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Hiaz.CitiesOnTheMover1.1 - 05 Jul 2005 - 13:16 - TWikiGuesttopic end

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Cities on the move

by HansUlrichObrist project website http://www.rama9art.org/citiesonthemove/

My lecture is a little like a Russian "matrushka", a series of dolls within a doll; I will be holding lectures within a lecture. I will in fact be speaking about "Cities on the Move": On the one hand I will be talking about the exhibition ‘Cities on the Move‘, which Hou Hanru and I organised. I will not speak about it in terms of its art side nor in terms of its exhibition side, but rather in terms of its research. As this conference has to do with urbanism, I thought it more interesting to talk about the research into urbanism that Hou Hanru and I conducted in Asia in the 1990s, looking at the city as a kind of laboratory. On the other hand I will be holding a lecture within my lecture about Cedric Price – the great visionary urbanist architect who opened his office in London in 1960. He just celebrated the fortieth birthday of his office a few days ago. It is a kind of a dynamic form of memory I hope, a non-nostalgic form of remembrance, to put Cedric Price's work in a contemporary context. There seems to be an amnesia about certain experimental forms of urbanism in the 1960s. They have a lot to do with non-permanent solutions, with the limited life spans of buildings, the limited life spans even of cities. Cedric Price has often referred to Angkor Wat, to the fact that cities can die. I am referring here to the whole idea of having a very different notion of time – in an Asian context very often an ephemeral notion of time in relation to cities and buildings. I also wish to show though that there has been a very strong emphasis on this in a European context too. In the 1960s there were interesting links between these experimental urban ideas in England on the one hand, thinking of Cedric Price, but also of Archigram, and, on the other hand, metabolism in Japan. Ongoing contact began very, very early, as both Peter Cook and Arato Isozaki respectively confirmed for me in several interviews I have done with each of them.

Another moment when the phrase ‘Cities on the Move‘ was used was in an interview I did five or six years ago with Massimo Cacciari, philosopher and former Mayor of Venice. He spoke about cities on the move in relation to the European city. I would like to cite Cacciari: ‘Today I believe, that a city is the territory that can give roots and be in relation with the other, to host and be hosted at the same time‘. Cities on the move, always mobile, always in danger, but always capable of taking care of themselves. Hou Hanru – a Chinese curator and art critic – and I began this joint research at the start of the 1990s. We first discussed the issues and then we began travelling together. Our journeys took us to various Asian cities, for example Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Hou Hanru went to Taipei; I went to Seoul. We visited several other cities together, including many Chinese cities. In essence we were studying the extremely rapidly changing urban condition. The point of departure to further intensify this research had actually been an invitation by the Secession in Vienna, in the context of its hundredth birthday. We were invited to organise an exhibition which would show the urbanisation and high speed of transformation throughout the 1990s. At the same time, however, a further objective was to give information about the very interesting emergence of inventions of different kinds of modernities as we find them in Asia since the 1950/60s. I already mentioned metabolism but there are obviously also other pioneers, such who have been working in a Singaporean context ever since the 1960's, like William Lim and Thoy Kheng Song. One of the aims of the exhibition was thus to make all of this visible and give it a platform in a museum. On the other hand, a further aim was to also somehow show in a critical way the city as a locus of conflict. This very considerable tension is, on the one hand, a kind of almost apocalyptic issue and, on the other hand, an issue of apotheosis. This later aspect is very clearly reflected in the way in which numbers and superlatives are dealt with find in many cities in Asia, where numbers are apotheosised. Think for example of the permanent race to construct the world's highest building, the tallest hotel being in Singapore, the highest building being Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur etc. Fifteen of the world's twenty-three mega-cities are in Asia. All of these superlatives can be regarded from the perspective of apotheosis, but also in an apocalyptic way. Consider, for example, that the average traffic velocity in a city like Bangkok has reached less than four kilometres per hour.

