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Left: The architecture of the modern project relied on extractive and combustive processes to such an extent that fuel has come to dictate form. Shown here as sedimentary layers are
the forces that have accelerated the production of CO2 in relation to the production of the built environment. From article “Do Nothing for as Long as Possible” by Tatjana Schneider, page 27.
Illustration: MOULD – Sarah Bovelett, Anthony Powis, Tatjana Schneider, Christina Serifi, Jeremy Till, and Becca Voelcker, “Architecture is Climate,” 2023. Published on e-flux Architecture,
commissioned by the Jencks Foundation in the series ‚Chronograms of Architecture‘.
Right: The Life Within Buildings: Towards a New Housing Policy by Christoffer Jusélius and Helen Runting, pages 30-31.

In issue #36 of MONU "New Social Urbanism", twenty contributors paint a broader picture of what the changes of the social urban realm are actually about: concerns of responsibility and honesty, confronting facing facts of injustice and exploitation, issues of affordability and exclusion, questions of governance and organization, challenges of polarization and alienation, influences of digitality and virtuality, but also chances of new structures and discoveries to develop.

Reviewing the 36th issue of MONU from a perspective of an Urban Geographer, with a background in Earth- and Environmental Sciences, my attention got caught by an illustration resembling a lithospheric diagram featured in Tatjana Schneider's contribution "Do Nothing for as Long as Possible", created by MOULD - a group of architects and academics working at the intersection of spatial practice and climate emergency. On the first view, the illustration depicts a cross-section of sedimentary layers, representing the mineral and fossil resources accumulated over billions of years beneath our feet. The depiction reminds me of a semester of my studies during which I made efforts to memorize all different kinds of geo-resources, their appearances, occurrences, and compositions. I walked through the city of Freiburg, photographing and investigating house facades, paving stones or stone bridges and observed rockslides through the lens of a microscope.

Social Responsibility and Issues of Exploitation
The diagram shown in Tatjana Schneider's article is different than the figures and cross sections I know from University. There is a double meaning: instead of naming the geological components of the soil, extracted for constructing and sustaining human environments, the illustration names socially and environmentally disastrous forces and practices associated with the built environment. The diagram by MOULD was created in collaboration with e-flux Architecture and the Jencks Foundations and is a reference to famous diagrams by the 20th-century architect, writer, and critic Charles Jencks.

It's literally a somewhat muddy chaos, to picture the underlying forces and human practices that shaped our cities. Yet, Tatjana Schneider's argument is clear: she advocates for radical honesty in examining practices of a New Social Urbanism. While the endless call for action to finally do things differently is an "old hat", way too often, existing hegemonies are still reproduced. Few are willing to delve into this metaphorical dirt. However, Schneider insists that only by confronting the dark, unpleasant, and ugly facts that have led to the development of exclusionary cities, can real change occur. A New Social Urbanism must be more than allowing for some edgy creative spaces and innovative public-private alliances; it requires digging deeper, uncovering and addressing those underlying layers - colonialism, exploitation, violation of power, denial, and the privatization of common resources and spaces, just to name a few.

But not only Schneider makes this seemingly obvious but often forgotten or ignored argument. The challenge of overcoming hypocrisy and addressing past mistakes when it comes to new urban approaches deemed to be social, is also addressed in the interview with Sharon Zukin "Social by Definition" or the article "The Life Within Buildings: Towards a New Housing Policy" by Christoffer Jusélius and Helen Runting.

Urban Affordability and Exclusion
Reflecting on New York City as an example, Zukin is quite critical of whether a New Social Urbanism, understood in a positive sense, even has a chance to arise under conditions where the distribution and design of urban spaces are primarily dictated by the monetarization of their prospective usage. Although this issue of MONU magazine is not intended to be an extended version of issue #32 on Affordable Urbanism, when reading the interview with Sharon Zukin or Christoffer Jusélius' and Helen Runting's article, it becomes evident that questioning or shaping a New Social Urbanism is indispensably linked to the topic of affordability.

Jusélius and Runting critizize Sweden's paternalistic failures in effectively addressing urban socioeconomic segregation, occurring after decades of deregulation and privatization of public housing. By viewing the map of the distribution of Stockholm's private and public housing stock, the critique of an overly deregulated housing development becomes spatially imaginable. The authors hereafter argue that rather than approaching underlying causes of availability and equitable distribution of affordable housing, planners, scholars, and authorities have disproportionally focused on infrastructural connectivity as the primary issue for overcoming social issues in geographically segregated neighborhoods. Additionally, labelling the suburbs of the postwar era as dysfunctional by their design and location does not help in combatting exclusionary cities. On the contrary, Jusélius and Runting argue that it reproduces stigmatizations and circumvents the necessary debate on spatial and housing injustice.

But it's not all painted black in this issue of MONU magazine. Looking back at the lithospheric diagram mentioned earlier, there are indeed some bright layers and promising veins visible such as: "nothing can be changed until it is faced", "see expertise everywhere" or "staying with the trouble"; some of which also reappear in other contributions. For the reviewed approaches of a New Social Urbanism, an enhanced recognition of community and collectivity plays an essential role.

Left: Sant Llorenç, València. August 2022, Photo by Maria Blau, from article “New Rights, New Needs, New Rules” by Nuria Ribas Costa, page 48.
Right: Parkcycle Swarm, Copenhagen 2013, from article “Spatial Reappropriation through Transformative Practices” by Valentina Rizzi, page 54.

Commoning, Collective Governance and Spatial Reappropriation
The article "New Rights, New Needs, New Rules - Commoning as a Way to Reclaim Collective Governance of Cities" by Nuria Ribas Costa, for instance, reports about a renewed assertion of the needs of inhabitants in Spanish cities. Emerging grassroots initiatives are challenging traditional centralized power structures and establish collective governance and decision making. Ribas Costa sheds light on the work and experiences of the initiative 'the Court of the City' in Valencia, emphasizing that "social life is not only about coexistence but also about collective ownership".

Perhaps Jusélius and Runting would agree that it is time to dismantle paternalistic modes of governance and restore autonomy to local communities. Yet, I assume that Zukin as well as Jusélius and Runting would raise questions about the challenge of asserting claims for 'the Right to the City' amidst existing structures of ownership and power. I'd say that collective governance and collective ownership are two different issues and present different types of challenges. However, upon a second look, Ribas Costa seems to be aware of such concerns. She argues that there is no way to regain municipal administration's capacity to deliver public services and secure people's rights and needs: "traditional forms of governance must be obsolete, unable to process, absorb and respond to the (new) needs of citizens" (page 45). Authorities that agree to step back from monopolizing the management of public interests leave space for alternative, collective and shared modes of governance to develop. Certainly, there must be some rules and conditions to bring this theory into practice, which can be read in detail in Nubia Ribas Costa's article. In conclusion, a New Social Urbanism must necessarily involve new governmental structures that are yet to reassembled and establish.

Let's delve further into a different approach on collectivity and spatial reappropriation of the urban public approached by Valentina Rizzi in her article "Spatial Reappropriation through Transformative Practices". When discussing spatial reappropriation, I must admit that performative and visual arts as transformative tools would not have been my first proposal. After reading, Rizzi's contribution, I was reminded of the power of artistic practices as responses to the hostility of certain urban environments. As urban landscapes become increasingly uniform and public space exclusionary, performative approaches to urban design hold the capacity to open new realms of imagination, challenge existing norms, facilitate unconventional encounters and mobilize efforts to redefine our notion of community and social identity.

Left: Post Disaster Rooftops, Taranto 2022, from article “Spatial Reappropriation through Transformative Practices” by Valentina Rizzi, page 52
Right: Post-Public Space by Francisco Silva, pages 65- 67.

Influence of the Virtual and the Digital
But "what can happen next?" to public spaces when their social qualities decline and change? In one of my favorite articles "Post-Public Space", Francisco Silva raises this question and makes theoretical speculations about the future of a public social sphere that merges with virtuality. Therefore, he draws analogies to writings on socio-technical transformations of the two authors, the architectural historian Anthony Vidler and the philosopher Jean Beaudrillard.

Silva starts by reflecting on the status quo of public space: at a time when the social sphere suffers from polarization and exclusion, making unconventional and non-commercial encounters increasingly difficult, the digital domain opens up social space to a new dimension of global connection and communication. Meeting in person is no longer necessary to socialize, and distance no longer an obstacle for social interaction as the digital domain merges with the physical. While the remoteness of online social interaction increases the access to social space for all different types of actors and behaviors, brevity and anonymity also allow for decreased social control and constraints. New extremes of barbarism, disrespect, harassment, and even criminality emerge and collide.

Then, the article takes an interesting turn when Silva argues that despite, and precisely due to, the social space being at the peak of moral decay, there emerges a change for a new identity and quality of the social to develop. Amid the shattered structures of what we understand as social space, a new and increased concern for inclusion, respect, truth, meaningful encounters, and understanding for complex human interaction emerges.
Public space might reestablish as something no longer defined by conventional understandings of the physical urban social space. How exactly that will look like is a matter of discovery and further investigations by the readers, researchers and practitioners interested in New Social Urbanism.

After reading through New Social Urbanism, I find myself in fact re-evaluating an initially somewhat pessimistic "disbelief in all social space both urban and virtual", as Francisco Silva frames a general societal sentiment. Resuming, this issue of MONU is also a call to take part in shaping the New Social Urbanism reassessing the emerging qualities and fallacies about the properties we consider defining an (Anti-) Social Urbanism.

Maleen Paula Rüthers (she/her) is an urban geographer and a postgraduate at the HU Berlin holding a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts and Sciences, with a major in Earth and Environmental Sciences from the University of Freiburg, Germany. She also pursued studies in Valencia and Lisbon at the faculties for Geography and Spatial Planning. Currently based in Berlin, Maleen is engaged in studying and working in the field of urbanism, with special attention to regenerative architecture, urban green infrastructure, critical cartography and transdisciplinary formats for collaborative discourse and practice. This review of MONU #36 was first published by Berlin-based Urbanophil on June 3, 2024.

MONU #36 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; Rotterdam’s 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 Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Left: Cover of MONU #36: New Social Urbanism.
Right: The beautiful concept of "vulnerability", introduced by Maria Reitano in her article "Vulnerable City
", pages 4-5.

The latest issue of MONU explores the current challenges and opportunities of urban planning, by offering critical perspectives that cover various levels of discussion. One of the central themes of this issue is the role of urban planning in the post-pandemic era. It calls for a rethinking of traditional notions of physical space creation and emphasizes important design issues related to social dynamics.

Sociologist Sharon Zukin discusses the impact of "New Social Urbanism" on cities, which has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis has highlighted issues in urban planning and architecture related to social dynamics. The forced isolation has prompted a deeper reflection on the role of urbanism and challenged the individualism typical of neo-liberal cities, leading to new perspectives. Zukin emphasizes the importance of the sense of proximity usually found in neighborhoods and how the disappearance of these urban clusters threatens the connection between people and the sense of intimacy. The latest global health crisis has revealed new ways of being close, suggesting new social opportunities of living in the city and advocating for social urbanism based on the awareness of our mutual vulnerability. This beautiful concept of "vulnerability", introduced in her article by Maria Reitano, invites us to reflect on new ways of producing space based on an awareness of fragility and interconnections among individuals in society and the resilience this awareness can generate.

The analysis goes beyond the physical realm and explores the increasing significance of virtual spaces in the New Social Urbanism. The COVID-19 pandemic has demystified the belief that online interactions are inherently antisocial, as detailed in Tatjana Crossley's article "Technology as Medium to Rethink Spatiality". This transformation has blurred the line between the real and the virtual, opening up new opportunities of connection. In her article, Serafina Amoroso discusses the role of the virtual in the New Social Urbanism, specifically the move from the Global Village to the Global Home. The article examines themes such as the accessibility of spaces through augmented reality but raises critical questions about its relationship with the physical world. Is the virtual merely an escape from the issues we face in the real world? The article leaves us with an open conclusion.

The cover of this issue showcases an image from the photographic project "2091: The Ministry of Privacy" by Maxime Matthys. The photo depicts a public space in Kashgar where a group of people is connected by a virtual mesh created by a facial recognition algorithm. The lines in the image create an intricate web of connections, suggesting a complex and layered network of relationships that go beyond the visible. The image invites us to reflect on the nature of our interconnectedness and how it is mediated by technology. It raises important questions about how digital and physical structures shape our experience of the urban landscape, and how they impact our sense of privacy and agency. The image is a powerful representation that challenges us to think critically about the structures we build and the systems we use to navigate our world.

Left: The photos of Maxime Matthys invite us to reflect on the nature of our interconnectedness and how it is mediated by technology, page 82.
Right: Interview with Izaskun Chinchilla by Bernd Upmeyer, page 107.

After thoroughly reading MONU #36, it is clear that interviews and essays all agree on the importance of meaningful connections in design thinking. This agreement requires a radical rethinking of social dynamics, emphasizing the need to build emotional bonds that can truly reconnect people on a deep level, creating a genuine sense of 'neighborhood'. This concept is the theme around which the entire discourse revolves.

I believe that the interview with architect Izaskun Chinchilla is central in understanding the concept of "New Social Urbanism". Chinchilla critiques urban planning that prioritizes work functionality, arguing that it turns cities into fragmented spaces that undermine social cohesion. She suggests the urgency to revise urban planning by considering it not only as a practical act but also as an empathetic and participatory one. Chinchilla's perspective transforms the architect's role from a creator of physical forms to a "social mediator," highlighting the importance of managing social relationships within urban communities. This shift marks a turning point in the perception of architecture, now intrinsically linked to the construction and management of social relationships within urban communities. Chinchilla's perspective paves the way for a more humane and interconnected vision of architecture that aligns with the growing awareness of a new social era taking shape in our cities. In this context, urban design becomes an act of social construction, reflecting the necessary evolution in contemporary urban dynamics and laying the foundations for a more cohesive and supportive community.

In conclusion, aligning myself with Zukin's perspective, I believe that the term 'urbanism' inherently has a social meaning. However, it is fundamental for urban planners and designers to explore the evolution of the term 'social' in the context of contemporary society, recognizing its dynamic nature shaped by historical events. This requires a critical examination of what 'new' entails in today's urban landscape and this issue of MONU offers the reader a number of valuable resources to address this query.

Therefore New Social Urbanism represents a necessary departure from the ancient dichotomy of function vs. aesthetics. Rather than continuing this longstanding dilemma, it emphasizes the importance of adopting a holistic approach to urban planning that transcends mere utilitarian concerns. This shift challenges urban planners to prioritize the well-being and the social cohesion of the communities they serve. By doing so, we can aspire to realize what Paul Kalbfleisch has described as a 'Joyful city’.

Chiara Catalini is a designer and photographer originally from Italy. She moved to the Netherlands to further her education in Product Design with a Master's Degree in Interior Architecture and Research at the Piet Zwart Institute of Rotterdam. Currently, she works independently as a freelancer through her own practice, Chiaramente Studio, specializing in interior and product design as well as photography.

MONU #36 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; Rotterdam’s 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 Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Left: Maxime Matthys's image on the cover of MONU #36: New Social Urbanism captures the emergence of an omnipresent techno-centric urban future.
Centre: 'Piggybacking'-showcasing how undercapitalized ventures intertwine with established developments, disrupting the monotony of today's urban planning landscape."The Strange Bedfellows of Contemporary Urbanism" by Brian Holland, p. 92.
Right: Sociologist Sharon Zukin, in an interview with MONU editor in chief Bernd Upmeyer, is rather pessimistic about whether a “new social urbanism” is rising, p. 13-14.

Ever since the genesis of city planning, the concept of "social" urbanism has permeated the lexicon of every architect and planner. Yet, the pandemic has thrust "new" urbanism into the limelight, highlighting the sheer mess, fractured deficits, and anti-sociability inherent within spatial design. BOARD's annual journal, MONU - Magazine on Urbanism, Issue #36, accentuates the imperative for a nuanced comprehension of New Social Urbanism. This edition resonates with its prior issues, notably MONU #35: Unfinished Urbanism and MONU #33: Pandemic Urbanism. These issues explored themes such as unpredictable transactions and enormous economic inequity amid the pandemic. Expanding on that, understanding New Social Urbanism now demands a broader perspective. It must transcend the conventional 'social' definitions and grapple with the multifaceted conflicts faced in a post-pandemic, rapidly-digitizing society to reconceptualize the foundational tenets of 'sociability.'

MONU #36
endeavors to address a harmonious equilibrium between the public and private realms, real and virtual worlds, and collective versus governmental responsibilities to foster inclusive sociability within radically different urban structures. The issue, rich with interviews, articles, photographs, and essays by experts operating at the nexus of urbanism and social science, spans global contexts, from the bustling megacities like New York City and Hong Kong to the localized perspectives of Valencia and Librino. Though featuring twenty distinct contributions, the issue coherently articulates overarching themes on New Social Urbanism: ramifications of COVID-19, evolving urban strategies, the rise of communal spaces, and the evolution towards immersive cities.

An in-depth examination of the root causes of resource exploitation and the contemporary missteps of urbanism unfolds in this issue. In her essay, Tatjana Schneider foregrounds structures of unsustainability, "gas-guzzling" infrastructure, climate crisis, and critical global analysis. Similarly, Paul Kalbfleisch dissects the implications of zoning laws and a car-centric culture, highlighting social segregation and the eventual 2020 'Social Recession.' This pervasive lack of human interaction and social coldness has become particularly pronounced in New York City where socio-economic disparities-aggravated by the pandemic-exacerbate challenges in managing extreme density with little-to-none affordable and hygienic housing, as explained by Richard Plunz and Andrés Álvarez-Dávila as well as in Bernd Upmeyer's interview with Sharon Zukin. Urbanistic oddities manifest more starkly in some cities where planning mistakes have rendered ghost towns, as in Agnes Katharina Müller's portrayal of San Francisco, or ordered public neighborhoods that paradoxically reveal the absence of liveability, as detailed by Constanze Wolfgring.

Left: In the wake of San Francisco's post-pandemic shift into a ghost town, this contribution examines inclusive strategies, aiming to revitalize the city's downtown into a vibrant "social hub." "San Francisco: From 'Ghost Town' to a New Social City?" by Agnes Katharina Müller, p. 98.
Centre: Architect Izaskun Chinchilla, in another interview with Upmeyer, believes 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, p. 101-102.
Right: Reimagining our social priorities towards joy and playfulness, this image underscores cities as the true home for the human spirit. "The Opportunity for Joyful Cities' by Paul Kalbfleisch, p. 110.

Yet, amidst these looming challenges, MONU #36 illuminates pathways of redeeming neighborhoods by emphasizing innovative housing and urban policies as catalysts for social revitalization. While not entirely groundbreaking, these policies employ straightforward yet impactful social space-making approaches ranging from citywide initiatives to individual housing units, addressing the intersections of work, private life, public engagement, and communal activities for all inhabitants. From Paul Kalbfleisch's advocacy of prioritizing joy through playgrounds for the "human spirit" to Valentina Rizzi's transformative reappropriation through performative arts, embracing "marginalized spaces as generative grounds for collective reclamation," the issue offers tangible solutions to restore a sense of neighborhood familiarity and rejuvenate public spaces as traditional arenas for social interaction. Brian Holland's piece on 'piggybacking' discusses a space-sharing practice that posits marginal activities alongside popular developments to form multi-use structures. This strategy challenges the disconnectedness and homogeneity often associated with modernist planning while fostering a vision of diverse, resilient collectivity. Several articles within the issue resonate with the central theme of collectivity by suggesting refined real estate policies, advocating for collective ownership, emphasizing the right to the city, adopting the city as a commons, and exploring social capital. These discussions suggest that prioritizing social design, placemaking, and communal sharing of urban resources-rather than solely focusing on privatization and commercialization-will inherently lead to financial gains and environmental consciousness facilitated by increased public engagement and active utilization.

Most importantly, MONU #36 confronts the predominant and inevitable shift towards the post-public, digitally-immersed, tetra-dimensional cities. The magazine's cover unequivocally underscores that envisioning New Social Urbanism for the 21st century necessitates acknowledging and naturalizing this densely layered digital urban environment. Maxime Matthys' cover photograph, sourced from his project, "2091: The Ministry of Privacy," compellingly unveils the omnipresent yet often "seemingly-invisible technology" that overlays our urban experiences. Tatjana Crossley references the insights of contemporary philosopher David Chalmers, who asserts that "virtual reality is genuine reality," especially given how augmented reality has manifested in alternative urbanities through video games, art exhibitions, and advertising. We're on the cusp of "techno-social transformations," as exemplified by Francisco Silva. The appropriation of space into a "tetra-dimensional urbanism," as Serafina Amoroso aptly suggests, by equipping our media houses and urban realm with digital screens, AR technologies, and hybrid spaces, emphasizes that architecture integrates virtual realms. As physical presence is no longer a prerequisite and social interactions distill to their core essence of connection, emotion, and communication, the multiplying spectrum of socializing by merging realities heralds a promising horizon for architects, planners, and social scientists. Design-now-transcends traditional territories, ushering in a new era of four-dimensional social landscapes in a merger of body, technology, and structures.

Being a reader from an Asian nation where social interdependence has historically influenced architectural ethos, the global implications of this theme captivate my attention. Yet, upon reflection, the limited analysis from the Eastern perspectives stands out, especially considering the region's rich tapestry of interconnected atmospheres, collective harmony, familial ties, and stronger social bonds. It would be particularly enlightening to explore the implications of social distancing in these inherently communal societies and contemplate the potential manifestations of New Social Urbanism within such unique and dense cultural landscapes. Nevertheless, this latest issue of MONU #36 - in its signature aesthetic format with unique layouts per contribution - deserves all the superlatives for its wealth of ideas. It stands as a compelling read, initiating vital dialogues on the power of sociability and liveability of cities, envisioning cities as socio-technological ecosystems, and undoubtedly eliciting optimistic trajectories for the future of urbanism.

Nishi Shah is an alumna of The Berlage Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban Design. Currently living in the Netherlands, she is employed as an architect, working as a freelance writer, and serving as a co-curator for VOLUME's biweekly newsletter. With a close affinity towards research and critical thinking, Nishi attempts to explore new methodologies of approaching design-as a creative artist and an analytical theorist-to foster interdisciplinary dialogues within the design discourse. This review of MONU #36 was first published on World-Architects on February 13, 2024.

MONU #36 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; Rotterdam’s 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 Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.

11-12-23 //

Study of Perspective, Tiananmen Square, 1998, Ai Weiwei

When recently we initiated a debate on the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on cities that led to MONU's issue #33, we had the hope that the crisis would make people and governments cooperate more strongly with each other and thus enable them to tackle major problems of all sorts making our cities more habitable and affordable than ever... continue reading in Submit.

MONU is currently 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; Rotterdam’s 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 Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


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... continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy here.

(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; Rotterdam’s 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 Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Left: Cover of #35
Centre: Editorial
Right: Table of contents

It never occurred to me to look and question the urban realities surrounding me in their degree of finishedness. Growing up in a city that is constantly reinventing itself on a base of complex and very much opposing histories, there was always some sort of structure, building, or place that consists of, and in most cases thrived of, (being) unfinished. Having Berlin as my 'default' image of a city, unfinishedness is inherent to my understanding of urban realities. As such, I never fully engaged with any deeper or increasingly complex conceptualisations of unfinishedness, beyond the binary it implies and what's visually evident in Berlin's urban landscape.

MONU magazine is picking up on what they coined 'Unfinished Urbanism' to explore current urban realities, defined by flaws, imperfections, and failures. Opening the discussion is an interview with Mark Wigley, paving the way for the issue's discussion on unfinishedness, its great potential and possible shortcomings, embedded with a wide range of case study articles, representing stories, narratives, and examples beyond the dominating Eurocentric urban sphere. Critically reflecting on the static notion of architecture, Wigley is advocating against a reality that is defined through stability and completeness. His interest is precisely in unfinished realities, as they are opening up a space for creativity and flexibility to respond and accommodate the ever-changing nature of cities and contemporary urban realities. This understanding of unfinishedness as a necessity to respond to contemporary urban challenges runs as a read thread throughout the magazine. Unfinishedness is understood as crucial, as seemingly the only way to deal with the unpredictable nature that cities are facing today and surely will face in the future.

Left: To Be Finished Is to Be Dead - Interview with Mark Wigley, p.4-5
Centre: The Perks and Quandaries of Coming Undone a Conversation with Akoaki, p. 18-19
Right: Unfinishedness, a Practice - Interview with (Arno Brandlhuber and Olaf Grawert), p. 94-95

Situated within the intersection of theoretical discussion and direct case study examples, the issue is addressing Unfinished Urbanism from a primarily architectural framework, offering insights into the consequences of over-design and rigid top-down urban planning approaches. Ranging from unfinished nuclear power plants in the Crimea region to counteracting strategies and playful resistance, the issue manages to include a differentiated and increasingly representative collection of stories and narratives, exceeding the boundaries of the urban North West. Opening up the space of elaborating the risk of over-fetishisation of unfinished urban structures allows for a critical discussion of the underlying structures that are causing these realities. As most of the unfinishedness of buildings, especially in the Global South, is due to unforeseen economic crises, corruption, or the withdrawal of investors, the discussion could extend to generally questioning the systemic structures that unfinishedness is resulting from.

Generally, the issue is offering a differentiated and comprehensive overview of Unfinished Urbanism. MONU offers a variety of case studies that are all characterised through, or are dealing with, unfinishedness, while being embedded in an approachable and extensive theoretical discussion on the subject matter in a predominantly optimistic manner. As much as we need urbanism to remain open and adjustable to concurrent and upcoming realities, so do we need to stay open within this discussion to foster an increasingly inclusive, horizontal, and fair debate. As such, this issue is as much unfinished as our cities, which is a great starting point.

Pauline Werner recently graduated in Urban Studies and is now studying Heritage & Design at TU Delft.
She is interested in contemporary urbanism and the intersection of art, politics, and resistance within the urban environment.

MONU #35 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 Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism, Landscape and Planning; Rotterdam’s Independent School for the City:
Dirty Old Town; Learning From Rotterdam - A Unique 12-week Post Graduate Education Programme
; and Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


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Left: The Unfinished City: Approaches for Embracing an Open Urbanism by Nick Dunn and Dan Dubowitz, p. 28-29
Right: The Temporal City by Ian Nazareth and David Schwarzman, p. 114-115

This issue is a call to observation made up of a breadth of contributors; a look into the wealth of possibility in leaving something unfinished. Between the two covers is a significant imagination of what happens in an unfinished city, acknowledging all the complexity inherent to urban environments in their movement through time. Being an architecture student, I am always told to submit a finished product. Ideas bookended by deadline and notions of completion - crisp, clean and uncomplex. Plans of public spaces, community centers, and housing meant to be wrapped in a bow and left unchanged, summed into one final CAD and a few sentences. But here, in MONU #35, the reader delves into possibilities of expansion and growth in an urban environment, acknowledging intricacies. The beauty of this magazine is the synthesis of different lenses into the world of "Unfinished Urbanism": ruins, policies, playgrounds, and nuclear plants. There is whimsy and imagination in the incomplete, only hinted to with the children balanced on the cover page.

This issue, through its contributors, is a brilliant exploration of time. The First there is the more obvious, Maarten Willemstein "Hellas": Greek ruins suspended in time, the inclinings of something to be renewed. Tiphaine Abenia discusses the nature of ruins, not as romanticized and embedded in their history but as a possibility for reiteration and growth. This idea of renewal is discussed again by Marco Enia and Flavio Martella right off the bat, equating a city to an organism, something dynamic, alive, always readjusting, which expanded upon with this notion of "intelligent ruins," a wonderful oxymoron from "Unfinishedness, a Practice", the second interview. There is also talk of the "death of the architect", by Wijdane Esseffah, which puts into question the whole status of a definitive author as a work of architecture progresses through time.

For me as a student, time is considered stagnant, meant to be built and then left, sturdy and unchanged. The breaking of these rules explored through these pieces beckons the reader to question how the possibility of change can be built into a city. This brilliant selection of works is incredibly inspiring as a student, serving as an exploration of approaches outside of traditional teaching.

MONU #35 also gets concrete in its assessment of space, strategically including pieces that discuss policy. After all, how does a system that allows for the unfinished come to be? "The Unfinished City: Approaches for Embracing an Open Urbanism", gives good insight into how cities are shaped by policies enforcing permanence. It is an "urgent" call to action that is much needed. How do we combat, and challenge policy? One of my favorite pieces in the issue, Ana Morcillo Pallares' "Incompleteness and Play" shows how designers have created temporary installations where 20th-century plans and policy have fallen short, beautifully approached through the assessment of various playgrounds. A piece showing the joy and play that should always be imagined in urban design.

To explore the progress borne out of the unfinished, it is important to also assess the issues, and MONU does not shy from the intricacy of outcomes. In "Roadside Picnic - Remote Detour around the World's Unfinished Nuclear Power Plants" the reader is shown the vast, immovable footprints of the world's abandoned nuclear plants. Leaving something unfinished leads to renewal and development, which causes displacement, so effectively shown in Isabelle Pateer's photo-essay: "Unsettled".

MONU #35 approaches many ideas, tackling the complications of the incomplete with a global narrative. It could be too much: past and future artifacts, shaped by time, policy, and social fabric. How do we create possibilities? Where can the unfinished be helpful? Unhelpful? But MONU #35 is overwhelming in the best way because it has to be. Through these narratives and discussions, the reader understands that to approach a city is to enter a labyrinth of causes and effects.

I have followed MONU magazine for years. In high school, I was given new issues for Christmas. My ideas of urban design have grown through the two covers of this magazine. As a student it is wonderful to have this as a tangible resource to return to and enjoy. Both interesting as a reader and significant as a young designer, this issue weaves together these notions of time, layered and messy, giving a very full picture to approaching the future of urban design.

Arielle Steere is a 2nd year student at UC Berkeley's Center for Environmental Design studying Landscape Architecture. She runs CED's urban design zine: "Oddyard" which does work considering the intersection between youth and temporary installations of urban design and is on the Board of "Room One Thousand", the graduate architectural journal.

MONU #35 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 Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism, Landscape and Planning; Rotterdam’s Independent School for the City:
Dirty Old Town; Learning From Rotterdam - A Unique 12-week Post Graduate Education Programme
; and Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Unsettled by Isabelle Pateer, p. 50-51

Unfinished cities and unfinished buildings are something we witness daily in every city people live in: the construction site left abandoned years ago, road and station repairs, and planned masterplans for redeveloping particular areas. We often view these "unfinished" spaces as eyesores, failures, and needing renovation. Governments often demolish these spaces and seek funding to rebuild them with wide public support. Otherwise, we see unfinished as a "failure," a place for crime and abandonment. But is it actually something so damaging to our cities and neighborhoods? Is the concept of a "finished" city a valid one, and if so, what are the dimensions of "finished" and "unfinished" in urbanism and architecture? MONU #35 magazine examines these questions, exploring the relationship between political values, society, and the physical appearance of cities. What is particularly compelling about this issue is how the magazine investigates the complex dimensions and nuances of unfinished urbanism through a diverse array of academic articles, interviews, and artistic projects.

