amo: paradoxes
July 4, 2012, 2:17 pm
Filed under: departure lounge | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Row row row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily merrily merrily merrily, life is but a dream.

In the world of architecture and the built environment, wishful thinking is in the ascendent in direct proportion to the decline of relevancy and action.  We’re dreaming and the real world becomes more and more inaccessible.

This information graphic is by AMO, a part of their proposal for a new architecture and planning school in Moscow.  It describes a crisis in planning education which they cheekily propose to put at the heart of their new school and curriculum.

I’ve written some – maybe mostly redundant – notes in reaction:

ENERGY – We are hyper aware of sustainability … and doing virtually nothing about it.  Our new discourse and methods for sustainability are sneakily designed to propagate the same disastrous planning ideals that were used to make the giant unsustainable mess we now live in.

DESIGN – We lavish praise and awards on designs and designers; their work and names become household names … even as the designs fail in fundamental ways to meet the aspirations of basic briefs.

PUBLIC SPACE – Tech is a decades long, 24 hour, djayd hit parade – ‘what’s apple up to now?  how ’bout now?’ ‘and goo –?’ ‘and face –‘ – … and the real world we inhabit and share and touch and feel means less and less.

PRESERVATION – For this generation, nostalgia is everything, but nostalgia is an empty shell.  Memory, on the other hand, remembers the things nostalgia yearns for, but unlike nostalgia, rigorously inducts them into a real present.

THINNING – We are building ever further and and ever thinner … to the direct detriment of our ability to make ‘intense’ use of the places we inhabit.

Source:  AMO, Strelka

the juxtaposition of two holes
June 16, 2010, 4:52 pm
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life | Tags: ,

In the following paragraph, there are two visions of how we live and occupy our environments publicly.  The first is a ‘left over’ vision that has us milling about in streets, vestigial, undesigned, shopping, getting here and there.  The second is the iconic monumental space that has become more an empty symbol than a real place of public engagement.

The European architect characteristically wants a way out of the limitations and stifling hierarchies imposed on him by his built environment.  And the North American planner longs for a public realm that will allow him escape from his private life which has more or less overtaken him.  Their visions quite accurately describe how we live today:  in North America, we live our public lives in places that are designed for something else – commerce, transport; and in Europe we live in places that were once, a long time ago, designed for collective engagement but have long since lost their vital, proper meaning.

Interestingly, and to provide some context, Roberto Unger, the author and a professor of law, is scolding a panel of luminary design professionals who he moderated in a discussion about public space at Harvard University.  Half way through the discussion, he decided his panel was smart but shockingly passive.  The professionals, to a person, saw their roles in society as merely meeting the briefs of their clients.  Money talks.  No vision.

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