A further important factor in our research was what Koichi Taki, the Japanese architecture critic and philosopher, assessed as the potential of the city to transgress national boundaries. In the exhibition we thus attempted to show these very active transnational dialogues, which exist through the discourse and debates about the city. A number of extremely interesting conferences have been organised by and for a young up-and-coming generation of architects in Taipei, in China, in Japan, to a certain extent purposefully rotating the conference locations. Thus, besides exploring the 1960s history referred to, the exhibition also aimed to highlight this very young generation. The exhibition retained an aspect of ongoing research in the sense that it was designed as a travelling show and defined as a laboratory. It actually uses the travelling show to make a longer range of research possible. There was never a finite list of artists or architects. There was never a finite list of participants or topics. Every venue was completely different, each has a different exhibition architect. The exhibition attempted to initiate more exchange between art and architecture and to trigger a kind of promiscuous collaboration between different practitioners not only within the exhibition but also beyond the framework of the exhibition. In this sense, the time frame needed was quite extensive and this seems to be quite difficult in the current exhibition situation where less and less time is made available to carry out research. The travelling show was thus seen as one possibility to circumvent this; by not being a travelling show that simply travels from one city to the next, but rather a show that always adapts to the local circumstances, etc.

The first venue in Vienna was designed by Yung Ho Cheong, a Chinese architect. The second venue was in Bordeaux. The London venue was designed by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren. It was important for us to emphasise the exhibition architecture as an almost oppressed aspect of architectural history, to give this a new significance and to work very closely with the participants on the exhibition design. I mentioned the aspect of apotheosis. There is obviously also an apocalyptic aspect, which is the whole issue of ecology. This was a substantial chapter about the all suffocating traffic jam culture for example. Besides this the exhibition also contained many references to an Asian embodiment of harmony. One can think of Isozaki's reference to reintroducing concepts of Feng Shui as an almost tentative fiction basically, to deconstruct the dominance of the West as Isozaki calls it.

I mentioned the lecture within the lecture. One could also mention the show within the show, because a city always hides another city. An exhibition as a performative space about the city always hides another exhibition. Thus, within the exhibition there have been many exhibitions. In London, for example, Shigero Ban's paper tube architecture demonstration on the roof terrace of the Hayward Gallery was essentially a temporary autonomous zone. Salon Three was an exhibition space which Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, Maria Lind and I founded in a shopping mall, the Elephant and Castle. This was a rather difficult space in terms of installing anything because it had hundreds of electrical sockets in the walls – it had once been an electrical shop. We decided to make an annexe to ‘Cities on the Move‘ called ‘The Plug-in City‘. This was a homage to Peter Cook's concept of the plug-in city. All participants in ‘Cities on the Move‘ and some others were invited to contribute an object that can be plugged into the wall. Thus, little by little, the initially empty space filled as a kind of complex exhibition with these different sorts of plug-in mementos. ‘Cities on the Move‘ developed through happenstance. The exhibition can be seen as a network. A previous speaker spoke of links to neurology. I draw the analogy again because a very strong emphasis within the exhibition was placed on the idea of the city involving positive feedback, feedback-loops. This metaphor can be extended to the role of positive feedback-loops in learning that the exhibition as a city becomes a kind of learning system.

We now come to the lecture within my lecture about the great visionary Cedric Price. He actually made a drawing for "Cities on the Move", showing the kind of time-based notion of finite location and mobile or infinite locals. He presents the exhibition as a kind of time sequence. The drawing was actually designed for the Bangkok version of "Cities on the Move", in which there was no fixed museum. All other venues had an exhibition centre. In Bangkok there was none, so the exhibition took place all over the city. When we discussed this version of "Cities on the Move" with Cedric Price, he wrote that he thinks that would be particularly important would be it's dependence on change and the media. I cite Cedric Price here: "And the time is the key element, the first dimension. Height, breadth, length and time. In the Bangkok exhibition time is the key, because the whole nature, not the presentation of materials and ideas, but the actual consuming usage of ideas and images exists in time, so the actual value of doing the show is a sort of immediacy, an awareness of time that isn't in somewhere like London or indeed Manhattan. A city that doesn't change and replays itself is a dead city. But the question is whether one should use the word 'cities' anymore. I think it's a questionable term." The term ‘city’ is thus itself now up for discussion – Cedric Price has asked whether it is not in fact obsolete. I would like to continue here by quoting the very interesting Indian writer Ravi Sundaram, who also wrote for ‘Cities on the Move‘ about this questionable term in relation to the future of the city: ‘And the futures? Perhaps in about ten, twenty years new urban constellations will emerge in Asia with little reference to the secular history of the Western city. An entirely new phenomenon with distinct narratives of transnationality. The discussion of ‘city’ perhaps being a questionable term and in how far a new term could be invented has continued. Cedric Price has pondered what might replace the word ‘city’. Certainly not 'megalopolis' or anything like that due to the difficulty in pronouncing the term. Cedric Price said: ‘Maybe a word associated with the human awareness of time turning to a noun which relates to space. I haven't thought of the word, yet, but it shouldn't be too difficult.‘ Further on he wrote that the term should be ‘edible and sufficient‘.

