Territories", pointing out the unique ability of mega-churches to condense a collective domain within exurban sprawl, a morphology of urbanization that is notorious for atomization. Such peripheral areas may even become gateways to their urban centers, as is illustrated by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in its contribution "Fragmentation vs. Unification". But that the quality of "Greater Urbanism" is not necessarily dependent on spatial issues is clarified by Hannah Hunt Moeller in her article "Life on the Edge: Peri-Urban Borders of the Greater Urban Milieu", showing how the very lack of defined spatial boundaries enables self-determination. In that way, "Greater Urbanism" can be liberated from the perceived need to control everything, can become free to fill, for example, niches in the market and a method that is used in response to desires as James Khamsi and Emily Goldman describe it in their contribution "Greater Connections: Infrastructures of Mobility and Design Agency beyond the City". However, that such possibilities do not relieve state governments and city municipalities of their duty of establishing and creating overall and coherent visions for "greater" urban areas, thereby arresting the tendency that those areas are being shaped by a multiplicity of private actors, is pointed out by Petros Phokaides, Iris Polyzos, and Loukas Triantis in their piece "Reconsidering the Greater Urbanism Agenda: Crisis, Planning and Architecture in Metropolitan Athens". Only then will it be possible to address the biggest challenges of "Greater Urbanism" that Rikhard Manninen, the head of the Strategic Planning Division in the City Planning Department of Helsinki, whom we interviewed about "Metropolitan Strategies", discerns in the continued management of city structures during periods of significant growth - having no sprawl, while attracting a sufficient workforce to meet the demands of an ageing population, and aiming for city-regions that take climate change into account through carbon neutral developments.
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, October 2013)
(Cover image: 'The 'Étoile' of Grand Paris - The Radiant Typologies of Greater Paris' is courtesy of STAR strategies + architecture and BOARD. The image, featuring the Arc de Triomphe surrounded by the typologies of Grand Paris, is part of their research project "Construisons le Grand Paris Ensemble - Or the Story of How Paris Became Greater". This story is the first legend of the Parisian territory, in which Paris had to die to save Grand Paris. The project was realized by STAR and BOARD as part of the Scientific Committee of the AIGP - Atelier International du Grand Paris, in the framework of "Systèmes Métropolitains", presented and delivered in September 2013.)
23-04-13 // MONU #18 - COMMUNAL URBANISM
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Learning to Live Together by Martin Abbott; Ecstasy and Privacy - Interview with Rainer Langhans by Bernd Upmeyer; The Centennial RV Park by Lisa Hirmer; Ownership to Membership: Collective Consumption as Urban Strategy by Travis K. Bost and Eric Höweler; Voluntary Crowdedness in Innovative Communities by Alfredo Andia; Two Generations Together by Yasmine Abbas, Lara Jaillon, Thomas Watkin, and Onnis Luque; Soviet Dreams: A New Organisation of Life by Matas iupinskas; New Deal Utopias: Model Cities of the Great Depression by Jason Reblando; Communal Intentions or Intentional Communities by Ernst Gruber; Communal Housing by Sylvain De Bleeckere and Sebastiaan Gerards; The Urban Kibbutz - Revolution from Within by Maier Yagod; The Architecture of the Kibbutz by Freddy Kahana; Promoting Communal Life - Interview with Atelier 5 by Bernd Upmeyer; Co-Residence: Habiter en Grand by STAR strategies + architecture and BOARD; Revisiting a Built Communism by Ling Fan; The Chengzhongcun - Collectivity through Individuality by John Joseph Burns; Unpaid (House) Work by Adam Holland; Voluntary Urbanism: The Agency of the City by Michaël Oliveira; The Community - Practising Commitment by Richard Sennett
How should we live together? is the central question of this 18th issue of MONU on the topic of "Communal Urbanism", focusing on contemporary communal living in cities. According to Martin Abbott's contribution "Learning to Live Together", this is a question often discussed among the housemates of Berlin's 40 year old communal "Hausprojekt Walde". Rainer Langhans, one of the early members of the legendary "Kommune 1", founded in Berlin in 1967, is convinced that in the future we will live increasingly communally. He sees a growing demand for, and interest in, communal life and shared experiences as he explains in our interview with him entitled "Privacy and Ecstasy". But in contrast to his own experiences in Kommune 1, where he experienced an uninterrupted, 24/7, spiritual communal ecstasy of love, the communal life of the future will instead be characterized by temporary communities, where people meet and share spaces, facilities and experiences occasionally, similar to his own current communal life. That way cooperation does not come at the expense of our individualism and is focused on membership rather than ownership as Travis K. Bost and Eric Höweler clarify in their piece "Ownership to Membership: Collective Consumption as Urban Strategy". Yasmine Abbas, Lara Jaillon, Thomas Watkin, and Onnis Luque explain in their article "Two Generations Together" how communal life might be an answer to present urban challenges that appeared due to increasing social fragmentation, weak or fragile economies and the burst of the housing bubble that pushed many countries to the edge of acceptable standards of living. History has shown that communal and cooperative life can lead to numerous benefits for everybody involved. For example, America met the challenges of the Great Depression in the 1930s in the spirit of cooperation as Jason Reblando illustrates in his contribution "New Deal Utopias: Model Cities of the Great Depression". However, communal urban life today has to provide a flexible platform for collaborative possibilities and should no longer aim to provide a self-sufficient framework, but a lifestyle that is stripped of the "forced socialization" of the shared forms of life of the past as Maier Yagod describes in his piece "The Urban Kibbutz - Revolution from Within". Such a platform, that could be taken up and inhabited by people as an extension of and complement to their own houses, is what the Swiss architecture collective Atelier 5 had in mind when it designed and built its famous "Siedlung Halen" in the late 1950s and early 1960s, as Heinz Müller, one of the current partners of Atelier 5, puts it in our interview with him entitled "Promoting Communal Life". STAR strategies + architecture and BOARD, in their contribution "Co-Residence: Habiter en Grand", argue that the introduction of a new form of communal life on the domestic scale of the apartment can contribute considerably to solving the current problems on the metropolitan scale, whether of an economical, social, or environmental nature. But the success of such a communal urbanism; and communal housing in particular, relies on a high level of goodwill and participation from all people and residents involved, as Adam Holland states in his article "Unpaid (House) Work". Only then might the communal experience of cooperation become a sustainable pleasure as Richard Sennett explains in his piece "The Community - Practicing Commitment".