The underlying theme in this issue is the relationship between political values in the government and society and the physical appearance of the cities. In the interview with Mark Wigley, a professor of Architecture and Dean Emeritus at Columbia University, he claims that contemporary architecture aims to represent stability, completeness, and authority over nature, which is deeply intertwined with the psychological makeup of society. The same issues are discussed in the conversation with Akoaki, Sirota, and Farges. They emphasize how capitalism in the US, with the lacking or weak municipal support, shifts public functions to philanthropy projects, which still construct their own ideologies that rarely meet the needs of residents of a particular city. Capitalism "clearly maps its destructive capacities and debunks its progressive myths." Wigley supports this view, stating that "to be liberated from the capitalist system would be to liberate the unconscious with everybody becoming an artist and the only form of art that really matters is urbanism and to endlessly remake the city that you share with others." These scholars and architects, as well as some other authors from this issue, clearly see "unfinishedness," as liberation and form of claiming something that has been taken from the citizens in the modern political urban system. The shapes of reclaiming vary from physically unfinished buildings, abandoned spaces given to the public to rethink their use, or more political and social acts, such as squatting that declares the right of every person to housing.

Other projects presented in this issue beautifully illustrate and complete previous takes on the destructiveness and dire consequences of "finished" in neoliberal urban areas. The desire for profit and rapid economic growth often backfires or evicts those for whom this land held a special meaning transmitted through generations, economically or spiritually. In the project "Unsettled" by Isabelle Pateer, the cold unsettlement of construction sights of the expanding harbor in Antwerp explores those dimensions of economic thrive in the city and the quiet displacement of local residents. Will this eviction profit the overall population through a more globalized economy? Will new natural areas be built as compensation for the expansion of the port? Is the change and unfinishedness of these former agricultural areas bringing hope or destruction? There is definitely more depth to a conversation on unfinished rather than seeing it as a form of rebellion against capitalism and authority imposed over citizens and their right to occupy and rebuild urban space to their needs and desires.

Left: Roadside Picnic - Remote Detour around the World’s Unfinished Nuclear Power Plants by Paul Cetnarski, p. 44-45
Right: Stranded in Limbo: 25 Unfinished Structures by MARS at PBSA, p. 72-73

What is exceptionally remarkable about this issue is the questioning of the Western approach to unfinished urban practices, where poverty and economic instability in South Asia and African countries are seen as a form of resistance and art we can learn from rather than a form of dehumanization and the past of colonialism in these areas. Acknowledgment of the privilege Northen and Western countries have when illustrating unfinished and constantly changing urban structures as a revolutionary approach to contemporary urban planning and architecture is an important aspect that is, in my opinion, not discussed enough among academic scholars and artists. Analyzing the unfinished urban space in Mumbai, Rupal Rathore's article presents informal settlements as climate resilience coupled with high maintenance prices in the new affordable self-owned apartments for workers migrating for rural areas rather than the intentional desire of the citizens to reclaim urban areas in the city.

Leafing through the magazine, we dive into different countries and conditions under which buildings or even entire cities ended up in limbo status. Similar cases have diverse effects on society and the economy, leaving various imprints in the place where a grand project has been abandoned or never came to life. The restrained, almost black-and-white layout with colorful accent inserts masterly manipulates our attention and perspective on unfinishedness. Some pages bring us hope among the ruins, but sometimes we get lost in deserted places that breathe with shattered hopes and a bygone time that never came. As shown in the Paul Cetnarski article "Roadside Picnic - Remote Detour around the World's Unfinished Nuclear Power Plants", incomplete satellite-cities in the Soviet Union have remained an unfinished myth, leaving the residents in the shadow of grand plans for economically prosperous communities. Unfinishedness became a burden that was too difficult to

Left: Incompleteness and Play by Ana Morcillo Pallares, p. 40-41
Right: Hellas by Maarten Willemstein, p. 80-81

Thus, through these diverse approaches to, as many would think, very straightforward terms, the issue examines the complexity and depth of Unfinished Urbanism, depending on the cultural, economic, and geographical context. Unfinished can be seen as hope, a way to fight, rethink, and rebel, but also might be a sign of great historical failure that neither government nor citizens can conquer. The magazine presents a unique and thought-provoking view on the subject, challenging the traditional Western view of unfinished urbanism as a way to conceptually rethink our urban living, inspired by the example of less wealthy countries, and shifting focus to more complex and nuanced perspective on abandoned or unfinished urbanism.

Tatiana Charushnikova studies Urban Studies and is a part of the Association for Students of Urban Studies (ASTUS) at Leiden University. She is intersted in how governance, design, and urbanism impact and shape our cities. Currently living in the Hague, she is investigating these topics and their interrelation at the University and through various art projects.

MONU #35 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 Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism, Landscape and Planning; Rotterdam’s Independent School for the City:
Dirty Old Town; Learning From Rotterdam - A Unique 12-week Post Graduate Education Programme
; and Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, 1946
Photo by David E. Scherman

Although the French existentialist philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre could have easily worked from his home or from one of the hotels in which he lived most of his life, he famously did most of his writing in cafés. He evidently preferred the social life of coffeehouses despite its drawbacks due to the noise and other distractions.... continue reading in Submit.

MONU is currently supported by The Berlage - The Berlage Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban Design; Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA): Urban Studies MSc; KU Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism, Landscape and Planning; Rotterdam’s Independent School for the City:
Dirty Old Town; Learning From Rotterdam - A Unique 12-week Post Graduate Education Programme
; and Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


“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...
continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy here.

(Cover: Image is part of Ana Morcillo Pallares’s 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 Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism, Landscape and Planning; Rotterdam’s Independent School for the City:
Dirty Old Town; Learning From Rotterdam - A Unique 12-week Post Graduate Education Programme
; and Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.

27-09-22 // MONU #24 BACK IN STOCK

Left: Cover of the reprinted issue #24
Centre: The Home as Political Arena - Interview with Andrés Jaque, p. 4-5
Right: The Interior of the Metropolis by STAR strategies + architecture including the centrefold “Section of a Metropolitan « Grande Maison »”, p. 118-119

Due to the enormous interest in our sold out issue #24 on Domestic Urbanism, we started researching into possibilities in reprinting a smaller edition. Although it looked pretty impossible and completely unaffordable at the beginning, we nevertheless managed to bring MONU #24 back in stock. Get a copy of the reprint here.


Left: Table of contents of MONU #34
Centre: Learning from Protests - Interview with Mabel O. Wilson, p. 4-5
Right: The Archive of Public Protests by APP, p. 30-31

Forum has changed. A major part of its intercommunication is virtual. Yet the main democratic terrain for its holistic manifestation remains the urban public space. Within the social, economic, and political climate that we face today across all its scales, MONU #34 places us on a critically important oblique. One that explores the temporality of humanity while investigating power structures, as well as their evolution and establishment within contemporary societies.

Highlighting a balanced approach towards our political urban infrastructures, this edition sheds light upon the intricacies and dependencies of a world living in the overlap of the physical and the virtual. Central to the protest debate within our urban forms lies the phenomenon of democracy decay. Evidently, a considerable share of global politics is transitioning towards an aggressive centre or right wing and its impacts have resulted in the polarization of information and communication. The content puts forward the importance of urban spaces in their contemporary plurality as barriers to social muting and inequality and exemplifies the design of successful spaces and methods of protests.

Left: The Empty Plaza: A Socio-spatial Post-occupancy Evaluation by Dillon Webster, p. 44-45
Centre: Revolution Now! by Bing Guan, p. 90-91
Right: We Are What We Are: Chicago and the Paradox of Protests by Aaron Kalfen and Benjamin van Loon, p. 108-109

Highly conceptual in nature, democracy has needed throughout time channels to manifest itself in the public realm. Our visual sense being the one that allows us to generate relationships with our surroundings and generate meaning, has played a key role in the histories of protests. From monuments to objects, we are showcased a panoply of markers that allow us to assess modes of communication and reaction towards socio-political stasis.

In times where anti-epistemological approaches leading to social tear and wounding are widespread, MONU #34 is a must-read as it sensitively reminds us of bottom-up processes and the importance of citizen agency. Exhibiting the balance between the codified nature of protest and its organic characteristics, this edition investigates the role of the people, their fora, and their fate.

Jawaad Issoop is an architect, who graduated recently from the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara. He is interested in architectural production in the form of writing and believes that this is of utmost importance in the current post truth-era.

MONU #34 is supported by Material District´s Book: Tomorrow’s Timber, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences And Arts: Master Studies in Architecture in Switzerland, Estonian Academy of Arts (Eka): Urban Studies MSc, Rotterdam’s 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.


Left: Cover of MONU #34
Right: Editorial, p. 1-2

MONU #34 Protest Urbanism reminds us of the political nature of our urban and public spaces in the cities we inhabit. It unmasks the power that lies within the design and the governance of the built environment to influence how we live our lives as well as how we see and relate to the world and others. Most importantly, it makes us remember the right we have to the city, and how we, as its inhabitants, possess the ability to reclaim, rethink and remake the environments we share.

Beginning the edition with an interview by Bernd Upmeyer with Mabel O. Wilson, a transdisciplinary researcher and practitioner exploring the diverse facets and expressions of anti-black racism in American urban spaces, it immediately becomes clear that the topic at hand is inherently a question of power as it folds into issues of collective visibility, representation and decision-making. This conversation instantly makes the reader feel part of this dialogue. A sense of openness to listen and to learn emerges, setting the tone for the engagement with the material to follow. With the global proliferation of social media platforms and the inseparability of increased mediatization and digitalization from our daily individual and collective lives, MONU isn't afraid to tackle the underlying, more fundamental questions. What is the importance of physical presence in space, and what makes the urban and public space political? It becomes clear early on, that it is 'the actions of the citizens that enable the public space to take on a political role' (p.15), as Jeffrey Hou states in his contribution 'Be Water: Protests in Liquid Public Space'.

In MONU #34 Protest Urbanism the object of study is explored and presented through a variety of print mediums such as interviews, articles and photography series. Theories, concepts and ideas are always unveiled through and not in isolation of moments of social struggle and upheaval of our times. The diverse forms and forums of protest urbanism are explored in the context of for instance the 2020 Black Lives Matter (BLM) Protests in Chicago , the abortion protests in Poland of 2016, the Yellow Vest movement in France and the 2019 Protests of Hong Kong, which generates a sense of relevance and urgency in the tackling of the questions at hand.
With its array of contributions, this publication formidably succeeds in educating and forming the reader into an independently critical thinking mind, and in deeply including him/her/them into the conversation. The applied case studies serve to present various possible forms and expressions of protest urbanism, as well as their very origins in versatility, spontaneity and creativity. The analyses informed by thorough research and backed up conceptual and theoretical argumentations, additionally display the different ways of seeing and understanding the inherent political nature of urban processes, enabling them to question issues of similar nature beyond the pages of this magazine.

Overall, the reader gains a broad understanding of the inherently political nature of the urban and the public space, displaying the interwoven relationship between the design of the built environment, and the governance of its use through laws and policies. It displays how the built environment is never neutral, but instead exists in accordance to a particular way of seeing the world and the self as a society. What is built changes 'as society revises the way it sees itself' (p.39), as Maddy Weavers for instance writes in 'Not Set in Stone'. In her analysis of the expression of institutional racism in the American built public space, we learn how monuments contribute to determining the collective memory of society, by choosing to tell one story and actively silencing another. Without letting the reader fall into a state of despair, MONU succeeds instead in planting a seed of hopefulness, by showing that the power which lies in the hands of who controls the design and the legal management of the public space, is never absolute. In fact one is always reminded that every person has the ability to claim visibility in the occupation of public space and the capacity to renegotiate the laws according to which one is in turn governed. By rearticulating the meanings and values we attach to what exists around us, we as the makers of the urban sphere, have the ability to create modes of collective living that are socially and environmentally just. What subtly underlies and is briefly hinted at in the information provided in this magazine, as for instance in Mario Mataromos' article 'Objects and Spaces of Dissidence', is the idea that the urban landscape and the political nature of public space has been significantly altered with the governance of the neoliberal capitalist system. Today, the sphere of public governance and policy making is no longer separable from the reign of the neoliberal free-market economy in the private sector. It is increasingly important to ask the questions of how specifically, this shift in dynamics of power has and is impacting the design and governance of the cities and its urban spaces?

Khaos by Ulrich Lebeuf, p. 60-61 of MONU #34 - Protest Urbanism

According to what values and whose interests is the design process and policy-drafting conducted, and how does this express itself in the design and management of the built environment? How does this ultimately lead to a reproduction of a certain neolyberal system of visibility and invisibility in society? While it is by reading this magazine that these questions arose, I wish that they would have been tackled in a critical and more in-depth manner. Understanding the impact of the shifts towards privatization, dispersion and isolation is crucial in my opinion, in order to grasp how this alters what constitutes a site of political contestation and negotiation, and thus, what does and could be considered protest urbanism.

Taking this perspective into consideration might change and expand the scope of what constitutes influential political action in the urban realm, as it might include agencies that differ in a certain way or another from the stereotypical idea of what a protest is, e.g. as involving a group of people gathering in a public square demanding awareness or change. Do practices of place making, of urban acupuncture, of property sharing, of local public gardening initiatives, and of grassroots initiatives of democratic decision-making for instance not too, have the ability to generate immediate impacts on local communities and use of spaces? While these do not cause the disruption of society's everyday functioning, their situatedness and collective agency within the here and now do have the potential to generate sites of rearticulation towards a politics of care.

Overall, MONU #34 Protest Urbanism constitutes an immensely relevant piece of work, which covers the many facets Protest Urbanism can take within the context of current social and environmental struggles in the urban environments of the present. It comprises articles that are extremely rich in information, ideas and theories always unfolded through the exploration of the very material practices of protest urbanism throughout history and the present. Reading this edition of MONU magazine will leave you educated on the complexities of contemporary societal issues, and it certainly raises many questions about the life taking place before one's own doorstep.

The diverse formats of interviews, articles, photographic series, and timelines personally made the read exciting, refreshing and accessible. I am impressed that it covered a diverse variety of different social struggles and protests happening around the world. It is inspiring to see that the topic was tackled from the perspective of people that all have incredibly different academic and personal backgrounds, with different areas of expertise and perspectives.

I appreciate that this edition of the MONU magazine constitutes an archive of information that any person can read and relate to in one way or another. It gathers every reader into a mutual space of solidarity in a world of separation and isolation; reminding everyone of their belonging to a larger urban whole, and of our collective capacity to make our urban environment a better and more liveable place for all.

Alona Albrecht-Lazo studied Liberal Arts and Sciences from Erasmus University Rotterdam, with a focus on political philosophy, critical theory and international law. She is an interdisciplinary and critical thinker interested in understanding the complex socio-political, economic and cultural processes taking place in contemporary urban environments.

(Cover: Image is part of APP’s contribution “The Archive of Public Protests” on page 30. ©Rafal Milach)

MONU #34 is supported by Material District´s Book: Tomorrow’s Timber, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences And Arts: Master Studies in Architecture in Switzerland, Estonian Academy of Arts (Eka): Urban Studies MSc, Rotterdam’s 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.


Left: Cover of MONU #34
Centre: The Different Scales of Solidarity by Ece Yetim, p. 50-51
Right: Be Water: Protests in Liquid Public Space by Jeffrey Hou, p. 12-13

Working as a volunteer in Himalayan villages, I came across the term dhandak which is the traditional form of protest in the hills; an accepted practice in the pre-democracy era to expose unjust or corrupt law-enforcers and bring to the king's notice local grievances. That gets me thinking whether urban protests in contemporary India can be viewed as a phenomenon in public space that accelerates communication between citizens and the state and demands acknowledgement of pressing issues that would otherwise move at the lethargic pace of bureaucratic procedures. The current atmosphere of political tension and polarized opinions renders the scene, especially in prominent cities, unpredictably complex and volatile. Consequently, active spatial engagement, collective sentiment and the sheer force of gathered numbers has made apparent newer forms of Protest Urbanism; the urgent theme that MONU 34 begins to address. This issue is a curation of interviews and articles that analyze 'visibility' in the public sphere during an event or movement, adopted methods of protest and the role of design (or lack of) in aiding (or disrupting) public dissidence. The photo archives are a set of evocative images that themselves become powerful tools of protest urbanism when circulated or displayed. In "The Different Scales of Solidarity", drawing is used as an effective visual technique to document the layers of protest by zooming-in on the city, the neighborhood and the street to capture dissent and the demand to 'reclaim the city as a co-created space'.

What is visible in the public realm can be extended beyond the physicality of space into conversations and discussions that 'occupy public consciousness' as proposed by Jeffery Hou, as well as the digital expanse where 'media is a vehicle to hold the state accountable'. Sometimes, protests can condense into 'moments of monumentality' that linger on in public memory and continue to be associated with the place where they occurred, often shaping human relationship with that space and 'conjuring shared sentiment'. While "Toppling Monuments: Moments of Monumentality" lets the listing of such 'moments of mobilization, artistic interventions and creative acts of resistance' tell a story of its own, "Not Set in Stone" asserts that 'violent action against the past (by heaving colonial statues to the ground) is a sign of ideological revolution'. A symbolic attack on racist histories and figures of violence is one way of declaring what is no longer to be tolerated, among other strategies that are employed to make an impact.

Left: Toppling Monuments: Moments of Monumentality by Ben Parry, p. 32-33
Centre: Not Set in Stone by Maddy Weavers, p. 38-39
Right: Ambiguous Standards of Protest by Cansu Cürgen and Avsar Gürpinar, p. 18-19

"Ambiguous Standards of Protest"
elaborates on how ordinary objects like cloth hanger, bra, house keys and others are 'recontextualized' to acquire new meanings when multiplied in large gatherings to convey a message quite literal or be used as a shield like the yellow umbrella in Hong Kong. Blocking the streets and hijacking logistics is perhaps found to be the quickest way to grab the attention of authorities, put forth demands for the most basic requirements like public transport or affordable health care and force decisions that prioritize the community over tourists. Negotiating the city that is designed with the male end-user in mind, "The Street is Ours" challenges the insensitivity and incidents of harassment with a more visual, yet physical method of protest; coller, which is a political act performed by women to 'reclaim a place that has been confiscated'. Alternatively seeking direct action, Hans Pruijt states in his interview that squatting results in immediate benefits that solve the problem of not finding a house to stay, and in the process, organically forms committees that are inclined to urban activism.

This brings us to the question of whether public spaces can be designed to serve as ideal protest grounds or will that become 'a catalyst for rejection since adhering to appropriate use goes against the notions of strategic disruption required for gaining political attention' as argued in "The Empty Plaza"? Nurul Azreen Azlan highlights the reverse to be true where design can repel protesters, like the 'big boulevards in Paris cutting through the medieval urban fabric, making it difficult to build barricades and easier for the police to disperse crowds'. "TO-BE' Urbanism" draws some interesting inferences from a series of significant protest movements that have been initiated in Hong Kong since 1997, each of them triggering 'urban agencies to emerge, evolve and continue the protest energies on a renewed dimension'. It is then these episodes themselves that give the design impetus for future struggles, like the 2019 protests introducing digital technology to empower the movement with real-time tracking apps that helped dodge police suppression and reinforced the 'be-water' strategy.

Left: The Magic of Squatting - Interview with Hans Pruijt by Bernd Upmeyer, p. 70-71
Centre: Protest Repellant Urbanism by Nurul Azreen Azlan, p. 78-79
Right: 'TO-BE' Urbanism by Becky Luk and Ching Kan, p. 82-83

MONU 34 is a valuable record of the current efforts for more inclusivity, viewed through an urban lens, capable of evoking public reaction and activating a balanced discourse around the subject that is highly relevant to us all. Like the people of Porto reacting to the re-branding of their city that failed to represent its social heterogeneity, most aspire to be identified in the 'contested urban space' and fight for the right to participate in creating the world they wish to inhabit. The reader of this issue can't help drawing parallels with the contextual realities and experiences of one's own country, city and locality.

Rupal Rathore is an architect, urban researcher and writer based in India. She practices design under her studio The Native Platform, in the quaint city of Udaipur.
This review of MONU #34 was first published on The Native Platform on December 23, 2021.

(Cover: Image is part of APP’s contribution “The Archive of Public Protests” on page 30. ©Rafal Milach)

MONU #34 is supported by Material District´s Book: Tomorrow’s Timber, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences And Arts: Master Studies in Architecture in Switzerland, Estonian Academy of Arts (Eka): Urban Studies MSc, Rotterdam’s 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.


La Pensée by Auguste Rodin, ca. 1895

"Unfinishedness" is probably most strikingly represented in works of art. Just think of the Non finito-sculptures of Michelangelo made in the Renaissance-period that paid tribute to the theory of Plato that no work of art might ever completely resemble its heavenly counterpart. Michelangelo's sculptures inspired the Non finitos of Rodin and his vague figures that appear to be struggling to emerge from masses of marble such as his La Pensée sculpture from the late 19th Century. Or picture the projects that were intentionally left unfinished such as the follies of the late 16th to 18th Centuries - such as the temple of philosophy at Ermenonville, symbolising that knowledge would never be complete - or imagine art movements such as Fluxus that during the 1960s engaged in experimental art performances which emphasised the artistic process over the finished product. Other artists that considered the process of creating more important than the finished work were creatives such as the American composer and music theorist John Cage who emphasised that one should embark on an artwork without any conception of its end. When thinking about contemporary expressions of unfinished creative work one might consider the designer Martin Margiela and his deliberately unfinished trousers and tops from his game-changing fashion show of 1989.

As rich and broad "unfinishedness" is applied and discussed in the world of art, music, and fashion, with this new issue of MONU we aim to investigate "unfinishedness" in architecture and urbanism.... continue reading in Submit.


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...
continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy here.

(Cover: Image is part of APP’s contribution “The Archive of Public Protests” on page 30. ©Rafal Milach; Music: Public Enemy - Fight The Power, Video editing: Danae Zachariaki)

This issue is supported by Material District´s Book: Tomorrow’s Timber, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences And Arts: Master Studies in Architecture in Switzerland, Estonian Academy of Arts (Eka): Urban Studies MSc, Rotterdam’s 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.


Left: Cover of MONU #33
Centre: Balco(n)vid-19: How the Pandemic Can Be Hacked by Michaela Litsardaki, p. 40-41
Right: On Constructing a Semana Santa by Ana Morcillo Pallares, p. 14-15

When I think of Covid-19, the first thing that comes to my mind is the lockdown, bunking inside my house (which turned into a temporary sanatorium as well as my working and recreational space), as well as the human and economic loss, on both personal and national level. But the time of crisis is also the time for the persuasion of theory. This is the spirit with which I received the current 33rd edition of MONU Magazine. The pandemic is still an ongoing shared experience, and hence, this edition of the magazine seemed too close to be purely objective about it. Firstly, according to some estimates, despite the new vaccines, any emergent health or financial distresses may last, at least until 2022. Secondly, the scientists are still trying to understand the long-term mental and physical health effects of the pandemic. In contrast, urban design and urban planning are slow moving fields, in which observation, theorization, and then execution often takes decades. Hence, any current analysis of the situation from an urbanist's perspective is bold if not hasty. In the first lockdown of India, during the migration of the labour from the cities, the things were planned catastrophically poor. In one of the reports, a pregnant woman who was forced to walk miles to her home-town, gave birth on the road and then continued walking. When our infrastructure and cities offer such inhuman experience to the people, it is hard to read a poetically written piece on urban scapes, which ignores the hostility of the lived human experience of it.

The magazine sets the tone at the beginning with Beatriz Colomina's interview by Bernd Upmeyer. The interviewee's knowledge of not just the history of architecture, but also the architects, made this a perfect opener. Beatriz also presented us with an understanding of various human struggles of our times and how they relate to the space around us. While, in "Lockdown London: Tale of the Tape", the photographer Peter Dench brought us a haunting, cold, and dystopian view of London during the lockdown, Nadia Shira Cohen's view of Rome in "Eternal Silence" is more endearing, heart-warming, and gives us hope in the strength and survival of humanity during the times of crisis. On micro issues, "On Constructing a Semana Santa" (Anna Morcillo Pallares), "Balco(n)vid-19: How the Pandemic Can Be Hacked" (Michaela Litsardaki), and "New Top City" (Eventually Made), gave us interesting insights into how, during the lockdown, in various cities, our pre-existing spaces were used in unconventional ways. The nature of intrinsic human creativity while interacting with spaces was further explained in "Augmented Domesticities - The Rise of Non-Typological Architecture" (Pedro Pitarch) and discussed as a catalyst for a new post-Covid-19 mix-typological space design. In "Here Not There Urbanism" Jessica Bridger explained how contemporary technology helps us creating a sense of global space over the local space, and how it frees us to create a rather fluid lifestyle based on physical mobility while being connected globally.

Left: The Great Emptiness by Carmelo Ignaccolo and Ayan Meer, p. 60- 61
Centre: Drivers of Change for the "New" in the "Normal" by Alexander Jachnow, p. 82-83
Right: Real Estate Art in the Age of Pandemic by Kuba Snopek, p. 88-89

Dalia Munenzon and Yair Titelboim explained the historical relationship between indoor air-treatment and public health in their article. This idea was further explored at city level in the article by Ian Nazareth, Conrad Hamann, and Rosemary Heyworth, where they explained how the cities have always been associated with sickness and epidemics. A practical confirmation of the theory from this can be seen in the research piece by Carmelo Ignaccolo and Ayan Meer on tourism in Italy, where one sees how the pandemic pushed the tourists and people outside of the main tourist spots, and the city. And even though the tourism affects the local housing market adversely for the residents, the empty rooms of the pandemic-hit cities could not be filled with the locals, who are still shifting out. The interview with Richard Sennett was one of my favourite pieces from the edition, where the deep knowledge of the interviewee in the field of public health and its impact on the cities, historically, can be read in the most pragmatic way. However, the most realistic and practical piece was "Drivers of Change for the "New" in the "Normal"" by Alexander Jachnow, where the author presents us a much needed and healthy scepticism of many ideas presented in the magazine itself, while summing up the major Covid-19-related urban issues well. Kuba Snopek's eye opening piece of urban art was another honest and practical look at the condition of people and art. I found some pieces to be too poetic, wordy, impractical, and focussing on the wrong issues while the fascist states and bourgeois forces are ruthlessly viewing the current crisis as an opportunity to reap the last bits of benefit out of the people through oppression and corporate brute. When people are torn apart between health and financial crisis, it is unforgivable for the theoreticians to engage in intellectual gymnastics. On the other hand, some authors presented us with mundane, run of the mill, and predictable pieces, and they may not count themselves as any superior than the former for the sake of their virtue signalling.

Overall, the publication is well curated with a mix of both basic and applied research pieces, interviews with experts, and discussions of art and photography. The publication is informative and many articles give in-depth history and current-analysis of how people and cities interact during times of crisis, and how they change each other. Visually, the graphics were pleasing and adventurous, and went with the theme of Covid-19. The magazine focussed on many micro-issues of how we should expect our cities to evolve and change in the coming years, and how some of those ideas have been floating around since a while. In my opinion, the magazine needed to bring more focus on the people, as the cities don't exist without people. The empty, alienated, concrete cities might look poetic and stunning, but their physical implications are intense and, in some cases, lethal. In countries like India, cities are battlegrounds of economic and political power to the extent that a live massacre of one class, caste, or religion can go on while the other can live in peace and ignorance of the underbelly that sustains them. Today urbanists need to focus not only on sustaining what we have, but also heal what we have done. And with this thought, I persuade people to pick up the latest edition of MONU, and engage with some of the most interesting takes and insights on contemporary social-urban issues, and a visual treat of graphics and photography.

Kshitij Dhyani is a Delhi-based Architect and Researcher. He did his under-graduation from SPA, Delhi, and studied architectural research at Sir JJ College of Architecture, Mumbai. He runs his independent firm and has previously taught in various Architecture and Design Colleges.

This review of MONU #33 was first published on The Conjuncture on January 27, 2021.

MONU #33 is supported by Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts' Master Studies in Architecture in Switzerland, CIVA´s Exhibition: Superstudio Migrazioni, Stroom Den Haag’s Exhibition: Capturing Corona. The Lockdown in Photos and Rotterdam’s Independent School for the City’s Three-month Educational Programme on Contemporary Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Vider Paris, 1999-2001, by Nicolas Moulin

Deserted streets, lack of traffic, rows of closed shutters that transform the ground floor into a continuous walled curtain, the silence emerging from the picture, road signs on the asphalt bearing witness to a population that used to live there, and which can no longer be spotted. It seems that Nicolas Moulin's Vider Paris dystopic vision has come true: a biological entity, invisible to the human sight, has emptied the city's lymphatic channels. Only one thing is missing in Moulin's premonition: the homeless, the only ones who "wander the city desperately looking for help in a city void of any life" (Nadia Shira Cohen, Eternal Silence).

The forced isolation imposed by the critical health crisis we are experiencing has stripped away our cities of that contradictory complexity which determines their very urban character: the ground floor. Suddenly deprived of it, shipwrecked in the labyrinth of our private kingdoms, we desperately tried to witness our existence and role by inhabiting that dichotomous plan that both separates and connects those two worlds, the concave, public and external on one hand and the convex, private and internal on the other: the façade. The social interaction desire that used to make the city as its most fertile ground, has now attempted to unleash those extensions of private space suspended over the public one - usually known as balconies - stating "[the return] to one of their primary functions, a proscenium stage" (M. Litsardaki, Balco(n)vid-19: How the Pandemic Can Be Hacked). Otherwise it encouraged the conquest of the furthest urban stratum from the one which usually welcomes our public life, the roof: "an add-on territory for citizens; as an outlet for what won't fit downstairs" (Sebastian Bernardy and Vincent Meyer Madaus, New Top City). Like birds constrained in a birdcage that spend their miserable existence verifying whether new holes had opened up towards the freedom, we have rediscovered new potentials of our architectures' envelopes, bringing new hopes and social rituals' nostalgic echoes (Ana Morcillo Pallares, On Constructing a Semana Santa).

The home has always been perceived as the place where we feel sheltered, a place where we can nurture our private domain, a fortress against the overbearing advance of the public in our day lives. Now that work has fully entered our shelters, shall the city not react by providing places where it is once again possible to exercise the full rights of our hard-won privacy? Or should we get used to and resign ourselves to the idea that in order to survive we will have to keep on making our homes into spaces where anyone can - virtually - enter? Right now, that - thanks to man-made weather - contemporary life had just realised the dream of the "desirable and necessary" separation of the outdoors from the indoors. In other words, between the private and the public (Dalia Munenzon and Yair Titelboim, Grasping for (Fresh) Air: Exposing the Inherent Conflict of Public Interiors). And even if those little bubbles devoted to the respite from urban chaos - a park bench, a telephone booth, etc. - are now made inaccessible by the same red tapes (photographed by Peter Dench and collected in Lockdown London: Tale of the Tape) our imagery usually traces back to the circumscription of a crime scene, should we be convinced that our attitude is criminal? Should we bring our cities back to a model based on micro-neighbourhoods and home-shops? Would we really be able to crumble the compactness of our monocentric metropolises into polycentric city cities, or - according to Richard Sennett into "15-minutes cities", a multitude of small and autonomous urban units? (Richard Sennett, Isolation and Inequality). But then, as Beatriz Colomina asks herself "what is going to happen with all the empty office buildings?" (Beatriz Colomina, Quarantines and Paranoia). And, finally, would we really be willing to accept a city that is built on two economic models - the traditional modern one and the one that is spreading right now - so diametrically opposed and, therefore, so divisive and discriminatory?

Thinking about the enclosed society's behaviour with regard to the architecture and the city during the lockdown, the last issue of MONU tries to answer some questions. By investigating the impact of the current health, social and economic crisis on all scales - from the territorial to the domestic, and passing through the urban - the magazine verifies the transformations in the delicate relationships between the public and private dimensions. The articles and arguments follow one another without any apparent order or scalar logic, reflecting in an interesting way the equivalence of the different problems of inhabiting, as this pandemic has highlighted. Thus, in a surreal situation imposed by stay-at-home orders, from a socio-psychological point of view, the consequences of the lack of balconies in a city centre skyscraper do not seem to be less serious than living in a suburb lacking in proximity services. In a way, this crisis has led us to question the hierarchy of problems, rethinking our criteria for defining the democracy of inhabiting. And it has confirmed the absolute urgency to leave behind a design and decision strategy that is based on mono-scale as pre-determined and rigid. Instead we should promote an ambiguous, indeterminate and, therefore, adaptive action.

