architecture fiction

Hong Kong, 2047

Jochen Hartmann and I are in Hong Kong again, this time with my spring studio, "Uneven Growth, Hong Kong 2047" which parallels our work for Pedro Gadanho's Uneven Growth show at MoMA, exploring the city and looking for examples of tactical urbanism and uneven growth. It's been a great trip: lots to see and we are gaining a real degree of familiarity with the city. And time for us to share with you some of the work that I did for the Netlab's contribution to the Uneven Growth. 

Using the techniques of scenario planning, I developed the following text, which serves as a basis for the Netlab's contribution to the Uneven Growth show as well as our studio (it's in the syllabus to the studio, but this is a much more refined version). Take this as a work of architecture fiction exploring not only the future of Hong Kong and China but also the future of the global city and the role of tactical urbanism within them.  

Hong Kong, 2047 

“The liberal reward of labour, therefore, as it is the necessary effect, so it is the natural symptom of increasing national wealth. The scanty maintenance of the labouring poor, on the other hand, is the natural symptom that things are at a stand, and their starving condition that they are going fast backwards.”
 
-Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776) 
 
2047 is not the sequel to Wong Kar-Wai’s film 2047, but rather the year in which the “One Country, Two Systems,” doctrine that began in 1997 as the former British colony was handed over to the People’s Republic of China is scheduled to run out, causing the city to lose its status as an exceptional zone within China. We hypothesize that instead of Hong Kong disappearing, China will disappear.
 
We begin with the observation that demographic projections show that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) faces a brick wall created by the one-child policy. The demographic dividend created by the country’s large ratio of effective producers (working age adults) to effective consumers (children and the elderly) was a critical factor in the country’s growth to date. In 2013, however, a turning point was reached and the dividend’s growth rate turned negative, with China now producing more effective consumers than producers.  Within five years, yearly declines in the numbers of new workers fresh from school will become normal in China. Between 2016 and 2026 the population of workers aged 20 to 29 will drop by one quarter. In 2026 the population will peak.  By midcentury, 30% of the country’s population will be over 60  Without young workers dreaming of a better future, productivity will erode and eventually collapse. The result will be a suddenly poor country with a population of aging, bitter men, lacking sufficient pensions, welfare, or other means of supporting themselves. 
 
China’s demographic crisis will parallel the condition of the vast majority of the world’s developed countries in which population growth has long past the tipping point. At midcentury, in addition to China, Japan, the European Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the United States will all endure major population declines as both poor and rich avoid having too many children. Even stern government measures, such as Vladimir Putin’s 2006 attempt to offer 250,000 rubles (about $9,200 US) to women who will have a second child, will fail to change demographic destiny. Only the southern hemisphere will continue to grow, although by then the days of its growth will seem numbered too. Notwithstanding that population growth has become a problem lately, its seeming inevitability means that our economies rely on it. As populations decline, economies do as well.  
 
For China, the result will be a catastrophic reversal of course. Most developed countries have pension and social welfare systems in place for retirees, but China has done little in his regard. The loss of hundreds of millions of able-bodied workers will cause massive difficulty for China’s factories. During the first decades of the twenty-first century, China built numerous new cities and hastily filled them with housing, factories, and starchitecture. Lacking in the cheap labor that led to their rapid growth and faced with unsustainable infrastructural needs, these will empty, becoming new Detroits.The countryside, already experiencing major demographic pressure from migration as the disparity between rural and urban life grows, will face growing hardship,  becoming a place of refuge for the elderly surviving on subsistence farming, much as in Russia today. In contrast, even with dwindling population rates, key coastal cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Nanjing, having demanded Hong Kong-style autonomy from the diminished central government, will continue to thrive as active players in an emerging global network of city-states. 
 