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, April 2013)
(Cover: Image courtesy of STAR strategies + architecture and BOARD. The image is part of their contribution Co-Residence: Habiter en Grand on the pages 89 - 96)
16-10-12 // MONU #17 - NEXT URBANISM
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Santa Fe-ing of the World by Joel Garreau; Emerging Geographies: From Environment to Terrorism - Interview with Saskia Sassen by Bernd Upmeyer; The Urbanism of Demographics: Next Eleven, BRIC 2.0? by Hajir Alttahir; Investment as Planning by Kai van Hasselt; The Data Based Infographics of Urban Expansion by Martin Abbott; Compact Thinking by Mathieu Mercuriali; Banglatown by Federica Vazzana and Domenico Paparelli (Studio Lunik) with Paola Favoino; New Cairo by Manuel Alvarez Diestro; Jakarta: Design Research and the Futures of Hypercomplexity by Adam Bobbette, Meredith Miller, and Etienne Turpin; Tehran: Planning the Unpredictable by Ali Fard and Ghazal Jafari; Anáhuac: Region at the Edge of the Water by Kathrin Golda-Pongratz; P.L.A.T.F.O.R.M. by Brian Lee; The Ghosts of Next Urbanism by Nida Rehman; Mas Bagong Bayani - the Newer Heroes of a Fragmented Nation by Kathleen Cayetano; Towards a Neo-Liberalized Istanbul by Onur Ekmekci; The Next Urban Poor by Hyeri Park; Three Utopias, Self and Urban Imagery in Vietnam by Paolo Patelli; Lagos: World's Next Model City - Interview with Kunlé Adeyemi by Bernd Upmeyer; Seoul's Parallel Life by Aram Tanis
This new issue of MONU is dedicated entirely to the topic of "Next Urbanism" - meaning the urbanism of the cities of the so-called "Next Eleven" or "N-11", which include eleven countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey, South Korea, and Vietnam. These countries have been identified as growing into, along with the BRICs - Brazil, Russia, India, and China - the world's largest economies in the 21st century. Next to interviews with Saskia Sassen and with the Nigerian-born architect Kunlé Adeyemi, and a series of contributions that discuss Next Urbanism in general, we feature eleven articles that focus specifically on the cities of each of the Next Eleven countries. The issue opens with an article entitled "Santa Fe-ing the World" by Joel Garreau, who envisions the future of the Next Urbanism as being organized in dramatically different settlement patterns that feature widely dispersed new aggregations, made possible by new information technology, particularly the internet and cell phones. Although these are far-fetched futuristic scenarios, being connected appears as the key factor and an important asset that will determine the identity, character and future of the Next Eleven cities. Saskia Sassen describes something similar in our interview with her entitled "Emerging Geographies - From Environment to Terrorism". Rather than thinking in terms of "Next Eleven", a category that is -according to her - based on lazy measures and an ignorance of the actual economies and societies and geographies of those countries, she defines Next Urbanism as emerging geographies and networks of cities that connect prosperous areas of countries across the world that are better disposed to face our major global challenges than national governments. Hajir Alttahir, in her contribution "The Urbanism of Demographics: Next Eleven, BRIC 2.0?", unmasks qualifications such as BRIC or Next Eleven as mere marketing ploys, used by banks and targeted at potential investors. However, from an investor's point of view, the concept of the Next Eleven group of countries makes perfect sense as Kai van Hasselt points out in his piece "Investment as Planning" in which he tries to discover how cities and its citizens can profit from the concept and how the act of investing can be seen as a process parallel to planning or even as a form of planning itself. How important the need for investments is, for example, in urban infrastructure and in particular in communication infrastructure in the cities of the countries of the Next Eleven, is explained by Federica Vazzana and Domenico Paparelli (Studio Lunik), together with Paola Favoino, in "Banglatown", which marks the first of the eleven articles focusing specifically on the distinct qualities, identities, geographies, and vulnerabilities of the cities of one of the Next Eleven countries - in this case Bangladesh. To what extent, for example, are the areas of the city of Jakarta, despite being the rising star of Indonesia, subject to unequal exposure to environmental risks, disaster planning, and financial reorganization and management that may eventually eclipse many forms of life that constitute the very 'cityness' of Jakarta? This question is addressed by Adam Bobbette, Meredith Miller, and Etienne Turpin in their piece "Jakarta: Design Research and the Futures of Hypercomplexity". The fact that the cities of the Next Eleven countries do not always function as the engines of economic growth is shown by Nida Rehman in her contribution "The Ghosts of Next Urbanism", in which she explains how the ghosts of unfinished urban projects in Pakistan's city Lahore continue to haunt the city. Obviously, there is a need still for a better understanding of the dynamics of the Next Eleven cities to assure their successful future as Onur Ekmekci clarifies in his article "Towards a Neo-Liberalized Istanbul" in which he describes the cities of the Next Eleven, and particularly the city of Istanbul, as "worlding cities": inherently unstable, inevitably subject to intense competition, always incomplete. In the words of the urban theorist Ananya Roy: 'the art of being global'. Altogether the eleven articles that focus specifically on the cities of the different Next Eleven countries provide a broad overview of what Next Urbanism looks like today and will look like in the future. And despite their problems, it appears that if each of their economies is able to address the specific conditions needed to maintain growth, as Hajir Alttahir explains, the emerging architecture and urbanism of the Next Eleven, although more muted than BRIC in terms of development, may end up surprising us all with their innovative strength, and will act as a paradigm for a new networked, high-density, and resilient urbanism. According to Kunlé Adeyemi the cities of the Global South are already the cities of the moment: he perceives the Nigerian city of Lagos to be the global model city, as he explains in our interview with him entitled "Lagos: The World's Next Model City".
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, October 2012)
This issue is supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL.
17-04-12 // MONU #16 - NON-URBANISM
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The New Rural: Global Agriculture, Desakotas and Freak Farms - Interview with Kees Christiaanse by Bernd Upmeyer and Beatriz Ramo Page; Non-Urbanism Revisited by Hester van Gent; Remembrances of an Older Urbanism by Edward W. Soja; Urbanism in the Expanded Field of the Built Environment by Jessica Bridger; Non-Urban Skateboarding by Brian Gaberman; Urbanism as a Way of Life in Non-Urban Areas by Oswald Devisch; The Role of Technology in the Evolution of Cities by Tom Marble; Sentient Cities: Ambient Intelligence and the Politics of Urban Space by Mike Crang and Stephen Graham; A Sentient Environment for a Subjective Realm by Domenico Di Siena and Manon Bublot; Processes from 'Away and Under' by Clark M. Thenhaus; The Digital City is a Village in the Alps: The Red Bull Society by Eduard Sancho Pou; A Meeting in the Mountains by Sabine Höpfner and Stefan Canham; Non-Urban Erotic Spaces - Interview with Scott Herring by Bernd Upmeyer; A Country's Side - Notes on Chinese Rural Development by Benjamin Beller; The Pioneers: Mutation Agent of the Non-Urban by Ilya F. Maharika and Gayuh Winisudaningtyas; Reconstructing Meta-Doha by Agatino Rizzo; End of the Line, Urbanism in the Great Plains by David Karle
The rural as a strict counterpart to the urban appears to be a condition of the past. At least, this is what Kees Christiaanse posits in an interview with us entitled "The New Rural: Global Agriculture, Desakotas, and Freak Farms". He points out that, today, non-urban spaces interact so frequently and intensely with urbanity that you can no longer describe something as strictly rural. Therefore, we can no longer separate the city from the countryside as these are not polarized entities and each other's enemies, but rather the result of each other. Evidently, to be an urbanist today means that one must also be a regionalist as Edward W. Soja puts it in his contribution "Remembrances of an Older Urbanism". In relation to that, Oswald Devisch reminds us in his piece "Urbanism as a Way of Life in Non-Urban Areas" that the 1930s sociologist Louis Wirth stressed that the concept of urbanism is something not only confined to large, dense and heterogeneous settlements, but can also manifest itself to varying degrees "wherever the influences of the city reach". In that sense Devisch thinks that it is time to change the urban - non-urban dichotomy into a dynamic - stagnant version that is based on social rather than spatial conditions. Obviously, new media and especially the internet play an important role in the discussion on Non-Urbanism as spaces around us are now being continually forged and reforged in informational processes as Mike Crang and Stephen Graham explain in their contribution entitled "Sentient Cities: Ambient Intelligence and the Politics of Urban Space". In their article they describe a world in which we not only think of cities, but cities also think of us, and in which the environment reflexively monitors our behavior. In his piece "Processes from 'Away and Under'", Clark M. Thenhaus envisions - because of those informational processes and in particular increased digitalization - no future widening of the gap between the urban and the non-urban, but rather that gap being bridged. This 'bridging' will occur only partially through physical manifestations, but largely through otherwise 'invisible' structures and open-source processes and networks. Although the limits of digital cities are usually not physical, but, for example, economic as Eduard Sancho Pou describes in his contribution "The Digital City is a Village in the Alps: The Red Bull Society", one might find - especially in non-urban areas - "Truman Show"-like physical manifestations such as the village of the multinational corporation "Red Bull". But non-urban spaces are also changing independently from the influence of the internet and social media, particularly in emerging market economies such as China, India or Indonesia. According to Scott Herring rural conditions have actually been changing ever since there this idea of a country and a city emerged, as he explains in another interview with us entitled "Non-Urban Erotic Spaces". In Indonesia, for example, so-called desakotas, hybrid spaces between the countryside and the city, appear as transitory spaces that lead eventually to the rise of the city of the non-urban as Ilya Fadjar Maharika and Gayuh Winisudaningtyas put it in their article "The Pioneers: Mutation Agent of the Non-Urban". In such a 'non-urban city' so-called pioneers convert agriculture into urbanized spaces with a population density double that of the countryside, into a non-urban urbanism. However, the future viability of those non-urban urban spaces remains in doubt as a typical transformation process of rural spaces - especially in Asia - means that the rural self-supporting local ecology of farming gradually vanishes as a lot of farmers go bankrupt and feudal proprietors or large multinational agro-companies take over the land as described by Kees Christianse. In order to survive, formerly independent rural communities, such as the ones in the US that David Karle mentions in his contribution "End of the Line, Urbanism in the Great Plains", must transition to self-sustaining micro-regional networks.