Damiano Mesaglio is an architect who graduated from the Architecture Faculty at the University of Udine (Italy). In 2020 he published an urban theory research about the city of Buenos Aires, where he spent six months in 2019 (Buenos Aires. Una teoria sulla forma urbana, Mimesis Editore, Milan). After a first professional experience in Italy and Spain, he now lives and works in Paris.

MONU #33 is supported by Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts' Master Studies in Architecture in Switzerland, CIVA´s Exhibition: Superstudio Migrazioni, Stroom Den Haag’s Exhibition: Capturing Corona. The Lockdown in Photos and Rotterdam’s Independent School for the City’s Three-month Educational Programme on Contemporary Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Left: Quarantines and Paranoia - Interview with Beatriz Colomina by Bernd Upmeyer, p. 4- 5
Centre: Grasping for (Fresh) Air: Exposing the Inherent Conflict of Public Interiors by Dalia Munenzon and Yair Titelboim, p. 32-33
Right: Can the Pandemic Situation Generate Walkable Cities? by Leticia Sabino and Louise Uchôa (SampaPé!), p. 102-103

For almost a year now, life has been on hold. The whole world has shared in uncertainty, fear and hardship as the Covid-19 pandemic has caused isolation, scarcity, loneliness and loss. For the more fortunate, it has also meant more time: for rest, for thought, sometimes for involvement. Certainly the past months have raised important political, health, social and spatial issues, which experts, professionals and citizens alike have tried to reconsider. So it has been for urban design and architecture as well. The current issue of MONU Magazine, entitled "Pandemic urbanism", is a significant collection of discourses analysing the coronavirus in the urban environment as well as post-pandemic scenarios. Its principal merit is of assembling a record of the present and of the way professionals are (re)conceiving the urban today. In this way, I believe it to be a valuable memento for the future. The magazine's current issue comprises articles which may be grouped in three categories.

Firstly, documentary essays about Covid-19 landscapes and alternative pandemic practices, such as the adaptation of public religious celebrations in times of lockdown, the great emptiness of tourism-reliant city centres or the new uses of domestic spaces as public interfaces in times of isolation. Throughout, an evident and inevitable informal spirit is present, as most of us have experienced the city in totally new ways. As we have dealt with the urban mostly on a local scale, concentrated around the home, the familiar has been transformed by the current conditions, rediscovered or reinvented through a myriad of small gestures. As Beatriz Colomina puts it, "[the pandemic] has made the invisible city visible". In other words, distancing has brought about a concentrated gaze on the world at hand and has produced a specific urbanity, defined by desertion and caution, re-appropriation and adaptation, as illustrated in this issue of MONU.

Secondly, the magazine showcases a series of more theoretically minded articles, dealing with the potentialities or predicaments of interior everyday spaces. Of these, the most provoking deals, surprisingly, with interior large-scale air conditioning or "man-made weather", as Dalia Munenzon and Yair Titelboim refer to it. The article follows the historical evolution of interior artificially maintained environments, showing how the "[Covid-19] pathogen has shattered the modern illusion of safety created by indoor air-generating machinery" and interpreting a necessary renewed connection to the outside as a renewal in both spatial and social order.

Thirdly, in-between the two previous approaches, the current issue of MONU considers a number of post-pandemic "reparational" measures - walkable cities, adaptive streets, "15-minute-cities", "superblocks", urban resilience (in contrast to urban competitiveness) - infused by the spirit of local governance and tactical urbanism. These affirm the faith in rather small-scale interventions and visions with potentially substantial cumulative effects. Although urbanism as a modern discipline has developed in light of major urban health threats, against which improved infrastructure has played a major role, the current pandemic raises somewhat different problems. While waterborne diseases, such as cholera were eliminated by covering sewage networks or legislating the urban layout, airborne epidemics have not had the same impact on the profession or the city in the past. In fact, nor do they on the present or envisioned future, as the post-pandemic "new normal" only seems to churn and (hopefully) expedite already existing or burgeoning concepts, albeit progressive ones. This may disappoint some, but I would argue that systematically waiting for massive priority changes in the wake of crisis, irrespective of its causes or nature, might be the reckless approach in this case. Instead, a better understanding of existing issues that the coronavirus has helped bring to light to the broad public (social tensions, inequality in the face of such crisis etc.) could lead to actual solutions, and this issue evokes some examples in this sense.
It just might be that unwavering priorities, met with somewhat modest, but creative and considerate measures, are a sign of badly needed stability.

Tudor Elian is a Romanian architect, researcher and academic, with a PHD focussed on informal spatial practices in the city of Bucharest. He is a Teaching Assistant at the "Ion Mincu" University of Architecture and Urbanism as well as Curator of the Image Archive of the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant, in Bucharest. He is interested in alternative ways of communicating and practicing architecture, through the interaction with the building material and with everyday urban life.

MONU #33 is supported by Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts' Master Studies in Architecture in Switzerland, CIVA´s Exhibition: Superstudio Migrazioni, Stroom Den Haag’s Exhibition: Capturing Corona. The Lockdown in Photos and Rotterdam’s Independent School for the City’s Three-month Educational Programme on Contemporary Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


A woman marches to the White House at the head of a group of members and allies of the LGBTQ community
as part of the Pride and Black Lives Matter movements on June 13, 2020, in Washington.

While urban protests featured in both of our last two MONU issues - #32 on more affordable cities and #33 on the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic for cities - merely as a side topic, with this new issue of MONU we would like to focus entirely on protests as an urban phenomenon, as they appear to be used as an urban approach for change frequently and intensely these days. In a time when most activism is expected to take place in the digital realm and via social media - not only because of the coronavirus pandemic - such numerous mass-events in the physical spaces of our cities might come as a surprise, which intrigued us to such an extent that we decided to study them further. For they have become indicators and symptoms of what is wrong in our world and our cities in multiple respects... continue reading in Submit.


Left: Cover of MONU #33, Image is part of Peter Dench’s contribution “Lockdown London: Tale of the Tape” on page 27. ©Peter Dench
Centre: New Top City by Eventually Made (Sebastian Bernardy and Vincent Meyer Madaus) p. 50-51
Right: Eternal Silence by Nadia Shira Cohen, p. 70-71

In March 2020 our perception of the urban was suddenly limited to the square meters of our flats. Working, learning, meeting friends, or going to a concert — everything took place within our four walls. Finally, during the summer, after months of isolation, we slowly made our way back into the city, craving social contact. Now we are watching, in real-time, our metropolises being transformed. Bike lanes pop up on the surface, restaurants expand onto the pavement and play-streets find their way into our new perception of the urban area. If illnesses like tuberculosis were "house problems," Covid-19 is a "city problem," as Beatriz Colomina describes in her interview in MONU #33. Will this pandemic be a revolution for the city of the future? The latest issue of MONU, Pandemic Urbanism, gets the discussion started. With distinct views from different perspectives, artists, urbanists, researchers and sociologists offer an insight into their field. They show what they have experienced during the last months and analyze what they think the future might hold. To get a good basis for discussion, the issue provides knowledge about the historical influences of illnesses on cities and the previous drivers for change. Furthermore, it presents documentations and changes that the urban environment experienced during the last months and includes visions for the future.

With these diverse perspectives, the issue tries to figure out what urbanism was, is, and will be. A reoccurring theme is the relation between the private and public. The reader can dive into a vivid description of the religious Easter ritual of Semana Santa, the holy week, which took place on a balcony in Spain. In a research study about the use of balconies during the lockdown, one can get lost in the imagination of non-balcony owners. The revival of rooftops in New York is presented by a fascinating illustration showing imaginative uses for the "new top city," offering new discoveries again and again. Through new uses implemented into the domestic space, Pedro Pitarch calls for the end of the Architectural Typology, which ought to replace programs with architectural performances. Bedrooms are no longer only used for sleeping and kitchens for more than cooking. This thought continues in the project of the "total house" of Anna Rita Emili, where space is created through laser projections. She sees a decrease in distance between the private and public and as a result the home transforms into a multifunctional space where all life takes place. Through smart working there is more time dedicated to recreation and hobbies and furthermore to fall in line with our biorhythms. Working from home and homeschooling let this usual border between the private and public disappear. In the interview Beatriz Colomina says that the seemingly small-scale impact of working from home can have a huge impact on the shaping of cities. With all the empty office buildings in the center, we would have to rethink the city itself.

Left: Isolation and Inequality – Interview with Richard Sennett by Bernd Upmeyer, p. 74-75
Right: Balco(n)vid-19: How the Pandemic Can Be Hacked by Michaela Litsardaki, p. 42-43

Colomina is not alone in rethinking urban space. With absent tourists, a lot of Italian city centers were abandoned and showed their urgency in designing for residents and not for tourists. The silence in Rome is beautifully captured in a photo essay. A dancing couple shows the freedom that lies within the new vacancy. I assume the article by Jessica Bridger, which is about urbanism being here and not there, to be central. Since many people were leaving their city lives behind and went back to the rural areas of their hometowns, they took urbanity with them and shifted the perception of it. Commuting is unnecessary after all, and suddenly urban doesn’t mean density anymore. Concerts and exhibitions happen online, and the new media territory emerges, as described in-depth in another article. How we put this into form is not decided yet, but it is our chance to combine Covid-19 with the "urgently needed response to the coming climate crisis, a crisis to end all crises," suggests Bridger, "[what] will be the foundation for a new kind of shining, silver city upon a hill." It’s these pieces of hope and vision that are spread all through the issue and waken the feeling of wanting to get up and be part of this wind of change.

As so in the second interview where Richard Sennett demands to rethink 20th-century urbanism and mentions, among other things, the Open City which is also, like the Pocket City or the 15-Minute City, a reappearing topic. For these theories the pandemic acted as a catalyst which gave them the chance to be tested in bottom-up projects, often with way less or even no bureaucracy. The barely new approaches gained a lot of new reasoning since many people were not allowed to go out or were restricted to certain areas of their cities. Suddenly walkability was a necessity. As shown in a South American based article there are huge inequities in the possibility of implementing these concepts, especially in numerous low-income areas where unwalkability became visible. Through highly diverse approaches, the issue questions and discusses new and old urban approaches and the way we live. It gives opportunities to fight climate change and talks about social issues that gained visibility like unequal access to basic needs, education, and health care. Most of all, like the coronavirus itself, it makes the invisible visible.

Seeing the magazine’s cover, it seems as if there is nothing left but the restriction tape. But by opening it, one can see all the possibilities, visions and opportunities of the future. MONU #33 doesn’t try to analyze everything or provide finished answers; rather it can be seen as a starting point for future discussions about how Covid-19 reshapes and transforms cities and our living environment. Change is coming. Whether it is only climate change or also the way we shape our surroundings will remain open. What Pandemic Urbanism does is get us excited about it and provide an insight into the possibilities, so we can "find our way back into the kind of city we desire," as contributor Alexander Jachnow suggests.

Emilie Stecher studied Architecture at the University of Liechtenstein. She’s interested in how we can connect people through architecture and urbanism. Currently living in Rotterdam, she’s gaining knowledge about sustainable design and planning and the Dutch approach to urbanism. This review of MONU #33 was first published on A Daily Dose of Architecture Books on December 4, 2020.

MONU #33 is supported by Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts' Master Studies in Architecture in Switzerland, CIVA´s Exhibition: Superstudio Migrazioni, Stroom Den Haag’s Exhibition: Capturing Corona. The Lockdown in Photos and Rotterdam’s Independent School for the City’s Three-month Educational Programme on Contemporary Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


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...
continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy here.

(Cover: Image is part of Peter Dench’s 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 Haag’s Exhibition: Capturing Corona. The Lockdown in Photos and Rotterdam’s Independent School for the City’s Three-month Educational Programme on Contemporary Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Pages 48-49 of Totally Dublin #189

Michael McDermott from the Irish magazine “Totally Dublin” interviewed Bernd Upmeyer for their 189th issue.


Michael McDermott: The current edition looks at “affordable urbanism” through the prism of a variety of contributors. Was your thinking about the subject affected by the submissions you received and commissioned?
Bernd Upmeyer: Usually the contributions, and especially the interviews that I usually do, to every new MONU issue affect my thinking about each newly chosen subject. That is a great thing, because my own perception is unavoidably limited to a certain extent, as is the perception of everybody, especially as we are diving into new subjects all the time. Therefore, my thinking with regard to the topic of our current MONU issue #32: “Affordable Urbanism”, was affected during the creation of it too. When I created, for example, the open “call for submissions” text for issue #32, at the beginning of November last year, I pointed out some obvious solutions to generate more affordable housing, which are often sought in the construction of more units, the provision of subsidies, or the implementation of rent-controls. However, by that time I was not yet that familiar with the strategy to create more inclusive and affordable cities by allowing people to become only 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, the UK, and the Netherlands, where such a system exists, as was pointed out by Christopher de Vries and Anne Mie Depuydt, two of the contributors to MONU #32


MM: We have recently had a new coalition government formed in Ireland with the Green Party being the glue between two establishment parties. What, in your opinion, are the mistakes Greens make when approaching urbanism and what advise should they heed?
BU: Many countries, especially in the Western World, are trying increasingly to make their cities more environmentally sustainable, which is certainly a great thing. However, more environmentally sustainable buildings or neighbourhoods are usually more expensive to build than less sustainable ones, which challenges therefore the creation of more affordable cities in the future. So, being too idealistic in relation to environmental sustainability can easily lead to a conflict of objectives, a challenge that Jörn Walter, the former Chief Planning Officer of the city of Hamburg, pointed out in an interview entitled "Redefining a Radical Social Market Economy" that was published in our current MONU issue #32 on "Affordable Urbanism". He stressed the fact that cities need to create comprehensive sustainability concepts that take ecological objectives just as seriously as social and economic ones...
read the entire interview here (page 48-49)

MONU #32 is supported by European Post-master in Urbanism (EMU) - Strategies and Design for Cities and Territories, Bauhaus-University Weimar’s International Master Course: Integrated Urban Development and Design and Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Pages 45-45 (Fair Game by Ellen Donnelly and Marc Maxey)
and 52-53 (Affordable Housing in New York by David Schalliol) of MONU #32

The 32nd issue of MONU, "Affordable Urbanism," was published in April, when the Covid-19 crisis was already showing us the aftermath of deficient social housing. In some cities, it is made agonizingly clear how bad housing conditions are directly linked to high infection and mortality rates. One of the contributors, Sasha Plotnikova, makes this strikingly clear: "Like an epidemic, LA’s eviction crisis hits the most vulnerable the hardest".

Next to Plotnikova, the other contributions in the magazine offer a varied account on affordable housing that ranges from theoretical framework to implementations that are already in place, and in some cases are even under the threat of extinction. Privatization of land and gentrification are making ground and construction value soar while there is a polarization into a richer middle class and a poorer working class. This is causing an accelerating need for affordable housing all around the world. Solutions for these problems can be found in both top-down and bottom-up measures.

These top-down measures can include policy renewals such as in Paris, Hamburg, or Zurich, where around one-quarter to one-third of newly built rental housing has to be affordable. Scott Lloyd, Alexis Kalagas, and Nemanja Zimonjic illustrate how in Zurich the involvement of housing cooperatives is decisive to achieve this goal. As the offer of large building sites is decreasing steadily, they propose a "distributed cooperative" that is built on dispersed plots. Other solutions that are implemented by cities are hereditary or emphyteutic leases where buildings are in private possession but the land underneath belongs to the city. This way the municipality has the authority to mandate the ratio of social housing on this "private property".

Bottom-up efforts include land occupations, flexible DIY-spaces and informal business solutions. Melbourne-based architects John Doyle and Graham Christ point out that East Asian cities offer a wide portfolio of what they call "tight architecture". These buildings stand on small pieces of residual land and thereby adopt the whole of the city and make land cheaper because a dense city is an affordable city. This can happen by bottom-up appropriation or top-down planning.

While many answers are given to how housing can be made affordable, other integral aspects of urbanism are left unsolved. Are there ways to apply these measures to public space, transportation and infrastructure in an attempt to create an affordable city? Two articles, one on the Green belt of Cologne and the other on informal kiosk culture in Ghana’s harbor town of Tema take the aspect of affordability into the public realm. Apart from that, Richard Florida’s contribution, "Urbanism for All", is a call for politicians to care more about urban policy, including infrastructure. Whereas these features shed some light on what affordable urbanism could mean, a bigger variety of urban cases would have been instructive.

After reading the magazine, one is closer to understanding how to build cities that are fair because they offer affordable space to citizens of all backgrounds. While no article serves as a solution for all cases, the different contributions form a set of tools that can be applied by citizens, planners, and politicians. The varieties of precedents from neighborhoods and cities that are mentioned make it clear that the most resilient solutions are community-driven and are facilitated by local policy-makers. Because of current discussions, it will be interesting to see if affordability will play a role in the next issue of MONU, "Pandemic Urbanism" that is expected this fall.

Maria Heinrich is a master student in Architecture at the Technical University Delft.This review of MONU #32 was first published on A Daily Dose of Architecture Books on September 11, 2020.

MONU #32 is supported by European Post-master in Urbanism (EMU) - Strategies and Design for Cities and Territories, Bauhaus-University Weimar’s International Master Course: Integrated Urban Development and Design and Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Above left: Brian May's micro concerts on his Instagram page
Above right: Great Orme Kashmiri goats on the streets of Llandudno, Wales
Below left: Pizza delivery with toilet paper, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Below right: Two men jam out on the guitar and flute on a balcony in Turin, Italy

When in 2009 Jacob Ross Boswell, in his article "Dystopic Verdure" in MONU #11 on "Clean Urbanism", introduced the topic of diseases, such as malaria, cholera, tuberculosis, yellow fever, and typhus etc, and how they had impacted urban landscapes and the shape of cities in the past, we were very intrigued and considered dedicating an entire issue on this topic. Particularly fascinating were his elaborations on how, by the second half of the 19th Century, urban designers and landscape architects such as Daniel Burnham, Frederick Law Olmsted, and a host of other architects, planners, and landscape architects collaborated with medical colleagues like Chicago's John Rauch in reshaping American cities: broadening streets and boulevards to allow for more sanitary air flow, moving pestilential cemeteries and dumps to the fringes of the city, carving out, reclaiming, or simply seizing land for America's first great urban parks, such as New York's Central Park. However, in the end we abandoned the idea to create an entire MONU issue on the relation between diseases and cities, since it seemed to us as something that belonged to the past only.

However, since the recent outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic with which the entire world struggles currently, there does not seem to be a theme that is more present than discussing the consequences of diseases - and in particular infectious and contagious diseases - for cities. Thus, we deem it necessary, important, and urgently relevant to initiate a reflection on "Pandemic Urbanism"... continue reading in Submit.


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...
continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy here.

(Cover: Image is part of Will Hartley’s 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 Weimar’s International Master Course: Integrated Urban Development and Design and Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Left: Omar Kassab and Mostafa Youssef argue in their piece “With Seven Bodies in My Backyard” 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, pages 20- 21

Centre: David Charles Sloane suggests in his piece “Constructing Memorial Poles as Monuments” to use poles, trees, and fences as “Everyday memorials” in the public realm, pages 28- 29
Right: 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”, pages 40- 41

Attempting to de-sanitize and reframe death within our urbanscape, MONU #31 sheds light on a seemingly elusive topic. While comfortably binding us to the finality of life, the articles urge us to contemplate the role of interment spaces which have for too long been shoved out of our cities, through an astute unfolding of contemporary behaviors towards death. This edition not only unfreezes the traditional and now obsolete cemetery, but also addresses memorialization across different scales, media, and political stances. Filled with hot off press examples of how cemeteries and spaces akin can act in our urban centers, readers get a refreshing perspective on what is today popularly considered as antagonistic urban space. Exhibiting the heterogeneous relationships that humankind has with the dead across time, After Life Urbanism makes the invisible visible.

Left: In “You Could Be Compost” Katrina Spade offers trailblazing burial and cremation alternatives having developed a system that transforms a body into soil in approximately one month, pages 64- 65
Right: When dealing with “After Life Urbanism” a sense of humour can never harm, since “it’s 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”, pages 104- 105

Jawaad Issoop is an architecture student at METU in Ankara. He is interested in architectural production in the form of writing and believes that this is of utmost importance in the current post truth-era.

This issue is supported by University of Luxembourg's Master in Architecture, European Urbanisation and Globalisation and Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Left: Democratizing Death - Interview with Karla Rothstein, pages 4- 5
Right: "Burning Desire" in Ghost Life Urbanism by Jérémie Dussault-Lefebvre and Sébastien Roy, pages 38 - 39

This issue of MONU lays emphasis on the architecture of the funerary industry and the "lesser talked about aspects" of the after life. Death is just as inevitable and natural as life and yet it is not given as much attention and concern as it deserves in context of the planned infrastructures, its impact on the urban settlement and its adverse effects on the environment. It is one of those notions which people are very sensitive and mostly orthodox about, thus to propose a change in this tangent is not only challenging yet bold but also very much empirical.

Carrying out the last rites of your close ones is a form of respect that you pay to them and thus generally people incline towards more traditional and religious methods of performing the rituals. To being able to get flexible with these methods for the greater good of the environment is not an easy shift that we are expecting but is definitely pragmatic as per the need of the hour. Especially in a country like ours where esotericism and religiosity still prevails very strongly, ideas like these are hard to accept and follow. In fact even the crematoriums or the burial grounds here are considered auspicious and holy, thus to coin the idea to have multi functionality in such a space is almost inadmissible.

Left: Rest in Pixels - Interview with James Norris, pages 76- 77
Right: Set in Stone: Humans and Barre Granite by Monica Hutton, pages 100- 101

For example, in Hinduism, the dead body is burnt with ritualistic methods because fire is considered to be a purifying element and the ashes are then laid in a holy river which is believed to be the path to the heaven. Both these activities do produce pollution but the common folk still believes in these methods. This thus becomes like a karmatic limbo. To choose between the religious obligations and responsibility towards the environment is what a country like ours gets stagnant at. So as I went through this issue and fell upon these ideas and philosophies which are definitely intriguing and alarming, it was a little difficult to relate it to my local context.

Having been said that, the depth of seriousness of the issue of after life urbanism is very well addressed and openly talked about, which is commendable. Be it Karla Rothstein's detailed understanding about this aspect or James Norris' idea of preserving the words of the dead, the fact that death is addressed as simply as life is in itself very moving. Each and every column unfolds a different angle of this multifaceted dilemma and makes us wonder about new underlying alterations needed in our society. To have realized the need of addressing it is just the start of the ripple of change that needs to be brought upon to break the stereotypical mindset of people. And to press upon the fact that environmental needs are of utmost priority in these times of urgency.

Prakruti Desai is an architect and urban designer at Aangan Architects and also a researcher at AARI (Aangan Architects Research Initiative), Surat, Gujarat, India.

This issue is supported by University of Luxembourg's Master in Architecture, European Urbanisation and Globalisation and Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Cover of MONU #31

On the cover of the latest issue of MONU, After Life Urbanism, a black and white photograph shows a teenager boy performing a backflip jump. Shirtless and barefoot, the picture catches the precise moment when his head is perpendicular to the ground, his legs spread and his body perfectly balanced to accomplish a safe landing. In the back, a few other kids look and gesture at the camera and seem to not pay attention to him. The concrete box he jumped from hosts an embossed tombstone: ‘RIP Agapita M. Cruz, Rosalina M. Cruz’; below each name, the dates of birth and death. A pen-sketched graffiti flower hides the cross carved on the left part of the plate. A number of cement bricks and concrete-casted sarcophagi – each of them hosts a dirty headstone on one side – piles up in the back, like containers ready to ship. The picture is part of one of the most striking contributions of the issue. Miguel Candela’s photographic essay, “The Cemetery of the Living”, depicts the life conditions in the oldest cemetery of Metro Manila, Philippines. As the capital city has endlessly experienced mass immigration since the end of the Second World War, some families that cannot afford a house are making the cemetery their home, while others live there to offer their services as grave diggers.

How do the living cope with the dead? MONU #31 aptly explores the relationships between death, life and the built environment. It does so by collecting contributions from researchers, designers and urban planners. Although it is rarely considered as a vector of transformation, death informs the way spaces and cities are designed and built. The discussion of death is often regarded as a taboo topic: it is hardly addressed in the public sphere, as much as it is not considered as a stimulating theme of design. Yet, as Karla Rothstein argues in “Democratizing Death”, the interview that opens the issue, interest in matters of death and the disposition of bodies has grown significantly in the last twenty years. Rothstein indicates demographic changes in societies in the global North among the factors prompting the exploration of these topics in the world of design. Likewise, concerns over our ecological footprint urge us to reconsider the practice of cremation as a way to deal with corpses. The multiplication of spaces and rituals of mourning in our multicultural metropolis also questions the political and legislative apparatuses of government. To talk about death is not just to shed light on social changes, but to stimulate thoughts on different aspects of the way we live together.

Throughout modernity, death started to occupy specific places in the Western city. Hospitals, crematoriums, and cemeteries were spaces built to host sick individuals and dead bodies. In 2014, the exhibition Death in Venice at the Venice Biennale dissected a selected number of these architectures, such as the Hospital of the Innocent by Brunelleschi. According to the curator Alison Killing, the exhibition’s aim was to question how, as a society, we approached death. Killing argued that the design and construction of such spaces produced a certain unfamiliarity between the individual and death. In a similar way, the project for the city mirrored the same process on a wider scale. Nineteenth-century Paris and London witnessed the rise of planned enclosed spaces for the ones that were no more; despite these places occupying a relevant position in the urban fabric, they were not considered an active part of urban life. Even if they usually serve as parks or greens where people can walk and relax, when we confront such spaces a nameless friction arises. As death is considered the opposite of life, not as part of it, the same happens in the city. Spaces of death are counterposed to spaces of life.

However, as Sybil Tong argues in the article “Beyond the Grave: Conscious Consumption in Life and Death”, graveyards and cemeteries are first and foremost spaces for the living. In as much as they are commemorative places, their function is to remember the dead. Therefore, a cemetery represents “a politicized space of interpretation and collective memory.” The current urban agenda for the dead seems to be primarily concerned with the good management of corpses as part of a smooth administration of city life. Instead, the possibility of a co-existence of the two worlds shows that it is not urban planning for the disposal of dead bodies that is at stake. Less polluting alternatives to common ways of disposition (such as cremation) can elicit a different relationship to death. As Elissaaveta Marinova discusses in the issue, practices like above ground decomposition question the way designers and planners think about space, as the cemetery as we know it will “open for complete reinterpretation”. After all, bodies are not objects to dispose of, to bury and quietly forget about. Dead people are citizens even in the aftermath of their life.

We inhabit a city even when our biological bodies do not wander around it anymore. As the Metro Manila graveyard shows, other human beings live upon our rests. The marble mattress they sleep on is the ceiling of our house for eternity. Our future cities should therefore invent new social ecologies between humans, be them dead or alive. There’s life after urbanism.

Giulio Gonella is an architect and researcher, who graduated at the Polytechnic University of Turin. This review of MONU #31 was first published on A Daily Dose of Architecture Books on March 13, 2020.

This issue is supported by University of Luxembourg's Master in Architecture, European Urbanisation and Globalisation and Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Banksy's artwork on Scott Street bridge in Kingston upon Hull, UK, 2018

One motivation for our previous issue #31 on "After Life Urbanism" was based on an interest in finding innovative solutions for the creation of affordable housing in spite of the increasing amount of city-space that is covered by cemeteries. But the question how to generate affordable urban spaces in general - whether for housing, work spaces, public spaces, urban infrastructure or other spaces - has, as a matter of fact, been nagging us for a very long time, if not since day one of the magazine around 15 years ago when we started with MONU #1 on "Paid Urbanism". In that first issue we demonstrated how subsidies and public spending shape our urban spaces, supporting people to afford their urban lives and have access to urban places and activities. Thus, this new topic of MONU has a lot to do with Lefebvre's famous idea of the "right to the city", but projected onto our contemporary world, and therefore also touches on themes such as accessibility to urban life, inclusiveness, spatial inequality, liveability, social interaction, collective life, co-creation, openness, and the re-thinking of capitalism when it comes to the cities of today... continue reading in Submit.

14-10-19 // MONU #31 ON

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...continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy here.

(Cover: Image is part of Miguel Candela’s 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 Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.

18-07-19 //

Left: Sun City by Peter Granser, pages 16- 17
Right: Retirement Utopianism - Interview with Deane Simpson, pages 6 - 7

I first came across MONU while searching for relevant literature for my master’s thesis on participation in urban planning. Every issue of the biannual magazine covers a unique topic and issue #30 is as the title suggests, about urbanism in relation to our later years in life. The definition of urbanism here is broad, and the magazine includes topics from anthropology and art to architecture. These topics are presented through a curation of texts and images, produced by a wide range of contributors and experts in the field. This diversity is put together in a collage-like manner, where each part maintains its own identity through a distinct typeface and graphical organization. The risk of clutter is prevented, simply by keeping a coherency in page numbering and margin size.

The opening text of the magazine is an interview by MONU founder Bernd Upmeyer with professor Deane Alan Simpson, focusing on his research of the "young-old". This is part of a classification that appears throughout the issue and it separates seniors into two groups, the young-old and the old-old. The first group includes those seniors who are healthy and vigorous. Being past working age and liberated from their previous obligations results in plenty of time to spend on leisure and social activities. The seniors who no longer sustains a healthy body or mind falls into the latter category of old-old. In some parts of the magazine, we are presented with statistics of a growing population of seniors, with worldwide numbers of people over 60 reaching 1.5 billion by 2030. Despite this alarmingly large figure, we learn that there seems to be a general lack of interest in addressing the topic within the field of architecture. This problem is raised in the text "The Future We Don't Want to Know About" by Anuschka Kutz. The focus here is shifted more towards the old-old, with a criticism of the too often simple and dull design and function of our care homes. With a growing older population follows the risk of alienation and heterogeneity, as is shown in the explorations of the young-old by several authors. Mixing and sharing is a commonly suggested antidote throughout the magazine. It is advocated by various authors in different situations, with the most concrete example shown in the design of an intergenerational house by BETA. In the Dutch town house, two families of different generations, occupy different floors of the same building.

Left: The Future We Don't Want to Know About by Anuschka Kutz, pages 42- 43
Right: Intergenerational Living by BETA, pages 92 - 93

There is a general call to the readers to investigate typological and generational hybrids like this, and to challenge how different age groups could mix as the example above illustrates. This mixing of age groups is something I am personally contributing to through my own living conditions. As a student residing in a popular city with a lack of affordable housing, there are limited options available to find a decent place to live for a reasonable price. The room which I rent in a spacious and centrally located apartment, is shared with my landlady who is in her mid seventies. She would fall into the category of the young-old despite her not going on lengthy cruise trips nor moving around in an electric golf-car. This highlights a potential risk by the use of the -old definitions in the magazine. It often seems to come with an ironic undertone and absurd fascination of the sometimes equally absurd lifestyles of some of the young-old seniors. Although understandable, this steals some of the focus from the discussion of the "ordinary" young-old: those who can't afford or have no interest in long-term cruises or Disneyland-like isolated communities.