The emergence of the Chinese coastal cities will accompany the decline of the central government. The result will be the PRC’s devolution into a loose agglomeration of regional states, roughly akin to the Commonwealth of Independent States.  Globalization has been marked by the rise of devolutionary movements. Such movements result in considerable increases in political autonomy for specific territories even though they do not necessarily mean changes in the borders of nation-states (for example, Wales and Scotland in the UK or the Basque country and Catalonia in Spain) .  The PRC has already introduced greater economic autonomy for its provinces and cities as a means of spurring economic productivity, although it has thus far resisted greater political autonomy, with Hong Kong and Macau being the exceptions. Nevertheless, China is a large and diverse country and political forces in certain regions—most notably Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia—have called for greater autonomy or outright secession. For now, the government has maintained a hard line, issuing repressive crackdowns against such movements, but this sort of response has historically been proven to only fan the flames of separatist movements. With the coming demographic decline, the central state’s economic and military power will weaken. Unless carefully managed, political devolution will cause a significant loss of face for the PRC. The Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan, with whom China has recently begun higher level talks, is a key player in solving this problem. Although the island has increasingly proclaimed its own identity as a culture independent of China, such an autonomous position paradoxically offers a transition out of the dilemma posed by the ROC earlier claims to be the real government of mainland China. At present, Taiwan remains an international outcast needing to defend itself from the potential military threat the PRC poses. The reality is that, lacking political recognition and facing barriers to international trade, Taiwan is increasingly dependent on China, already its top trade partner.  The result is that the island currently exists in a de facto “one country, two systems” condition, lacking only a formal agreement to that effect.  For the PRC, integrating Taiwan will remove any threat of United States military action against China while providing huge ideological support during a time of sociopolitical weakeness. Subsequent absorptions may include the incorporation of Mongolia (with its high birth rate, resources, and strategic significance vis-à-vis Russia). Within the paradoxical logic of 21st century devolution, then, an expanded China, will be go hand in hand with devolution and will find ways of avoiding loss of face while pacifying more difficult provinces. 
 
Nor will this just be a way of appeasing local provinces. With their international trading power, the coastal Chinese city-states will increase their power against the center in the newly devolved China. Hong Kong’s special status will spread, becoming a model in China. Moreover, it will also spur on megacities worldwide, which have become increasingly disconnected from the territories around them. In some cases these worldwide megacities will also advocate for special status within larger countries, demanding greater autonomy, both economically and in terms of foreign policy. Such super-city-states will band together ever more over time, leaving their nation-states behind.  As the crisis at home becomes apparent, it is further plausible that China will increase its efforts overseas even more substantially, going so far as to create extraterritorial city-states on the model of Hong Kong and Singapore as joint ventures in developing countries worldwide.  
 
Nevertheless, the demographic pressures will challenge the Chinese city-states as well. Hong Kong is no exception. Since 2000, Hong Kong has had the distinction of being the country with the world’s second lowest fertility rate, Macau having the lowest. This poses a significant threat to Hong Kong’s economic future.  Underscoring the stall in internal population growth, a recent increase in emigration of educated individuals from Hong Kong means that between mid-2012 and mid-2013, the city had more migrants leaving than arriving.     
 
We hypothesize that with Hong Kong’s history of accommodating migrants from both within China and outside it, the territory will be able to resume growth through migration from other countries in Southeast Asia as well as from Africa which is now becoming extensively colonized by Chinese capital. Notably, arising out of its former status within the Commonwealth, unlike the rest of China Hong Kong has maintained continuing economic ties with India and will be able to draw on the Indian population for labor. With its population bolstered by new migration and its continuing role in global finance and manufacturing ensured by its highly developed business networks and global outlook, Hong Kong remains an incredibly attractive location uniquely suited to lead the Chinese coastal city-states.  
 
The effect of bringing in more migrant workers will produce even more inequality in Hong Kong, a stress point that has already grown almost insurmountable. As measured by the GINI coefficient, Hong Kong has the highest income inequality of any developed city or country in the world (and likely higher still since wealthy families in China habitually understate their income) and that coefficient has trended inexorably higher over the last two decades.  Thus, it is unlikely that Hong Kong will deal with its own demographic crisis by allowing permanent immigration. Rather, the government will continue to expand the existing two-tier system, allowing poor immigrants to remain in the territory only on time-delimited visas while allowing the wealthy and skilled access to the system.
 
After the explosion of the demographic bomb, the world will face a new economic reality. Adam Smith observed that continuous economic growth has historically been predicated not only on growing technological efficiencies but also an increase in both population and the amount of raw materials available. Should any of those three variables flag, growth will cease. Under stagnant or falling populations, economies begin to contract, national wealth decreases and capitalism cannot be maintained in such circumstances. Smith himself never argued that growth in the West would be endlessly sustainable. On the contrary, he uses China as an example of a country much the same as five hundred years beforehand when Marco Polo first wrote about it. China, he explained, is a stationary state, going neither forward nor backward, but rather that had “acquired that full complement of riches which the nature of its laws and institutions permits it to acquire.”  China’s past, then, is the world’s future. 
 