Basically to further emphasise the necessity for a new term, Hou Hanru and I started to work on a list. We wanted to compile a kind of A to Z, pars pro toto, always obviously just a segment of the different cities that pop up in the "Cities on the Move" discussion. Pars pro toto: A City, Abandoned City, ABCity, Abject City, Abstract City, Acme City, Actor-Network City, Actual City, Ad-hoc City, Additive City, Affect City, Affirmative City, African City, Agglomeration City, Aggregative City, Agora City, Agricultural City, Aids City, Air City, Airconditioning City, Airport City, Airship City, Airstrip City, Alarm City, Alert City, Alternative City, Alfa City, Alpha City, Amazon City, Ambiguous City, Amorphous City, Anatomic City, And-so-on-City, American City, Anal City, Analog City, Analoguous City, Angel City, Angle City, Animal City, Animate City, Annual City, Anonymous City, Anti City, Anticipatory City, Any City, Apocalyptic City, Apotheotic City, Arcade City, Archaic City, Archipelag City, Arti City, Artisanal City, Ash City, Asian City, As-it-could-be City, Astral City, Asylum City, Atopic City, A-to-Z City, Automobile City, Autonomous City, Babylonic City, Bag City, Balance City, Bamboo City, Banal City, Bank City, Baroque City, Bastard City, Bath City, Baton City, Beginning City, Best City, Better City, Beyond City, Be Yourself City, Big City, Bike City, Bio City, Bioclimatic City, Bird City, Bird-eye City, Bit City, Bite City, Blitz City, Blood City, Blow City, Blow Out City, Blur City, Body City, Bold City, Book City, Boom City, Box City, Brain City, Brand City, Brave City, Breathing City, Bridge City, Brilliant City, Broadacre City, Broken City, Bubble City, Bunker City, Bustling City, Busy City, Button City, Cable City, Calibration City, Camp City, Camping City, Campus City, Capital City , Caprice City, Capsule City, Captive City, Car City, Cartoon City, Casino City, Cell City, Centre City, Centreless City, Chaos City, Characteristic City, Children City, Choice City, Cine City, City City, City on the Move, Clandestine City, Cliff City, Climax City, Clip City, Cloaca City, Cloud City, Club City, Cluster City, Coaxial City, Cohab City, Cold City, Collab City, Collapse City, Collage City, College City, Collective City, Collision City, Colour City, Combinational City, Coming City, Coming-to-be City, Commercial City, Commodity City/City-as-commodity, Communal City, Commuter City, Compact City, Compassion City, Competition City, Complex City, Complex-dynamic City, Compu City, Computer City, Concentration City, Conclave City, Conclusive City, Concrete City, Confused City, Conglomerate City, Comprehensive City, Consolidated City, Constant City, Constellation City, Construction City, Container City, Contemporary City, Context City, Continent City, Continental City, Conversion City, Cool City, Cord City, Cordless City, Core City, Corporate City, Correspondence City, Corridor City, Cosmic City, Countless City, Coupling City, Crazy City, Cream City, Creative City, Creol City, Crime City, Criss City, Critical City, Crowd City, Crumpled City, Cross City, Crossing City, Cruise City, Crying City, Crystal City, Cult City, Cumulative City, Cutting-edge City, Cyber City, Cybernetic City, Cyborg City, Cynical City, Damned City, Dark City, Darrow City, Data City, Date City, Day City, Dead City, Dead-end City, Decentred City, Declining City, Deconstruction City, Decoy City, Defense City, Definite City, Delirious City, Demo City, Demon City, DenCity?, Departure City, Derelict City, Derregulation City, Desert City, Detached City, Device City, Diamond City, Diaspora City, Diffuse City, Dilate City, Dim City, Dirt City, Disaster City, Disintegral City, Discourse City, Discovery City, Dismantled City, Disposal City, Distinctive City, Distorted City, Divercity, Dizzy City, DNS City, Doc City, Dogma City, Do-it City, Do-it-again City, Doll City, Doom City, Door City, Double City, Doubt City, Down City, Drag City, Drainage City, Dream City, Drop City, Drug City, Drum City, Dull City, Dust City, Dust Cloud City, Dwelling City, Dynamo City, Dystopian City, E-City, Earth City, Earthbound City, Easy City, Ebola City, Echo City, Eco City, Eco-Media City, Ecstacity, Ecumenic City, Edge City, Edible City, Edo City, Effect City, Electric City, Electronic City, Elementary City, Elusive City, Emergency City, Emergent City, Empty City, Enclave City, End City, Enhanced City, Enigmatic City, Entertainment City, Entropic City, Ephemeral City, Erosion City, Erotic City, Erratic City, Escalator City, Esoteric City, Etcetera City, Ether City, European City, Ever City, Every City, Everything-but-the-City, Everywhere City, Ex City, Exacerbated City, Excuberant City, Excuse City, Exhibition City, Expanding City, Expensive City, Experimental City, Exploding City, Explose City, Export City, Extension City, Extra City, Extraterrestrial City, Fabulous City, Façade City, Factory City, Fair City, Falls City, Fame City, Fax