We cannot beat Banham, but we can update you on what happened since 1972, when Rayner Banham published his seminal The Architecture of the Well Tempered Environment. C-Lab did extensive new research on the relation between installations, buildings and architecture…
The critic is dead. Long live the network! So it goes in our world of diffuse and shared knowledge. But if criticism has evolved into criticisms, how can we interpret and learn from the babble of opinions? This dilemma comes in tandem with another: the crisis of publishing. With declining print sales and slashed subsidies, many critics are out of work. Two fundamental tasks lie ahead: reviving the productive value of criticism, and finding new profitable ways to broadcast it to the world.
We have seen the future, and it’s biosynthetic. More precisely it’s a future where biological systems are twisted, spliced, and altered, to such an extent that any distinction between synthetic and organic is lost. Gone are the days of blunt engineering as a means of total control – concrete dams and electro-shock therapy. Today science is moving us deeper into the nano-world of microchips and molecules, where new more refined forms of control are possible, where organic processes can be mimicked, modified, and augmented. In this new biosynthetic world, luminescent trees will light our sidewalks, massive oyster beds will defend us from the floods, and hacked Lyre birds will broadcast the radio. But with new powers comes new responsibilities. We’ve seen a thousand TED talks promising us these new wonders, but we’ve rarely discussed the human element. What does it all require of us? What are the new produced? The skill sets, knowledge, and codes of ethics required to maneuver in this brave new biosynthetic world?
With the exponential growth of urban populations, thousands of new towns and city extensions will be needed in the near future. While governments are seemingly in retreat, the private sector has stepped in to fill the gap. Private-sector development is nothing new, but scale and ambition are on the rise. Single companies now vie to build entire cities, and package their services so that their product can be replicated elsewhere. To tackle this complexity – of building whole cities from scratch – new organizational models are being drafted, financial tools invented, and the dynamic between client, investor, developer, designer, builder, and end-user is fundamentally shifting.
For years, the interior played second fiddle to ‘proper’ architecture, but there are signs a shift is taking place. Stagnant economies, shrinking populations, environmental imperatives, all signal that there is less reason to build, and more reason to make better use of what we have. Digging deeper, we find the interior is a powerful marker of who we are and what we want to be; ‘lifestyle’ in other words. Political ideology, social norms and psychology all get played out on the inside. The interior relates intimately to the society we live in, and it’s up to us to understand this dynamic, to provoke it. Like the old adage ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, let’s ‘open up’ architecture and take a closer look inside.