The current economic crisis is a sign that capitalism is already in a stationary state and may soon be in an inexorable slide. Starting in the late 1990s, declining profit margins and radical technological changes led economies and financial markets into a pattern of booms and busts.  Within the next decade, the world’s financial élite turned away from traditional investments, toward increasingly complex and short-term ways to extract wealth such as high speed trading and quantitatively driven arbitrage so as to ensure that returns would continue regardless of the direction of the market.  As a hedge against the ever-present threat of currency collapses, the wealthy also turned to real estate in global cities, helping to drive prices skyward. 
 
We hypothesize that, booms and busts notwithstanding, these trends will continue. Capitalism itself will have long come to an end, victim of declining resources and increasing levels of complexity, its highest levels being replaced by the algorithmic production of wealth wherever a loophole may still be found. While the system lurches along, global city cores will remain strong. Highly defended, with a huge population of surplus labor to draw on for services, these will continue to be attractive destinations for the élite to work and play in (although only within a geographically dispersed strategy of global hedging that will include idyllic, defended exurban ecotopias should the shit finally really hit the fan). Most rural zones will remain sites of food production, now highly automated while also being sites of subsistence farming and low-level employment for the elderly and impoverished: a landscape of giant agro drones marching amidst a desperate elderly tenders. 
 
In the city, if high finance will essentially be a game, everyday life for individuals worldwide will follow suit. By 2047, with income disparity high and social mobility low, those unlucky enough to be in the top 1% have little opportunity to better their conditions. Instead, as they eke out a living, they occupy themselves in a world increasingly dominated by the logic of games. The governments of megacity-states, burdened with debt and facing radically limited budgets turn to tactical urbanism as the only possible way to make interventions in the city and to keep the populace away from the barricades.
 
 
 

     

Once Upon A Place

I'm delighted to be giving a keynote talk at Once Upon a Place tonight here in Lisbon, the first international conference on architecture and fiction. I will be talking about the concept of architecture fiction and hope to have the talk recorded for you to post on the Netlab site. 

The Decade Ahead

It's time for my promised set of predictions for the coming decade. It has been a transgression of disciplinary norms for historians to predict the future, but its also quite common among bloggers. So let's treat this as a blogosphere game, nothing more. It'll be interesting to see just how wildly wrong I am a decade from now.

In many respects, the next decade is likely to seem like a hangover after the party of the 2000s (yes, I said party). The good times of the boom were little more than a lie perpetrated by finance, utterly ungrounded in any economy reality, and were not based on any sustainable economic thought. Honestly, it's unclear to me how much players like Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, and Larry Summers were duplicitous and how much they were just duped. Perhaps they thought they would get out in time or drop dead before the bubbly stopped flowing. Or maybe they were just stupid. Either way, we start a decade with national and global economies in ruins. A generation that grew up believing that the world was their oyster is now faced with the same reality that my generation knew growing up: that we would likely be worse off than our parents. I see little to correct this condition and much to be worried about.

Gopal Balakshrishan predicts that the future global economy will be a stationary state, a long-term stagnation akin to that which we experienced in the 1970s and 1980s. China will start slowing. The United States, EU, the Mideast and East Asia will all make up a low growth block, a slowly decaying imperium. India, together with parts of Africa and South America, will be on the rise. To be clear: the very worst thing that could happen is that we would see otherwise. If another bubble forms—in carbon trading or infrastructure for example—watch out. Under network culture, capitalism and finance have parted ways. Hardt and Negri are right: our economy is immaterial now, but that immateriality is not the immateriality of Apple Computer, Google, or Facebook, it's the immateriality of Goldman Sachs and AIG. Whereas under traditional forms of capitalism the stock market was meant to produce returns on investment, a relationship summed up in Marx's equation M-C-M' (where M is money, C is a commodity produced with the money, and M' is money plus surplus value), the financial market now seems to operate under the scheme of M-M' (see Jeffrey Nealon's brilliant Foucault Beyond Foucault). Surplus value is the product of speculation.

There's every chance that I have little idea to what lengths the financial powers will go to continue this condition. After all, I would have said that we should have had a lengthy recession following the dot.com boom and we didn't. Still, the Dow Jones, NASDAQ, house prices (measured in real dollars), and salaries all went down over the course of the decade, so it's plausible to say that for the most part, the economy was a shambles.