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, April 2012)
21-11-11 // MONU #15 - POST-IDEOLOGICAL URBANISM
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(browse the entire issue #15 on YouTube)
Acrobatic Narratives - Interview with Wouter Vanstiphout by Beatriz Ramo and Bernd Upmeyer; Welcome to Post-Ideological City by Patty Heyda; Nacht Series by Thomas Ruff; Urban Fictions New Cairo - Fairytales, Fables and Ideologies by Samir El Kordy and Ying Zhou; Lean Urbanism by Brendan M. Lee; Towards a Political Urbanism by Adrià Carbonell; The Khmer Rouge and the Control of Urban Space by Fredrik Torisson; Spaces Of Negotiation by DoUC (Brendan Cormier, Christopher Pandolfi, and Simon Rabyniuk); Post(card) Ideological by Nathalie Frankowski and Cruz Garcia (WAI Architecture Think Tank); Remix - Negotiating Post-ideological Ideologies by Michael Hirschbichler; Metamodern Architecture by Robin van den Akker and Timotheus Vermeulen; Slipstreaming by Gale Fulton and Stewart Hicks; Greetings from Post-Everything by Mika Savela; O'Mighty Green by Beatriz Ramo - STAR strategies + architecture; Other Dimensions by Wes Wilson; Infra-/ Eco-/ Logi-/ -Urbanism by Geoffrey Thün, Kathy Velikov, and Colin Ripley (RVTR); Choose Your Own Urbanism Presents: The Case of the Missing Ideal By Melissa Dittmer, Jamie Witherspoon, and Noah Resnick
This new MONU issue on the topic of Post-Ideological Urbanism probably touches on one of the most fascinating and biggest issues of our time and in our culture, or what is left of it: the non-ideological - or better post-ideological - conditions of our society when it comes to cities. Today, ideology appears to have become, and to have been reduced to, something merely aesthetic, something you can buy yourself into as Wouter Vanstiphout explains in an interview with us entitled "Acrobatic Narratives". In that sense cities have become suspicious territories where hypocrisy and fakery prevail when it comes to urban ideologies and one wishes to have some kind of optical device that detects all the lies, similar to a kind of night vision infrared technology that Thomas Ruff used in his "Nacht Series" applying the same technology that was used during the Gulf War. But the usage of alibi ideologies does not seem to be just a contemporary phenomenon and the inference that, for example, the heroic Modernist architects and urban designers were able to work without succumbing to the moral ambiguities of dealing with external political or economic contingencies is probably a fallacy as Brendan M. Lee states in his contribution "Lean Urbanism". He furthermore explains that we, architects and urban designers, are sometimes envious of our Modernist forebears for their supposed ability to remain true believers in the revolutionary ideologies they proselytized, but that perhaps we have lost the self-confidence in our own ability to bluff. Fredrik Torisson even questions the necessity to follow one coherent system of ideas or an ethical set of ideals in his piece "The Khmer Rouge and the Control of Urban Space" and disqualifies urban ideology as a homogenizer that elevates one preferred ideal over the many. But according to Michael Hirschbichler and his analytical manifesto "Remix - Negotiating Post-ideological Ideologies" there cannot in fact be a post-ideological condition as there is no society imaginable that could exist beyond an ideological framework and is totally free from ideological contexts. What appears to be post-ideological today is in fact the coexistence, silent combat and mutual neglect of innumerable ideologies, neo-ideologies and pseudo-ideologies. In this pluralistic environment, no single ideology or group of ideologies is perceived to be relevant enough to become a point of reference or a single desirable truth. Robin van den Akker and Timotheus Vermeulen describe this prevailing pluralism, or coexistence, in their article "Metamodern Architecture" as metamodern, a condition in which the contemporary structure of feeling evokes a continuous oscillation between seemingly modern strategies and ostensibly postmodern tactics as well as a series of practices ultimately beyond these worn out categories. Following the authors, that kind of metamodernism can be observed in the art works of for example Djurberg, the quirky cinema of Gondry the novels of Murakami or the music of Coco Rosie and movements as diverse as reconstructivism, the new romanticism and the new sincerity. And a new sincerity is obviously needed in a world consisting of a multiplicity of choices and urban outcomes without a single consistent urban ideology as Melissa Dittmer, Jamie Witherspoon, and Noah Resnick point out in their piece "Choose Your Own Urbanism Presents: The Case of the Missing Ideal".
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, November 2011)
18-04-11 // MONU #14 - EDITING URBANISM
Order a copy of MONU #14 here.
(browse the entire issue #14 on YouTube)
The Naked Lunch: A Stark Honest Discussion On Renewal by UNION3; On Politics of Planning by Henk Ovink; Beyond Editing by Simone Pizzagalli; Extreme Demolition and Extreme Preservation by OMA; Apoptotic Woomera 2035 by Lucas Dean; Eternal Ise by Jarrik Ouburg; Moveable Chair by Sara Hendren; What not to Do: A Case for Designed Neglect by Sean Burkholder; Deadly Serious - Interview with Adolfo Natalini by Beatriz Ramo and Bernd Upmeyer; In the Name of the Past by Beatriz Ramo - STAR strategies + architecture; Cultural Editors by Paul Meurs and Marinke Steenhuis; The Digital Habitat and Urban Design as Emerging Practice by Jan Bovelet and Miodrag Kuc; Between Material and Culture by Ephraim Joris; Controlling the City by Michiel van Iersel, Juha van 't Zelfde, and Ben Cerveny; Layered Reality by Gijs Hoofs and Michiel Daalmans; Urban Field Manuals by Brian Davis, Rob Holmes, and Brett Milligan; This Is Not an Empty Plot by Patrizia Di Monte; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - Excerpts from MONU's Most Valuable Urbanism Debate
Despite the current urgency to deal with the enormous potential of the already existing urban material as Urban Editors, there seems still to be an enormous lack of interest in topics such as urban and architectural restoration, preservation, renovation, redevelopment, renewal or adaptive reuse of old structures among architects and urban designers. But ignorance in this matter can only be dismissed as socially irresponsible and economically and culturally unacceptable. But what might be the reason for the prevailing ignorance? Who is to blame? Why is Urban Editing considered to be so utterly unattractive? Felix Madrazo, one of the members of the UNION3 collective, blames the media and in particular architecture publications, as he points out in UNION3's discussion of urban renewal entitled "The Naked Lunch: A Stark Honest Discussion on Renewal". He states that a prestigious architectural magazine such as the Spanish El Croquis would never publish an architect who has been practicing renewal for the last twenty years. In OMA's contribution "Extreme Demolition and Extreme Preservation" Rem Koolhaas holds the arrogance of the modernists responsible for making the preservationist of today look like a futile and irrelevant figure. He furthermore claims that preservation necessitates the development of a theory of its opposite: not what to keep, but what to give up, what to erase and what to abandon - and proposes a system of phased demolition. To a certain extent this is what Lucas Dean recommends in his piece "Apoptotic Woomera 2035" for a small town in South Australia, in which he suggests a programmed urban death that ensures that the urban fabric can constantly undergo a process of rejuvenation. The concept is an analogy to the biochemical process of apoptosis, which is organized cell death that our bodies undergo on a daily basis, killing fifty to seventy million cells, enabling the body to rejuvenate and ensure longevity. Obviously terms such as death and rejuvenation are crucial notions when it comes to Editing Urbanism. In his article "Eternal Ise" Jarrik Ouburg sees destruction as a natural part of preservation. He advises to look east and learn from the way how in Japan important shrines have been rebuild every twenty years for more than ten centuries. But accepting death and decay in buildings is one thing, when it comes to our own death, things get much more complicated. For that reason Adolfo Natalini, one of the founders of the legendary 60ies architecture firm Superstudio, does not like physical changes in cities, because they remind us that we are moving closer and closer towards death, as he explains in an interview with us entitled "Deadly Serious". He likes to be surrounded by things that remain the same as they give us the impression of eternity and he sees architecture as the most powerful medium of this form of hope. To solve the paradoxical situation that cities should on the one hand remain the same, keeping and maintaining all their existing buildings, yet on the other able to change, Beatriz Ramo / STAR suggests in "In the Name of the Past: Countering the Preservation Crusades" to establish Virtual World Heritage Sites as a new category for UNESCO. Virtual preservation enables cities to survive for eternity in the virtual, yet remain living and changing organisms in the real world. Released from the fear of death, Editing Urbanism can become a vital, active and experimental practice, in which the concept of sample and the remix gain importance as a cultural technique as Jan Bovelet and Miodrag Kuc describe in their contribution "The Digital Habitat and Urban Design as Emerging Practice". Just as remixes of songs are alternative versions of recorded songs, made from original versions, remixes of cities can be alternative versions of the original cities. Especially with the help of hand-held devices, mobile and digital online applications, citizens will be able to alternate and control cities as Michiel van Iersel, Juha van't Zelfde, and Ben Cerveny explain in their article "Controlling the City". To edit cities successfully, Brian Davis, Rob Holmes, and Brett Milligan even propose to develop "Urban Field Manuals", which show how to change or maintain your city just as automotive maintenance manuals teach you how to repair or maintain your car. Such Urban Field Manuals allow you for example to learn how, as a non-profit landlord, to approach buildings that are awaiting demolition permissions for a new construction on old properties, and to format micro-contracts that make unoccupied buildings available to other non-profits at the costs of utilities alone. But one of the most successful strategies for such reuse of unoccupied spaces in cities has probably been developed by Patrizia Di Monte recently. In her contribution "This Is Not an Empty Plot", she shows how she created an employment plan, in which sixty one long-term unemployed workers cleaned initially empty plots of the historic district of Zaragoza, which led eventually to the realization of twenty-eight projects on those lots over the last two years.