In conclusion, the magazine approaches a difficult topic, which is as relevant as it is wide and it does it in a manner that offers insights from different lenses and contexts: We learn about the symbiosis of UK high streets and seniors, ageing in Chinese megacities and the history of Miami Beach. MONU manages to address these topics and challenges in an informative yet intriguing manner without losing itself in the sometimes demanding language and jargon one would find in a journal. As a soon-to-be master of architecture, I will return to MONU, not only as a springboard for academic literature, but more importantly as a counterweight to the often fast and easily digestible blogs and lightweight magazines we are presented with in our profession.

Ulrik Montnemery is a master student in Urbanism and Societal Change at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KADK) in Copenhagen. This review of MONU #30 was first published on Medium on June 17, 2019.

This issue is supported by Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Left: The “Fountain of Youth” by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1546
Right: Fountain of youth in The Villages in Florida, photo by Deane Simpson
(Both images from article "Retirement Utopianism - Interview with Deane Simpson", MONU #30, page 7)

There is a life hack I learned in my early twenties and now see being used to full effect all around me now in New York City: to pretend that old age does not exist. Specifically, our own old age, but also, significantly, the old age of others — people whom we would otherwise have to look at on the street, to take care of with our taxes and our public property, and, generally, to wait for. America, I learned upon moving here, is excellent at eternal debt accumulation, debt that it will talk itself out of tomorrow, confident in the shiny-eyed bubbles of tech and housing and youth. America is chronically young.

This aggressive picture is, fortunately, being questioned in various ways politically, but it’s worth continuing to try to re-center the elderly in our conversations about the future, especially since aging populations around the world are rising. This is the focus of the latest issue of MONU, a Rotterdam-based publication about urbanism and the future of cities, which looks at, among other things, the demographic of the “young-old,” a relatively able-bodied and leisurely population. This is the demographic that drives the “village movement,” which aims to establish more stable environments for Boomers to “age in place,” a movement around trying to prevent the elderly from being priced out of their homes. Over 200 of these villages, which function somewhat like retirement communities, now exist in the United States.

The largest retirement community in the world, the Villages in Florida, is a settlement of about 120,000 residents, consisting of a series of gated communities, or “villages.” The Villages was designed by one of the architects of Universal Studios; it has an eerie Disneyland aura (and is often called “the Disneyland for the retired”), with a downtown that aspires to a Main Street feel. The settlement is built around leisure rather than work. This shows in the details of its design: golf cart lanes as general infrastructure for daily use; entire strip-mall structures that consist solely of healthcare facilities. It is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country. The Villages is governed largely by private developers and has unique laws around development because of its particular requirements. There are many of these self-contained utopias in the US, which involve high membership fees to cover the costs of caretaking staff and social events and facilities.

Main street in The Villages, Florida, photo by Rafael Luna
(Image from article "Traversing Heterotopias" by Rafael Luna, MONU #30, pages 70, 71)

But urban models based on isolation and self-containment are just that: models, except in those instances where over two million dollars can be collectively spent every month in dues. Frank Lloyd Wright, wholly taken with the Valley, an idyllic green space in Wisconsin where he spent much of his childhood, carried into his designs for cities an obsession with proper spacing, with some image of an isolated utopia. Broadacre City, perhaps one of his most well-known legacies, remained a model as well, for what would have been a highly exclusive and unrealistic city-village.

The integration of certain slices of the population into the larger urban design and narrative is the opposite of self-containment, of segregation. Sustainable ways of adapting to and normalizing the presence of more elderly people in cities cannot assume that these elderly people are white and wealthy; the social norms and urban design for the general populace needs to encompass the needs of old people, just the way it needs to encompass the needs of children, or the unemployed, or the homeless — all social groups that offend our wild, urgent need for efficiency and productivity.

The true test of a city’s design is how well it serves its least profitable users. Designs for integrating old people into everyday city life — green spaces and public spaces, benches and other places to sit, angled curbs that can accommodate wheelchairs, longer traffic lights for vehicles to allow for easy road crossing, wider footpaths, accessible and functioning public transport — are designs that would largely help improve a city more generally as well.

View from the rooftop plaza of Seun SangGa, Seoul, looking West, photo by Rafael Luna
(Image from article "Traversing Heterotopias" by Rafael Luna, MONU #30, pages 72, 73)

Hyper-dense cities are forced to be more creative in the way they integrate the aging population into urban life; they do not have the luxury of being able to create expansive, self-contained retirement enclaves. This issue of MONU gives the example of Seoul, a potential “heterotopia” to contrast with the homogenous utopia of The Villages. “We are in the epoch of juxtaposition: the epoch of the near and far, of the side-be-side,” Michel Foucault writes in his essay on heterotopias. Digitization creates multiple cities in a single space; about 93 percent of the population of South Korea uses the internet, making it one of the most connected countries in the world. Hyper-dense cities like Seoul have to use their urban spaces, now increasingly digital, to juxtapose their various populations and functions.

Historically, Seoul’s infrastructure has relied on narrow alleys and informal spaces for its economic activity; the lack of formal public squares or plazas, with its underground markets and production spaces that opened with the subway system, have made it a naturally integrative city, capable of catering to several demographics’ needs at once. These mixed-use spaces are essential for integrating the city’s less “profitable” population: they are places of rest, recreation, trade, production, and movement. By fulfilling many different functions, an urban space becomes a potential home, temporarily, to many different kinds of people.

England’s High Streets offer a very similar variety of uses — these local environments offer economic, social, and physical familiarity and comfort: a “combination of public café, charity shop, children soft-play area, and a range of spaces available for daily activities.” The local elderly population reported that these streets are packed with small storefronts, with short distances between each store and bus stop, that make them easier and more enjoyable to navigate.

The most important thing about the High Streets, though, may be the fact that they are seen by so many of their locals as almost an extension of home. The familiar landscape encourages many old people in their neighborhoods to socialize, gives them a space to meet the same people daily, and provides a repository of memories; many reported being motivated daily to just get out and about. Especially for a population whose social circles might be dwindling because of age, meaningful social interactions are essential for urban life.

In the neighborhood where I grew up, most of the residents are retired and have lived there for decades and have vibrant social lives at almost every establishment in the area. My mother, walking in the park or playing at the local bridge tournaments, routinely meets ninety-somethings who can match her high energy and enthusiasm, who have aged healthily and gracefully because, perhaps, they know they would be missed when they die. They congregate in green spaces, at chai stalls, at street corners where coconut water is being sold; they drop in on their neighbors unannounced for tea and gossip. When I go home, there is a languor that I suddenly feel I am allowed, in the middle of this enormous, hyper-dense city. The streets leave room, in many areas of my city, not only for old people but for anyone wanting to pause for a moment, to breathe, to waste time, to live for small pleasures.

But in cities like mine, as well as in Seoul, it has been a common practice for multiple generations to live together, a tradition that is now receding as young people move away from their parents to be closer to expanding work opportunities and cultures. In Seoul this is leading to a relatively newly-alone elderly population that suffers from anxiety and loneliness.

Meaningful place by social dimension, photo by Luca Brunelli
(Image from article "Ageing UK High Streets: Adding Life to Years" by Luca Brunelli, MONU #30, page 63)

New urban designs, from public spaces to housing for cohabitation, have the potential and, perhaps, the responsibility to create this feeling of home in public spaces. This is particularly important with the more vulnerable sections of a city’s population, who are so often and so easily made invisible, for the crime of not serving a particular purpose. But the truly successful city is a “heterotopia” — it encompasses many worlds, many homes, many selves. It is equally real in different ways for different people. The conversation around “aging in place” is necessary but thoroughly incomplete, obscuring the point that it is not just the elderly but all vulnerable groups that ought to be protected to the fullest extent possible from gentrification. A city or a neighborhood that fails to serve as a true home for old people, has failed in the same way as a city that fails to serve as a true home for children, for poor people, for people of color. We need age diversity in the same way we need racial and class diversity in our public spaces to remind us that we do not live in a machine, are not being made by a machine.

In 1920, Walter Benjamin, mourning the effects of the war, wrote a meandering essay about Nikolai Leskov and the act of storytelling. “Was it not noticeable at the end of the war that men returned from the battlefield grown silent, not richer, but poorer in communicable experience?” he implored. “Experience which has passed on from mouth to mouth is the source from which all storytellers have drawn. Experience has fallen in value.” A few years later, Mary McCarthy would write her memoir, and note the difficulty of “the task of recalling” for an orphan like herself. “The chain of recollection — the collective memory of a family — has been broken.”

Age is ugly; it is, perhaps, particularly ugly in America — America the beautiful, the playground of constant speculation. America’s future is bigger than its past, but part of the project of normalizing aging is recognizing the importance of the past, of memories; the value of experience that has been already had, over experience that is yet to be had. A culture that desires rather than merely tolerates its elders might be the one, then, with strong memories, with powerful stories.

“Elderly age, replaced first by public libraries and later by the Internet as a major source of public knowledge, remains the greatest source of living experience,” writes one contributor to this issue of MONU, “and the increase of the mean age of the population is probably mankind’s greatest opportunity to learn from experience.”

Apoorva Tadepalli is a freelance writer. She comes from Bombay and lives in Brooklyn. She tweets at @storyshaped. This article was first published on BLARB - the blog of the Los Angeles Review of Books on June 3, 2019.

This issue is supported by Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Left: Cover of #30, cover image is part of Peter Granser’s contribution “Sun City” on page 14. ©Peter Granser/ from the book Sun City, published by Benteli
Centre: Contents, pages 2 - 3
Right: Retirement Utopianism - Interview with Deane Simpson, pages 6 - 7

Has MONU gone mainstream with its 30th issue? With previous issues focused on "Brutal Urbanism", "Border Urbanism", "Exotic Urbanism", "Non-Urbanism", "Transnational Urbanism", and other sometimes marginal or avant-garde approaches to discussing cities, "Late Life Urbanism" feels fairly tame and highly practical. What comes to mind when thinking about urbanism for retirees and other people late in life? For me, it's retirement communities such as The Villages, where my parents and 122,458 other seniors live. The place — studied by Deane Simpson in one of my favorite books, Young-Old: Urban Utopias of an Aging Society — is a cluster of gated "villages" oriented about dozens of golf courses and anchored by a trio of "town centers." The town centers are themed (Spanish, Seaside, Western) but pedestrian-oriented, while the villages are sprawling, requiring a car or golf cart to get around. Outside of the miles of golf cart paths, the most interesting aspect of The Villages, the place is very conservative, bland. So how can late life urbanism move beyond conservative, age-restrictive versions of the suburbs?

Left: Sun City by Peter Granser, pages 14- 15
Right: Home for the Elderly by Junya Ishigami, pages 96 - 97

Bernd Upmeyer, editor in chief of MONU, begins the 30th issue with an interview with Simpson, who describes Young-Old in depth and points out the problematic issues of places like The Villages (exclusivity, segregation, etc.). Later he interviews Frits van Dongen, the former Chief Government Architect of the Netherlands, about projects and urban situations that work for old people but are not restricted to them. In essence, the Dutch model and The Villages model are at either end of the late life urbanism spectrum, meaning there's plenty to explore in between. Beyond those interviews, MONU #30 has sixteen contributions that range from essays (e.g., "Traversing Heterotopias", in which Rafael Luna applies Michael Foucault's notion to Seoul in the future) and projects (Junya Ishigami's project for people with dementia that consists of old, familiar houses slated for demolition but rebuilt together in one location) to photography (Peter Granser's look at Sun City, Arizona, the USA's oldest adults-only community. While there's nothing overtly avant-garde here, the work, ideas, and research around design for aging — in a world that is getting increasingly older — is too important to ignore.

John Hill is an architect, blogger, World-Architects editor, tour guide, and author of a handful of books. Newest, NYC Walks, was released in March this year. This review was first published on A Daily Dose of Architecture Books on May 24, 2019.

This issue is supported by Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Scene from the American drama television series "Six Feet Under" that depicts the lives of the Fisher family,
who run a funeral home in Los Angeles, 2001-2005, ©HBO

After having scrutinized thoroughly how architecture and cities are influenced by societies that grow increasingly older due to declining fertility rates and rising life expectancy, in our previous MONU #30 entitled "Late Life Urbanism", we aim with the upcoming issue to move forward in time to the "After Life" and investigate how mortality impacts cities and buildings. In that sense, there is a certain connection and continuation between this new issue and the last one. However, the new topic - that we call "After Life Urbanism" - comprises many different facets that need to be discussed which were not part of "Late Life Urbanism" and are related to recent changes in our society that are related to death; first of all spatial aspects, but cultural, social, environmental, technological and last but not least economic ones too... continue reading in Submit.

15-04-19 // MONU #30 ON

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...
continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy here.

(Cover: Image is part of Peter Granser’s contribution “Sun City” on page 14. ©Peter Granser/ from the book Sun City, published by Benteli)

This issue is supported by Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Elsewhere I've stated that the content of a book's midsection (e.g., a project in the middle of an architectural monograph) is particularly important, providing a crescendo to a book's narrative arc. This is not the case with magazines such as MONU, where the first article is the most important, due to it being the first piece readers confront. In turn it sets the tone for the rest of the issue, even as its contributors, in the case of MONU #29 for instance, are a diverse lot. First in this issue is MONU editor Bernd Upmeyer's interview with Cassim Shepard, who was the founding editor of the Architectural League's Urban Omnibus and now teaches "Narrative Urbanism: Strategic Storytelling for Designers and Planners" at Columbia GSAPP. A statement of his I find particularly insightful has to do with the goals of narrative urbanism being more about process ("the process of learning how to observe urban to talk to people about what is special or unique about a neighborhood") than product (moving images and sounds, etc.). The interview frames narrative urbanism as exploration, thereby impacting one's reading of the following contributions for the better.

Highlights beyond Shepard's interview include a few illustrated pieces: MAP Office's proposal for the addition of eight artificial islands in Hong Kong, Alicia Lazzaroni and Antonio Bernacchi's colorful isometric of a dense Bangkok scene, and Design Earth's illustration of "Geostories"; and essays by Phil Roberts and Benjamin van Loon that close the issue and discuss, respectively, post-High Line elevated public spaces and the role of narrative in four major developments reshaping Chicago. The form that narrative urbanism takes is quite diverse too, be it Tiago Torres-Campos's cartographic history of Manhattan, Amila Širbegovic's "walking interviews," or Amelyn Ng's use of cartoons for creating architectural narratives. Those interested in exploring cities via narratives will find plenty to chew on in the pages of the latest MONU.

John Hill is an architect, blogger, World-Architects editor, tour guide, and author of a handful of books. Newest, NYC Walks, comes out March 12, 2019. This review was first published on A Daily Dose of Architecture Books on February 22, 2019.

This issue is supported by Estonian Academy of Arts’ MA Programme and Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


In this time so influenced by impact evaluations, algorithms and dictatorship of data, the issue states an urgent and relevant point: to promote value-based narratives, processes and projects, letting emerge the immaterial factors driving urban transformations. Thus, Narrative Urbanism is a contribution through which to imagine a counterbalance, focusing on what can't be measured but can be perceived, what can't be strictly evaluated but has a meaningful value for living.
Through the different points of view and interpretations of what is "narrative urbanism", it is possible to identify two main foci: the first is about tracing a new urban imaginary expressed through a visual language. A second focus concerns narrative urbanism as a performative practice.

Left: Cover of
#29, cover image is part of Pierre Huyghe’s contribution “Les Grands Ensembles” on page 25. ©Marian Goodman Gallery Paris/New York
Right: Bangkok Domestic Tastes, pages 26 - 27

In the first case, there are six contributions. The first one is Narrative is the new black, a reflection by Omar Kassab, focused on the possibilities and limitations of contemporary language to imagine a new visual order that goes beyond linguistic barriers. To support his argument, Kassab cites an interesting reference: the "Place" experiment carried out on the web platform Reddit in April 2017.
A second contribution that could be included in this category is Honk Kong is land by MAP Office (Gutierrez and Portefaix), that proposes a future in which 8 new islands were born in order to face the growth of Hong Kong. The Island of Land, the Island of Sea, the Island of Self, the Island of Resources, the Island of Possible Escape , the Island of Surplus, the Island of Endemic Species and the Island of Memories are an attempt to reimagine the whole Hong Kong territorial balances. These imagined new city-islands bring to mind the Invisible Cities described in the eponymous book by the Italian novelist Italo Calvino.
With captions the only text, the illustrated essay of Bangkok Domestic Tastes by INDA, Lazzaroni and Bernacchi presents a very dense condominium cosmogony of Bangkok, with delirious hyper-modern habits, that seems to evoke the well known novel High Rise of James Ballard (1975). It leads to extreme consequences and spatialises the most diffuse trends and behaviours influenced by digital thinking in contemporary society. It is an action of unveiling that emerges by zooming into the "big picture": it doesn't prettify but criticizes and asks questions about the urban future of contemporary society.
Drawings are the medium chosen by Design Earth to propose, with the essay Geostories, a critical and more effective way of representing environmental issues and making them more understandable. The ground-related and sectional approach of Design Earth tries to go beyond numbers, infographics and the commodification of the Earth. Drawings have aesthetic and political value: they create little worlds in order to reimagine the relations and mutual influences between geology and architecture.
The photographic contribution Wild pigeon, made by Carolyn Drake, talks about the Uyghur remote region in China, its transformations and tragedies. In a place where politics don't allow conversations with foreigners, Drake employed her printed photos as a canvas to let people reveal their stories. This overwriting practice is an unconventional and silent methodology to listen to the local community.
Bold collages are the tools used by WAI Architecture Think Tank to accompany the ten points Manifesto for a Narrative Architecture in the essay The rise of the Kynics. It's a subversive initiative aiming to activate a discussion that moves critically between the modernist project and the hegemonic discourse of Delirious New York.
Finally, the ironic way to talk about the image-based approach to architectural narrative is embraced by Amelyn Ng with her Notes on the Architectural Cartoon. The architectural cartoon is here described as a humorous tool for architecture, able to describe and suggest possibilities instead of dictating rhetorical solutions conveyed through typical graphic tools for architects.

Nick Dunn's nightwalking practice, pages 34 - 35

Some other contributions lie within in a second category of narrative as a performative practice, especially related to walking. In Talk on the wild side: moving beyond storytelling in cities, Dunn and Dubowitz lead us through the streets of Glasgow, where they conduct inscriptive practices, defined as "nightwalking" and "wastelanding". Both practices go beyond storytelling and urban marketing, by fostering collaborative urbanism and a more inclusive way of city making.
A mix of walks and interviews is adopted by Amila Sirbegovic's Right to narrative - walking interviews which explores how to discover the influence of migration in cities like St. Louis and Vienna, by involving planners and architects. Sirbegovic uses excerpts, frames of videos and text from interviews, to articulate her research-based practice.
Lastly, the walking practice becomes emblematic for the renaissance trajectory of a city, in the case of Detroit. Within the essay Detroit's Nain Rouge, Kathleen Gmyrek presents similarities between Detroit and New Orleans, showing other possibilities for Detroit in the way Mardi Gras took on a symbolic meaning in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, on how the local community has faced the disaster of Hurricane Katrina and has rebuilt a strong identity. That's thanks to the Marche du Nain Rouge, a new tradition driven by Detroiters reclaiming the myth of past with the hope for the future: it is not just a way to rebuild civic identity and awareness, but also to "re-brand" the city and to develop a new cultural infrastructure.
The aforementioned contributions and the remaining ones - here non mentioned due to the lack of space - in this issue of MONU, create the feeling of a journey across many different contexts and cities such as Hong Kong, Bangkok, New York, Vienna, St. Louis, Uyghun (China), Detroit, Lima, Wuhan, Chicago, Toronto and Montreal, and in so doing highlight the power of narratives as tools, not just as "stories", and more appropriately as processes for management and careful experimentation.

Saverio Massaro
is an architect and civic designer. He obtained a Ph.D. in Architecture Theories and Design at Sapienza University of Rome with the dissertation "Integrated urban strategies to face the issue of urban waste in contemporary city. New opportunities for a civic architecture" and is currently Adjunct Professor at University of Basilicata (Italy). He is a partner at deltastudio, an architectural office based in Ronciglione (VT, Italy), and was a finalist of the Young Architects Program MAXXI 2016. Massaro is editor of books, publications and essays in the architecture field, and has been co-editor of the online magazine On/Off Magazine. As a civic designer, he promotes and coordinates participatory processes within non-profit associations Esperimenti Architettonici, Urban Experience and CivicWise.

Acknowledgment: Thanks to Prof. Ph.D. Carolyn L. White (University of Nevada, Reno - USA) to have been helpful with proofreading.


Cover of MONU #23 on “Participatory Urbanism

The conversation is part of a collection of interviews by Archinect with editors that make today’s most provocative architectural publications come to life. While architecture is traditionally concerned with buildings, materials, and scale, their importance and historical impact are recorded through words, books, and images that are often organized, published, and disseminated. Redlines seeks to understand the pedagogical and design frameworks that shape this process.


Anthony Morey: What is the long-term goal of the publication?
Bernd Upmeyer: Our long-term goal for MONU is very similar to the goal we set in the early years of the magazine, which is to scrutinize, criticize, and question prevailing urban conditions in order to understand better how cities work, to fuel the debates around them, and ultimately to improve our living conditions within them. And as long as people are still motivated to contribute and we are not getting tired of initiating new topics and investing time and energy into something that will probably never have a secure and stable financial base, we will continue this very unique project. For us, it also important that MONU remains functioning as a platform for the exchange of ideas and for providing a voice for many people in the field and especially for emerging professionals who get a chance to be published and have their ideas presented in print format, which will secure a certain freshness to the magazine.

AM: What has been the most interesting issue in your eyes so far?
BU: Since we try to improve the magazine with every single issue with regard to the diversity and quality of the contributions, the relevance of the articles in general and in relation to the particular topic of the issue, the relevance of each topic taken by itself, its appearance and layout, it can only be our most recent issue on "Narrative Urbanism". But in the eyes of the readers it might have been #23 on "Participatory Urbanism", as it was one of the issues that sold out very fast. I want to believe that it had to do with the topic itself that was important to investigate and not with that fact that the issue sported a half naked Marina Abramovic on its cover. I myself liked the topic of participation related to urbanism very much too, especially as MONU itself is a very participatory project that tries to be as open as possible to different people and viewpoints, recognizing that traditional journals struggle to connect to today's informed audience.

AM: What weaknesses does the publication have?
BU: One of MONU's weaknesses, which some might consider its strength, is its focus on niche topics, instead of topics that are aimed at a broad demographic such as politics, economics, or sports. We are of course interested in politics and economics too, but only when related to cities and architecture. That positions the magazine in a niche market, which puts it into a very fragile financial situation limiting our way to operate and the time we can invest into it. More supporters would certainly help. But we take this situation also as a chance to make use of our independence and thus to try as much as we can to remain critical, trying to enrich our society as a small press and to fill the niches that larger publishers neglect or have to neglect for the sake of sales. Thus, we will continue to take risks and flirt with failure in the future too.

AM: What is the role of publications today?
BU: Publications, whether printed or digital, independent or "dependent", as a means to make content available to a broader public are as important today as they were in the past. If you refer with "publications" only to printed matter, then we should discuss the role of printed publications in the digital age. To this I would say that in the current "Trumpian" world with all its fake news, half-truths, and manipulated information that is mainly published digitally, printed publications play more than ever an important role in our society. Not that everything that is printed is true, but it is shown today - compared with digital information and everything that is on the internet - to be much more reliable. That has a lot to do with the costly, complicated, and time-consuming way in which printed publications are produced and distributed, its permanence, and the mostly and hopefully trained professionally staff behind them that controls, fact-checks, and usually improves the content...

... the entire conversation can be read on Archinect published on December 10, 2018. Anthony Morey is a Los Angeles-based designer, writer, theorist and curator. Currently he is the Executive Director & Chief Curator at a+d museum along with being an editor-at-large of Archinect and a discussion moderator at Harvard University Graduate School of Design.


Image from Carolyn Drake's contribution `Wild Pigeon'`(p78)

In MONU #29 the word "storytelling" takes on the grand connotations typically associated with architecture - futuristic visions, imposing scale, immense risk - while continuing in the tradition of gossip, morals and myths, performances and gestures. In this issue of MONU these folkloric traits are traced in urban development and design processes, physical explorations and creations; urban structures are built and sustained by layered, conflicting stories and the bodies that live them, eternally (re)shaping cities and histories. This "narrative urbanism" is a patient, organic process revealing every construction site and street corner as a haunted site with stories past and passing by.

This issue's contributors encourage, with inventive narratives of their own, urban narratives that saturate sidewalks, geographies, master plans, and cities' strategies. They also dissect the (inter)action within and between cities worldwide and promote an understanding of stories - both blueprinted and instinctive - that flow between all members of the urban ecosystem. In narrative urbanism, dormant stories are resurrected, imagined stories are drafted, and "every space is special and worthy of care," sharing Donna Haraway's belief in 'being-with' one another and our Earth (Shepard, 6). Furthermore, I appreciate that "Narrative Urbanism" and its writers aren't reluctant to discuss the fact that formal plans are normally exclusive, taking a conciliatory approach to the stakeholders at large. This is especially effective following MONU #28 - an issue dedicated to the ins and outs of "Client-Shaped Urbanism".

Early on in the issue, Omar Kassab's "Narrative is the New Black" comes as a surprise, happily upsetting our notions of narrative. Opening with a matter-of-fact summary of the rapid decline of modern languages spoken and written today, the piece prepares us for "an approaching all-out metamorphosis" of language and narration that seems obviously bleak (Kassab, 13). He reviews the ways in which language has been constrained, namely by our general focus on the written word, marking its limitations and how thoughts and feelings can be cut short on the page or when spoken. The conventional methods of expressing ourselves taught to us by parents, textbooks, and teachers have never been all-embracing; rather they've dampened our individual, inner-to-outer communications.

At the same time Kassab outlines the rise of visual culture, the growing prevalence of visual tools of communication, and the global expansion of the virtual field. Visuo-virtual narratives, he argues, are more colloquial, easily disseminated, and can express what spoken and written languages cannot on their own; they promote well-rounded, globalized communication, contributing to an evolution in storytelling. Though I felt that familiar, faux indifference when he mentioned emojis and internet memes, by the end of "Narrative is the New Black" I had to appreciate the engaging possibilities to be found in narrating language itself. These visual mediums can be flighty and whimsical, but it is undeniable that using such visually rooted languages alongside text and sound encourages large-scale collaboration, "a wondrously complex amalgamation of a language" (Kassab, 14).

Kassab points out a simple, persistent fact that underlies each piece in MONU #29: like words, urban narratives are generative, utilized best if all stories - architects', artists', friends', neighbours' - are included to construct our futures in cityscapes. On the other hand, urban narratives are unlike words in the sense that they grapple directly with physical space, bringing cities and citizens together, and touch all of our senses. This reminded me of Ingold's concept of "languaging" found in artist Emma Smith's Practice of Place, a similarly celebratory text I would consider MONU #29's companion piece:

Far from serving as a common currency for the exchange of otherwise private, mental representations, language celebrates an embodied knowledge of the world that is already shared thanks to people's mutual involvement in the task of habitation. It is not, then, language per se that ensures the continuity of tradition. Rather it is the tradition of living in the land that ensures the continuity of language. (Smith, 153; Ingold, 147)

Left: Image from Cruz Garcia and Nathalie Frankowski (WAI Architecture Think Tank)'s article "The Rise of the Kynics" (p91)
Right: Image from INDA, Alicia Lazzaroni and Antonio Bernacchi's contribution "Bangkok Domestic Tastes" (p26)

"Narrative Urbanism" also examines a collection of visual and physical narrative methods that alternate between subverting and complementing those established when only professionals and moneyed influencers hold sway over a building, district or project. Many of the articles take on a propositional tone, determined to add oral histories, collective memories, and archival materials to the canon of professional narratives that include architectural renderings, staid agreements, and buzzword-y PowerPoints. This method of legitimizing urban storytelling - by way of expanding, compiling, and mobilizing an array of urban voices - is meticulous yet passionate.

My favourite pieces demonstrate narrative urbanism as an everyday practice - one that is clamorous and made up of countless, assorted bodies moving and speaking at once. They also celebrate my favourite urban movement: walking. "Talk on the Wild Side: Moving Beyond Storytelling in Cities" and "Right to the Narrative - Walking Interviews" describe action-based methods of collective walking and urban exploration that encourage communities and residents to "co-author" underused and undeveloped urban spaces. The authors of the respective articles offer fieldnotes and quotations that are honest reflections from their participants. In an attempt to "both inspire and provoke people to question the received narrative of their city and embark on new ones that they can own and develop collectively," they take community members and urbanists on 'nightwalks' and invite them to go 'wastelanding' i.e. observe abandoned or neglected spaces (37).

This urban choreography, along with the accompanying images of deserted, concrete areas in the article, reminded me of years spent purposefully loitering when I was a teenager. I shuttled between New York and New Jersey, searching for ways to hide in plain sight; sometimes my friends and I sought out blind spots, or unclaimed land, in parking garages and suburban forests. I imagine what I would say to those moving with me if I were to go on a collective walk through those dead spaces again. I wonder what affect this method would have on my, and everyone else's, everyday actions. Would my friends and I have continued killing time in convenience stores, flipping through magazines, trying to look like we'd just arrived or were just about to leave? Would we still hide from the cops in public parks after dark, determined to conduct our late-night sports and teen rituals in peace? Maybe we would have inhabited more (or less) conspicuous spaces, or maybe our cities' parent-teacher associations, city council members, business owners and the police officers would simply have a better understanding of what we wanted, which was simple: ownership of public spaces, fewer spatial regulations, and the right to lazily traverse cities, to ride to and from Manhattan with ease and clear conscious. Though we definitely enjoyed carving out our own spaces, making them simultaneously Other and ourselves. And I still wish for the same; as a woman who loves cities' nightlife in particular, I want to claim my movements and co-design urban spaces entirely. That being said, it is clear, from my own experiences and the ones displayed in these articles, that these desires aren't reserved for youth culture; I and many others haven't abandoned our need to explore, dominate, and affect parts of our cities we crave or already crawl all over and adore.

Image from MAP Office (Gutierrez and Portefaix)'s piece "Hong Kong Is Land" (p21)

"Narrative Urbanism" also reminds us that stories are not only told by bodies but are embedded in cities' foundations, continuously shaping urban forms each day. "The Grid and the Bedrock", for example, displays and explains literal (re)drawings of history via four consecutive maps of Manhattan affected by ecological changes, advanced infrastructure, and wars. "Geostories" and "The Rise of Kynics" feature eerie, seemingly unnatural collages and diagrams influenced by the same urban changes, though these images are completely sensible when viewed through the lens of architectural history and the Anthropocene. Meanwhile, "Hong Kong is Land" is a striking future narrative of Hong Kong; the artists and architects of MAP Office have drawn mythological maps of eight new islands to add to its surrounding landscape. Responding to universal urban issues and wide-ranging narratives, the proposed islands are delicately drawn fantasies with names such as "The Island of Self", "The Island of Resources", and "The Island of Possible Escape".

American photographer Carolyn Drake also reflects on the temporal and imaginary aspects of narrative through her co-created photographic images. Maybe the most visceral pieces in "Narrative Urbanism", they are manifestations of the tumultuous relationship between Uyghur people, based in a remote province 2,000 miles from Beijing, and manipulations of their space and culture. Both the government's development policies (which are aggressively modernizing their villages and cities) and Drake's photographic actions challenge the narratives they want to persist and the truths they wish to speak in the face of oppressive authorities. The photographs presented were supplied by Drake and collaged and sketched on by Uyghur citizens. The images reveal tangible 'lines of desire' in the community, cut out, adhered, and rearranged according to unique perspectives from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. I think they signify strong environment 'reflextion' - a reflex to and reflection on the environment and cultural and political situation. These cut-and-paste photographs also seem to parallel the dense, carnival-coloured illustrations in "Bangkok Domestic Tastes"; just as the collaborative artworks seem to make Uyghur inclinations and emotions clear, the collage-like images of Bangkok neighbourhoods curate the real estate market's strategies as abstract spaces and shapes that align aspirational modes of urban living.