Climate change will become more widely accepted as corporations realize that it can lead to consumption and profits when little else can. If we are unlucky, the green "movement" will become a boom. We will finally realize that peak oil has past, perhaps around 2006. Climate change will be very real. It will not be as apocalyptic as some have predicted, but major changes will be in the works. We should expect more major natural disasters, including a tragic toll on human life.   

Populations will be aging worldwide during the next decade and baby boomers will be pulling more money out of their retirement accounts to cover their expenses. At the same time, younger people will find it harder to get a job as the de facto retirement age rises well into the seventies, even the eighties. A greater divide will open up between three classes. At the top, the super-rich will continue controlling national policies and will have the luxury of living in late Roman splendor. A new "upper middle" class will emerge among those who were lucky enough to accumulate some serious cash during the glory days. Below that will come the masses, impossibly in debt from credit cards, college educations, medical bills and nursing home bills for their parents but unable to find jobs that can do anything to pull them out of the mire. The rifts between all three classes will grow, but it's the one between the upper middle class (notice there is no lower middle class anymore) and the new proles that will be the greatest. This is where social unrest will come from, but right now it seems more likely to be from the Right than the Left. Still, there's always hope.

Speaking of hope, if things go right, governments will turn away from get-rich-quick schemes like "creative cities" or speculative financial schemes and instead find ways to build long-term strategies for resurrecting manufacturing. It will be a painful period of restructuring for the creative industries. Old media, the arts, finance, law, advertising, and so on will suffer greatly. Digital media will continue to be a relatively smart choice for a career, even as it becomes more mainstreamed into other professions. For example, it will become as common in schools of architecture to study the design of media environments as it is now to study housing. We will see a rise of cottage industries in developing nations as individuals in their garages will realize that they can produce things with the means of production at hand. Think of eBay and Etsy, but on a greater scale. National health insurance in the US will help in this respect, as it will remove individuals from the need to work for large corporations. But all will not be roses in the world of desktop manufacture. Toxicity caused by garage operations will be a matter of contention in many communities.

Some cities are simply doomed, but if we're lucky, some leaders will turn to intelligent ways of dealing with this condition. To me, the idea of building the world's largest urban farm in Detroit sounds smart. Look for some of these cities—Buffalo maybe?—to follow Berlin's path and become some of the most interesting places to live in the country. If artists and bohemians are finding it impossible to live in places like New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles anymore, they may well turn elsewhere, to the boon of cities formerly in decline. The hippest places to live will no longer be New York or Los Angeles or San Francisco. The move toward smaller cities—remember Athens, Georgia, Austin, Texas and Seattle?—will explode in this decade as the over-capitalized major cities will face crises. But to be clear, this is an inversion from the model of the creative city. These cities will not see real estate values increase greatly. The new classes populating them will not be rich, but rather will turn to a of new DIY bohemianism, cultivating gardens, joining with neighbors communally and building vibrant cultural scenes.

With the death of creative cities, planners will also have to turn toward regions. As jobs continue to empty out, city cores will also see a decline in their fortunes. Eventually, this may resurrect places like New York and San Francisco as interesting places to live in again, but for now, it will cause a crisis. Smart city leaders will form alliances with heads of suburban communities to force greater regional planning than ever before. This will be the decade of the suburbs. We began the last decade with over 50% of the world's population living in urban areas. I predict that by the end of the next decade over 50% of the world's population will live in suburban areas. This isn't just Westchester and Rancho Palos Verdes but rather Garfield, New Jersey and East Los Angeles. Worldwide, it will include the banlieues and the shantytowns. Ending the anti-suburban rhetoric is critical for planners. Instead, we'll be asking how to make suburbs better while boosting the city core. Suburbs may become the models for cities as the focus turns toward devolving government toward local levels, even as tax revenue will be shared across broad regions.

Urban farming will come to the fore and community-supported agriculture will become widespread. This won't just be a movement among the hipster rich. It will spread to the immigrant poor who will realize that they can eat better, healthier, and cheaper by working with members of their immigrant community running farms inside and outside the city instead of shopping at the local supermarket. A few smart mayors will realize that cities in decline need community gardens and these will thrive. The rising cost of long-distance transportation due to the continued decline of infrastructure and peak oil will go a long way toward fostering this new localism.

