(Brief for studio seminar – 2007/2008)

Cohabitation, with all its conveniences and accompanied by all its struggles, has for centuries been the main purpose of the construction of cities. The very act of construction yet implies separation, the set up of differences and demarcations, it implies making differences visible, not allowing others in.

The process of construction of the contemporary city tend to take the shape of enclosures and introverted enclaves, islands of differences, specialised and segregated genre-spaces, as opposed to the ambiguity, complexity and contrasts of the ‘open city’. The motors that drive innovation and creative development of different economies are most of the time these closed spaces. The open city cannot prosper without the closed city.

These urban transformation processes are a material mark of the thorough changes that are occurring in the contemporary inhabited territories. They are the architectural manifestation of a deep set of forces that are reshaping the spaces of operation of individuals, organisations, institutions, nations.

We used to imagine geopolitics as the great play of power across horizontal surfaces. But various fault lines have now fractured this Euclidian political surface and the old political order has splintered.

Just as long as the Norwegian coasts – fjords, islands and lakes break the coherent continuity of both water and land – the old political order has splintered into discontinuous territorial fragments set apart and fortified by makeshift barriers, temporary boundaries, or invisible security apparatuses. Instead of edges clearly demarcated by continuous lines, political spaces have now grown to resemble a territorial patchwork of introvert enclaves side by side, each within the other, simultaneously and in unprecedented proximities.

These shreds are islands – externally alienated and internally homogenised, extraterritorial enclaves – spaces of political void or strategic implants – lying outside the jurisdiction that physically surrounds them. Islands are the territorialized nodes of a de-territorialized power – one distributed through military, political or financial networks. Although and perhaps because the new world-order, governed by super-national and non-localized institutions, is non-territorial, it increasingly relies on physical infrastructure that only real space can provide.

What is the analytical difference on the contemporary territory if viewed from the resort, the lab, the campus, spaces cut off where specialised, genre discourses and focused activities are carried out? How can we understand its operation among the multiple clusters of introverted, almost self-referential economical, political, cultural innovation spaces and enclosed knowledge circuits that appear to be the critical hallmarks of today’s city and cultural climate?

The research analyses a number of enclosed areas – from the tourist resorts, to the ex-pat enclaves, to refugee camps and to hi-tech campuses – and the modalities by which they contribute to the political, social, economical and cultural transformations in the contemporary city.

Each student will contribute to the general research with an individual in-depth analysis of one or more of the spatial conditions of separations and isolations. The individual researches will use architecture not only as the subject of investigation, but also as the main method. The organisation of the research will investigate how spatial analysis can contribute to the unfolding of the many complexities that partake in the constitution of the contemporary world.

The form of the individual projects will be an illustrated essay, in the form of a booklet, a slide presentation and other multimedia format. The individual works will be discussed in class and will form the basis for a general atlas, a documents that will chart the development of these ‘islands’ in all their spatial complexity.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 at 12:34 pm
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