City, Fast City, Feather City, Feedback City, Financial City, Fire City, First City, Fist City, Flat City, Floating City, Flood City, Flow City, Fluctuation City, Fluid City, Flux City, Fly City, Folly City, Footnote City, Foreseen City, Forest City, Format City, Formated City, Fort City, Fortress City, Fountain City, Fragile City, Free City, Free-flying City, Freeform City, Freeway City, Frenzy City, Fringe City, Frivolous City, Frontier City, Fuck City, Fuck-Context City, Functional City, Funnel City, Fuse City, Future City, Futurist City, Fuzzy City, Gallery City, Game City, Gap City, Garden City, Gate City, Gateway City, Gay City, Generic City, Genetic City, Geodesic City, Ghetto City, Ghost City, Giant City, Glam City, Global City, Glocal City, Gonna City, Gorgeous City, Gossip City, Gotha City, Gothic City, Graffiti City, Great City, Greek City, Green City, Grey City, Grey Realm City, Groundless City, Group City, Growing City, Growth City, Gulag City, Gum City, Hang-on City, Happening City, Harbour City, Hard City, Harmony City, Heart City, Heavy City, Her City, Heterogenic City, Hideous City, High Tech City, Highway City, Hip Hop City, His City, Hoax City, Holistic City, Holland City, Holographic City, Holy City, Homogenic City, Hope City, Horizontal City, Hot City, House City, Hovering City, Hub City, Huge City, Hurry City, Hybrid City, Hyper City, Ice City, Ideal City, Illegal City, Imaginary City, Imagination City, Immaterial City, Immediate City, Immersive City, Imperfect City, Inanimate City, Indefinite City, Indifferent City, Individual City, Industrial City, Infiltration City, Infinite City, Inflatable City, Infra City, Inhibited City, Inner City, Insertive City, Instant City, Instrumental City, Intangible City, Integral City, Intelligent City, IntenCity?, Inter City, Interchange City, Interconnected City, Interdisciplinary City, Interest City, Interface City, Interfolded City, Interior City, International City, Intermediate City, Interval City, Interwined City, Intra City, Invisible City, Island City, Isotropic City, Joint City, Jargon City, Jumbo City, Jump City, Jumpcut City, Junk City, Just-in-time City, Kaleidoscope City, Kid City, King City, Knowledge City, Kool City, Kraftwerk City, Lab City, Label City, Labor City, Labyrinthe City, Laid-back City, Landmark City, Language City, Large-scale City, Last City, Layered City, Leaf City, Learning City, Lego City, Leisure City, Level City, Life City, Light City, Liminal City, Limited City, Linear City, Lion City, Liquid City, Live City, Living City, Load City, Local City, Loft City, Loop City, Loser City, Love City, Lung City, Lure City, Machine City, Macro City, Madang City, Magari City, Magic City, Magnet City, Magnificent City, Mail City, Mailorder City, Major City, Mall City, Malleable City, Manga City, Manifesta City, Manifesto City, Marine City, Mark City, Market City, Mathematical City, Matruschka City, Matrix City, Maybe City, Mayor City, Maximum City, Mean City, Mecano City, Mechanical City, Media City, Mediated City, Medical City, Medieval City, Medium City, Medusa City, Meeting City, Mega City, Megalo City, Memory City, Mental City, Merge City, Meta City, Metaphoric City, Meteorite City, Micro City, Middle City, Migration City, Milk City, Millenium City, Mini City, Minimal City, Minor City, Mitigated City, Mixing City, Mobile City, Model City, Modern City, Modest City, Modular City, Module City, Moebius City, Molecular City, Monad City, Money City, Mono City, Monopoly City, Monumental City, Moon City, More City, More-than-all City, Morphing City, Mosaic City, Multifunctional City, Multinational City, Mundane City, Must City, Museum City, Mutable City, Mutant City, My City, Mythology City, Naked City, Nano City, Narrow City, National City, Naval City, Near City, Negotiation City, Neo City, Neobabylonic City, Neon City, Neorealist City, Nerd City, Nerve City, Neuro City, Neuronal City, New City, Nested City, Net City, Network City, Neural City, Never City, New City, Niche City, Night City, No City, Node City, No go City, Noise City, Nomadic City, Nonlinear City, Nonplace City, Nonstop City, Noplan City, Northern City, Nostalgic City, No Stop City, Notable City, Not-a-City, No-Techno City, Nothing City, Number City, Oasis City, Oblique City, Obsessive City, Obvious City, Ocean City, Odd City, Office City, OK City, Old City, Only City, Open City, Open-to-sky-City, Option City, Oral City, Orchard City, Organ City, Organic City, Original City, Oscillation City, Ougth-to-be-a-city, Our City, Ouss City, Out City, Outer City, Oxygen City, Oyster City, Ozone City, Paint City, Palm City, Pan City, Panoptic City, Panorama City, Para City, Parallel City, Park City, Passage City, Passing City, Patchwork City, Pathological City, Patient City, Pavillion City, Pedestrian City, Pee Cee City, People's City, Performance City, Performative City, Periodic City, Peripathetic City, Peristaltic City, Pervasive City, Phantom City, Piazza