The divisions in politics will grow. By the end of the decade, the polarization within countries will drive toward hyper-localism. Nonpartisan commissions will study the devolution of power to local governments in areas of education, individual rights (abortion will be illegal in many states, guns in many others), the environment, and so on. In many states gay rights will become accepted, in others, homosexuality may become illegal again. Slowly talk will start on both sides about the US moving toward the model of the EU. Conservatives may drive this initially and the Left will pick it up. In that case, I'm moving to Vermont, no question.

Architects will turn away from starchitecture. Thoughtful books, videos, and Web sites on the field will grow. Parametric modeling will go urban, looking toward GIS. Some of those results will be worth talking about. Responsive architecture will become accepted into the profession as will the idea of architects incorporating interfaces—and interface design—into their work.

In technology, the introduction of the Apple iSlate will make a huge difference in how we view tablets. It will not save media, but it will allow us to interface with it in a new way. eBooks will take hold, as will eBook piracy. Apple itself will suffer as its attempts to make the iSlate a closed platform like the iPhone will lead first to hacks and later to a successful challenge on the basis of unfair restraint of trade. A few years after the introduction of the iSlate, an interface between tablets and keyboards will essentially replace notebook computers. Wine will advance to such a point that the distinction between operating systems will begin to blur. In a move that will initially seem puzzling but will then be brilliant, Microsoft will embrace Wine and encourage its production. By the end of the decade, operating systems will be mere flavors.

The Internet of Things will take hold. An open-source based interface will be the default for televisions, refrigerators, cars and so on. Geolocative, augmented-reality games will become popular. Kevin Slavin will be the Time Web site's Man of the Year in 2018. As mobile network usage continues to grow, network neutrality will become more of an issue until a challenger (maybe Google, maybe not) comes to the scene with a huge amount of bandwidth at its disposal. Fears about Google will rise and by the end of the decade, antitrust hearings will be well-advanced.

We will see substantive steps toward artificial intelligence during the decade. HAL won't be talking to us yet, but the advances in computation will make the technology of 2019 seem far, far ahead of where it is now. The laws of physics will take a toll on Moore's Law, slowing the rate of advance but programmers will turn back toward more elegant, efficient code to get more out of existing hardware.

Manned spaceflight will end in the United States, but the EU, China, and Russia will continue to run the International Space Station, even after one or two life- and station-threatening crises onboard. Eventually there will be a world space consortium established, even as commercial suborbital flights go up a few dozen times a year and unmanned probes to Pluto, Mars, Venus and Europa deliver fantastic results. Earth-like planets will be found in other solar systems and there will be tantalizing hints of microscopic life elsewhere in the solar system even as the mystery of why we have found nobody else in the universe grows.

Toward the end of the decade, there will be signs of the end of network culture. It'll have had a good run of 30 years: the length of one generation. It's at that stage that everything solid will melt into air again, but just how, I have no idea.

As I stated at the outset, this is just a game on the blogosphere, something fun to do after a day of skiing with the family. Do pitch in and offer your own suggestions. I'm eager to hear them.

In Defense of Architecture (Fiction)

Over at HTC Experiments, David Gissen is the latest to tackle architecture fiction. I like David's writing quite a bit, but this time I'm moved to the defense of architecture and to expand the concept further in the direction I would like to see it go. I won't rehash the idea of architecture fiction again as I've written about it here and here while Bruce Sterling originated the concept here. Go read those if you're unfamiliar with the idea.  

David is puzzled by how Bruce is fascinated with Archigram and sees it ironic that I understand architecture fiction as a way beyond green architecture since the language of Archigram informs much of green architecture today . Somehow (I'm not quite sure how), David understands that irony as fatal. If there's a fatal irony, i would say that's its in the contradiction that the green design movement is appropriating Archigram's imagery. After all, by the late 1960s, Archigram was detested throughout schools of architecture worldwide for their commitment to technology, in particular their commitment to planned obsolescence and building. This was anathema for the young radicals of the early 1970s. I remember teaching Archigram in the mid-1990s and they were still thought of as retardataire, and that was at SCI-Arc! So, although Archigram conveys the message well, it's an originary work not without its problems.

Second, David notes that Beatriz Colomina demonstrated that all forms of modernism relied on fictional devices. This is a more serious charge since he feels that if architecture is by nature fictional, it means that architecture fiction is nothing new and therefore boring. In its stead, he suggests his own re-definition of the term: "architectural fiction as a form of writing on buildings." 