"Narrative Urbanism" succeeds in "describing without dictating" in a way that proves it to be an inclusive, communicative, and forthright addition to urbanism methodologies (Ng, 110). As a method that is at once unique and diverse, ever-changing and steadfast, it is indeed narrative urbanism that excites city living, activates urban design, and gives architecture its grand connotations.

Zoë Rhinehart is a New York-based writer and production manager. She recently received her masters in Cultural Policy from Goldsmiths, University of London. She celebrates third spaces and threshold awareness both in cities and on set.

This issue is supported by Estonian Academy of Arts’ MA Programme and Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones performing at the Desert Trip Music Festival in California in 2016,
photo by Kevin Mazur, ©Getty Images

When I was studying in the late 1990s and early years of the new millennium, a very common task that was set for us by our professors was to design a retirement home. Although I did not take part in these projects at the time, I understood the necessity to prepare students for a future in which our societies would become increasingly older due to declining fertility rates and rising life expectancy through which the number of people aged 60 years and over had multiplied since 1950, reaching hundreds of millions worldwide. Accordingly, it was good that there was a growing focus on people in their later life and their way of living, which has ever since led to a lot of research, both practical and theoretical. However, when I was recently confronted personally with the current state of care for the elderly, I realized that there is still a lot to improve, invent, innovate, and discuss when it comes to the way old people in the need of care live, particularly in a society that is ever more individualized, lacking traditional family models in which such care used to take place. That is why we want to dedicate an entire new issue of MONU to a topic that we call "Late Life Urbanism" and which we want to investigate on an architectural level, but on the level of the city too... continue reading in Submit.


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...
continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy here.

(Cover: Image is part of Pierre Huyghe’s 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 Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Left: Cover of MONU #28
Right: "Arkanum" by Aras Gökten on page 33

As architects and architectural designers, a balanced relationship between client and architect needs to be addressed. Being a fresh graduate and only being part of the work force for collectively under a year, I've begun to understand that these relationships must be tailored per architect, firm, client, project, etc., but that was the extent of my knowledge to this point. After reading MONU's issue #28 "Client-shaped Urbanism", it begun to open my eyes to how both a client or architect may feel they are being mistreated in certain situations and projects. Obviously, clients and architects mutually want a smooth relationship but understanding perspective, balance, and experience can affect the connection between the two.

In university, we are often told to put ourselves in the shoes of the user when thinking of our projects. That empathy begins to that help further our designs, so understanding perspective is highly important. In the first article, "Sympathy for the Devil" was striking and enjoyable to read for fact that it was written in a different perspective that wasn't directly architecture, but still very relatable. It was intriguing because it made the reader not only wear the "devil's" shoes but feel insecure about the situation unfolding, which ended up being the clients experience redefined. It really starts off the issue with a perspective, we as architects, have most likely not experienced firsthand and introduces the thoughts of a client. Other articles in this issue, give more insight of what a client hopes to expect for their experiences and what not, for example the article "What Client Wants".

The interviews are what I found the most informative for myself, mainly because they were raw discussions of what they believe is happening to our industry without all the unnecessary fluff. Their experiences with different clients, project managers, competitions, etc., plus their opinions on what is happening with our relationships and on how both architects and clients can improve themselves for future collaborations is insightful. The "Behind the Scenes: A Conversation with my Client" was a relief from some of other articles negativity of why we fail to have a balanced relationship between client and architect. This conversation expands on the success of a healthy client-architect relationship and what they look for in each other. Djamel Aït-Aïssa and Beatriz Ramo both agreed that "trust is essential", but correspondingly must have an equivalent respect for each other and the project requirements/intentions. This is why they have successful projects and relationships.

Not everyone can find a perfect client though and "Expectation and Reality" begins to address the humour of the reality of our career. These comic strips were a great comical relief in the issue. Even being a newbie to the workforce of the architecture world, I can already relate to some of these comics. I even passed along the magazine to show these images to a couple of my peers and co-workers to give them a good chuckle. Even the reality of the concept sketch to construction sequence of sketches is too relatable; especially coming out of college with bright hopeful eyes for design opportunities and being dragged back down to the reality for normal projects with low budgets.

Speaking of university again, quite a few articles brought up the architecture education and how to maybe improve our understanding of clients. Like I mentioned earlier, and Nicholas Pajerski mentioned in the article "Architecture After the Client: Speculating on a Human Centred Architectural Pedagogy" as well, we are trained more to focus on the user and how they experience the space and less on the client specifically. These two people may overlap or could have nothing to do with each other, so giving more experience on that could be more thought-provoking for design concepts. Alejandro Zaera-Polo mentions in the article "Project Managers and the End of the Dominatrix Architect" that they think that maybe we should introduce more client managing classes in universities, which I think having the option is actually an interesting thought. To be exposed a little more to the reality and what to look out for, would be a little more helpful for some students. At the same time, Stefan Paeleman mentioned in "Not all about Beauty" had an opposing view, that university is the time to "have a certain freedom, and maybe to dream a little more" and that it could "deprive" students from creativity. In one way I agree with this statement, but in another way, it could force students to be more collaborative and a find an alternative method to be creative, like the idea of "Human Centred Architectural Pedagogy" introduced by Pajerski. These discussions of education over multiple articles is something I would like to see more of in the future as it will shape how to alter our profession for the better.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading MONU's issue, "Client-shaped Urbanism". This issue really captured the right amount of views on how clients shape our designs (for the good and the bad) and how architects can do better with our relationships with the clients through perspective, balance, and experience. This an issue that I would recommend to both students and architects/architectural designers, as it really exposes multiple views of clients in architecture to further our understanding of one another.

Megan Michalski is an architect who graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is part of FOLD, a curatorial and publishing platform. This review was first published by the Archinect on July 5, 2018.

This issue is supported by Bauhaus University Weimar’s International Master Course, Birkhäuser‘s Vienna – Then and Now, Estonian Academy of Arts’ MA Programme, Sotine’s Handmade Jewellery, Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Dinocrates' proposal for Mount Athos

One important outcome of our last MONU issue #28 on "Client-shaped Urbanism" was the realization that in order to create better cities, we need to improve the communication among everybody involved in the creation of cities, whether they are clients, developers, municipalities, architects, urban designers, or the users of cities, to name just a few. Especially for architects and urban designers, one way to make themselves understood better, is to use the power of "narratives", helping them to connect not only to experts and intellectuals in the field, but to everybody else too. To find out what such urban and architectural narratives might look like today - and what they were like in the past - how they can be crafted, where they may be used and how narratives can help improving our cities in general is one of the main aims of the upcoming issue of MONU that we call "Narrative Urbanism"... continue reading in Submit.


"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"...
continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy here.

(Cover: Image is courtesy of Aras Gökten. The image is part of his contribution "Arkanum" on page 34. ©Aras Gökten)

This issue is supported by Bauhaus University Weimar’s International Master Course, Birkhäuser‘s Vienna – Then and Now, Estonian Academy of Arts’ MA Programme, Sotine’s Handmade Jewellery, Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


"Haus der Architektur" (HDA), Graz, Austria
Photo by Thomas Raggam

MONU #6 - Beautiful Urbanism
and MONU #9 - Exotic Urbanism are currently exhibited at the "Haus der Architektur" (HDA) in Graz, Austria. The exhibition is dedicated to the life and work of the Dutch architect Joost Meuwissen who contributed frequently to MONU Magazine, particularly to the issues #3, #6 and #7. "„Don’t Stop Thinking!“ – Die Denkräume des Joost Meuwissen" opened on March 22 and will run until April 22, 2018.

Additionally, MONU's current issue #27 will be present at Archinect's
pop-up store in Los Angeles featuring art and architectural journals and magazines. Archinect hosts the pop-up store in celebration of the 2nd issue of their new architectural publication Ed. The store is scheduled to open on April 13.


Left: Julian Oliver's article 'Stealth Infrastructure' (p73)
Centre: Nicholas de Monchaux applies a robust focus toward the possibilities of a digital 'resilience' in his article 'Local Code: Real Estates' (p86)
Right: In 'Every Object Is a Crowd!' (p40), philosopher Levi Bryant discusses his theory for 'The democracy of Objects'

"To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now." A 1961 quote from Samuel Becket used by Marco Casagrande in his article 'From Small Scale Interventions to the Third Generation City', for the 27th issue of MONU 'Small Urbanism'.

What are cities in relation to their parts? Issue #27 "Small Urbanism" shows that the small can be found within many elements of our cities, from GPS satellite networks down to the beat of curb cut raptures. The small often is, as Bernd Upmeyer warned in his call for submission, almost not there. A discussion surfacing within MONU's 'Small Urbanism', and one worth further thought, is the transpiring role of the 'small' towards the recoupling of our cities. Whether characterised by the act of reforming, saving, reordering, tuning or healing, a number of contributions labor towards an understanding of the intricate relationship cities share with their fragments.

It was in first reading Julian Oliver's article 'Stealth Infrastructure' (p73) that this issue's themes and situational relevance became present to myself. Oliver depicts a wistful image of telecommunications in 1980's rural New Zealand. With one phone line running through his community, individuals would sensibly answer only to their particular call pattern. This system was built wholly on an open infrastructure of trust, and inconceivable these days is the thought of such a system after the cell phone tower. Oliver cautiously approaches the advance of an increasingly now invisible infrastructure with an embodiment of fragility. He paints cities as 'cradles', composed carefully of 'knitted infrastructure' that support our way of living.
"We're reminded that our cities are engineered and technical places as much as they are natural expressions of the Human and the Social… What we expect from infrastructure is that it works, because when it doesn't, it isn't."
Oliver indicates that it is only when a spot of weakness appears, and the city's infrastructure is revealed, that we may perceive how monumental such a seemingly small or undetectable element of our cities can be.

Almost in opposition to the fragility illustrated by Oliver, Nicholas de Monchaux applies a robust focus toward the possibilities of a digital 'resilience' in his article 'Local Code: Real Estates' (p86). His project, Local Code, considers that architecture and the city could be the instrument for an 'information-inspired physical resistance'. Covering 3,659 abandoned sites over four cities, his research maps sites sharing overlapped circumstantial characteristics, foremost a potential for 'most transformative' ecological remediation. Monchaux advises that since these abandoned sites have accumulated in areas where public green space is normally denied, the benefits of these small instillations would translate greatly to public health and wellbeing. A statement of Monchaux's that supports this prospect, is his assertion for what will make a robust and resilient city;
"…it is only through understanding and engaging the existing nature of our cities as complex, networked artifacts that we can design for, and imagine, a robust and resilient future for them… built into and out of the city itself."
Monchaux's work brings forwards a significant notion that digital science methods within urban research can provide powerful proof for greater influence, and this comes particularly with an attitude for envisaging fragments of the city and urban strategies in concert.

In one of the magazine's two interviews, 'Every Object Is a Crowd!' (p40), philosopher Levi Bryant discusses his theory for 'The democracy of Objects'. Bryant poses in that for the understanding of our cities, it is of benefit to think of a city "no less an object than a mailbox or a quark." In an ontological framework, this may provide problems. However, to then understand these 'objects' as composites of others, and the complexity this ensues is where Bryant offers an attitude that is echoed in many of the issue's other articles.
"Somehow the city emerges out of this crowd, out of this complexity, both depending on them for it's existence, while also being independent of them. And likewise for all the objects that compose the city… we shouldn't treat the smaller elements of an object as subordinate to the larger-scale object."
This mutual affiliation and dependence Bryant assigns to cities and their fragments, supports Monchaux's assertion that information, cities and resilience are each essential and exist in concert. It also lends significance to the dialogue between Monchaux and Oliver, providing that the fragile infrastructure and networks of our cities can perform not as subordinate, but as the tool to reform a robust city.

Left: Colin Davies' article 'Build: Losing their Identity' (p10)
Centre: Marco Casagrande's contribution 'From Small Scale Interventions to the Third Generation City' (p122)

Right: Rachel Armstrong's 2013 Future Venice, growing an artificial reef under the city, illustration by Christian Kerrigan

Bryant's assertion can easily be likened to Henri Lefebvre's theory of the everyday, where the micro and macro are proposed as mutually irreducible scales. Colin Davies fittingly situates this thought in the mundane, within his article 'Build: Losing their Identity' (p10). Here Davies exhibits a catalogue of construction worker portraits, the group otherwise a commonplace formation. In his article however, they are framed as an assemblage of people that, as Davies illustrates, "only exist as a micro community". These people are a part of the mechanically reproduced city that they themselves help conceive. Davies' likening of their identity to a dissipating storm captures, as he states "...the atomised nature of urban environments and how the urban is grounded in our lives". This is an important view to showcase within the issue's other articles; it gives prominence to the human as within a dependent system, providing the group as a face of 'small urbanism'.

Marco Casagrande offers insight into the discourse of this issue with his studies of Taiwan in the article 'From Small Scale Interventions to the Third Generation City' (p122). He, similarly to Davies, highlights the need for a shift in our human-centered systems. He asserts that material cycles of cities, such as Taipei, have been in co-existence much longer than those of industrialism. Casagrande argues that the recoupling of cities will lie in the use of 'Local Knowledge', which he promotes, will tune the industrial city towards the 'organic machine'. As questioned by editor Bernd Upmeyer earlier in one of the issue's interviews,
"could small urbanism become our ecological savior?"
Casagrande puts faith in the small urban fabric of communities; slums or favelas, as the origin of this seeded knowledge and the resurgence of the natural. Casagrande sees these small instantaneous 'acupuncture points' creating large social and ecological ripples to work against industrialism and allow cities to evolve.

Casagrande, along with other contributors, and the issue itself boldly imagine what can come from thinking of the 'small' in urbanism, but I suggest that perhaps for the thoughts in this magazine to be largely applied, we need to think even smaller. These discussions could benefit from leaking outside the pages of this issue, with application to investigations in construction and materiality. As an example, Rachel Armstrong's research promotes the reimagining of architectural fabric at a cellular level for evolving cities. Her research into the self-assembling 'protocell' cultivates new capacities for building systems at such a small scale, while also advancing the use of intelligent code from a mere surface tool. This kind of small construction, combined with optimism for urban and information technology as a systematic tool for resilience, and recognition of the city as interdependent to its parts, could provide a strong basis to build our cities in and out of themselves. This issue of MONU, is appreciatively dense with thoughts not only on the influence small urbanism has on cities, but what cities really are in relation to their parts. Contributors write with protagonism, for social prosperity, political protest, infrastructural transparency, and as militant ecologists. Although in ways indifferent to the other, each voice within the pages of MONU #27 helps paint an image of the complexity our cities and the methods we take to, in Becket's words, "accommodate the mess".

Amy Tibbels is an architect who graduated from the University of Technology Sydney, in Australia. She spent time studying in Denmark at Arkitektskolen Aarhus. This review was first published by the Journal of Biourbanism on March 20, 2018.

MONU's issue #27 is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Stadslab’s Masterclasses: “Darling Intercultural Space” and “Shenzhen Urban Villages”, Rotterdam’s Het Nieuwe Instituut: Exhibition “The Other Architect”, Stroom Den Haag: Exhibition “Céline Condorelli” - Proposals For A Qualitative Society (Spinning), Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


MONU #27 at "Groos" in Rotterdam

As of today, MONU Magazine's current issue #27 is available at "Groos", our neighbour across the street in Rotterdam. Groos is an innovative store which showcases a cutting edge selection of what Rotterdam has to offer in terms of art and design. They can be visited at Het Industriegebouw, Achterklooster 13 in Rotterdam.

MONU #27 will furthermore be exhibited at the College of Architecture of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The exhibition is curated by Fold, a curatorial and publishing platform. Devised as a total installation, the exhibition will include some of the most radical and alternative publications on architecture and the environment. The exhibition will open on March 2nd in the Architecture Hall Room: Room 233 as part of a larger city cultural and art event. MONU #27 will later form part of an archive of projects developed as part of the curatorial and publishing platform.


Waiting room at the Woodland Crematorium, by Erik Gunnar Asplund

There are architectural spaces that capture you through their smallest details. Almost five years ago, I visited the Crematorium building by Asplund in the Woodland Cemetery, in Stockholm. After crossing the artificial landscape along a seemingly introverted building, I remember entering a forecourt, grabbing a beautiful door handle and entering a waiting room before reaching the chapel. A wooden bench was softly emerging from the wall, like a curved silk fabric, oriented towards a long window to an enclosed courtyard. The warmth of the space, enhanced by the metaphor of a domestic carpet and the rounding and softness of the corners, was suddenly disturbed by the image of a very small window which was framing very precisely the artificial hills and trees that were guiding the visitor when entering the site. The feeling of connection to an endless outside world condensed in a window was, somehow, sublime.

This memory came to my mind when reading MONU magazine's current issue #27 on "Small Urbanism", especially in the article ‘Little People’ by the artist Slinkachu. He depicts the joys and sorrows of tiny people that struggle with some of the world’s driving forces: politics (Trumped), the banking system (Bank Balance), natural phenomena (Sunk), money (Tug of War), drugs (Unanswered Messages). They seem unprotected, exposed to the world’s misfortunes, randomly stuck in a specific moment in time and space while the world keeps moving around. When looking at them one is immediately reminded how insignificant we humans are.

View through the window at the Woodland Crematorium

Nevertheless, the magazine shows how, despite their seemingly insignificance, some things can have a great impact on city life and planning, exploring themes such as micro-occupations as political protest, urban furniture to recover public spaces and fight criminality, acupunctural interventions for refugee settlements or tiny models used for military strategies. Other articles point out how using or modifying fragments or parts of a system deeply affects the rest of the system: the effect of disguising cell towers for aesthetical reasons, portable flush toilets affecting the whole sanitary system of a community, contemporary philosophical theories based on object-oriented ontology, or the study of the ‘Elements of Architecture’, as a part of the Venice Biennale 2014, curated by Rem Koolhaas. I believe either tiny details in great architectural spaces or small-scale urban interventions show how powerful small things can be, either for our individual or collective spirit.

Aina Coll Torrent is an architect from the Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB), in Barcelona. She spent one year studying at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) and is currently working as an architect in Rotterdam. This review was first published by Archinect on February 8 and by HIC et NUNC on February 20, 2018.

MONU's issue #27 is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Stadslab’s Masterclasses: “Darling Intercultural Space” and “Shenzhen Urban Villages”, Rotterdam’s Het Nieuwe Instituut: Exhibition “The Other Architect”, Stroom Den Haag: Exhibition “Céline Condorelli” - Proposals For A Qualitative Society (Spinning), Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Left: Cover from the catalogue of the exhibition "Italy: The New Domestic Landscape", 1972
Right: Cover of MONU #27, cover image is courtesy of Slinkachu. ©Slinkachu

When reading MONU’s issue #27 on Small Urbanism, the exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, curated by Emilio Ambasz in 1972 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, immediately came to my mind. The link between the two arose from the attention that both give to objects and small things, and their relationship to the bigger scale and the environment. This is why I want to talk about the new issue of MONU through a comparison that aims at showing the similarities between the magazine and the exhibition.

First, a brief introduction of the exhibition is necessary to understand the importance of the objects in the case at hand, and consequently to appreciate the link with MONU. I found a statement by Ambasz particularly exhaustive in this regard: “When I started the exhibition I knew nothing about Italian design.” He admitted further, “I had read a few magazines and seen beautiful products, so I said we should have an exhibition. It was only when I got to Italy that it became evident to me that the designers were making objects, but thinking of environments.” To demonstrate this, Ambasz commissioned a series of prototype environments, installations that would reflect upon changing domestic living patterns within contemporary society, while also facilitating the exploratory use of new materials and multimedia technology.

Left: MoMA's sculpture garden at "Italy: The New Domestic Landscape"
Roght: Environment by Superstudio at "Italy: The New Domestic Landscape"
photos by Cristiano Toraldo di Francia

Hence, MoMA’s show shifted the center of the discussion from production and technique to symbols and social critique, as it was encapsulated in the keywords with which Ambasz chose to define contemporary design: “landscape,” “environment,” “media,” “counter-design,” and “politics.” What emerged from the exhibition was the power of the small objects that became a cultural tool for contesting, reforming and acting on the city.
Moreover, the exhibition’s catalogue included a quote from the famous children's book The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, which reminds us how important it is to take responsibilities for our actions and also that every small thing has a responsibility itself. In the first page, we read:

“You become responsible, forever, for what you have domesticated.”
“What does that mean — 'domesticated'?”
“It is an act too often neglected. It means to establish bonds.”
“Please domesticate me,” said the fox.
“I want to, very much,” the little prince replied.
“But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand.”
“One only understands the things that one domesticates,” said the fox. “Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things already made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so we have no friends any more. If you want a friend, domesticate me…”
“What must I do, to domesticate you?” asked the little prince.
“…One must observe the proper rites…” “What is a rite?” asked the little prince.
“Those are actions too often neglected,” said the fox. “They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours.”

Contrary to convention, the objects in the Italy exhibition were displayed in the natural setting of MoMA’s sculpture garden, while the environments were shown within the institutional spaces of the museum’s galleries. This curatorial decision was an attempt to almost cancel any sense of hierarchy between exhibited objects and environments, and to focus rather on their interaction with visitors.

Also in MONU #27, some articles focused on the relationship between the small-scale objects and the environment. Indeed, “The Democracy of Objects” by the American philosopher Levi Bryants, talks about something similar. In an interview with Bernd Upmeyer, he says that “every object is a crowd!” As a result, we should not treat the smaller elements of an object as subordinated to the larger scale object. Instead, they are on equal footing. He also added that how we design things (even the smallest ones, like a toilet door, a bench, or an overpass for example) makes a real difference in our lives socially and politically, and we should be attentive in managing this kind of power because every small object has a significant function and we are responsible for it.

Such things regarding physical elements were central also in “A Matter of Zooming”, Bernd Upmeyer’s interview with Stephan Petermann from the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). The main focus of the interview is on OMA’s “Elements of Architecture” project at the 2014 Venice Biennale. In regards to Small Urbanism, I found the research on the door, the window, and the balcony extremely interesting — particularly the balcony. Petermann describes the balcony as the physical platform between the public and private realm, so it seems to be an incredibly powerful tool for urban politics. (These days we can also see Twitter as a balcony.)

Additionally, Petermann says that by focusing on these small elements it is possible to uncover the extremely complex interplay of technology, art, culture, economy and politics in great detail. Furthermore, the responsibility of these objects is to engage with a type of deeper understanding of the fundamentals of architecture and consequently of the fundamentals of urbanism. As Petermann declared, urbanism is not separate from elements because every element has an urbanistic consequence.

Left: Spiked platforms under overpasses, China, courtesy of Daily Mail
Centre: The "Balcony" room of the "Elements of Architecture" at the 2014 Venice Biennale of Architecture. Photo by Giorgio de Vecchi, ©Giorgio de Vecchi
Right: Febrik, Drawing work in the studio (Play space 2005,Burj El Barajneh refugee camp, Lebanon), ©Febrik

Another relationship between MONU’s new issue and the MoMA exhibition can be found in the role played by small technologies. It is interesting to know that to accompany the installations at MoMA, each designer was asked to produce a film that would demonstrate their environment’s vulnerability. Together, the environments and films refined the potential for domestic spaces to fundamentally influence inhabitants’ thoughts and actions. Small technology tools can be very powerful and useful to, and responsible for, changing spaces and their understanding.

In the MONU article “All the Small Things”, Benedetta Marani tries to demonstrate the strength of the information and communication technologies within the city. Her essay shows how the web has become the new arena of discussion and has often been used as a channel for participatory processes for urban public spaces. These new discussion arenas have become responsible for small-scale interventions and have had the power to change the use of city spaces with a virtuous impact on the daily life in neighborhoods.

Furthermore, we can consider the MoMA exhibition as a small initial action itself, one that had a great echo in the following years and which still exerts an influence. Originally intended to travel to museums across the United States, the exhibition opened for a single summer in New York before being dismantled and returned to Italy. Yet, despite the brevity of its public presentation, the show became a benchmark for future architecture and design exhibitions. “It’s the great ‘myth’ of design curating,” explains Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic, “the show that my generation never saw, but thanks to the catalogue, and the title we regularly refer to it.” The catalogue of Italy: the New Domestic Landscape had a great impact in the following years both in Italian and American academic circles because it was the first book which attempted to chart the cultural complexity of an emerging design culture.

In MONU magazine’s new issue, I found a similar procedure related to “small initial actions” that can have a big impact on a larger scale. For example, in the article “Urbanism for Refugees”, Fabio Micocci shows how small tactical actions carried out in a refugee camp in Lebanon are helpful in establishing pilot projects that could devise new procedures for the future; reshaping and adapting urban design principles to the new context of the global movement of people. Micocci touches on a crucial issue: the “right to space,” or rather space as a process of re-appropriation. Re-appropriation in this case means actions of participation in a process that involves children and adults to ensure identification with and belonging to the space. On a larger scale, “Right to space” means “Right to the city” (Henri Lefebrve, 1968).

We can consider the right to the city as the right to change and reinvent the city according to our needs. Moreover, it is a collective rather than an individual right, since rebuilding the city inevitably depends on the exercise of a common power over the processes of urbanization. The freedom to build and rebuild cities and ourselves is one of the most precious human rights — yet it is also one of the most neglected. To claim the right to the city means to claim the power to give shape to the processes of urbanization, to the ways in which our cities are built and rebuilt, and to do it in a radical way — starting from the small things.

Claudia Consonni recently graduated from Politecnico di Milano. She also obtained a master in Architecture and Museography at Accademia Adrianea in Rome. During the past two years she has been collaborating as teaching assistant at the design studio held by Lorenzo Degli Esposti that is focused on urban planning and public spaces. Since 2017, she is a member of the research collective GruppoTorto. This review was first published by A Daily Dose of Architecture on January 22, 2018.

MONU's issue #27 is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Stadslab’s Masterclasses: “Darling Intercultural Space” and “Shenzhen Urban Villages”, Rotterdam’s Het Nieuwe Instituut: Exhibition “The Other Architect”, Stroom Den Haag: Exhibition “Céline Condorelli” - Proposals For A Qualitative Society (Spinning), Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


The curators Agnes Gidenstam and Naima Callenber at the opening of the exhibition

MONU's new issue #27 on "Small Urbanism" is on display at Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design "ArkDes" from November 16 - December 3. According to ArkDes there is a revolution underway in architecture and design publishing that is giving a voice to independent editors and critics as never before. ArkDes dives into this debate with the help of guest curator Agnes Gidenstam and Naima Callenberg of Studio Nock, staging an exhibition in their library and a major symposium on contemporary architecture and design publishing.

The exhibition has to be understood as a collection, an open archive, and an exhibition of independent architectural publications. The collection comprises more than 100 journals and zines from 60 different publishers, all of which can be perused in ArkDes’ library throughout the duration of the exhibition’s run.

MONU #27 is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Stadslab’s Masterclasses: “Darling Intercultural Space” and “Shenzhen Urban Villages”, Rotterdam’s Het Nieuwe Instituut: Exhibition “The Other Architect”, Stroom Den Haag: Exhibition “Céline Condorelli” - Proposals For A Qualitative Society (Spinning), Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


President François Mitterrand and I. M. Pei at the inauguration of the Louvre Pyramid
in Paris on March 29, 1989.
©Belga Image

According to Alejandro Zaera-Polo, in a recent interview on Yale University Radio, you do not need a big budget to produce good architecture, but a good client who is sophisticated and intelligent. We could not agree more. Yet, the importance of the client in shaping our built environment, whether it comes to buildings, neighbourhoods or entire cities, is not included sufficiently in urban and architectural debates and discussions and thus largely forgotten, underestimated, and under-investigated. This is why we wish to dedicate an entire issue to the topic of "Client-shaped Urbanism"... continue reading in Submit.


"… 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...
continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy here.

(Cover: Image is courtesy of Slinkachu. The image is part of his contribution "Little People" on page 65. ©Slinkachu)

This issue is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Stadslab’s Masterclasses: “Darling Intercultural Space” and “Shenzhen Urban Villages”, Rotterdam’s Het Nieuwe Instituut: Exhibition “The Other Architect”, Stroom Den Haag: Exhibition “Céline Condorelli” - Proposals For A Qualitative Society (Spinning), Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Left: No more dichotomies, AC/AL
Right: The Grand Parisian Sea by STAR strategies + architecture and BOARD

In a world undergoing a process of constant urbanization, which appears to cover the entirety of our planet's surface, we have become familiar with the idea of living in the "Urban Age" and with statistics that predict, for example, that by 2030 60% of the world's population will live in cities. Since 2004, MONU has been working towards the disentanglement and collective understanding of the process of global urbanization. With its latest issue, the magazine seems to demonstrate, and at the same time question, the nature of this process, characterizing it primarily as one of decentralizing urbanization.

With as many diverse perspectives as collaborators, MONU #26 DECENTRALISED URBANISM probably originated in a triggering question: Are cities like London, New York and Paris, with their centralizing power, the ones to blame for Brexit, Trump, and Marine Le Pen? These elections revealed the power of the underestimated peripheral (suburban, rurban and rural) populations, as well as exposing a series of territorial asymmetries that come along with the urbanization of our planet.

Instead of looking at the city from its centre to its periphery, MONU #26 concentrates on the polycentric suburban structures not always considered as part of the city. The result is a striking vision that defines what urban is, or may actually be: empty church squares, outlet malls in the middle of nowhere, logistic harbour landscapes, brand new houses on sandy roads, quiet shops in post-industrial suburbs, vacant residential developments in small villages, agricultural landscapes and community gardens, and of course cars, cars and parking lots everywhere.

In this sense one of the articles that I find central to the issue is "The Autoroute State and the Geeks Empire" by Constantina Theodorou, who questions the narrative of the Urban Age and asks for new understandings of what urban, central and territoriality mean. Apart from her own answers to these questions, we find both similar and alternative views on this matter. For Maarten Gheysen, Kris Scheerlinck and Erik Van Daele, our problem is that we are unable to read and write about the current planetary urbanization. To counteract this spatial dyslexia and agraphia, they propose the notion of "AC/AL": an in-between landscape characterised by the lack of opposition. In "Opposing Oppositions, All City / All Land" there are no more dichotomies between urban-rural, private-public, or natural-artificial, just AC/AL. Others intend to produce alternative narratives, like the OMA-esque project "The Legend of Grand Paris, or How Paris Became Great" by STAR + BOARD, in which the city centre dies in order to save the greater urban territory. The text is accompanied by provocative images such as a satellite view of central Paris as an island, surrounded by water.

Left: Lars Lerup asks: why do you need centrality?
Right: Compressed commuters captured by Michael Wolf

Another of the collaborators that declares the city is dead is Lars Lerup. In an interview with Bernd Upmeyer, Lerup not only questions the need for centrality but also defines urbanization as a fast and slow moving apparatus. Movement becomes a recurring topic in this last issue of MONU, as many of the articles identify various subjects in decentralised cities related to key urban flows: immigration, shrinking suburbs, refugees, destination shopping, higher birth rates, commuter traffic, depopulation, and of course cars, but this time autonomous cars, which seem to be the next transformative stage of urbanization.

Finally, returning to the front cover, one can contemplate an intimate moment in the decentralised urban landscape: the image of a man, probably commuting, with his cheek squashed against the glass doors of a train. This picture belongs to a series of photographs by the artist Michael Wolf, whose contribution to MONU #26 entitled "Tokyo Compression" I encounter as an incredibly beautiful and breathtaking visualisation of what it is like to live in today's decentralised urban territories.