City, Pilot City, Piss City, Pixel City, Pizza City, Placard City, Placebo City, Plan City, Plant City, Pleasure City, Plug-in-City, Pneumatic City, Pocket City, Political City, Pompous City, Poor City, Pop-Up City, Porno City, Port City, Portable City, Portal City, Portfolio City, Post City, Post-it City, Postcard City, Posthuman City, Postidentarian City, Postindustrial City, Post-it City, Postmodern City, Postnational City, Posturban City, Precinct City, Preemptive City, Prefab City, Present City, Present-day City, Pretext City, Price City, Priceless City, Private City, Procedural City, Process City, Programmable City, Programme City, Project City, Promiscuous City, Prosperous City, Protein City, Proto City, Proud City, Proxy City, Psychogeographic City, Public City, Public Transport City, Pulse City, Punch City, Pyramid City, Quantum City, Quartz City, Quasi City, Queen City, Queer City, Radiant City, Radio City, Radious City, Rain City, Ramified City, Ramp City, Random City, Ready City, Ready Made City, Real City, Realised City, Realistic City, Reconnection City, Refugee City, Regional City, Regulation City, Reject City, Relational City, Remapping City, Renaissance City, Rent-a-City, Repressive City, Reserve City, Residential City, Residual City, Resist City, Resistance City, Resurrection City, Revolution City, Rhizomatic City, Rhizome City, Rhizoming City, Rich City, Rim City, Ring City, Riot City, Rising City, Rite City, Road City, Roadless City, Rock City, Rogue City, Romantic City, Roof City, Rose City, Rough City, Row City, Royal City, Rubble City, Ruin City, Rumour City, Running City, Rural City, Rush City, Sale City, Sand City, Sandwich City, Scadenza City, Scan City, Scene City, Schizophrenic City, Science City, Sci-fi City, Scoop City, Scream City, Screen City, Sea City, Season City, Secret City, Security City, Sedative City, Self-organised City, Semi City, Sex City, Sequential City, Service City, Sewer City, Shadow City, Shanty City, Shaman City, Sharp City, Shopping City, Side by Side City, Sign City, Signal City, Sim City, Simple City, Sin City, Sinking City, Skin City, Skinny City, Sky City, Skyline City, Slacker City, Slam City, Sleepless City, Slick City, Slow City, Snow City, So-and-so City, So-called City, Social City, Soft City, Software City, So-long City, Sonic City, Sore City, Sorry City, Soul City, Sound City, So What City, Space City, Spacetime City, Sparkling City, Spatial City, Speed City, Sphere City, Spider City, Spiral City, Splendid City, Sprawl City, Sprawling City, Spreading City, Stage City, Star City, Start Up City, State City, State-of-the-art City, Stereo City, Still City, Stir City, Stop City, Story City, Straight City, Strategic City, Street City, Stress City, Stretched City, String City, Stroll City, Strong City, Structural City, Studio City, Substitute City, Subtle City, Suburban City, Succeeding City, Success City, Sudden City, Suicide City, Sun City, Sunbelt City, Super City, Superblock City, Super-fluid City, Suprematic City, Surreal City, Surrogate City, Survival City, Syntax City, System City, Tactile City, Take-off City, Taste City, Techno City, Tekno City, Tele City, Telematic City, Temporary Autonomous City, Temptation City, Tender City, Temple City, Temporary City, Tenacity, Tenant City, Tender City, Tent City, Tentacle City, Tentative City, Term City, Terminal City, THE City, Their City, Theme City, Thick City, Thin City, Think City, This-way City, Ticklish City, Time City, Time-warp City, Toast City, Toll City, Tool City, Tool-Kit City, Tower City, Trading City, Traffic City, Trans City, Transact City, Transexperience City, Transgressive City, Transitory City, Transnational City, Transvestite City, Trauma City, Travelling City, Travesia City, Travesty City, Tree City, Tri City, Trickling City, Trojan City, Tropical City, True City, Try City, Tuned City, Tunnel City, TV City, Twin City, Twisted City, U City, UFO City, Un-City, UN City, Unbound City, Uncertain City, Underground City, Unfinished City, Unforeseen City, Uninhibited City, Unitary City, Unlimited City, Unrealised City, Unrealistic City, Unstable City, Urban Mark City, Utopian City, Value City, Vanishing City, Vast City, Vegan City, Velcro City, Velo City, Vernacular City, Verge City, Vertical City, Very City, Vespa City, Vice City, Vicity, Video City, Village City, Vintage City, Virgin City, Virtual City, Vital City, Voyage City, Vulgar City, Walking City, War City, Wash City, Waste City, Water City, Waterproof City, Weak City, Weather City, Web City, Weird City, Whale City, What City, What If City, While City, Why Not City, Wide City, Widespread City, Wild City, Wind City, Winner City, Wired City, Wood City, Working City, World City, Worldwide City, Worse City, Worst City, Wrist City, Wrong City, www.City, X City, X-file City, X-ray City, You City, You-Too City, Your City, Youth City, Zero Degree City , Zip City, Zombie City, Zone City, 3D City, 100 Percent City, @ City