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, April 2011)
This issue is supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL.
05-10-10 // MONU #13 - MOST VALUABLE URBANISM
Order a copy of MONU #13 here.
(browse the entire issue #13 on YouTube)
Most T-shirtable Cities By Mika Savela; Evaluation City - Post Industrials Most Valuable Urbanism By Melissa Dittmer and Amy Bos; Within a Day By Bobby Shen; Urban Perception of Happiness By Luciano Alfaya and Patricia Muñiz; The Urban Rhythm By Karin Aue and Jeffrey Koh; Tales of Nail Houses By Human Wu; Wonder Full By Bas van der Horst, Hans Larsson, and Michiel van Loon; The Crumbles of the Cake - Interview with Ruraigh Purcell By Bernd Upmeyer; The Systematic Thinking Livability Rankings Imply By Klaas Kresse; Is Livability Overrated? Notes on a Transactional Urbanism By Matthew Johnson; Berlin Tempelhofer Feld A Field for the Public By Hans Frei; L.A.s Optimistic Urbanism By John Southern; The Value of Ugliness By Jürgen Krusche; The Strategic City By Jennifer W. Leung; Climbing up the Rank Ladder By Karl Beelen, Roos Gerritsen, and A. Srivathsan; Vancouverism is Everywhere By DoUC (Brendan Cormier and Christopher Pandolfi); Vienna: Slow capital? By Stefan Gruber
When John Lennon was photographed by the legendary rock 'n' roll photographer Bob Gruen, wearing a New York City T-shirt in the year 1974, he proudly expressed his love for the city of New York. For Lennon, although born in Liverpool, New York City was without doubt the most valuable city. In that sense the value of a city can become extremely personal, subjective, and only a reflection of feelings, as Mika Savela argues in his contribution "Most T-shirtable Cities". Because of this subjective experience the value of a city is - just as the beauty of a city - in the eye of the beholder and what constitutes 'most valuable', in whatever respect, shifts back into our hands, as Bobby Shen puts it in his piece "Within a Day". People attribute a value to spaces that cannot be quantified in statistical terms, but is dependent on how 'city users' identify with the place where they live, as Luciano Alfaya and Patricia Muñiz explain in their article "Urban Perception of Happiness". And this identification is usually based on rather intangible criteria; social, cultural, and psychological dimensions; or qualities such as history, identity, memories, or lifestyle, as Human Wu illustrates in his piece "Tales of Nail Houses". Nevertheless, it would be naïve to exclude certain basic physiological needs out of the value discussion regarding cities. Those basic needs include, for example, security, housing, or health as Ruraigh Purcell, who spent several years running an analytical team producing city ranking lists, points out in an interview with us entitled "The Crumbles of the Cake - The Truth Behind City Ranking Lists". In his opinion, basic, low-level needs have to be satisfied in a city, referring to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, before you are in a position to move to a higher level of needs that would take in account things such as educational and cultural stimulus. Most of the evaluation criteria used by companies such as Mercer or the Economist Intelligence Unit to produce the famous city ranking lists that define the so called "most liveable cities", are based mainly on those basic needs. But what is often less known is the fact that those ranking lists are not representative, as they use as a primary source the answers of a particular socio-economic group: expatriates. Klaas Kresse detects that fact in his text "The Systematic Thinking Livability Rankings Imply" and discloses that rankings are not made for the multiplicity of urban dwellers, but for a group of wealthy, well-educated and highly skilled professionals. He furthermore points out that the livability rankings imply an urban thinking in terms of closed systems as cities start focusing on the points already scored, which makes them static and inflexible. To continue being able to change Matthew Johnson proposes in his piece "Is Livability Overrated?" that cities should be allowed to exist in a state of perpetual upgrading and renovation - always under scaffolding, in the form of a transactional urbanism. In his eyes, Houston in Texas is such a transactional city that is evolutionary and voracious, and secure in itself, despite its imperfections. Jürgen Krusche misses such imperfections in the always top-ranked city of Zurich as he clarifies in his contribution "The Value of Ugliness", where the constant striving toward clean, safe, and beautiful public spaces has banished unwelcome individuals from marginalized social groups from public life. But ever since the Economist began some ten years ago to rate cities such as Vancouver as the number one most livable city in the world, while other livability indices by Mercer and Monocle Magazine also gave it consistently high rankings, the safe and clean downtown living model of Vancouver became the planning model for cities around the world, as Brendan Cormier and Christopher Pandolfi explain in their article "Vancouverism is Everywhere". Today, top positions in urban planning councils all over the world are filled with Vancouverities. However, there seems to be a resistance towards Vancouverism and there are possibilities to top livability ranking lists without following the trends, as Stefan Gruber explains in his text "Vienna: Slow Capital?", in which he suggests that the quality of life in a city might also be determined by its capacity to resist certain movements and instead to concentrate on its unique attributes.
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, October 2010)
This issue is supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL.
11-03-10 // MONU #12 - REAL URBANISM
Order a copy of MONU #12 here.
(browse the entire issue #12 on YouTube)
Luxury Space By Jason Lee; The World According to Mr. Reds By Doreen Jakob; The Shelter Category By Mammoth (Stephen Becker and Rob Holmes); How the City of Broad Shoulders Bought its Growth Spurt By Karl Johann Hakken; Residential Developers and Investors in Central Europe: Boom and Bust By Maximilian Mendel; Pyongyang in a New Era By Yim Dongwoo; Casino City State By Rustam Mehta and Thomas Moran; Solidere, Inc., or Downtown Beirut By Carol Moukheiber; Real High - The Desire for the Real in Urban Real Estate By McLain Clutter; Real Creativity: A Case for Ethical Freedom in Architecture By Randall Teal; Life without Architects - Interview with Magriet Smit By Bernd Upmeyer; The New York Value Exchange By Joyce Hwang; Real Big - Interview with Bjarke Ingels By Beatriz Ramo; Magic Realism - A New Skyline for Rome By Simone De Iacobis; Business Park De Hoef Revisited 1998-2008 By Arjan Harbers (Topotronic); Brand New Landlords By Daan Roggeveen and Michiel Hulshof; Market Value(s) By STAR; Living on the Edge By Bas Princen; Why should a Developer read Aristotle By Marta Relats; Unbuilt Rotterdam By ZUS [Zones Urbaines Sensibles]; Rotterdam is a Whore - Interview with Andre Kempe By Beatriz Ramo and Bernd Upmeyer; To Build or not to Build By MVRDV
the "Ideal Woman" on the cover of this issue on Real
Urbanism - a sculpture by the Brooklyn based artist Tony Matelli
- most of our cities are shaped by a particular set of values that does not
necessarily lead to high quality urban spaces, but instead to scary, ethically
unacceptable and distorted forms. As the "Ideal Woman", so "Ideal
Cities" can easily end up only fulfilling the wishes and dreams
of a powerful minority, but neglect the needs of most of the other people. Jason
Lee, one of the contributors to this issue, that deals more with "Real
Estate" Urbanism rather than with Actual or Factual Urbanism, uses
this sculpture in his article "Luxury Space" to display
the consequences that can occur when a financially powerful elite develops real
estate projects in the city of Shanghai merely to accommodate their consumerist
desires. Cities have been reduced to machines for making and spending money
as Stephen Becker and Rob Holmes put it in their
piece "The Shelter Category". Especially in Central
European countries, where two decades ago the state-controlled economy changed
into a market-economy, developers are driven by pure profit rather than by a
genuine desire or even awareness of sustainable neighbourhoods and city development
as Maximilian Mendel describes in his text "Residential
Developers and Investors in Central Europe: Boom and Bust". But
blaming only the financial elites and the real estate industry for the prevailing
urbanism of mediocrity would be too easy. For successful urban planning, cities
depend on private financing as Carol Moukheiber points out in
her contribution "Solidere, Inc., or Downtown Beirut",
where a productive collaboration between a corporate and a cooperative party
led - although heavily criticised and carried out in a kind of pseudo democratic
Berlusconian way - to prosperous results. In the case of Rotterdam, where the
municipality actually cares very little about the city, real estate developers
seem to be even more concerned about the quality of urban spaces than the city
itself, as stated by Andre Kempe in an interview with us entitled
"Rotterdam is a Whore". To halt the process by which
the built-up form of our cities continues to be mainly driven by practical concerns
such as efficiency, profit, and self-promotion, Randall Teal proposes
in his piece "Real Creativity: A Case for Ethical Freedom in Architecture"
that architects should become developers themselves. But how many architects
would be able and interested in doing that? Magriet Smit, a Rotterdam
based real estate developer, explains in the interview "Life without
Architects" that she actually tries more and more to avoid working
with planners and rather collaborates directly with construction companies as
they share a greater understanding of their profession. But to prevent our cities
from turning into monstrous "Ideal Cities", as perverted as the "Ideal
Woman", all the parties involved that are shaping the cities - the developers,
the municipalities and the planners - have to accept their interdependencies,
and have to try to understand the different interests of each party and have
to dare to navigate into unknown territory as Bjarke Ingels concludes
in an interview with us entitled "Real Big".