Federico Ortiz is an architect, researcher and writer form Argentina. He studied History and Critical Thinking in Architecture at the Architectural Association. He is interested in publishing and curatorial practices in architecture.This review was first published by Archinect on June 1, 2017.

MONU's issue #26 is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, KotorAPSS’ Architecture Prison Summer School, University of Liechtenstein’s Master (MSc) of Architecture, Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (Ihs), Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism, The Estonian Academy of Arts’ Urban Studies MA Programme, Stadslab’s Masterclass: Tbilisi Courtyards. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


From May 10 - 28, MONU's issue #26 is exhibited at "A PRINT" in Gothenburg, Sweden. A PRINT is a collection, an open archive and an exhibition of independent architecture publications and zines. The ambition is to promote and showcase alternative publications for innovative commentary and criticism on architecture. The exhibition is organized and curated by Studio NOCK, a non-profit association run by Agnes Gidenstam and Naima Callenberg.


Marcel Duchamp's Fountain photographed by Alfred Stieglitz at the Art Gallery 291
after the 1917 Society of Independent Artists exhibit.

Big is beautiful. Jarrik Ouburg made that quite obvious some years ago in his contribution to our MONU #6 issue on "Beautiful Urbanism", in which he described the city of Tokyo with its urbanity, its scale and density, as an inexhaustible source of beauty. Size seems to matter. We have all known that ever since Rem Koolhaas claimed that "beyond a certain scale, architecture acquires the properties of Bigness", in his legendary manifesto "Bigness, or the problem of Large" from the early 1990s.

However, since the biggest innovations and changes in our society increasingly seem to occur on the small and micro level, we recently became fascinated by the other end of the spectrum: Smallness. When Koolhaas stated that the best reason to embrace Bigness is the one given by climbers of Mount Everest - "because it is there" - we believe that the best reason to concentrate on Smallness is "because it is almost not there"... continue reading in Submit.


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...
continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy here.

(Cover: Image is courtesy of Michael Wolf. The image is part of his contribution “Tokyo Compression” on page 81. ©Michael Wolf)

This issue is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, KotorAPSS’ Architecture Prison Summer School, University of Liechtenstein’s Master (MSc) of Architecture, Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (Ihs), Incognita’s Architecture Trips: Discover Eastern European Architecture and Urbanism, The Estonian Academy of Arts’ Urban Studies MA Programme, Stadslab’s Masterclass: Tbilisi Courtyards. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Left: "MONU #25 takes us through a journey across forgotten parts of Europe, traversing the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Baltic States", page 27, contribution "Victory Park" by Arnis Balcus
Right: Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenia has been making the transition between the old order and a new political project that has yet to be achieved,
pages 78-79, contribution "The Unfinished" by Julien Lombardi

I came across MONU during my early doctoral investigations on critical, non-academic publications looking into this arguably poorly unknown, plural and contested entity that is the city. MONU does not actually qualify as a non-academic outlet, for the breadth and depth of the analysis it offers, but still provides critical insights on the ways urban forms are shaped by socioeconomic, institutional and political forces without falling in the trap of being highly jargoning, inaccessible or theoretical. It speaks to a wide audience interested in urban policy, activism, architecture, and social movements, all from a multidisciplinary lens. MONU mixes text of different textures with images, collages and various forms of writing, including short and long city stories, mixed up with photographic journeys and conversations with architects, artists and urbanists. By treating its form and its content as equally important, MONU de facto invites the reader to think about socio-political processes and their material manifestation simultaneously. By inviting contributors coming from critical yet distinct disciplinary fields, it forces us to see the city with multiple eyes all the way through. For its 25th edition, the magazine focused on Independent Urbanism as a unifying theme to reflect upon the consequence and meaning of independence in the context of post-soviet, post-apartheid, post-conflict, post-colonial cities. All these posts, for they constitute historical breaking points, obviously raise questions of reconstruction and identity formation, alongside and simultaneous to issues of continuity, memory, and constant negotiation between cities' past, present and future. MONU's Independent Urbanism takes us through all these issues by bringing together city stories from Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia as well as Ireland, shedding light on phenomena and places that are often overlooked by dominant urban discourses, which, be that in the news or in academia, often focus stories from the so-called Global Cities of the West and rising Asian countries. MONU takes us through a journey across forgotten parts of Europe, traversing the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Baltic States, where cities are trying to reinvent themselves after their freshly acquired "independence" from the soviet union; and after years of civil war for some of them (in Kosovo, Serbia and Moldova); it sheds lights on Nigerian and South African cities struggles with modernist visions of the future and the endemic socioeconomic and political problems inherited from their colonial past; it explores the civic and grassroots movements that are reshaping the face of Belfast after years of religious conflicts; and finally, it invites us to consider the true meaning of independence and the potential of a more vocal urbanism in Taiwan - a journey I found eye opening, fascinating, and extremely inspiring.

Enora Robin is a researcher at the UCL City Leadership Laboratory and Doctoral Candidate at the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy of the University College London.This review was first published by Archinect on March 16, 2017.

MONU's issue #25 is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Estonian Academy of Arts’ Interdisciplinary Master’s Programme in Urban Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) and Incognita's Architectural Study Tours. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Left: Cover of MONU #25
Right: Julien Lombardi's contribution "The Unfinished"

Sociologist Wendy Griswold wrote in her book Cultures and Societies in a Changing World that "the social world always changes first, with culture lagging behind." This phrase highly impressed me and I started to collect pieces of evidence to prove or reject this idea personally. And while I was reading MONU's most recent issue, #25 on Independent Urbanism, Wendy’s insight was following me in every single page, treating urban environment as an expression of collective culture.

Independent Urbanism focuses on countries that recently established or regained their independence, and analyses what consequences this huge social transformation brought to their cities and urban environment. In the wide geography of the case studies, starting with the Baltic countries, former Yugoslavia region and finishing with Taiwan, you can find many particular and unique examples of urban euphoria, challenges, difficulties, successes and failures influenced by independence. The majority of articles in Independent Urbanism are highly related with the historical perspective, which describes the fresh cultural path to the present urban reality of newly developed countries. Each story is interesting, unique, and opens different urban horizons in specific social, cultural and geographical contexts.

But on the other hand it is possible to perceive the historical similarities: usually each country had long years of oppression with diverse urban strategies and plans, then together with the independence enormous social transformations happened, leading to a difficult and peculiar period of time for development of the new country and its culture.

If you are a reader of this MONU issue who lives in a post-soviet or post-oppression country, then you probably know what it means to become independent, what the challenges are that you face and what consequences all this brings – because it is a part of your everyday life or at least very recent past. But it is extremely useful to know that your country is not alone and many others are dealing with similar challenges, which are widely represented in Independent Urbanism. For example: the discussion of who is making development decisions in the city of Skopje, politicians or urban planners and architects; the construction of a new history, which never actually happened, attempts to invent one’s own identity, and attempts to escape the USSR history in the cities of former Yugoslavia, where kleptocracy is widely spread under the title of neoliberalism; the emigration challenges in Prishtina; the top-down decision making by foreign investors and the political elite in Belgrade; the public space transformation difficulties in Vilnius; the ecological ethic questions in Solana Ulcinj; the cultural and architectural import in Georgia; or the embodied democracy in the architecture of Prague. This is only a small part of the great stories I found in MONU's most recent issue, which provides an opportunity to learn from others, compare cultural and urban development in different countries or towns, and collect knowledge for future discussions.

Left: Sandra Parvu's article "The Potential of Weak Urbanism" that opens the possibilities and a new attitude to the urban reality that young independent countries are facing
Right: "…Of the New Now" by Milda Paceviciute and Burak Pak

If you are a reader who has always lived in an independent country, then every article may open even more layers of interest, starting with the history and finishing with the urban realities and potentials of emerging young countries. Together you can feel the spirit of freedom in impressive photo reportages from different newly developed countries.

But in such cases I usually ask myself – so what? What shall or can I do about that? Is there any solution for all these urban challenges and struggles, which are widely and professionally described in Independent Urbanism? Fortunately, I can say - yes! At the very end of the magazine I found great inspiration in the article "The Potential of Weak Urbanism." It opens the possibilities and a new attitude to the urban reality that young independent countries are facing. This article finalizes the whole MONU issue, brings the stories together in one narrative, and opens a new perspective to an alternative urban future. This is the reason why MONU’s new issue should be in your must-read list: it is neither about the urbanism of the past nor about the urbanism of the present, but actually about the newly emerging and next generation of urbanism, which we still have to perceive.

Mindaugas Reklaitis is an architect. He is interested in the critical space practice and is a PhD student at Vilnius Academy of Arts researching on how an interactive and performative artistic approach can be used as a research tool of urban environment. Currently he is doing an internship in a Copenhagen-based artist office. This review was first published by A Daily Dose of Architecture on December 9, 2016.

MONU's issue #25 is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Estonian Academy of Arts’ Interdisciplinary Master’s Programme in Urban Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) and Incognita's Architectural Study Tours. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Cover page. Xuisha "if I stay here, I have no possibilities".

In 2010 we became familiar with instagram and along with it a new way to represent ourselves. In the same year, the Republic of Macedonia's capital city Skopje decided to completely cover itself with false neo-classical facades, embodied with hundred year old representation. The 25th issue of MONU "Independent Urbanism" provides a platform to unveil the multitude of decisions that had to be made by countries after becoming independent- and more specifically the cities within these countries. The magazine's photo essays have an indispensable heaviness within this particular issue of MONU, in it's twelve years it has never featured as many as three. Of this we can be appreciative in largest part because these intimate images bring authenticity to some inconceivable realities. But further, what I find integral to each of these photo essays is a nostalgia, which becomes a binding agent of most articles as if being the authors' communal grand answer to the question; what happened to these cities after independence? In their transformations cities are either courteously welcoming or sedating this nostalgia. What I find to be left in many of these cities is something so far not clearly defined, it seems to hold many pseudonyms; the Other, no-mans land, third space, space of otherness or non-place.

Left: Pages 124-125. Julia Autz' photo essay Transnistria. Soviet veterans and markets filled with Ukrainian-worldwide consumables.
Right: Pages 118-119. Sandra Parvu's article The Potential of Weak Urbanism. Ghenadie Popescu's videograms of his public space intervention Intre Usi.

The magazine begins and ends with Julia Autz' photo essay Transnistria. Our first subject is the cover-girl, 14 year old Xuishu who wants to leave her home of Transnistria, a "self-proclaimed state...not recognized by anybody - not even by Russia". Xuishu embodies a longing to emigrate that much of the city's youth share. Resistance and longing are framed side by side in the photo essay showing both; veterans of soviet time in melancholic nostalgia "holding an old soviet Lenin flag high in the air", and beacons of Transnistria's youth such as Xuishu, wanting more. Here also, Autz exposes the county's national confusion, amid youth desperate for something else are markets filled with Ukrainian-worldwide consumables and celebrations of Soviet victory day, which is still the most important holiday in Transnistria. Russian and Ukrainian people are the larger groups deciding to stay in Transnistria and so; adopted nostalgia and uncertainty of what to reminiscence is clouding the chance for this region, especially its youth, to have a clear identity. Like in Transnistria, nearby Chisinau's youth also find themselves enveloped in the city's "unlikely point of resistance" as part of an in-between state, "pressed between Romanian and Ukrainian lands" explained by Sandra Parvu in her article. Parvu perfectly compliments the photo essay by referencing artist Ghenadie Popescu who inconveniently placed himself in a tiny thermal buffer zone between rooms to liken the spatial characteristic to that of Moldova between nations, suffering a persistent afterlife of the Soviet rule. Parvu explains this to say that Moldova "cools the heated conflicts between the European Union and Russia by disregarding its sovereignty and changing its boundaries as they please". This same dual nostalgia is also discussed earlier in Pravus's article where she describes a resulting "parallel geography". Taxi drivers navigate the city of Chisinau with an atlas of its streets possessing both Soviet names in Cyrillic, and post-Soviet names in the Roman alphabet. Despite old names being connected to the Soviet nomenklatura they are still very commonly used, and this "parallel geography" is a clear result of the city's uncertain nostalgia. These two articles were well placed together at the magazine's end, revealing cities of not one or the other strategy but within a struggle trying to welcome both.

While Chisinau and most other Moldovan cities have lacked power to make big decisive transformations, many cities in other newly independent countries have found themselves in the contrary situation, in anticipation for considerable change. This is condensed well in Gruia Badescu's statement that many countries with new independence such as those of post-Yugoslavian countries, have developed a heritage focus on one of two things; "EU sanctioned cosmopolitanism or of highlighting one's nation and silencing the minority (or former majority) presences", in either case avoiding nostalgia. A recent example is found in the magazines first article, where Jasna Mariotti identifies the Republic of Macedonia's largest city; Skopje. After an earthquake in 1963, the city embraced its chance to modernize. Beginning in 2010, the city made a second decision to revamp, but this time a premeditated "amnesia was omnipresent", filling its once modern city centre with buildings of a style considered "baroque [and neoclassical], a pseudo interpretation of a historical style, and a striking contrast to the modernist and novel architecture that dominated the city centre". To complement these new icons of grandeur, "faux facades" have been clipped on and statues scattered over the city like jewelry as if it was "dressed up in nostalgic recall". The 2010 development sprang quickly into realization by 2014, and I find inconceivable that such a project shares the same year of foundation as instagram or the ipad. Apart from its displacement, it was an arguably improper solution to sedate and forget the slow melancholic transition from independence it had suffered. In South Africa's Johannesburg, Claire Lubell claims that money has replaced race and the city is, similarly to Skopje, sedated in this case by an "idealized world of excess focused on play, fantasy and consumption". These new spaces with such superficial cohesion aim to not only avoid the apartheid but also to "reinvent it, a process for which Johannesburg is notorious". I am pleased to see a vary in the magazine's geographical examples such as this, because here I see Johannesburg's consumption sitting similarly to Transnistria's market, however in this case with much greater antipathy for nostalgia.

Left: Pages 04-05. Jasna Mariotti uses Skopje Constitutional Court as an example of the city's recent transition.
Pages 24-25. Arnis Balcus' photo essay Victory Park. Riga and the Other.

In his photo essay Victory Park, Arnis Balcus presents "the Other", other sex or ethnicity. Also, his play with a duality of inside and outside is a framing for the duality of political transparency in Latvia's most influential city; Riga. The collective and personal both share a discomfort and stagnation, nostalgia for the past like many other cities mentioned, and slow uncertainty about the future. This is terribly polar to the image that Riga city architect Gvido Princis courteously paints in the magazine's second interview, where he notably forgoes the opportunity to discuss Riga's clearly evident issues of divide in ethnicity as mentioned by Balcus. The divide began with independence, but was fostered in the country's lengths taken for NATO membership. For example; the 2002 law requiring parliamentary candidates to be Latvian speakers, and the 2004 Russian language restriction in school institutions, which have strongly maligned Russian citizens in many ways to become and remain "the Other". Balcus is not alone in his use of the other. The term was often mentioned in the magazine, under different flavours of uncertain urban concepts, firstly being the no-man's land. This war-linked term was mentioned by Milda Paceviciute and Burak Pak when describing North Ireland's conflict in Belfast's "derelict lands". They translate the term into more comfortably philosophical or urban inspired by philosophical terms "third space" and "space of otherness". The overuse of this terminology in the response of authors reveals a very large scale confusion and lack of identity, a common and still apparent struggle for countries in new states of independence. However, in most mentions these terms have been roughly transplanted directly from examples fashioned by urbanists in the mid-90's. The most applicable of these is Marc Auge's. Within his 1995 analysis of supermodentity Auge's term of "non-place" is described as an area not defined as relational, historical or concerned with identity.

Left: Pages 40-41. Milda Paceviciute and Burak Pak portray Belfast's derelict "space of otherness".
Pages 126 detail. Julia Autz' photo essay Transnistria. Tanja on the rooftop taking selfies.

Two decades later I think Marc Auge's term could be resettled here to understand this widespread confusion and waiting that new countries are stuck with, as some authors in this issue have begun. Here it is possible to collect these experiences that contribute to ambiguous independent identities, from post-emigration emptiness to Soviet nostalgia. This could also be a lens for us to imagine how the youth of most cities inside this magazine view their cities, as a non-place disconnected to history and identity. It should be clear to see why Xuishu and her many similarities dream of leaving. I also consider that this youth will search for identity externally, predominantly through technology. This is something we all do, science and technology has always been a contributor to identity. However, if technology and globalization are to become a resolve for lack of other sense of self, we need to be careful in the way we rely on elements of our world that we have created. This is especially vital for people like Xuishu within a place where people are vulnerable under these national uncertainties. A person that perfectly assembles this idea is another of Autz' subjects; Tanja from Transnistria. "Tanja on the rooftop taking selfies". Here we see something not too unfamiliar, a young girl taking a selfie facing the city's skyline. But what she holds in her hand has capabilities to connect Tanja, especially for a youth in search for something different the scale of technology's potential is huge. This is something with consequences still to be seen, in fact it should be stressed that answers to most obstacles within this magazine still remain to be seen. I feel that in an optimistic frame this issue of MONU is similar to Montenegro's pavilion in Venice, one of the magazine's articles angled towards a possible success. Bart Lootsma explains that their open project was taken to Venice with an aim to "get attention for it in order to put the issue on the public agenda" but what was crucial was to also "give the project a different authority in Montenegro", this was attempted through locally held debates and participation. As a parallel, the magazine also draws attention, stressing these current and vulnerable states and the best outcome would be an eagerness among readers, wanting to see what happens next for these independent countries and their cities. I think the magazine is right in claiming it "functions as a platform for the exchange of ideas and thus constitutes a collective intelligence on urbanism". But what I think needs to follow this issue, and I hope to see, is a different authority applied to the difficulties in each of the cities mentioned, just as is happening in Montenegro.

Pages 56-57. Interview with Bart Lootsma and Dijana Vucinic "Pink Flamingos
and Muscular Men". Exhibition and forum for debate in Venice.

Amy Tibbels is an architecture student from the University of Technology Sydney, in Australia. She spent time studying in Denmark at Arkitektskolen Aarhus and is currently on an internship in Rotterdam. This review was first published by Archinect on November 24, 2016.

MONU's issue #25 is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Estonian Academy of Arts’ Interdisciplinary Master’s Programme in Urban Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) and Incognita's Architectural Study Tours. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


The solar system with the world at the centre. Illustration from the star atlas
"Harmonia Macrocosmica" by Andreas Cellarius (1660).

When in 2007, almost ten years ago, we conducted an interview with Floris Alkemade for MONU's issue #7 on "2ND RATE URBANISM" about a Dutch city called Almere that was founded in the 1980s as a decentralised town with multiple centres, he explained that once, when he tried to find a place to have a beer there, he passed by an endless number of similar-looking houses but could not find any centre where a bar or café might have been, as the city never became dense anywhere. He described this experience to us as being dumped somewhere close to hell... continue reading in Submit.


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"...
continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy here.

(Cover: Image is courtesy of Julia Autz. The image is part of her contribution “Transnistria” on page 121. ©Julia Autz)

This issue is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Estonian Academy of Arts’ Interdisciplinary Master’s Programme in Urban Studies,
Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) and Incognita's Architectural Study Tours. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Opening of the "Heft" exhibition in Hamburg

Since March 4, 2016 MONU's issue #23 is featured in a project room for independent magazines called "Heft" in Hamburg, Germany. From June 14 to 19, 2016 MONU #23 was additionally on display at Basel's "LISTE", one of the world's most important fairs for contemporary young art. MONU's current issue #24 will be presented and exhibited at the fifth annual Vancouver Art/Book Fair from October 14 to 16, 2016 by "Project Space" at the Vancouver Art Gallery.


Spread with illustrations by STAR strategies + architecture, Illustrator: Masha Krasnova-Shabaeva

This, the 24th issue of MONU, is dedicated to "Domestic Urbanism", arguably the root urbanism of the city as a coherent human settlement. It prominently features interviews by MONU editor Bernd Upmeyer with Andres Jaque and Herman Hertzberger – one of the most important and vocal humanizing figures in architecture – along with 17 other contributions from brilliant emerging practitioners and critics.

Shot from the perspective of urbanism, MONU #24 exquisitely illustrates the tensions between architecture and its building. The cover artwork by STAR strategies + architecture illustrates the sacred, intricate meshworks of our inner dramas brutally cemented together by the thinnest, most minimal of buildings. Many of the contributions delve into the poetics, profound political aesthetics, or advanced experimentation with the domicile-as-an-interior and it’s influence on the urban realm.

Let’s play a game! As an exercise, I challenge you to read through this and the past issues of MONU (particularly Interior Urbanism and Participatory Urbanism) and note the recurring presence of play as an achievement of a great urbanism; an achievement that supplies us with a vibrant, enchanted ambiance that seems to be infinitely brimming with energy and constantly on the verge of erupting into some form or another of social play.

Any conversation about real, raw urbanism, would be incomplete without exhaustively embracing these grounds necessary for the critical plays that we enact in and around our domiciles in a desperate effort to realize our full domestic theatre. This third space of architecture – the place where architecture and human settlement meet – is constantly being reorganized by our plays so that we may realize life in a concentrated, more ordered form: a form that is a performance of our own individual volition, laden with opportunities for synchronicity, serendipity, and coincidence.

This third space is the radical playground that the city so thirstily craves and holds up as an emblem of its locale and identity whenever it is achieved. CENTRALA (Simone De Iacobis and Malgorzata Kuciewicz) touches on this in their contribution, "How to Domesticate A City: Adaptive Tools to an Urban Environment". What if we propose an imaginary extension of this flawlessly constructed concept as something more along the lines of “How Do You Dedomesticate A City?" since so much urban design, planning, and architecture is devoted to protecting us from our worst fears, to the point of erasing any and all distinctness or diversity in our human terrain. "How Do You Drive The City Absolutely Crazy?" might be an effective architectural platform for a Domestic Urbanism fearlessly delineated by urban jambs of tense, vulnerable, palpable passage building and pocket interventions attuned to articulating our human plasticity.

Without room for play there is no full domestic realm of urbanism; play re-territorializes the bland. Domestic Urbanism demands an Architecture from the Outside – from the third space. It demands for us to make rooms where our radical plays take place and are practiced as a cure for the malaise of disenchantment found so readily in the smooth modern daily routine – to be practiced with a fever!

Colin Billings is an American architectural critic and co-founder of Dominique Price Architects in San Francisco, California, an architecture and critical urbanism practice that probes the form-giving semiotic that emerges from architecture’s coincidence with the language of human settlement. He has contributed to essays published in Rethinking the Informal City: Critical Perspectives From Latin America and Modular Structures in Design and Architecture and is preparing to release a monograph exploring the building technique and architectural contribution of Will Bruder, co-edited with Dominique Price. This review was first published by A Daily Dose of Architecture on July 13, 2016.

MONU's issue #24 is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), University of Liechtenstein’s Master (Msc) of Architecture and Incognita's Architectural Study Tours. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.



As the theme of domestic urbanism suggests, the latest issue focuses on the “things that are usually hidden and private” within the domestic realm and examines their relationships to the city. Here I will provide a simple review of the latest issue of MONU while drawing on some Japanese examples that tie into the theme.

The first such example that comes to mind when reading this issue is the work of architectural scholar Uzo Nishiyama, who conducted an enormous amount of research on domestic living and laid the foundations in the 1940s for an approach to housing planning that was better adapted to people’s actual lifestyles. He advanced his ideas through texts such as Korekarano sumai (The Housing of Tomorrow, 1947) as a counterproposal to the unrealistic housing policies proposed by the Jutaku Eidan (Housing Corporation) for solving the housing shortage problem in the country during and after World War II. A more modern example that comes to mind is the work of sociologist Chizuko Ueno, who has explored the relationship between domesticity and society, the relationship between room layouts and domestic gender issues, and the roles of the architect through discussions with architects and architectural scholars like Riken Yamamoto and Shigebumi Suzuki.

This issue of MONU shows that there are many more diverse topics that can be explored through the theme of domestic urbanism. Its content includes articles that discuss subjects familiar to Japanese readers, such as “Chantal Akerman, Yasujiro Ozu, and the Poetics of Intimate Space” by photographer/filmmaker Sander Hölsgens, which examines interior scenes in the films of Akerman and Ozu, and “Socialist Urban Planning and the Housing Question: At Home in Skopje” by architectural scholar Jasna Mariotti (a specialist on post-socialist cities), which discusses the urban planning of Skopje in the Republic of Macedonia (the city center was built based on a master plan by Kenzo Tange).

It also features research like “The Minor Composition of Threshold Domesticities” by architect Lucía Jalón Oyarzun, which looks at elements such as rooftops and external staircases that occur in the intermediary zones where urban and domestic spaces mix. A piece that I found to be particularly interesting is “The Fridge, the City and the Critique of Everyday Life” by urbanist/writer Justinien Tribillon, which explains just how much the refrigerator has changed the way people consume the city. An example of a similar analysis to this is presented in historian Andrew Gordon’s Fabricating Consumers: The Sewing Machine in Modern Japan (2013). This book focuses on a highly domestic element, the sewing machine, to examine issues such as fashion, the social advancement of women, and the modernization of society and makes the argument that the introduction of the sewing machine to Japanese households transformed consumers into producers.

As suggested by the range of topics mentioned above, the theme of domestic urbanism appears to have great potential for drawing connections between architecture and a variety of different fields. Interesting examples of topics for thinking about this theme can also be found in the context of Japan. For instance, there is a feature titled “Kakucho suru ‘watashinchi’?” (“The Expanding Concept of ‘My Home’?”) in the April 2008 issue of Kenchiku Zasshi (Architecture Magazine) that looks into the manga kissa (lit. “comic café”) and their private booths, which previously had not been given much attention from an architectural perspective. Considering how the manga kissa has become a ubiquitous commercial/spatial typology that can be found in almost any Japanese city, one could say that the domestic space we have known as the living room has been externalized from the home into the city.

More recently, the idea of turning domestic spaces into public spaces has been gaining ground in Japan with the rise of home-rental services such as Airbnb. However, such services are subjected to regulations because there have been instances of spaces being used for unpermitted purposes and of spaces becoming a source of problems with neighbors. While the aforementioned booths of the manga kissa technically are not examples of “sharing economy” spaces, they have also continued to be subjected to regulations because of a law on entertainment businesses known as the Fueiho (Businesses Affecting Public Morals Regulation Law). Both of these spaces can be seen as examples of domestic spaces that have become political arenas, exactly as Andrés Jaque discusses in the MONU interview titled “The Home as Political Arena”.

The bounds of the domestic are continuing to expand further with the explosive spread of smartphones and tablets. The domestic is no longer something that can or should be shaped into a common generalized mold as in the days of Nishiyama. Rather, it is something that can be defined differently by each individual. What we should do is examine how these variously defined realms of the domestic are encroaching into the realms of the city and society?—?and vice versa?—?and identify the boundary zones where they meet, for it seems that that is where we can observe the latest forms of living that are actually taking shape and find the keys to thinking about the roles of architecture/housing today. This issue of MONU presents a variety of concrete approaches for how we can go about this and opens the door to new research on domestic living.

Mitsuhiro Sakakibara is a Japanese architect, researcher, editor, writer, and since 2014 part time lecturer at Kyoto Seika University. Since 2008 he is running the research-based project called RAD - Research for Architectural Domain.This review was first published by Dezain on July 12, 2016.

MONU's issue #24 is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), University of Liechtenstein’s Master (Msc) of Architecture and Incognita's Architectural Study Tours. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


As of today, MONU Magazine can be followed on Instagram too.


East German guards watch the crowds massing on top of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Photo: GDR Museum

Although the idea that the nation-state as the exclusive agent of connections and relations between political communities is increasingly considered obsolete, the world has witnessed the emergence of more than 30 new countries over the last 3 decades. Especially the fundamental changes in world politics that unfolded across Europe at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s - most emblematically symbolized by the fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989, that led to the dissolution of the USSR and Yugoslavia - caused the creation of most of the newly independent states... continue reading in Submit.


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...
continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy here.

(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)

This issue is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning,
Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), University of Liechtenstein’s Master (Msc) of Architecture and Incognita's Architectural Study Tours. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


What does participatory urbanism mean for your design practice?
A few years ago I published this piece in MONU (Magazine ON Urbanism) about geographic urbanism as a form of participatory theater between places and the people that live in those places. I was recently corresponding with Bernd Upmeyer, editor-in-chief of MONU, and he thought I might be interested in their current issue on Participatory Urbanism. He was right. It’s all about participatory design practices and it got me thinking about what participatory urbanism means for my consulting practice and I wanted to reflect a bit on how the ideas of participatory urbanism presented in MONU #23 help designers deal with ambiguity, authenticity, and the temporality that comes with continually shifting user populations.

Participatory Urbanism wants you to give up control
MONU #23 opens with Distributing Power, an interview with Jeremy Till, in which Till immediately addresses “fake participation” where architects pretend to involve people while retaining control over the product. Till argues that the only way to prevent design from becoming a “politically required token of democratic involvement” is to be radically committed to giving up control. But architects, planners, and designers have a hard time giving up control because they use expertise as a mode of control. Their professional knowledge is enough to let them know how people want. This reminds me of the adage that people don’t know what they want until you give it to them.

One solution might be relying on professional knowledge to act as guide in participatory design. For instance, instead of using expertise as a tool of power, architects can use professional knowledge to assist participants through the design process. Goodwin’s (1994) notion of “professional vision” highlights the benefit of expertise by showing that the professional has the ability to see nuances of a scene that are invisible to the untrained eye simply because of their expertise and knowledge acquired through experience. Trained designers have a special kind of vision when it comes to solving design problems, and Till acknowledges this by charging designers to use their skill to empower people in “new forms of social constructions” (p.9). According to Till, professionals have an obligation to empower non-professionals - to help users engage in designing and to relinquish control over the process, even though it poses “a real challenge to professional values” (p8).


After reading MONU #23, I come away with the sense that participatory urbanism is an issue that every designer needs to think about, and quickly as we continually move toward post-disciplinary design that increasingly design with citizen-experts at the table. MONU #23 is a good field guide to some of those issues.

Ryan Dewey is an artist and cognitive scientist. He works on embodied cognition and visual attention, focusing on finding new ways to experience the world. He is a member of the Center for Cognition and Culture at Case Western Reserve University, and founder of Geologic Cognition Society ( entire review can be read on Ryan Dewey's blog, where it was first published on April 4, 2016.


Residents of Porto Alegre, Brazil,
gather for the annual Regional Participatory Budgeting assembly.
©Michael Fox

Read excerpts of MONU's interview with Jeremy Till on ArchDaily.

In this interview from MONU Magazine's latest issue on "Participatory Urbanism", Bernd Upmeyer speaks to Jeremy Till, a British Architect, writer and educator who has written extensively about the need to for architects to relinquish control and involve local communities in their design process.


The term ‘participatory urbanism’ has become a buzzword recently, and several publications focused on participation and participative processes had been published in the past years. Thus, what is the reason to make one more publication about this topic? Is still any interest on the topic or themes left to discuss? Perhaps is precisely because of that, within all the noise that emerges when a term starts getting trendy and overexposed, when it’s important to find those spaces that allow serious discussions to get in deep and to have a critical debate. This is the spirit of MONU #23, entitled Participatory Urbanism, where the pros and cons of participation are confronted.