More about Cedric Price: He commented upon his time based architecture in a sound document: ‘Technology is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as the ‘science and industrial arts’ and in the fun-palace designed in 1961 for Joan Littlewood. I tried to achieve in effect a large mechanised shipyard in which various structures could be built from above by means of gantries, travelling-cranes and beams. These structures would continue the activities as shown simply in themselves but would, through modifying, be capable of being altered while the building was occupied. Access to such structures could be achieved by means of escalators which radiated through 270 degrees from ground level. The whole structure therefore being constantly changing and such change being achieved by the sort of techniques, materials and technologies already at that time available in advanced engineering and shipbuilding and aircraft production. The reason for the employment of such techniques was to ease up the choice, to free the opportunities of the individual user as to what they would do next. So one was using a tight, carefully designed technology to achieve a loose, freewill social pattern and that, of course, is the reason why the ground floor was left clear. Even once in the building you still had an opportunity to decide which way to go. In 1978 another project at ‘Price, the Interaction Centre‘ was completed. But this time in North London. The fun-palace having been in East London, again in an area socially deprived and with poor environmental quality. In this case the client is a charitable trust, interaction trust. They not only do work in the immediate vicinity for the community but have a number of other services and activities in hospitals, theatres, community groups in a larger area which need to be serviced by this particular structure. Therefore it is not only a community centre but it is also the headquarters of a community service. It is a difficult site by the railway and with old buildings surrounding it. Once again, like the fun-palace, it is contained within a structure which is not entirely filled. This building is to last for only twenty years and that which it contains may increase over the twenty years or may decrease, but the overall controlling structure and services grid remains the same, thus preventing other people short of land from poaching. During construction, as often happens with works for charitable groups, money ran short. This was turned to advantage in the case of the interaction centre because we could occupy the frame, which was then serviced, and the existing foundations with travelling events that would not normally be housed there. The structure was, for example, used to contain a fairground. The fairground was not only of use to the community. It gave the clients an opportunity to asses the eventual volume of space that they would have under their control. Therefore the building while building became in effect a working model. Once again, the time element in when a building is useful for its users or for its operators was blurred. This can only happen if there is a conscious effort made at looseness in the structuring of the original design.