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, March 2010)
This issue is supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL.
25-08-09 // MONU #11 - CLEAN URBANISM
(browse the entire issue #11 on YouTube)
Sci-fi Greenery ...or just Responsibility? By Samo Pedersen; Clean Cities - Dirty People By Matteo Muggianu; Dirty Consumerism By Nikonus Pappas; Coming Clean By Randall Teal ; Domes over Manhattan - Interview with Gerd Hauser By Bernd Upmeyer; Rendering the Clean By Nathalie Frankowski and Cruz Garcia (WAI); The Mobile Library Unit By John Southern; Where the Grass Is Greener By TomorrowsThoughtsToday; Clean around the Edges By Lee Altman; Bio - Port By Greg Keeffe and Simon Swietochowski; Zeekracht - The North Sea Masterplan By OMA; Scarcity: Bipolar Urbanism in the Sonoran Desert By Felipe Correa; Regenerative Ecologies By Claudio Astudillo Barra; Clean Energy is Dirty Business By Aleksander Tokarz; Dystopic Verdure By Jacob Ross Boswell; How to Win Poetic Praise and Influence Architects By Amanda Webb; The Cooperative City By Rogier van den Berg; Mania By Bryan Norwood and the Jackson Community Design Center
Do we simply
have to stop having sex to produce Clean Urbanism - i.e. an urbanism that is
dedicated to minimizing both the required inputs of energy, water, and food
for a city as well as its waste output of heat, air pollution as CO2, methan,
and water pollution, Samo Pedersen asks in his piece Sci-fi
greenery..or just Responsibility?. In fact Randall Teal
sees the growing world population frequently ignored in discussions on sustainability,
as he points out in his article Coming Clean: Owning Up to the Real
Demands of a Sustainable Existence. Fewer people spend less energy,
and as the gas and oil supply will come to an end sooner or later, saving energy
may be a cheaper and smarter solution for cities than depending on renewable
energies, as Gerd Hauser, one of the leading researchers on the
implementation of the EU Directive on Energy Performance of Buildings, explains
in an interview with us, entitled Domes over Manhatten.
Although sustainability has recently become a cache misère for our lack
of intent, a trendy make-up hiding our incompetence, with Clean Urbanism being
its apotheosis as Nathalie Frankowski and Cruz Garcia (WAI)
maintain in their contribution Rendering the Clean,
energy self-sufficient cities are technically possible as Gerd Hauser states
and explains using a five-point manifesto. Greg Keeffe and Simon Swietochowski
support that view by introducing their Bio-Port project,
a vision of a Free Energy City set in Liverpool, where
the old dockyards have been transformed into bio-productive algae farms. Furthermore,
the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) illustrates in its
project Zeekracht The North Sea Masterplan
how wind farms could be clustered along an Energy Super-Ring in the North Sea,
distributing national surpluses and supplying regional energy needs efficiently
and profitably. On the other hand, Clean Urbanism cannot only be understood
from a purely technocratic perspective, but also needs a social one as Claudio
Astudillo Barra articulates in his article Regenerative
Ecologies A Prototypical Approach to the Territory, introducing
Felix Guattaris ideas of ecosophy. On such social aspects Rogier
van den Berg focuses in his piece on The Cooperative City,
where a community is created that triggers individual initiative and the cooperation
of its users to generate collective values. The Cooperative City requires a
flexible plan with an open end that is only guided by one set of rules, described
by Bryan Norwood and the Jackson Community Center
as Mania: An Emergent Sustainability of Density and Intensity,
created by the disorganized, hyperactivity of an actualized system with no specified,
singular goal, a bottom-up phenomenon that emerges from the individual events
of architecture within the city, combined with the ideology of urbanism conceived
as anti-capitalism and anti-homogenization. It is mania, and mania is clean.
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, August 2009)
06-02-09 // MONU #10 - HOLY URBANISM
(browse the entire issue #10 on YouTube)
A Mormon Megaproject by Daniel Hadley; Then It Hit Me: Learn to Meditate by Brian A Shabaglian; The Sacred and the Holy: Transient Urban Spaces by Colin Davies; Cross Utilization: Enhanced Religious Experiences by NL Architects; Strata and Sound: The Adhan as an Urban Operating Procedure by Peter Dorsey; The Sensory Experience of Sacred Space: Senso-Ji and Meiji-Jungu, Tokyo by Raymond Lucas; Peace Through Superior Horsepower by Speedism; God is a Nigerian by Emeka Udemba; Emblematic Power - Interview with Kees Christiaanse; Sacred Wire by Elliott Malkin; The Mormon Churchs Infrastructure of Salvation by Jesse LeCavalier; Do not give up Hope! by Maurizio Scarciglia; [uhn-hoh-lee] Alliance: A Domain of Objects by Edward Richardson; Drive-Through Religion by Carolyn Sponza; Urban Rituals by Abha Mahajan; Sacred Beauties by Karen Crequer; Strucked by a Freak Wave by Matilde Cassani
Can the view on cities get any bigger than through religion? Probably not. But we believe that a magazine on urbanism such as MONU, that appears only twice a year, can never have a too open perspective. Although the picture in this issue is big, and the contributions are diverse and have different focuses, one thing can be found that runs through almost this entire issue on Holy Urbanism. It is the convinction that Holy Urbanism in the contemporary city does not appear, and is not created any longer, merely by religion itself, but rather by a crossbreed of religion and economy. How such Holy Urbanism can be produced is explained by Daniel Hadley, for example, through the City Creek Center in Salt Lake City that quite clearly defies the dichotomy between market and temple cities, in his article A Mormon Megaproject. Thus, the City Creek Center is designed to be a centre of consumerism and economic production, whose purpose, nevertheless, is to ensure vitality in front of the nearby Temple Square. Sacred and commercial spaces seem increasingly to coalesce and create a kind of Foucaultian Heterotopia, an environment that is capable of juxtaposing in a single real place several spaces and several sites that are in themselves incompatible, as Colin Davies points out in his contribution The Sacred and the Holy: Transient Urban Spaces. Peter Dorsey in his piece Strata and Sound: The Adhan as an Urban Operating Procedure argues that contemporary Holy Urbanism is flourishing especially at places where religion is creating a hybrid together with capitalism. As an example he mentions the Lakewood Church Central Campus in Houston, Texas that can seat more than 16.000 worshipers, adapting efficiently into a spectacle-based environment by satisfying multiple consumer appetites simultaneously. In the Nigerian city of Lagos the hybridisation processes of religion and the market have even transformed the urban space itself into a battlefield, in a free market where religion is a commodity to sell and an urban survival strategy, as Emeka Udemba concludes in his God is a Nigerian. Within such a capitalistic realm, religious buildings follow an increasingly territorial logic that is similar to capitalistic corporations or franchises such as McDonalds or Starbucks. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, for example, standardized the design of their temples and thus created a generic network of identical buildings that are spread out - Starbucks-like - all over the planet, as Jesse LeCavalier illustrates in his article The Mormon Churchs Infrastructure of Salvation. Carolyn Sponza, in her contribution Drive-Through-Religion, even states that in the United States, planning a church and a shopping mall always begins with the same capitalistic question how much parking the site can accommodate. Such an attitude leads in a lot of cases to the design of big box, Ikea-like, building types that are perfectly located along a suburban highway. But religious big boxes nevertheless - though convenient and visible - force visitors to seek them out, park their cars, and walk toward their front doors. And if you dont think its for you, you can keep driving along the highway until the next big box containing another religion grabs your attention. Such Holy Urbanism promotes religious choice and makes multi-religious spaces possible that are flexible as pieces of fashion, as empty spaces for inter-religious dialogue that incarnate the belief in a multi-faith society and allow for openness, and heterogeneity as Karen Crequer reveals in her piece Sacred Beauties.