Markus Miessen has already written that participation can be a nightmare, when it gets trivialised, commodified or adopted by governments to take less responsibility on their actions. As Miessen explains, “Supported by a repeatedly nostalgic veneer of worthiness, phony solidarity, and political correctness, participation has become the default of politicians withdrawing from responsibility.” In this critical context, on the most recent issue of MONU it’s possible to find several thought provoking written pieces and projects which permit to have a wider overview of different interpretations of participation both in architecture and urban design, even challenging the preconceived notions we have about architecture.

On an interview with Bernd Upmeyer, Jeremy Till argues that in participative practices one moves into new forms of the commons and shared spaces, which from the start can be understand as a contradiction to the standard premises of architecture, based on individualism and control. The social responsibility of the architect and its political implication should be in the core of a real participatory process, according to Till. Nevertheless, the process itself can be used as well just to fulfill the architect’s obligations. But even with this fact on sight, at this point there is an optimistic approach that it’s defined by the idea that there is still hope for architects, there is special knowledge they can share and bring to the table, based on social and spatial skills that can be used to empower new forms of social constructions.

Participation as a process of confrontation is also described by Gonzalo López on his essay ‘Towards a New Urbanism’, where he’s focused on the different possible scales of urban movements to develop a theory about Open Source Urbanism, a concept that implies a direct involvement of the citizen. This is a shift from traditional large-scale urban planning into new ways of thinking, understanding and working in and for the city. Some of the movements remarked by López—tactical urbanism, co-housing, collective architectures, among others—are exemplified by the projects published on the same issue, such as the case of the alternative urban practices at Ostkreuz [Berlin], described by Nina Gribat, Hannes Langguth and Mario Schulze as a site for experimentation,—within a series of failed development plans—that have settled the ground for a new civic modus operandi, based on sharing services and social economic networks. It is important to note that the political and economic limitations are revisited in this essay, to avoid the simple or superficial fetishization of this kind of practices and to discuss as well its failures, problems and governmental manipulation. What is described as an ‘Absolute Present’ can be summarized by the way that terms like ‘flexibility’, ‘self-responsibility’, or ‘entrepreneurialism’ are used to justify projects developed under precarious conditions.

The work of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) is a remarkable example of how to take the participatory approach to a long term process. Founded in 1997, the CUP is a nonprofit organization initiated by a trans-disciplinary collective, including backgrounds on architecture, history, public policy, political theory, and graphic designers, that work together to visually communicate complex urban-planning processes. Damon Rich, one of the founders, talks about the motivations to start this project and how education has been a leading issue on the evolution and success of their work. The pedagogical approach makes possible to move from theory to action, developing projects which deal with important urban subjects—public housing, air quality, waste, and water, among others—taking them along with neighborhood organizations and advocacy groups, and are used to educate others.

If participation is a battlefield, as Damon Rich says, by reading this issue we are reminded that participatory processes, DIY projects, and collaborative approaches are the product of infinite negotiations between different actors, as Uta Gelbke explains in the case of the Holzmarkt Cooperative in Berlin. It is located between the Spree river and Holzmarkt street, where the Bar25 can be found a few years ago. This is a site basically known as a ‘hipster village’ and the group that founded the Bar25 wanted to start an alternative attempt of self-organized project, including places devoted to serve organic food, cultural events and more. That’s how the Holzmarkt Cooperative was created in 2012, supported by professional planners and legal advisers, along with the Swiss pension fund Abendrot Stiftung, which provided the financial resources. The current importance of the area and the success of the project, are used here as a clear case study of how civil society empowered itself in order to be legitimized as an urban agent.

However, this is also a perfect project to remind the inherent contradictions of participation and to not romanticize all participatory processes per se. It’s important to remember that this kind of development often tends to generate the same kind of homogeneity and social limitations that the initiators tend to criticize, as the authors clearly state.

The richness of this issue of MONU lies in the fact that an agonistic overview is presented. Not a romantic, easy description of participation, but a negotiation full of dissent in it’s own pages, where the theoretical essays create a dialogue with the projects, sometimes contradicting each others, other times, complementing the information. At that is, at the end, the best way to escape from the nightmare of participation.

Ethel Baraona Pohl is an architect, writer and blogger developing her professional [net]work linked to several architecture publications on projects and theory. She is editor at Quaderns, and contributing editor at Domus and MAS Context, among other blogs and printed magazines and also associate Curator Adhocracy | Istanbul Design Biennial. She is co-founder of the independent publishing house dpr-barcelona. This review was first published by Quaderns on December 16, 2015.

19-11-15 // MONU #23 IN GENOA

Tomorrow, Friday, November 20, from 11:30 – 16:30, MONU's new issue #23 will be on display and discussed during the Clip, Stamp, Upload: Independent Publishing in Architecture event in the Museo di Sant’Agostino, Piazza Sarzano 35 in Genoa, Italy.

The event is part of the so-called initiative "Big November", a series of architecture related events, promoted by the Architect's Registration Board of Genoa. The aim of this event is to bring the most recent and interesting independent magazines from Italy and Europe to public attention.


Room in New York, 1932 by Edward Hopper

Over the last three years we at MONU became increasingly interested in the question of 'how should we live together?' - a question that we analyzed, for example, in our issue #18 on "Communal Urbanism", in which we focused on contemporary communal living in cities in general and on contemporary communal housing projects in particular. But at the same time we became more and more intrigued by the question of how life is organized in the indoor spaces of our cities and to what extent interiors become ever more urban, aspects that we investigated extensively in issue #21 entitled "Interior Urbanism". Both questions and issues made us want to delve more deeply into the homes of people and we grew ever more fascinated by the domestic aspects of cities, by everything that is related to the human home, the habitat, and the scale of the house, people's own universe, something that is usually hidden and private... continue reading in Submit.


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...
continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy here.

(Cover Image: Rhythm 0, performance, from Marina Abramovic’s contribution on page 82. Location: Studio Morra Naples, 1974, Photo: Donatelli Sbarra. ©Marina Abramovic. Image is courtesy of the Marina Abramovic Archives)

This issue is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements and Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, Bauhaus University Weimar’s International Master Programmes, Luleå University of Technology’s Master Of Science in Climate Sensitive Urban Planning and Building, Fontys’ Masterclass Lisbon 2016, University of Liechtenstein’s Master (Msc) of Architecture, and
Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Institute of Urban Management (IHS). Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Views from Bart Lootsma's apartment in Innsbruck, Austria. Image © Bart Lootsma

Read excerpts of MONU's interview with Bart Lootsma on ArchDaily.

In this extensive interview, originally titled "Beyond Branding" and published in MONU Magazine's "Geographical Urbanism" issue #20 from April 2014, Bernd Upmeyer speaks to Lootsma about his adopted hometown of Innsbruck, and the role that geography, marketing and the collision of the two play on the identity of a city.

16-07-15 // MONU #22 IN MOSCOW AND BASEL

From June 16–21 MONU #22 was on display in Basel and from May 29 - June 21 2015 at Tsvetnoy Central Market in Moscow. The event in Moscow was the final
Archizines exhibition. During the last 4 years the exhibition has taken place in 34 cities and seen by thousands of people. Through Archizines, curated by Elias Redstone, MONU has been featured in exhibitions all around the world and has also been included in the Archizines collection at the National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.


Pages 14/ 15 and 50/ 51 of MONU #22 showing parts of the contributions by
Merve Bedir and Malte Wandel

Continuing the conversation on urbanism, this issue of MONU Magazine picks up on a topic opened in MONU #8 on border urbanism. Transnational Urbanism expands the topic of trans-border relations between cities close to nation state borders, to interrogate the flux of exchanges that crisscross a multiplicity of borders. As MONU has accustomed its readers, architects, urban planners and designers, policy makers, sociologists, educators, photographers and filmmakers take part in the conversation. They make up a transnational community of researchers spanning from Rotterdam, the headquarters of MONU, to the United States, and East Asia, passing through Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. As Merve Bedir stresses in her essay, they themselves live intense transnational lives.

I am a regular reader of MONU ever since my work colleagues got me a subscription for my birthday a couple of years ago. But when I got my copy of MONU #22 for reviewing, instead of zapping through it, like I normally do, I started reading it like a book and letting myself be guided by the editorial skills of Bernd Upmeyer. And what I discovered along the way was the conversation between the articles, as each of them builds on a thread launched by a previous one.

To begin with, as MONU’s trademark and opening piece, the interview in #22 is with sociologist Jean-Louis Missika, assistant mayor of Paris. He depicts an image of the global that comprises the world in itself. While Paris’ elected challenge is to provide shared infrastructure and housing for the global city’s mobile dwellers, Agatino Rizzo’s proposition for building a sustainable global city in between Malaysia and Singapore is to offer public space able to downplay social inequalities.

What we read through the pages of this issue is the incredible porosity of borders, as even the most impenetrable of them, like the one between North and South Korea are crossed by cooperation and negotiation efforts that ultimately link joint economic, touristic, and knowledge spaces. Of course, as Yehre Suh shows, such projects are always at risk of being temporarily shut down by unpredicted incidents, or "the fog of international policy." We can equally read how conflict pushes established trade routes between countries officially at war underground, and reconfigures trade landscapes, as Arab traders reorient themselves to China after 9/11 and China’s joining the WTO. Caught up in between are Syrians and other asylum seekers whose trajectories are highly controlled and regulated. In spite of this, but also because of it, transnational friendships leak out of detention regimes, as Kolar Aparna’s research illustrates.

Stories of work-migration present us the Philippine work-migration industry, and former Mozambican guest workers in the former German Democratic Republic caught in limbo as the fall of socialist regimes in the early nineties has only revealed their work as paying for their country’s debt. Splinters of the colonial gaze and the construction of "otherness" are shown to construct also "other" spaces, like the segregated spaces of Philippine workers in the Arab Emirates. Such gazes obscure sight and push urbanism into ‘magical’ interpretations, like the one offered by half architect – half media philosopher Thomas Mical. However, it is the constant effort of translation that constitutes "the challenge of transnationalism," as Kolar Aparna writes.

Speaking from a European perspective, and the debate on closing the gates of "Fortress Europe," the articles in MONU #22 open up ways for understanding. In particular, one question is raised concerning African migration: how does it articulate with massive development projects around Africa’s mineral resources?

Architects and urban planners and designers are gaining momentum in border studies. Next to MONU #22 on Transnational Urbanism, a recent conference at the Sheffield School of Architecture on Border Topologies in October 2014 is proof of the professions' deep engagement with this topic. While MONU is definitely oriented towards the architectural profession, the current number tackles a trans-disciplinary theme, and that is what makes it such a good read, not only for architects. It represents a fresh alternative to a standard academic journal, as much of the articles are indeed by architects involved in academia. However, the freshness is in the practice, as Bernd Upmeyer’s editorial skills of construing a conversation from the different articles are definitely an architect’s trademark.

Iulia Hurducas is an architect and urban designer. After studying architecture and urbanism in Cluj, Romania, and Hamburg, Germany, she worked for the Romanian-German architecture practice Planwerk, in Cluj. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the Sheffield School of Architecture in the UK on the topic of transnational urban transformations.
This review was first published by A Daily Dose of Architecture on June 10, 2015.


The Halle Freyssinet, a 16,000 square meter railway depot that Paris is preparing to convert
into the world’s largest business incubator, “will be as emblematic as the Eiffel Tower”.
Image © City of Paris

Read excerpts of MONU's interview on ArchDaily. The full interview, and more articles and interviews on the concept of Transnational Urbanism, are published in issue 22 of MONU Magazine.


As of today, you can get one free copy of any of the available issues of MONU shipped for free to any place of the world.
To receive a free copy of MONU you only need to convince the library of your university or institute to subscribe to MONU.

For further information, please contact


"[…] they may not understand one another's speech. […] and they ceased building the city."
Genesis 11:4-9

We need to talk! We at MONU think that the time has come to talk with you about "participation" in architecture and urbanism and re-evaluate and re-examine developments around this topic in recent years and what the future might hold ...continue reading in Submit.


To prepare 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”...
continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy in Order .

This issue is supported by EMU - European Post-masters in Urbanism, Bauhaus University Weimar’s International Master Programmes, Fontys’ Master of Architecture and Master of Urbanism,
University of Liechtenstein’s Master (MSc) of Architecture, University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements, Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Institute of Urban Management (IHS), Incognita’s Architecture Trips, and Studio for Immediate Spaces - Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


Pages 56/ 57 and 120/ 121 of MONU #21 showing parts of the contributions by
Michael Piper and James Khamsi, Candida Höfer and Jordan Hicks

MONU magazine #21 has set out on a journey to study cities from their indoor environments. It is not only about turning the “inside(s)” out, but also involves re-conceptualizing the “inside” itself. While starting with a thorough discussion of the existing interiors in relation to spatial types, the contributors go further to raise new questions on how human subjects within the city are constantly engaging in practices that accept, produce or challenge the limits, scales and different programs of the interior space.

In his seminal essay “Paris – Capital of the Nineteenth Century” (1935) Walter Benjamin presented an analysis of interior as a phenomenon springing out of the forces of production that changed Paris after the French Revolution. Historically the rise of bourgeoisie set out the process of separation of the living-space from the place of work. Interior became a refuge, a sort of a dream-world. As Benjamin writes: “Interior was not only the private citizen’s universe, it was also his casing. Living means leaving traces. In the interior these were stressed.” The understanding of “interior” as a frame, onto which one’s traces of life are accumulated, emerges together with the understanding of dwelling in particular political and economic circumstances.

In today’s world it seems we find ourselves no longer capable of separating the places of production from places of refuge. Thus the great value of the latest edition of MONU is precisely in discussing the meaning of the “interior” in relation to forces that produce the city and the contemporary urban structures.

Case studies of Asian, U.S. and European cities or historical research of certain paradigmatic architectural innovations all point to such themes as rising domestication, commodification, privatization and restrictions on common rights in the urban interiors. What manifests in a range of urban developments from museums or “exhibitionary complexes” (blending art, memory and pedagogical aspects) to commercial environments (from the shopping arcades to suburban malls and to experimental mixed-use indoor spaces) is the uncertainty of ability to maintain these built environments with regard to public interest. From singular architectural objects to large infrastructural networks, interiors have been planned in relation to flows of goods, services and human transit. As spaces of circulation at different scales, interiors become the spaces of social encounter. As Shriya Malhotra points out in her research on metro systems in global cities: “Subways are microcosms of the interaction between top-down historic and sociopolitical developments shaping our cities, and people”. Social encounters in relation to the quality of wilderness of an interior space are becoming unwelcome – one learns from the interview with Petra Blaise that both private and public developers oblige designers to avoid “wild”, ungovernable interior spaces as potentially dangerous.

From the articles it becomes clear that interior continuous to be the place of subject formation – be it cultural, political or social. While we often find ourselves living and leaving traces in interiors evermore dominated by the generic, the seemingly anonymous place can still become the hotspot of new antagonisms that produce new tendencies and movements. There are constant formation processes. In an interview Dutch architect Winy Maas expresses his hope that the public qualities would be on the raise: “Forms of cohabitation can and should be tested more in the future, where we test how we can make spaces in which you will be able to speak freely without the need to shut your mouth.” The future development of urban interior spaces can be challenging, especially in regards to keeping democracy alive in our contemporary cities.

Karlis Ratnieks studied architecture at Riga Technical University and urban studies at Estonian Academy of Arts. Karlis works as an architect in Liepaja, Latvia. This review was first published by This Big City on January 19, 2015.


This review was first published on Quaderns on December 15, 2014; photos by Claudia Mainardi

In 1969 Reyner Banham in his book The Architecture of the Well-tempered Environment marked the shift between the concept of interior to that of an artificial environment. Technology and new human needs in fact had become an integral part of architecture, defining a new paradigm to describe indoor space, that it was not any longer a concern of the singular living-cell but rather of its internal atmosphere.

The issue 21 of MONU describes the current development and the extreme consequences of what this Interior Urbanism means. As Brendan Cormier emphasizes in his article Some Notes Towards an Interior Archipelago: “90% of our lives are spent inside. Urban life is an interior affair.” This statement manifests the necessity to invert the canonical approach to read and plan cities, unfolding a new possible stream of research which considers how architecture affects our everyday life.

Climate, or the need to erase the atmospheric conditions, is one of the trigger factors of the production of interior urbanism. Michael Piper and James Khamsi in Endless Architecture: Accidental Manifestos for the Interior state that “the interior has grown to become an endless type of urban form” which provides an indoor urbanism between the malls of Toronto producing a protected shelter against a hostile climate. The system grew until the inclusion of the public buildings such as the station and the city hall overpassing the threshold of the commercial status of this air-conditioned environment.

As described in the essay of Inge Goudsmit and Adrienne Simons, maybe the most extreme scenario of indoor urbanism is the case of Hong Kong, where for specific contextual constraints such as the tropical climate and the lack of space, not only the city developed vertically but also the public space defined a network of inner connections where common life develops. Assuming as cases, the extremes of Canada and tropical China, it seems that the necessity for a hospitable public environment, despite the climate, is nowadays an unavoidable condition for the contemporary cities. This need for well tempered buildings represents an important factor for the homogenization of architecture worldwide, even stronger than the cultural one.

Nevertheless the quality of this kind of space manifests the always present antithesis between public indoor life and social control. The fact that the interior pathways of Hong Kong became the place of constrained and channeled commercial episodes with no choice for the citizens is described as one of the risks of interior urbanism by Petra Blaisse in her critical claim for wilderness in urban spaces as pointed out in her conversation Into the Wild. Both interior and exterior public spaces are assuming in fact the same connotations challenging their conventional opposite characters: if public buildings are assuming the spatial organization of interior landscapes, the exteriors are being ruled more and more in terms of use, as if they were buildings.

If it is true that certain internal conditions are able to create new urban spaces (as in the cases described above) the opposite is also true, that some buildings have assumed a character of indoor urbanity. One example is the article by Jonathan A. Scelsa Enfiladed Grids, The Museum as City, which highlights how museums are taking the configuration and the spatial experience of a city through the wise use of the intermezzo or the connective space between exhibition rooms such as in the work of OMA, REX, Jean Nouvel and SANAA.

This condition of blurring between interior and exterior is well described in the interview of Winy Maas, where the metaphor of a “3D Nolli”, in relation to the Nolli Map (1784) which first represented the enclosed publicly built surface as part of a continuum with the open spaces of Rome, is used as a tool to interpret a new generation of indoor public spaces like the Market Hall in Rotterdam. Scale and urban density, in the words of Winy Maas, are the “activators” of this kind of internal condition where the boundary between interior and exterior is totally blurred.

Reversing the traditional figure/ground opposition defined by Nolli Map, the poché which represents the private buildings unfold another, less porous, dimension of interior urbanism. In Some Notes Towards an Interior Archipelago, Brendan Cormier describes as an urban paradigm, the network of places that hosts the daily life of human beings. Far from the radical scenarios described by Archizoom in the No-stop City, our everyday life is not the one of the free man in an open indoor environment but rather it is confronted with the problems of ownership, differentiation and exclusivity, that define the gradient of permeability of this continuous interior. Visible and invisible boundaries restrict the possibility of wandering. In a moment in which, through the social networks, our lives have become public in almost every aspect, the interior has become the eminent space of privacy and thus intimacy and freedom.

In our opinion this different approach, so widely explored in MONU 21 in all its different aspects, represents a useful tool to overpass the dichotomy between the city as a system and the building as an object. If in fact we assume that there is a unifying field that relates to all the objects which compose the city, the urban dimension is no longer a matter of juxtaposition. With MONU 20 about Geographical Urbanism, this issue challenges the scale through which we are used to reading/to interpreting the city: from XS to XXL questions, there is a need to understand urban phenomena defining the new extents for urban life.

Claudia Mainardi and Giacomo Ardesio. Both of them graduated in Architecture at the Milan Politecnico, they are both part of the collective Fosbury Architecture and they are currently working at OMA in Rotterdam.


Sailing beyond the Pillars of Hercules, Image by David Potente, ©David Potente

Around six years ago, our issue #8 entitled "Border Urbanism" focused on urban phenomena that appear in cities that are located close to nation-state borders. We were fascinated by the fact that when cities are located close to borders, they often foster very specific economic features or urban anomalies, which cannot be found in cities located in the very centre of a country. Wherever two jurisdictions come into contact, special opportunities seem to arise. We showed how cities that are located close to borders could be described as isolated islands, where a different type of life is possible, and as places conducive to experiments, utopia and dystopia. With this new issue of MONU we would like to expand on, and complement, the topic of "Border Urbanism" through the topic of "Transnational Urbanism"...continue reading in Submit.


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...
continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy in Order .

This issue is supported by University of Leuven’s Master of Human Settlements,
University of Leuven’s Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning, University of Liechtenstein’s Master (MSc) of Architecture, Inside - Master Interior Architecture, Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Institute of Urban Management (IHS), and Incognita’s Architecture Trips. Find out more about MONU's supporters in Support.


On October 4 and 5, 2014 MONU's issue #20 on Geographical Urbanism will be exhibited on the Vancouver Art/Book Fair.

Free and open to the public, the Vancouver Art/Book Fair is the only international art book fair in Canada and one of only two on the West Coast. In 2014 the event is anticipated to attract over 1,500 visitors from across the Greater Vancouver Area and beyond.

Presented by Project Space, the Vancouver Art/Book Fair is a two-day festival of artists’ publishing featuring nearly one hundred local, national and international publishers, as well as a diverse line-up of programs, performances and installations. Featured artists travel to Vancouver from across Canada and the globe, and produce everything from books, magazines, zines and printed ephemera to digital, performative or other experimental forms of publication.


Interior of João Batista Vilanova Artigas'
School of Architecture and Urbanism at
the University of São Paulo, 1969.

When a few years ago we at MONU made the huge mistake of travelling in August to Tokyo, the warmest month of the year in this part of the humid subtropical climate-zone, we were constantly forced to find shelter in the public air-conditioned interiors of the city. But what we experienced there had, due to the dimensions and quality of the spaces, very little to do with the interconnected public interior spaces of bad repute of the past,...continue reading in Submit.


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"
...continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy in Order .


MONU Magazine is featured in the publication “All ABOUT MAGS” that is published by the China-based publishing house SendPoints. SendPoints is distributing design books from their offices in Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai.

ALL ABOUT MAGS aims to introduce excellent and distinctive magazines from around the world. According to them each of the 61 featured magazines stand out for its eye-catching design, layout, font system as well as its distinctive publishing philosophy.


Independent Magazines Biennale, Arnhem

From 11 January - 9 March, 2014 MONU #14 on Editing Urbanism will be exhibited in Shanghai (Archizines at the University of Hong Kong), from 28 March - 29 March MONU #19 on Greater Urbanism will be featured in Arnhem (Independent Magazines Biennale), and from 17 June - 22 June MONU #20 on Geographical Urbanism, to be released by the middle of April, will be on display in Basel (Art Fair Basel) .


As of today MONU Magazine offers special discounts of up to 30% on all available issues (the selection shown is only an example).

10% discount if you order 2 copies of any available issue of MONU (+ shipping)
20% discount if you order 4 copies of any available issue of MONU (+ shipping)

30% discount if you order 6 copies of any available issue of MONU (+ shipping)

Please e-mail your order to .


The Distant Mountain, Superstudio, 1971

Could geography, by which we mean the physical geography and in particular the natural geographical features such as landforms, terrain types, or bodies of water that are largely defined by their surface form and location in the landscape, be the last hope of the planet's ever expanding, continuously transforming, and increasingly identical and indefinable urban territories to remain distinguishable and to gain a particular identity in the future? Do hills, cliffs, valleys, rivers, oceans, seas, lakes, streams, canals, or any other kind of geographical feature have the power, in an ever more globalized world in which progressively cities and their architecture look the same, to provide meaning and significance to places, their inhabitants, and users or will all such elements only contribute to an identity that is merely like a mantra as Rem Koolhaas predicted once in "The Generic City"?
...continue reading in Submit.


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"...continue reading in Issues and get a printed copy in Order .


From 12 - 22 September MONU Magazine is exhibited in the Arts Centre of Foundation Serra Henriques in Lisbon, Portugal as an Associated Project of the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale.

From 13 - 15 September MONU #18 on "Communal Urbanism" (photo) is on display at the Vilnius Book Festival in Lithuania. The Festival is bringing Lithuanian and foreign authors, artists, publishers and intellectuals together. In accordance with traditions of other book festivals worldwide, the Vilnius Book Festival events will go on to continue in cafes, clubs and bookshops in the oldtown.

From 13 September - 2 November, MONU Magazine is presented at the Public Works Gallery in Chicago, USA.

From 5 - 6 October, MONU #18 will be featured at the Art/Book Fair in Vancouver, Cananda. The Vancouver Art/Book Fair is a two-day festival of artists’ publishing that features nearly one hundred local, national and international publishers of books, magazines, zines, printed ephemera and digital or other experimental forms of publication, as well as on-site programs, performances and installations.


MONU #18 has been featured in the weekend edition of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” on August 3. MONU appeared in the article entitled “Hier ist die ganze Welt Papier” (Here the entire world is paper). MONU was featured among other journals as a proof that printed publications are not dead when it comes to independent magazines. The Süddeutsche Zeitung is published in Munich and is the largest German national subscription daily newspaper with an average of 441.955 daily sold copies. The title, often abbreviated SZ, literally translates as “South German Newspaper”. It is read throughout Germany by 1.1 million readers daily and boasts a relatively high circulation abroad.

19-07-13 // MONU #18 IN PARIS

From July 1st – 7th MONU #18 was exhibited at the CENTQUATRE in Paris (5 rue Curial, 75019 Paris). The exhibition entitled
“Habiter le Grand Paris” was focused around the results of the Atelier International du Grand Paris.


MONU's issue #18 was exhibited at Basel's "LISTE",
one of the most important fairs for contemporary young art in the world, from 11 - 16 June 2013.

For 18 years, the fair has been making relevant contributions to the promotion of young artists and galleries. The intentionally low number of 66 galleries and the high level of sophistication of those galleries are reasons for LISTE’s extraordinary success, international reputation and drawing power. (Image: Artwork by Cory Arcangel, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Ryan McGinley, and Dawn Mellor)


On February 10, 2011 MONU Magazine organized a debate entitled “Most Valuable Urbanism Debate” that aimed to find out what distinguishes a bad Dutch city from a good Dutch city, and what role architects and urban designers play in the production of valuable urbanism. Excerpts of this debate were published in MONU #14. The debate on one of the previous issues, MONU #13: Most Valuable Urbanism, was moderated by Piet Vollaard. The debate panel included three people with three different ideological backgrounds: Jaap van den Bout, Adriaan Geuze, and Floris Alkemade. After a brief introduction by MONU’s editor-in-chief Bernd Upmeyer, and preceding the debate, each of the panel members was asked to make 10 -12 minute statements.

Info about the debate:

Titel: Most Valuable Urbanism Debate
Host: MONU – Magazine on Urbanism
Introduction: Bernd Upmeyer
Moderator: Piet Vollaard
Panel members: Floris Alkemade, Jaap van den Bout, Adriaan Geuze
Location: De Machinist, Willem Buytewechstraat 45, 3024 BK Rotterdam
Date: 10.02.2011
Time: 19:00 – 22:00


Organisation and Conception: Beatriz Ramo, Bernd Upmeyer
Transcription: STAR: Philip Vandermey, Francesca Rizzetto
Video and Audio Recording: Selena Savic, Chris Baronavski
Video Editing: Matas Šiupšinskas, Selena Savic
John Lennon Photo: Bob Gruen (The image is courtesy of John Lennon’s estate)

Thanks to Andre Kempe for suggesting ideas for this debate.

This debate has been made possible by the Creative Industries Fund NL


Video stills of the opening title sequence of the American television drama "The Sopranos". ©HBO
"Tony Soprano is emerging from the Lincoln Tunnel, entering the New Jersey Turnpike, one of the Greater New York Roads, and finally pulling into the driveway of his suburban home."

Are cities becoming "greater" these days? When two years ago, in our 14th issue of MONU Magazine entitled "Editing Urbanism", we claimed that in the Western world, the need for new buildings and city districts was decreasing or even ceasing to exist altogether due to demographic changes and financially difficult times, we did not believe in all those new, big-scale, and long-term urban development strategies for the metropolitan areas of certain European cities that were being proposed at the time. The growth numbers that plans such as "Greater Helsinki" envisioned for the year 2050, trying to brand the city as one of the most dynamic metropolises in Europe, predicting a population growth from 1.3 million to 2 million, were too exuberant and too vast...continue reading in Submit.


Music: Supertramp, Give A Little Bit, 1977

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...continue reading in Issues and order a printed copy in Order .


MONU #17 explored how cities of the "Next Eleven" countries are already different and will be different in the future, from the cities of the "BRICs", but also from the ones of the "MEDCs"- the more economically developed countries, such as the Netherlands - in terms of their politics, their economies, their geographies, their cultures, their social aspects, their technology, their ecology and in the relation to their physical structures, such as their architecture. We and the ArchiNed would like to continue the discussion on the topic of "Next Urbanism" as we believe that there is still more to learn from cities in the Next Eleven countries. Therefore we invited Dutch architects and urbanists that are currently working in cities of one of the Next Eleven countries and architects and urbanists that were born in one of the Next Eleven countries and are currently working in the Netherlands to write about their experiences and to reflect on differences and similarities between both environments. The first in this series are the observations of Paul van der Voort, a Dutch architect living and working in Mexico City.


Bernd Upmeyer will lecture about the concept and practice of MONU Magazine on Urbanism at the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow on January 30, 2013. He will furthermore participate in the discussion about architecture, urbanism and media at Strelka’s Urban Studies Session on the same day.

07-01-13 // MONU #1 IS REPRINTED

After being sold out for more than seven years MONU's very first issue on the topic of Paid Urbanism has been reprinted and is available again now. Witness the beginnings of MONU Magazine and get a printed copy for €10 at Order.

Editorial from June 2004:

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.


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

19-11-12 //

As of today and until December 31, 2012 MONU Magazine offers special discounts of up to 40% on all available issues.

10% discount if you order 2 copies of MONU (+ shipping)
20% discount if you order 4 copies of MONU (+ shipping)

30% discount if you order 6 copies of MONU (+ shipping)
40% discount if you order 8 copies of MONU (+ shipping)
20% discount if you order 1 bag of MONU (+ shipping)

Please e-mail your order to .

15-11-12 //

Support MONU Magazine’s global dialogue on urbanism and print and post this CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS POSTER for MONU #18 on the topic of COMMUNAL URBANISM in your faculty, institute, or in your communal kitchen.


Meal in a Political Commune (1968)
© Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Photo credit: Günter Zint

One of the most fascinating things we at MONU recently experienced during a trip to Brasilia had nothing to do with its famous Oscar Niemeyer monuments or the city itself, but with the context surrounding the city. After two tiring days in the city and having read in a guidebook that in certain regions around Brasilia extra-terrestrial contacts are supposed to be more likely, which provoked the emergence of a number of cults and communes, we decided to rent a car to visit those places...continue reading in Submit.


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...continue reading in Issues and order a printed copy in Order .


Bernd Upmeyer has been interviewed by the Beijing-based magazine WAI on the topic of ideology. The results of the conversation have been published in their second issue.