I have to admit that this prospect scares me. It seems like a perpetuation of starchitecture, which I would like to bury as fast as possible. If a novelist is moved to write about a work of architecture, then more power to them. I'm certainly glad to see that Bruce is inspired by Greg Lynn's work, although I think if an shoe inspired Bruce, he could cook up something equally smart, witty, and literary. I think the last thing we need is our favorite starchitect bothering a novelist to say "Hey, since I can't get on the front page of the New York Times anymore [the NYT having gone under in this fictional scenario], I need you to write a novel about me."  Moreover, if we're trying to judge by novelty, then what about Victor Hugo? This interpretation of architecture fiction has been going on for a while now.

But I'm grateful to David for prodding me on with regard to this topic. I'm interested in something very specific, narrower than anybody else's interest here. Let me try to articulate it. 

Instead of being Utopian or imaginative, might it be possible for architecture to shape our experiences in such ways as to approximate the effects of films or fiction? Or better yet, video games? Please don't take this to mean that architects need to copy Doom or Quake (they've tried that already). But rather, could architecture fiction be something that re-shapes our subjectivity? Yes, this is awfully similar to some of the ideas that Peter Eisenman threw around in the past, but substitute the theoretical armature, which he seemed willing to discard with predictable regularity with deliberate invention? And yes, this is similar to what Koolhaas and Tschumi suggested in the 1970s, but would that be a bad starting point for the present day?

If I'm coming to architecture's defense, then you've guessed that there's probably a catch. I firmly believe that there's a huge opportunity for architects—particularly during the coming protracted recession—to think about what is possible with the built environment (as it already stands) and pervasive technologies (as they already exist). In other words, if architects are such experts at shaping space, who is to say they always need to work with the building trades? The Eameses made furniture and films. If they were around today, I think they'd be out in the city, finding ways to shape the environment through existing forms of locative media. Look at the work Mark Shepard does for example. He's one of the few people who've got it figured out. 

Anticipating protests about architects not being in the software business, I'll ask what, if anything, are architects doing in studios today besides using (and even writing!) software? Those aren't drafting boards on the desks anymore. And there's a caution: if architects don't do it, others will. There are plenty of super-intelligent people already working on this kind of material, such as the good folks at area/code, and I fully expect magic from that group, but there's lots of room spectrum out there for everyone to play. Will architects take up this challenge? 

Instead of writing novels on a cell phone, why shouldn't we be reading the city on our cell phones? 

what could have been

The news from Ireland is dim and grimmer. It looks like it's leading the way in the collapse. It's sad to think of all of the people who will lose their jobs and their homes there, here, and elsewhere.

But the missed opportunities are sadder to me. Instead of a bubble economy that produced the vertiginous architecture of emptiness that Sam Jacob so eloquently wrote about, a decade without significant work marked only by horrific mcmansions, the excess funds of the bubble could have been used for something far more interesting. The sacrifices were going to come, but for what? Then the sacrifices that people are experiencing now would have been worth something. 

If only we could agree that during the next moment of insanity, we will acknowledge its insanity and do things that have lasting significance and value, works that reflect our time. Maybe Dada Capitalism could be the next movement (an aside… this is what comes up on Google for "Dada Capitalism")? 

Instead of absorbing into itself, a Dada Capitalist architecture would look out into the world, creating architecture fiction, a term that Bruce Sterling coined after reading this brilliant piece on modernism by J. G. Ballard, to suggest that it is possible to write fiction with architecture.  

This is very much like what Robert and I developed for our AUDC studio last fall although sadly were ignorant of the theoretical work by Sterling and Ballard at the time. It might have explained what we were up to for our students although our approach was to turn not so much to science fiction as to ecstatic realism, taking Werner Herzog as our model. In the end, the work wound up being somewhere in between science fiction and documentary film. It'll be up soon, I hope.   

So in the future, lets ditch architect as pseudo-engineered performance, be it for form's sake or for an empty Whole Foods greenness. Instead take risks again, let's make ecstastic architecture and architecture fiction, let's re-imagine the world.

For inspiration, take this nest by Benjamin Verdonck, a Dutch artist. More here, including photos and video of Verdonck living in the nest. The last time I was in the Netherlands, in 2003 or so, there was a sense that the architecture movement of the 1990s was finished. I imagine little has changed since then.

What if the young Dutch architects had pursued something like this? I think they would be leading the way again. 

man nest by benjamin verdonck     

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