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, February 2009)
26-08-08 // MONU #9 - EXOTIC URBANISM
Order a copy of MONU #9 here.
(browse the entire issue #9 on YouTube)
A City under the Influence by Vesta Nele Zareh; Cities of Girl by Laurent Gutierrez and Valérie Portefaix/ Map Office; Thawing Urbanisms in the Arctic by Mason White and Lola Sheppard; Living Facades - Green Urbanism and the Politics of Urban Offsetting by Owen Hatherley; Flying Grass Carpet by Joop de Boer; The 'Great Comeback' of The Chinese to Katendrecht by Els Vervloesem; Urbanism of the permanent Tourist by Deane Simpson; Plastic Wrapped History by Hannah Epstein; Golf Courses and Cultural Conventions of Nature by Jacqueline Schlossman; The Sky is not near enough by Shumon Basar; Defining the Exotic when Identity is Lost by Yasmine El Rashidi; Nondescript Exotism inside the Urban Tissue by Anne Seghers; Pseudo-Democracies and Pseudo-Commissions - Interview with Reinier de Graaf/ OMA by Bernd Upmeyer and Beatriz Ramo; Elite Commune by Lei Liu; Re-fun by Yaowalak Baltisberger; Urbanism in a Minor Key by Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza; The Exotic and the Local - From Superhero to Supercity by Yehuda Greenfield - Gilat
In this issue we have taken the deliberate risk of making ourselves look ridiculous by focusing its theme on "the exotic", which is often seen as some sort of worn out, utterly out of date topic, immediately evoking images of colonialism and imperialism. But what fascinated us right from the beginning, since this topic idea of exotic urbanism popped up in our minds, is - without any irony - the opportunity to shift the perception towards global urban phenomena, into a direction that does not necessarily focus on the question how cities more and more become the same through their global battle and competition to attract more urban assets, but how they can actually become more different despite an ever - expanding exchange and an increasingly accelerating process of interaction. On that question this issue of MONU provides a magnificent collection of exuberant essays and projects. There is something very paradoxical about the exotic in an urban context. When a city like Tehran, for example, started importing western planning models around 200 years ago, it tried to distinguish itself from conventional structures but also from other cities, as Vesta Nele Zareh has illustrated in her article "A City under the Influence". This could also be interpreted as an excursion into a brashly beautiful but savage and unforgiving territory as Owen Hatherley puts it in his piece about "Green Urbanism and the Politics of Urban Offsetting". Such exotic urban elements also seemed to deliver the possibility to escape from everyday surroundings and to experience the feeling of entering another world without leaving your actual urban realm as Deane Simpson describes it in his text on the "Urbanism of the permanent Tourist". But as soon as a certain critical mass of exotic urban elements has been implemented in a city and a certain amount of time has passed, exotic elements can no longer be distinguished from other elements, and especially not from the local elements. Shumon Basar describes such a phenomenon in his contribution "The Sky is not near enough" as a certain surreal salvation, where everything slides into some sort of grey state between both poles, a kind of pseudo-local or pseudo-exotic condition, something utterly unmemorable. Reinier de Graaf, one of the partners of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, clarifies this neither-white-nor-black-condition in the whole current political situation on the Eurasian continent in an interview with us entitled "Pseudo-Democracies and Pseudo-Commissions". The conditions of the cities of the 21st century can probably best be described with the term "pseudo" as a result of the end of a black and white thinking, which gives the stage to dualistic urban qualities. Cities become able, just as superheroes, to oscillate between two different entities, one earthly and mundane, the other heroic and exotic as part of their super-schedule as Yehuda Greenfield-Gilat investigates in his piece on "The Exotic and the Local - From the Superhero to the Supercity".
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, August 2008)
14-03-08 // MONU #8 - BORDER URBANISM
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SlaveCity - Interview with Joep van Lieshout by Bernd Upmeyer; Potential Nation States by STAR; Global Islands in North Korea by Simone Cartier and Katrin Gimmel; Operation Desert by Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer; Kaliningrad by Ines Lüder, Dominique Hurth and Ciarán Walsh; Segregated Istanbul by Pelin Tan; Crisscrossing Lives by Horng-Chang Hsieh and Vittaya Ruangrit; A Fictional Dialogue between two Curators by Umi; Cross - Border Suburbias by Teddy Cruz; Reciprocal Developments by Arjan Harbers and Kristin Jensen; Tijuana - Vernacular by Federico Diaz de Leon Orraca; Border Models by Annemarie Strihan; Bohemian Cheapness - Interview with Jaroslav Kubera by Bernd Upmeyer; Sin City by Daan Roggeveen; On a Trip Down Memory Lane by Lukas Feireiss; Windsor: The American Sector by Justin A. Langlois; Westberlin - My Cold War Heroine by Vesta Nele Zareh
Although we never intended to be a utopian magazine, when we started out we were put into the same category as those small and short-lived radical periodicals of the 60s and 70s. As a matter of fact we were never interested in contemplating the fictional, yet perfect, socio-political urban conditions or the possibility of the ideal society, however unrealistic. To the contrary, we have always been fascinated by all the idiosyncrasies of reality, the conventional and the pragmatic as an inexhaustible source of innovation. Nevertheless, in this issue we provide some reflections on utopia. It appears to be the case that cities located close to nation-state borders in particular, may be described as isolated islands, where a different type of life seems possible, and as places conducive to experiments and utopia as Ines Lüder, Dominique Hurth, and Ciarán Walsh show in their article about the Russian enclave Kalingrad. Border cities are often privileged as they are in a position to determine their own rules. Joep van Lieshout created with his highly sinister utopian art project SlaveCity such an extreme case of self-rule, which he explains in an interview with us. Switching back to reality, it may be said that nation-state borders seem to have the most vigorous impact on cities when they appear in doubles i.e. one on each side of the border. Together they create a kind of symbiotic urban love and hate relationship, a living together of dissimilar organizations, which can lead to positive and negative Reciprocal Developments between both cities as explored by Arjan Harbers and Kristin Jensen in their case studies on Ceuta and Gibraltar. Teddy Cruz - in his article Cross-Border Suburbias describes such relations between border cities as exposed landscapes of contradiction where conditions of difference and sameness collide and overlap. But the clash of different cultures and ideologies in two border cities of two different countries, which are located close to each other, can also evoke severe identity conflicts as is pointed out by Justin A. Langlois when he describes the suffering of the Canadian city Windsor under the influence of Americanization through its neighbor Detroit. The increase in such identity conflicts between border cities can even transform cities into urban ideological battlefields, where urban planning is utilized to gain political and cultural supremacy, as it is shown by Vesta Nele Zareh in her piece about the Architectural Cold War between West- and East Berlin.