WAI: MONU is willing to explore the concept of urbanism from every possible angle, including the social, political, ideological and artistic spheres. However, something that is not being discussed is the contribution of MONU to the visual culture of architectural publications. An important element of the unique attraction of MONU is its layout (varying from article to article), typography and provocative covers that have featured Godzilla, Jesus, Marilyn Monroe, Superman, and John Lennon. Was the aesthetic approach for MONU a derivative of the content or was it a choice assumed from the beginning as a main concept for the magazine?
Bernd Upmeyer: The fact that every article is different in terms of the layout was a clear choice from the beginning and we have been applying that concept ever since – although a little less wildly today. From the beginning, this choice was meant to emphasize the multiplicity and diversity of the articles and viewpoints and, on the other hand, the result of the fact that I always had trouble with magazines in which I got lost, not knowing whether one article ends, another one starts or images in between are merely advertisements. Some magazines are doing that excessively. I have always considered that very annoying. Therefore, this principle of the layout is not a derivative of the content – however, the emphasis on diversity clearly is. Principally MONU’s content always comes first and its layout only serves the content and its readability. MONU’s visual culture should not be overrated. When it comes to the covers, we started very naïvely, not knowing how relevant and important a meaningful and attractive cover for a magazine is. We started getting a bit of a clue when the magazine was already three years old and on display and for sale in more and more bookshops. Seeing the magazine on the shelves, especially in the bookshops in Rotterdam, made us think more about its cover, as the cover was the only thing people would see while walking around the store. In addition to that we recognized an increasing interest in the magazine and the moment more people are looking at you, you better get a better haircut, so as not to look like a fool. Thus, you can say that ever since the summer of 2006, starting with issue #5, we are putting more energy in finding interesting and inspiring images that represent the content of each issue. Since the “Godzilla” on the cover of #5 we are trying to provide more direct access to the still invisible content of each issue. But it is not simply about provocation, but more about the belief that a magazine with uncompromising and daring content also needs uncompromising and daring covers.

WAI: While the value of MONU as a platform for open discussion and experimental speculation is undeniable, the importance of strategies such as the “open call for contributions” should not be overlooked. Recent exhibitions like Archizines highlight a resurgence of independent publications that very often are created following this selection tool. When you created MONU, did you see it as an independent exercise or did you anticipate its paradigmatic potential? By the same token, do you feel that MONU, apart from its intellectual contributions, has served as a model for a young generation of independent magazines?
BU: No, we definitely could not foresee its paradigmatic potential, but we were only hoping that it would help us making an interesting magazine. You have to understand that by the time we founded the magazine, we neither knew how to make a magazine, nor did we know any writers or potential contributors. We had no network whatsoever. Not that we believe in networks. Today, we actually avoid making use of our network, as we want to keep the magazine open to new people while avoiding inviting people that we know as most magazines traditionally do. But what is a choice today was a constraint in the past, as we simply had no idea how to get contributors for the magazine. We had a lot of ideas for topics, but no ideas for authors. Therefore, the “open call for contributions” was for us at that moment the only way to start a magazine. That we receive today so many proposals and submissions of such a high standard is incredible and fantastic and we are very grateful for that. I would be very happy if MONU served as a model for a young generation of independent magazines as I feel that that we truly did some kind of pioneering work here. As I mentioned before, in 2004, when we introduced the device of “open calls for contributions” in our first issue as a tool of finding contributors, this was not common for architectural and urbanism magazines. Being a role model shows that we have created something meaningful and interesting. That is a big honour for the magazine itself and for its authors. But what is more important is that in recent years MONU has contributed to bringing back a new critical edge to the architectural and urban discourse and if this approach has inspired others to start similar magazines, that can only be judged positively.

WAI: How would you describe the evolution of MONU from the first issues to the current ones and how do you envision the future of MONU?
BU: The evolution of MONU has to be understood as a continuous attempt – driven by tireless curiosity – to improve the magazine with every single issue with regard to the diversity and quality of the contributions, the relevance of the articles in general and in relation to the particular topic of the issue, the relevance of each topic taken by itself, its appearance and layout, and finally its financial sustainability. In that sense, I believe that our last issue was the most elaborate – however, most of the earlier issues contain a lot of very good and relevant contributions too, coupled with the charm of something that is in the process of becoming something very special and unique. I see the future of MONU in the same vein: as a magazine that will continuously improve, yet will continue to take risks and flirt with failure. And as long as people are still motivated to contribute and we are not getting tired of initiating new topics and investing time and energy into something that will probably never have a secure and stable financial base, MONU Magazine on Urbanism will keep looking forward to its next issue.

Read the entire conversation here.


MONU Magazine has been invited to be exhibited in Singapore between 1st–12th August 2012.
MONU will participate in the so-called "THE U CAFÉ exhibition", to be held at the now defunct Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in Singapore.

THE U CAFÉ launched in 2011 as an UNDERSCORE initiative to bring together independent cafés and magazines for good coffee and good reads. During its inaugural launch, THE U CAFÉ collaborated with 8 selected independent cafés to showcase a selection of over 30 international award-winning magazines. Over a duration of 3 months, café-goers were able to browse freely through the magazine library and enjoy specially created signature snacks and drinks. Due to the overwhelming customer response, THE U CAFÉ was extended an additional 3 months.

THE U CAFÉ 2012 will feature a specialty one-off menu crafted by the good folks at The Plain. Visitors will be able to lounge in a library of select local and international magazines of distinct content, while enjoying scenic views of the historic Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.


MONU Magazine on Urbanism is currently being exhibited in New York (Storefront for Art and Architecture (Image 1), 17 April – 9 June 2012), Tokyo (Hillside Terrace Forum (Image 2), 3 May - 13 May 2012), and Berlin (do you read me?! (Image 3), 26 April - 26 May 2012). (The exhibitions in New York and Berlin are part of the Archizines World Tour curated and initiated by Elias Redstone)


(Image: ©BOARD. Original image: Photo still from Lewis Milestone's 1960 "Ocean's 11" film starring Peter Lawford,
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Joey Bishop. ©Warner Bros)

Over the past ten years a lot has been researched, analyzed, written and said about cities in the largest developing countries and emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Let us call it "BRIC Urbanism" as BRIC is the acronym that refers to these countries. Recently, however, things have changed and while time moved on, a new generation of emerging economies is on the march that might feature an urbanism different from anything seen before. This development has triggered our curiosity and we see it as urgent and necessary to understand what is happening in the cities of these newly emerging economies...continue reading in Submit.


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"...continue reading in Issues.

To get a printed copy of this new issue, please e-mail your order to


MONU's most recent issue #15 will be exhibited at the Facing Pages Festival in Arnhem, The Netherlands from 20 - 22 April 2012. Facing Pages is a biennial festival about independent magazines. With a three-day event, Facing Pages brings leading independent magazine makers and aficionados to Arnhem. The event shows what part the independent magazine currently plays in the development of our visual culture. Facing Pages is set up by Joost van der Steen and William van Giessen.


MONU Magazine on Urbanism is currently being exhibited in the Spazio FMG in Milan (27 January – 23 February 2012), Italy and will be exhibited in the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York from 17 April – 9 June 2012. (Photos: Mauro Consilvio / SpazioFMG/ The exhibitions are part of the Archizines World Tour curated and initiated by Elias Redstone)


In August 2009 the editorial of MONU #11 on the topic of "Clean Urbanism" started with the lines "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”..."

These lines are now featured on a bag designed and produced by MONU Magazine. The bags were produced in a limited edition of 50 pieces. To get a single bag for €10,00 + shipping (NL €1,50; EU €2,55; WORLD €2,85) please e-mail your order to . You will receive instructions and invoice through Paypal by e-mail. If you prefer to pay without PayPal, please let us know.


MONU is featured in the Archizines Catalogue published by Bedford Press and edited by Elias Redstone. This catalogue, accompanying an exhibition curated by Elias Redstone for the Architectural Association, explores the relationship between architecture and publishing. Themes addressed in a series of new essays include the role of publishing in academia and architectural practice, and the representation of architecture in fictional writing, photography, magazines and fanzine culture.


After already being available in bookshops in Europe, Australia, and North America,
MONU Magazine is now available in Asia too. As of today, all available issues of MONU can be purchased at Mumbai's Art & Design Book Store. An almost complete list of bookshops that carry MONU can be found in Order (scroll down).


Curator Elias Redstone interviewed MONU's editor-in-chief Bernd Upmeyer for the Archizines Exhibition at London's Architectural Association. The answers were screened at the exhibition.

Elias Redstone: What is the relationship between architecture and publishing?
Bernd Upmeyer: To a certain extent, both architecture and publishing can be understood as processes of information production. Yet, neither architecture nor publishing should be completely reduced to the production of information. However, when I started publishing MONU magazine around seven years ago, after having been trained first and foremost as an architect, the first printed issue of MONU became in a way my first fully realized, or to put it more correctly, my first fully built project under my own name. In this way, and from my point of view, publishing and architecture were very closely related. Nevertheless, in my experience, the production of architecture is a much more active and narcissistic process, whilst the production of a publication is far more passive, more mediating and collaborative.

ER: How do you ‘edit’ architecture?
Bernd Upmeyer: MONU magazine is first of all a magazine on urbanism that focuses on cities in a broader sense, including their politics, economies, geographies, their social aspects, but also their physical structures, the point where architecture comes into play. In that sense architecture is only one field of many in the magazine - fields which are all brought together under the umbrella term urbanism. When editing the magazine, I of course always try to select those contributions that are most relevant for the chosen topic for the particular issue in order to come to conclusions regarding the problem under discussion. But what I find actually more interesting about the question “how I edit architecture” is the impact that MONU can have on cities and thus on the built environment - the architecture. Because I believe that by putting certain topics on the agenda, the magazine is actually able to modify and even correct, and therefore “edit”, architecture by changing and manipulating the views and perspectives of its readers in a positive way, which will eventually also influence the built environments in our cities.

ER: What is the role of printed matter in the digital age?
Bernd Upmeyer: I think that the role of printed matter in the digital age is very much related to the costly, complicated and time-consuming way in which printed publications are produced and distributed. Everybody who has ever produced a printed publication knows what I am talking about. Even if you simply print your magazine on an ink-jet printer in your kitchen and staple it together by yourself, it still remains so much harder to do than publishing something online. And once you have made that kind of effort, you are not going to waste it on low-quality information. That fact alone secures a certain quality among printed publications. Furthermore, I believe that a certain fascination with “materiality”, with real and physical objects will never entirely disappear. Although MONU magazine is already available digitally as well, I could not imagine producing it only digitally at this moment. The idea that a magazine can be a physical object of art and not only a transmitter of information always appealed to me.

ER: How are architectural publications changing?
Bernd Upmeyer: I would be tempted to say that the increased accessibility and availability of information and the easier connectivity between people that the internet provides today, can only be judged positively. But whether it works for you as an advantage or disadvantage depends on your approach. The whole situation offers both: great opportunities, but also great dangers of misuse. Because what I see is that, especially over the last ten years, the situation has impacted and changed architectural publications in a lot of negative ways. The reality that producing a magazine became so much easier and faster than twenty years ago, resulted in the fact that today the shelves of bookshops, but also a huge number of internet websites, are groaning under the weight of an ever-growing stack of rather uncritical, low-quality and image-oriented architectural publications that will eventually hollow out the entire architectural profession.


Excerpts from the interview (MONU #15 ) with Wouter Vanstiphout - member of Crimson Architectural Historians in Rotterdam and professor of Design and Politics at the Faculty of Architecture of Delft Technical University.

Beatriz Ramo: We would like to discuss with you some delicate issues around the current understanding of ideology, or better, the flexibility and malleability that “ideology” has been put through until becoming a brand. From general, large-scale city strategies to much smaller interventions in Rotterdam, examples of success as branding operations but questionable in the transparency and honesty of its message, which is heavily loaded with rhetoric about the public, the social, the participatory, the creative…etc. We are confronted by plenty of these ideologies which turn into highly hypocritical and unethical promotional strategies. How does one judge that? Would you be able to justify them?

Wouter Vanstiphout: What I find is that it is difficult to distinguish between authentic social or ecological motivations, and motivations that are used as window dressing or smokescreens for something else. Today, even the most hard-nosed developer, corporate architect or neoliberal politician uses language of community and sustainability to the extent that there is nothing on the surface you can disagree with. (…)

BR: We see more and more groups and collectives that call themselves ‘activists’ whose manifestoes lay in the social, urban participation, social action, etc. Although conceived with the best of intentions, often the results of their actions are closer to a celebration of themselves as the protagonists of their activism rather than a committed action with a serious outcome. What do you think about this urban activism displayed all around Europe?

WV: There are offices that do it in an authentic way, out of a real feeling of anger or commitment… and that is fantastic. And there are many offices that are exactly as you said… There is a change in the cliché of the figure of the architect. Twenty years ago the cliché was a bit Spanish-looking: cultured, qualitative, formalist, intellectual…And then Rem [Koolhaas] came and the architect became this ruthless robot man, destroying everything we found comfortable; being awful to everyone… And everybody copied that model, from Ben van Berkel to every single Swiss architect in the world under 50.
But now we have this third model: Alejandro Aravena, Alfredo Brillembourg, Alexander Vollebregt, my colleague from Delft, switching easily from Haitian slums to Lecture rooms, perfectly comfortable with UN Habitat and Worldbank bureaucrats, dressing with a certain hippie-chic, adored by their students for their empathy, approachability and enthusiasm, and most of all breathlessly admired for their willingness to talk about helping the world, eradicating poverty, emancipating the poor. (…)

BR: What I find distressing is how these architects or their actions are being used by authorities or institutions; like marriages of convenience. This profile: young + fresh + social activist has been fully institutionalized. (…)

WV: (…) This strange lightness of these groups of architects is not really dangerous for society, it’s just useless for society… it is just dangerous for themselves. That is why I am so fascinated with what many young offices are doing, will they succumb to the comfort zone of the creative industry deal, providing lightweight actions, that are really just designer objects, or will they find their own position, their own discourse, shed their roles of bad boys and girls in designer magazines and developer boardrooms?

Bernd Upmeyer: In this a-critical moment, do these tricky and popular “ideologies” offer a great chance to designers and urban planners, who in the name of the social or the green can act with more freedom?

WVS: Yes, but look at the roots of the a-critical attitude of present-day architects. Don’t you agree that the preachings of Rem Koolhaas of the early 1990s, against a critical attitude towards the mega-urbanization in Asia, was a pioneering moment in this a-critical attitude? Critics of the autocratic regimes in Singapore, China, later the Arab states, were being castigated and silenced for being arrogant and neo-colonial. I always found this an exasperating rhetorical trick; especially because you could not help thinking that it was self-serving, because the direction of this a-criticality always moved in the same direction as the offices portfolio. So you always got the feeling, that not the country’s government was being shielded, but the ethics of the office itself. (…)

BU: With what kind of urban ideologies do you think we are dealing at the moment? How do they relate to urban ideologies of the past?

WV: I continuously go back to 1980s and 1990s. Embracing monster capitalist machines was kind of sexy, attractive. Today cities are looked at as products that have to compete on a global level and they are manipulated by people that operate at that global level, from the outside. I started losing my belief in this metropolitanism. (…)

BU: Once we accept the failure and impossibility of true ideologies, how do you see the tendency of borrowing the esthetics and imagery of brilliant past ideologies and stripping them from their meaning and turning them into current dogmas?

BR: For example, the fascination with the images from Superstudio’s Monumento Continuo, which were made to fiercely criticize capitalism, globalization, and the last Modern Movement of the sixties, but now these images are taken almost as real architecture proposals because of their striking beauty and monumentality. Isn’t it a little awkward the usage of images without regard their initial meaning?

WsV: I agree with this. But I even think that there is something more desperate about it. What you see is that ideology has become esthetics itself. It is something that you can buy into …(…)

You also see this with some of the neo-neorationalist architectural hypes being taught at the AA, Harvard, and the Berlage Institute, this armchair flirting with communism and socialism, without any real political engagement. Within the world of architecture, dead and buried ideologies are being used as designer objects, attributes or talisman, that get you access to tenure tracks, magazines and conferences.

I find it extremely perverse because it creates this jargon problem, this extremely incomprehensible elitist language. The language of architecture theory has becomes so convoluted, so obtuse, so…. That even the dumbest person can use it, because it just does not make any sense anyway. (…)

08-12-11 // ARTIST NO MORE

MONU's editor-in-chief Bernd Upmeyer has been interviewed by the Milan-based magazine "STUDIO".

STUDIO: Officially today we live in an urbanized world. More than 50% of humanity live in urban contexts. Is this the age of urbanity or the age of the crises complexity?
Bernd Upmeyer: If you ask me like that I would rather say that it is the age of urbanity, because crises always happened. It is not that we are just now having a lot of crises and we never had them before. But I also don't see exactly the relation between the age of urbanity and the crises we are facing at moment. First of all you have to define what kind of crises you're talking about. Today we are dealing for example with three main crises: the financial crisis, the climate crisis, but also the geo-political crisis.

STUDIO: So this is not an urban topic?
BU: That depends on what crisis you are talking about. The current financial crisis, for example, has of course an impact on cities, but cities did not produce the financial crisis to begin with. If you wish to talk about the relation of the climate crisis to cities, then you can of course also say that the recent enormous population growths of cities did not make the situation easier. However, we can speak of an urban age, mainly because of the vast movements of people from the countryside to the cities, which happened especially in Asia - a tendency that does not happen so much in the Western world, where cities are rather shrinking.

...continue reading the entire interview here.


MONU Magazine is currently part of the Melanchotopia exhibition at Rotterdam's Witte de With Gallery. For the duration of Melanchotopia, Witte de With is home to Pro qm from Berlin. Their owners have curated a special selection of titles to further explore the themes of Melanchotopia and include these together with books of the artists represented in the exhibition.

Melanchotopia is an exhibition that invites more than forty international artists to work with different venues in the city-center of Rotterdam – places where people live and work – and to activate their potential as spaces for ideas, discourse and invention. From large-scale interventions to very simple gestures, Melanchotopia supports a range of artistic practices that go beyond the classical approach to displaying art in public space. Working with the existing dynamics of the city, Witte de With’s intention is to bring forward the diverse layers of daily life in Rotterdam, creating a rich framework for subjective encounters. It is an exhibition about the reality of Rotterdam. Today, Rotterdam seems to be on hold between its past and its future: filled with nostalgia for the pre-WWII city and in wait for the utopian future, which is perpetually stalled in unfinished developments and reconstructions. Projections about yesterday and tomorrow drive the image of the city, that seems to lack a present. Melanchotopia performs the present of the city through the specific practice of each artist. Over the course of the exhibition (and remaining active until 31 December 2011) Witte de With’s galleries is reconfigured to become the epicenter of Melanchotopia. The projects, which spread throughout Rotterdam’s center, are brought together via a graphic mapping. Several art works and installations are also on show inside the epicenter and it is the site for numerous events. (description from Witte de With's website)


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...continue reading in Issues.

To get a printed copy of this new issue, please e-mail your order to The digital version can be downloaded on iTunes and Pocket Mags...more information can be found in Order .


The ARCHIZINES exhibition opened successfully on 5 November in the Front Members' Room at the AA School, 36 Bedford Square, London. The exhibition features MONU's issue #14 together with 59 other international magazines and runs until 14 December 2011.

MONU #14 is the most recent issue of the magazine, which illustrates very well where we stand at the moment. It displays its mature status and its achievement in surviving and prospering over the years. This issue is important because it shows how the magazine has developed since its foundation more than seven years ago from a very small, stapled together, black and white publication to one of the most relevant and one of the main independent publications focused exclusively on urbanism. Ever since the summer of 2004, when MONU's first issue on the topic of "Paid Urbanism" appeared, two issues were released regularly every year. This current issue of MONU shows more than ever that even in market-driven and post-critical times, a non-conformist niche publication such as MONU magazine, that collects critical articles, images, concepts, and urban theories from architects, urbanists and theorists from around the world, can exist and find its place of pride without bowing to "market forces". (Bernd Upmeyer's answer to Archizine's question "Why this issue is important and why it was selected for the exhibition?")

(Image 1+2: Valerie Bennett; Image 3: Sue Barr)


(Image: "Jeffrey returns to his home town from College to visit his father in hospital. On his way back from the hospital he happens to find a severed ear in the overgrown fields behind his home." Blue Velvet (1986), David Lynch. @De Laurentiis Entertainment Group)

Some six years ago and in one of our first issues - MONU #4 - one of the contributors explained "how suburbs destroy democracy" when people live in high degree of residential and cultural isolation and individualism. By that time he could not have forecasted that...continue reading in Submit.


During the summer MONU's issue #14 has been exhibited in Tokyo as part of the Futur Cultur Festival. The event was dedicated to those in the Tohoku region who lost their homes in the aftermath of the march 11th earthquake and tsunami. A short video of the event can be found on vimeo and a photo report on Designboom.


The Architectural Association in London is hosting an ARCHIZINES exhibition in London from 5 November to 14 December 2011. MONU will be showcased together with 59 other architectural magazines, fanzines and journals from 20 countries around the world and include video interviews with their creators.

Launched by Elias Redstone as an online research project in January 2011, with art direction by Folch Studio, Archizines celebrates and promotes a recent resurgence of alternative and independent architectural publishing. From the photocopied newsletter to beautifully bound magazines, each fanzine is a creative platform for the subject and the author. Together they provide a rich and unique window into how people relate to the spaces we inhabit. Across the world, publications are cultivating architectural commentary, criticism and research. Bucking the current trend for digital media, architects, artists and academics are producing printed matter that adds a dynamic, and often radical, voice to architectural discourse. Each magazine will be on show, while their authors will be represented in video interviews talking about their work.

08-07-11 // MONU #7 REPRINTED

After being sold out for about three years, MONU #7 on the topic of 2nd Rate Urbanism has been reprinted and is now available. To give a few examples, MONU #7 featured an interview with Floris Alkemade/OMA entitled "Dumped in Almere"; "I ROTterdam" by Charles Bessard and Nanne de Ru/ Powerhouse Company; and the "The Re-Creation of the European City" by Beatriz Ramo/ STAR. Browse the entire reprinted issue #7 on YouTube here.

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...continue reading here.


As of today, MONU Magazine on Urbanism is available digitally as an IPAD Application for Magazines using Apples' iPad, iPhone and MAC products. At the moment the available issues include MONU #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, and #13. They can be downloaded on iTunes and Pocket Mags.


MONU's issue #13 is currently exhibited at the Czech Design Gallery in Prague. The exhibition is entitled "We are closing in 21 days" and runs from May 9 until May 30, 2011. The event is organized by Oldschool
- a group project of three designers from Prague working in the field of visual communication, graphic design and fashion. The aim of the event is, apart from presenting fashion, to introduce foreign independent publishing to a wider czech audience.


Today we find ourselves in a jealous mood, yet at the same time disillusioned, looking back to the times when revolutionary urban ideologies were not only conceived but actually, unlike today, also truly believed in. Just think about the passionate ideas of the Situationist International, the rest of the new call for submissions in Submit (Image: Dexter, ready to kill. ©Showtime)


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?...continue reading here


MONU magazine will be exhibited and presented at the Milan Design Week 2011 from April 12 - 17. Bernd Upmeyer will speak about MONU on Friday, April 15 at 6pm at the Chiedi alla Polvere, via Cola Montano 24, Milan. MONU will be part of the Green Island. (Image: Vessel One by Adam Farlie, photo ©Adam Farlie, Milan Design Week 2009)


MONU is exhibited in the Espacio para el Arte y la Cultura (Espacio para el Arte y la Cultura, C/ San Antonio, 49, 28300 Aranjuez, Spain) in Aranjuez, a town located 48km south of Madrid. The exhibition opens on March 22 at 19:00 with a music session by the Sindicalistas / Autoplacer and runs until May 22, 2011.


MONU will be presented at Basel's Young Art Fair entitled LISTE from June 14 - 19, 2011.
LISTE is the discoverer fair for young galleries and young art. Every year since its opening in 1996, the LISTE has presented new and important galleries and highly contemporary young art. The LISTE's concept of introducing galleries in general no more than 5 years old and artists under 40 has been at the heart of its being one of the most important fairs for young art and still being considered one of the art world’s most important discoverer fair. (Image 1and 3: Daniel Spehr, photographer; Image 2: Courtesy LABOR, Mexico D.F)


MONU's Most Valuable Urbanism Debate was a great success. The main statements of the presentations and the debate of Piet Vollaard, Floris Alkemade, Jaap van den Bout, Adriaan Geuze and MONU's editor in chief Bernd Upmeyer will be published in MONU's coming issue on the topic of "Editing Urbanism" by the beginning of April.

09-02-11 // MONU #11 REPRINTED

After being sold out for a couple of months, MONU #11 on Clean Urbanism has been reprinted and is available again. To get a single printed copy of MONU #11, please e-mail your order to

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?”...


ARCHI ZINES is a showcase of new fanzines, journals and magazines from around the world that provide an alternative discourse to the established architectural press. Launched by Elias Redstone, with art direction by Folch Studio, the project celebrates and promotes publishing as an arena for architectural commentary, criticism and research, and as a creative platform for new photography, illustration and design.

Alternative and independent publishing has had a dynamic and important relationship with architecture over the years, with prolific moments in the 1960s, 1970s and 1990s. A recent resurgence has seen new titles emerging in many countries, from Argentina, Belgium and Chile to the UK and USA. ARCHI ZINES brings together this international collection of publications for the first time as an important resource for architects, designers, critics, photographers and anyone interested in discussing the buildings and spaces we inhabit.

ARCHI ZINES is an expanding archive of the best publications from 2000s to the latest releases, and is growing as new titles and issues are acquired. The publications themselves vary in style (from photocopied zines to professionally printed and bound magazines) and content (from architectural research to personal narratives about buildings and cities). The commonality is a shared interest in documenting and discussing the spaces we occupy in ways that more mainstream or professional publications do not. As well as adding to architectural discourse, they are lovingly made objects to hold and to keep.


After the success of the "De Zines" exhibition at "la casa encendida" in Madrid, Spain, the show opens its doors again in Zaragoza in the "Espacio para el Arte". More than 400 independent international publications (magazines, fanzines, artbooks and others) will be shown. The opening will be on Tuesday, January 25 at 19:00. The exhibition will run until March 13.


MONU - magazine on urbanism is organizing a public debate on the topic of its last issue: MONU #13 - Most Valuable Urbanism on Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. in "De Machinist" in Rotterdam.

The debate will be moderated by Piet Vollaard and the panel will include four people with four different ideological backgrounds in order to discuss the topic in a rich and diverse way and to provoke a lively and productive clash of ideas and opinions. The panel members are: Floris Alkemade, Ashok Bhalotra, Jaap van den Bout, and Adriaan Geuze. The entire event will be in English.

The topic "Most Valuable Urbanism" will be used as the starting point for the debate, but with a focus on the Dutch context and Dutch cities. The aim of the debate is to discuss the topic "Most Valuable Urbanism" among the Dutch public and to critically reflect on traditional Dutch city values. The main questions of the debate will be:
What is a good and what is a bad city? How should we evaluate cities in this day and age? Which city might be the most valuable, producing the most valuable urbanism and what kind of criteria should be applied to define valuable urbanism? What role do architects and urban designers play in the production of valuable urbanism?

De Machinist
Willem Buytewechstraat 45
3024 BK Rotterdam

10.02.2011, 7:00 p.m.

The debate is sold out


MONU has been invited to be part of the collection of the newly launched digital library No Layout . No Layout is an online library for independent publishers, focusing on art books and fashion magazines. It is meant as a support for printed publications, allowing users to flip through full content on any screen without downloads or apps. A promotional and archive tool.

Three issues of MONU are currently showcased: MONU #5 - Brutal Urbanism; MONU #10 - Holy Urbanism; and MONU #12 - Real Urbanism. The following articles are fully readable on any screen for free:

#5: The Return of the Repressed by Loïc Wacquant; 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
#10: The Sacred and the Holy: Transient Urban Spaces by Colin Davies; Peace Through Superior Horsepower by Speedism; The Mormon Church's Infrastructure of Salvation by Jesse LeCavalier
Real Creativity: A Case for Ethical Freedom in Architecture by Randall Teal; Life without Architects - Interview with Magriet Smit by Bernd Upmeyer; Market Value(s) by STAR; Rotterdam is a Whore - Interview with Andre Kempe by Beatriz Ramo and Bernd Upmeyer

06-12-10 // MONU'S CHRISTMAS OFFER 2010

From December 6 until December 31 MONU offers:

1. A 1 year subscription (2 issues) for only €20 instead of €22,50 (saving 20% on cover price instead of 10%) + shipping.
2. A 2 year subscription (4 issues) for only €35 instead of €40 (saving 30% on cover price instead of 20%) + shipping.
3. A 50% discount on one copy if 2 issues of any # are purchased at once.
4. A 25% discount on each copy if 3 issues of any # are purchased at once.

If you are interested, please e-mail your order to


These days, the need for new buildings or entire city quarters is decreasing or even ceasing to exist altogether - at least in the Western world - due to the demographic changes and financially difficult times. Ever since, architects and urban designers, who were trained by schools that focused their education first of all on the past and mainly taught urban and architectural restoration, preservation, renovation, redevelopment, or adaptive reuse of old structures might be best prepared for a future, in which cities will be edited rather than extended or even newly designed.

In such a future, which has become reality in most Western cities of this day and age, architects and urban planners will become urban the rest of the new call for submissions in Submit


MONU magazine has been featured as "cool & strange" in the issue #6 2010 of the Korean edition of ELLEgirl.


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...continue reading here.


MONU magazine on urbanism has been invited to be on display at the Baltimore Book Festival in Maryland, USA from September 24-26, 2010. The festival took place in the historic and picturesque Mount Vernon Place. MONU was part of an exhibition called “Creative Control”, a collection of zines, self-published and independent art books and magazines.


MONU magazine on urbanism #12 on "Real Urbanism" is being exhibited at "la casa encendida" in Madrid, Spain. The exhibition entitled "de zines", curated by Roberto Vidal and Oscar Martín, features independent publications (magazines, fanzines, artbooks and others). Around 400 international works are shown from June 29th, 2010 throughout all the summer.


MONU magazine on urbanism is being exhibited as part of a "research library" and magazine show during the NEXT art fair in Chicago from April 30 to May 3, 2010.


Just like 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... read more here!


MONU magazine will be exhibited during the "Bookmark Nagoya" event in the city of Nagoya, Japan. The exhibition will take place from March 20th to April 20th 2010. More than 50 organizations will exhibit rare publications, vintage books, magazines, picture books from around the world. Various conferences with editors and writers take place, as well as temporary book making workshops among others are offered for all generations.


From November 20 until December 31 MONU offers a 50% discount on the issues MONU #5 - BRUTAL URBANISM and MONU #6 - BEAUTIFUL URBANISM. To get a single copy of #5 or #6 (Soft cover; Black/White; 84 pages; 27 x 20 cm) for €5 (+ NL €1,76 EU €2,96 Non-EU €5,70 shipping + ~4% PayPal fees), please e-mail your order to


MONU magazine on urbanism will be exhibited during the TOKYO DESIGN WEEK from October 30th to November 3rd 2009 inside the main venue of the 100% DESIGN TOKYO hall. The Magazine Library space
will be in the center of the main venue.


The A Few Zines show has been in New York and Boston, and is now coming to Los Angeles. The LA Forum hosts the insta-show for three days on Hollywood Blvd. The festivities kick off Friday, August 14 with a panel discussion and opening party. (photos taken by Bryan Jackson and John Southern)


The exhibition will take place from May 22 to June 2 with daily opening times from 12:00-19:30.

- LISTE 09 FROM JUNE 9 - 14

Every year since its opening in 1996, the LISTE - the Young Art Fair in Basel has presented new and important galleries and highly contemporary young art. The LISTE, by introducing galleries in general that are no more than 5 years old and artists under 40, is considered as one of the most important fairs for young art and one of the art world’s most important discoverer fair.


MONU - magazine on urbanism has been selected from magazines around the world to be exhibited from March 5 to March 14 2009 in a temporary magazine library in the Omotesando Hills building complex in Tokyo,
Japan. MONU will be part of the MOOH event: "The Magazine of Omotesando Hills Library".