At present the structure accommodates package kitchens, a mobile classroom, some log cabins from Finland for young children's activities and a variable roof and staircase related to the larger, simpler areas which are enclosed by the walling. These include such activities as theatre, rehearsal rooms, gymnasiums, a bar, a club and a restaurant. This may well alter within the twenty year lifespan of the structure‘.

To further continue with Cedric Price, I would like to quote one of his friends: ‘Cedric Price is the most remarkable of thinkers. His architecture is many years in advance of the generation who now are heralded as Britain's best architects‘. For instance, his fun-palace designed for Joan Littlewood but sadly never build, was the building that influenced Richard Rogers’ Centre Pompidou for Paris and his Lloyds Building in London. No one had, until Price suggested, the idea of putting the guts of a building on the outside. The difference between Price and Rogers is however fundamental. For Price put the services on the outside of his fun palace so that the building could be taken apart and moved; so this flexibility and changeability, this sort of floating building – to continue the citation – "are merely destroyed for he does not believe in long life of buildings. Rogers on the other hand put the services on the outside of his buildings because they look nice that way".

The idea of Cedric Price's entire work being about activity and change seems to me to be interesting not only in relation to the topic here – the ”Floating City”. One could obviously go into details, which I will not do now for time reasons, about the metabolism group in Japan. For me the title itself, 'Floating City', first evokes the image of Kikutake's concept of a city floating on the sea. One could also refer to Isozaki's utopia of a city on a new island, or Kurokawa's eco-media-city as a kind of a late result of his metabolic research. Another example, which might be more Berlin-specific, would be to look in more detail at the wonderful Berlin proposal made by Peter and Alison Smithson in 1959, which was all about activity and change. It was also about connectivity – not just about buildings and structures that claim permanence but mostly about impermanent structure. It is worth looking at a few other examples of Cedric Price's visionary city ideas. The Potterie’s Thinkbelt was a university, or rather an anti-university, developed in the 1960s. It would not have needed any permanent buildings but would instead have taken place on abandoned railway lines. There would be floating seminars and driving seminars. Or an airport on wheels, that could go where ever required. Another type of mobile, floating structure is his idea for a bird-cage, which he implemented for the London Zoo. It is one of the few buildings he actually realised. The structure changes according to the wind direction. He also had an unrealised project for a more radical bird-cage, which would eventually even move out of the Zoo depending on the directions the birds want to fly. This idea thus embodies very considerable unpredictability of direction and movement. Last but not least, he also proposed a mass of inflatable balloons which would serve as a kind of collective umbrella for communities within cities when it starts to rain.

I would like to conclude by returning to the "Cities on the Move" exhibition. The last version was held in Steven Holl’s Kiasma, in Helsinki from December 1999 to January 2000. It was designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who also designed the Japanese pavilion at this year's Expo in Hanover, together with Frei Otto. Shigeru Ban again took on this notion of the exhibition not being about the city but in fact being a performative space; an exhibition on the city not as representational but as a performative space. He created a kind of performative platform in the middle of Kiasma using the material that he always uses – paper tubing. He then invented manifold possibilities as to how to divide the space by applying paper tubing in the most diverse ways, having it transparent but also having it opaque. Particularly interesting is the fact that it was through exhibition design that Shigeru Ban initially invented the way of using these paper tubes. He developed an exhibition about Alvar Aalto in the 1980s. Due to a lack of funding and lack of material, he just recycled paper tubes and then little by little realised that the paper tube can actually also be processed for use as emergency shelter outdoors. He has now developed a whole series of paper tube building templates, which became famous following the earthquake in Kobe. They are used whenever there is a need for emergency shelter, because they have proved to be very economical and can be built locally. Shigero Ban wrote: "It leads us back to the notion of chaos but also to the notion of permanence and impermanence which is so important in relation to the Asian City."

A last citation to conclude this lecture with: "We didn't have any dominant opinion", Shigero Ban says, "in Asian countries about how to design a city. That's why all Asian cities look like chaos. I always try to see the context, I always try to simplify the context. The context is very complex. Out in the midst of nature or in an urban situation. The situation is complex but I always try to simplify the context as much as possible."


-- HiazHhzz - 14 Jul 2004
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