(Bernd Upmeyer, Editor-in-Chief, March 2008)
10-09-07 // MONU #7 - 2ND RATE URBANISM
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the Generic City by Alfredo Andia; Bern, Beverwijk, and the Representation
of Cities by Joost Meuwissen; Claiming Space by Daan and
Job Roggeveen; I like my Town by Medium; Music City, USA
by Veronica Kavass; Banal Urbanism by Jamie Peck; 2nd
Rate Urbanism in 1st Rate Urban Areas? by Doreen Jakob; I ROTterdam
by Charles Bessard and Nanne de Ru; The Re-Creation of the European
City by Beatriz Ramo/ STAR; Dumped in Almere - Interview
with Floris Alkemade/OMA by Bernd Upmeyer and Beatriz Ramo; Little
New York by Melisa Vargas; Wholesale Urbanism by Michael
Jenson; 3rd Rate Guide to Second Rate Urbanism by Alex Schafran;
What is Antiurbanism? by Michael J. Thompson; Bonifacio Global
City. Ideal Manila. by Ursula Faix/ bad architects group
In an increasingly connected world the economic realities are precarious for most 2nd rate cities. In the competition for jobs and an ever expanding tax base, 2nd rate cities are in a squeeze between the suburbs where land is even cheaper and even more accessible by car on the one side, and the real attractive 1st rate urban areas that draw the highly educated and the creative on the other side. And since planning down to a suburb is not an option that is considered by most cities, the fight for the survival of 2nd rate cities is to attract more urban assets. Beatriz Ramo presents one such Urban Shopping List for European second-rate cities. According to the US-based urbanist Richard Florida the latest must have for a city is a creative class. In the information economy attracting those who work in the creative sectors is the key to economic success and growth. However as Jamie Peck in his article Banal Urbanism Cities and the Creativity Fix argues, this strategy is just another way in which cities compete for an inherently mobile resource the creatives can at any time pack up and move to the next happening place. Plus the causal story is far from solid, the cities investing in their hip factor as a development strategy might well be chasing a chimera. But in the process they neglect those neighborhoods and people that truly would need support. The creativity fix as the business park of the new century. Second-rate cities are much more vulnerable to adversarial politics and ideologies that promote suburbanization instead of development of successful cities. Unlike cities of global format like New York or Tokyo, they cannot create enough of an independent urban dynamic that buffers them against anti-urban politics. Michael J. Thompson traces the long history of an ideology that feeds much of these politics. Antiurbanism an ideology that demonizes urban life. For some concrete examples of how these anti-urban politics can be directly reflected in concrete practices look at Alex Schafrans Unofficial Guide to 2nd Rate Urbanism.
(Bernd Upmeyer and Thomas Soehl, Editors, September 2007)
This issue is supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL.
30-01-07 // MONU #6 - BEAUTIFUL URBANISM
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Beautiful by Sean Burkholder; Beyond Kitsch by Dirk
Hebel and Deane Simpson; Sterile Rotterdam by Melisa Vargas;
The Anti-Urinator by Supersudaca; Beauty and the Sublime
by Joost Meuwissen; The Revolving Transient by Lukas
Reichel; Pedaling Hope by Jen Petersen; Microrayons
by Bee Flowers; Advanced City Camouflage by Cruz
Garcia; Stripped Bare by Nathalie Aguinaldo
The Terrifying Century of Beautiful Urbanism by Bert de Muynck; The Secrets behind the Making of a Beautiful City: Jakarta by Ilya Maharika; A short Encounter with a Chair by Katerina Pertselaki; Beautiful Urbanism by Pierre De Angelis; Great Unraveling by Ju-Hyun Kim and Bohyun Kim; The City Beautiful by Suzanne Loen; A Typology of Mess Punkt by Jeremy Beaudry; Big is Beautiful by Jarrik Ouburg
Even though the concept beauty remains elusive we think our issue is successful in shining some spotlights on the issue. One of the themes from the articles is that beauty in urbanism is what one could call an emergent quality. It rarely is in the object itself. It exists in the way we perceive spaces and objects, our vantage point. It is while wandering though the city, resolving contradictions, when we see things that jolt our imaginations that we experience beauty. It can be a small detail such as obscure dots on the sidewalk that German civil engineers place all over the city to measure which propel Jeremy Beaudry along daydreaming trajectories as he assembles the dotted pattern of Berlin. Movement plays a central part, be it by bicycle as Jen Petersen describes or in future cable cars that Lukas Reichelt invents. Or within 30 years high resolution and real time aerial photography will open yet another facade of the city to our perception the view of the roofs as Ju-Hyun Kim and Bohyun Kim predict. But if it is not all just in our minds then there are some important tools for those who do care about who and what it is that is built and declared beautiful or left for us to find the beauty in. How much leverage do we really have to imagine or stamp that which is beautiful if we must resolve ourselves between a complete rejection of the sorts of beauty that seems to have many followers Disney architecture for example to a naïve embracing of 30m high cowboy boots? Can we go truly Beyond Kitsch as Dirk Hebel and Diane Simpson suggest? Does the striving for a generic sense of beauty bear even more serious repercussions as Ilya Maharika argues in his study of Jakarta?
(Bernd Upmeyer and Thomas Soehl, Editors, January 2007)
This issue is supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL.
10-07-06 // MONU #5 - BRUTAL URBANISM
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The Return of the Repressed by Loïc Wacquant; Vandalism as a Productive Force by Michael Zinganel; The Evil Architects Do by Eyal Weizman; Preventing Brutal Urbanism - Interview with the Director of the Security Task Force for the 2006 World Cup by Bernd Upmeyer; Terrorists Love Density by STAR; The Future of June 4th by Austin Arensberg; Repulsive Desperation in the Constructions of Survival by Baruch Bruce Gottlieb; Happy Slapping - Urban Violance in the Age of Camera Phones by Peter Mörtenböck and Helge Mooshammer; 5000 Years of Brutal Urbanism by UAS; It's the Protocol, Stupid by Marc Schuilenburg; On the Run - Contesting Urban Boundaries by Lukas Feireiss; Cities of Collision by Philipp Misselwitz and Tim Rieniets; (re)Moving History by John Comazzi; As a Child of the Suburbs: - a response to How Suburbs Destroy Democracy by Alex Schafran; A Rejoinder to Alex Schafran by Michael J. Thompson
Roughness, violence, brutality, seediness, ghettoization all these are words that we associate much more readily with the city than with a suburb or the bucolic countryside. It seems even drug related crime develops a different character depending on whether it is in the city or the suburb. As the NYTimes reported in early July, identity theft is the crime of choice for meth addicts and both are flourishing in suburban regions of the US. In contrast crack cocaine or heroin dealers, are supported by heavily armed gangs usually set up in higher density urban zones. These high density areas are suited to urban crimes like, prostitution, carjacking and robbery. So the suburban habitat seems perfectly suited for the sleepless meth-addict roaming through the internet, garbage cans and outdoor mailboxes in a quest to gather identities, while the density and proximity of a city is more fertile soil for the impulsiveness and raw brutally that is typical for crack and cocaine criminality. In a similar direction one of the directors of the World Cup 2006 security in our interview echoed some thoughts that also show the relationships between spatial configuration and the art of preventing urban brutality. These are just some of the topics that this issue of Monu presents: Media representation and context of brutality is one key aspect as our contributors show. Be it the possibility to easily record and distribute via cell-phone cameras as Peter Moertenboek and Helge Mooshammer describe in their article. Or the impossibility to censor images of resistance as Austin Arensberg describes. In our leading article Loic Wacquant analyzes the intensifying of structural brutality in the city: economic, social and political exclusion and the backlashes that inevitably follow. But brutality can also be an almost integral part of the history of development, in some cities as articles about places as different as Jerusalem and Seoul by Tim Rieniets and Baruch Gottlieb respectively show.
(Bernd Upmeyer and Thomas Soehl, Editors, July 2006)
16-01-06 // MONU #4 - DENIED URBANISM
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Scrap and Build by Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Jorge Almazán; Ex Gas Stations by UAS; Shopping for Vice by Jeffrey Ludlow; The Future of Filming in Downtown Los Angeles by Sarah Lorenzen; A Guide to Visiting Cities by Boris Sieverts; The Master of Lockhart (Texas) by Hans Frei; Transforming Local Government - privately by Robert H. Nelson; How Suburbs Destroy Democracy by Michael J. Thompson; Literature of the City 101 by William Alatriste; No Simple Problem Interview by Martin Schwegmann und Thorbjörn Reuter Christiansen with Mika Hannula; Infrascapes, Urban Androgyny and other unplanned Effects of Metropolitan Dynamics by Gabriel Duarte; No Slush by Tommi Mäkynen; E 70 by Beatriz Ramo/ STAR; Reinventing Lifta by Malkit Shoshan and Eitan Bronstein; Welcome to Houston, Texas by Eric Leshinsky; The Heckpfad by Kai Dolata and Lola Meyer; Volkspalast by Amelie Deuflhard and Sophie Krempl-Klieeisen; Hidden Veneration by Kristina Blazevski; DIY by Matthijs Bouw
From Tokyo to Lockhart Texas, from suburbs and informal settlements to the biggest representational buildings in capital cities, from Helsinki to Jerusalem, this issue offers a dazzling journey around the world to forms and episodes of urban life that have one thing in common: they lead a precarious existence, in our perceptions and in recognition of what is viable urban life or - more drastically - are actually threatened in their existence. It is not only le Corbusiers famous the eyes that cannot see or dont want to see, but sometimes also that which the eyes do not want to see (any longer). However as many of the contributions in this issue show clearly most of the time both of those symptoms of denying urbanism are happening simultaneously and are faces of the same coin. And the blindness and ignorance seems to be global and escapes narrow definitions of political ideology and even the categories of benevolent planners. Preservation of buildings and the neglect of destruction does not necessarily protect urban life quite the opposite as Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Jorge Almazán suggest in their article about Tokyo. More dramatically, historic preservation or reconstruction can also be a strategy to rewrite the history of a place, as if to erase the traces of another population as is happening in Lifta - Israel. Size does not matter for the concept of denied urbanism at least looking at the contributions. A small informal settlement on the fringes of the inner city of Cologne can be subject to the same mix of willful ignorance and the desire to create a clean city just as the Palast der Republik in Berlin the biggest representational building of the former GDR. More often than not there are many sides from which one can see the denial. On the one hand Suburbia the denying of urban life has profound negative consequences for democracy as Michael Thompson argues. On the other hand Michael Nelson sees potential in home owner associations as a particular form of governance that is massively emerging in suburban contexts and that is widely ignored at least among the mainstream planning community.
(Bernd Upmeyer and Thomas Soehl, Editors, January 2006)
05-07-05 // MONU #3 - POLITICAL URBANISM
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Planning and Activism by Malkit Shoshan; nEUtral by bad-architects; Rojak by Maggie Peng; Between Aerial Defense and Modernism by Lola Meyer; Model City - Interview with Margitta Faßl, the managing director of 'Wohnungsgesellschaft Hoyerswerda' by Bernd Upmeyer; You shall be Urban by Theo Deutinger; Flevoland: From State Planning to Planning the Stateless by CASE; The Pharmacy by Joost Meuwissen; Turning the Corner by Fabian Faltin; Supersuburbia by UAS
Exploring the relationship between power, politics and cities, urban territories is like looking at the chicken and egg question. What grows out of what? In Hoyerswerda, a middle sized east-German city where we spoke to Margitta Fassl, the Managing Director of the largest housing authority (that manages about 60x% of the cities housing units), the situation seems clear. The city over the last 50 years has been a ball on the waves of larger economic and political developments. From a small town of about 7,000 people, Hoyerswerda was built up into a model city the socialist era with about 70,000 people, now to its status is being a model amongst the shrinking cities in Eastern Germany that wither in the new market economics. Like clockwork is house after house demolished. There remain approximately 40,000 residents and the city is expected to lose at least another 10,0000 in the coming years. Hoyerswerda came to tragic fame in the early 90's when a racist, xenophobic mob and dozens of neo-nazis repeatedly attacked immigrants and engaged in violent street fights with the police. Ultimately the discussion about the relation between urban form and urban development, to politics and power, has a large impact on the self-understanding of the professions that deal with these topics. Are we as architects, planners, social scientists etc. mere 'hostages', as Rem Koolhaas expressed it at one point, of larger economic and political contexts, or can planning, research and building actually be activism, a contribution to a struggle to change things? Malkit Shoshan in her truly extraordinary project in a village in Israel in a way answers this question. Her account of the project in "Planning and Activism" shows how research in urban planning combined with an effort to engage stakeholders and powerbrokers can actually be a powerful political act.
(Bernd Upmeyer and Thomas Soehl, Editors, July 2005)
20-01-05 // MONU #2 - MIDDLE CLASS URBANISM
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Dispersion by Johannes Fiedler; Density, Zoning, and Class in New York City by Beth Lieberman; Mc Mansions by William Alatriste; Urbanism for the Middle Class in historic City Centers by Fernando Vegas and Camilla Mileto; Middle Class Urbanism Interview - with Thomas Sieverts by Bernd Upmeyer ; IKEA: When Cathedrals were blue by Manuel Shvartzberg; Neu Karow: a new space between berlin's past and its border by Katherine Bourke and Gregor Harbusch; Landscape Urbanism by Detlev Ipsen and Holger Weichler; Circuitous by Leah Beeferman; Adi, Audi, Aldi by Theo Deutinger; Middle Class Emulations by Angie Waller; The New Middle Class by Robert Winkel; Middle Class Desires by UAS
For the last few decades the middle class has been the driving force behind urban innovation. More than any other, this urban group has both the financial resources and the sheer power of numbers to effectively transform desire into urban reality. Many of the most obvious components of our cities - Row houses, apartment buildings and sports facilities, to name but a few - are in large measure a function of the existence of a broad middle class. The middle class symbolizes modest urban values, values that seem hopelessly anti-utopian and run counter to the megalomaniac concepts of cities proposed by great architects like LeCorbusier or Hilbersheimer. But in reality the middle class is comprised of some of the boldest urban utopists ever, individuals who have been realizing their utopias for decades. Much less dogmatic and more successful than any imagined utopia, with their power, influence and sheer numbers the middle class has shaped the urban landscapes we inhabit today. And although the term middle class is very blurry it might be exactly the contradictory relation of middle class to cities that could lead to a definition of what is the middle-class. As Johannes Fiedler argues in his text "Dispersion", in the absence of scarcity of some sort (e.g. economic, security) or top-down regulations, the default choice for living seem to be dispersed, low density environments. Or as Thomas Sieverts in our interview put it: "people seek the fringes". It is almost a pioneer-like quality that parts of the middle class exhibit the constant search for the new fringe, the new land. The relatively new phenomenon of exurbs is the US expression of that impulse. Places that are ever further removed from the population centers almost completely disconnected from any form of civic life. In Europe or Germany this strategy is not an option due to lack of available open space. Instead in Berlin, as documented in the article by Katherine Bourke and Gregor Harbusch, spaces in between old and new cities are the new frontier the new fringe that the middle-class colonizes.
(Bernd Upmeyer and Thomas Soehl, Editors, January 2005)
16-06-04 // MONU #1 - PAID URBANISM
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Imagining the Subsidized Landscape by CUP; After Growth by CASE with Reinier de Graaf; Urban Distortion by Shireen A. Barday and Damon W. Root; Urban Money Beats Global Money by Hans-Henning von Winning; The Paid Urbanism Project by Thomas Soehl and Bernd Upmeyer; SpaMania by Kai Jonas; Is a Bathtub Still a Bathtub on Mars? by William Alatriste; Richard J. Daley’s Chicago Civic Center and the Modernist Urban Landscape by Emily Pugh
Our experience of urban life today exists as it does because we have a complex system of subsidies interacting with our urban geography. Taxes, once extracted from the market economy cycle back to the masses as paid urbanism. Used wisely or not, spread fairly or unfairly, this money is probably one of the strongest forces animating our urban conditions today. The places we live in today are in many ways shaped by government spending - Subsidized Landscapes. Since the 90s, big enthusiasm about total privatization has subsided. Nowadays, everybody realizes that there is a need to keep certain things in the hand of public administration. Redistribution of enormous revenue is a commonly accepted means of keeping civil democratic societies working. Government intervention, taxing and spending are the terms we use to describe this state. Caught in an enormous network of redistribution that pervades everything and everybody, the power and influence of these processes rarely makes itself visible; we are never fully aware. A Kafkaesque web of bureaucracies constantly recreates and resuscitates our urban landscapes. Drifting through cities with their thousands of invisible dependencies and relationships, no one person can exactly define what keeps everything alive. Everything seems to be vibrant, but somewhere down the line, there are crosscutting streams and flows of decisions and administration behind it. It has been paid for. The multitudinous products of paid urbanism are hard to identify or define, but lie hidden behind every stone of the city. The effects of paid urbanism on urban settings cannot be overemphasized - without paid urbanism, cities as we know them would not exist. This first issue shines a number of spotlights into the thicket of subsidies and paid urbanism. What do networks of subsidies look like in fields like housing and farming in the US and what are their consequences for cities? What are the aesthetic impacts and absurdities of paid urbanism in places as different as Chicago, Coney Island (NYC) and Thuringen (eastern Germany). We feature projects that rethink the networks of paid urbanism and essays that reflect on the interwoven history of subventions and urbanism.
(Bernd Upmeyer and Thomas Soehl, Editors, June 2004)