1 And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
3 And they said one to another: ‘Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.
4 And they said: ‘Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’
5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded
6 And the LORD said: ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is what they begin to do; and now nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do.
7 Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’
8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth; and they left off to build the city.
9 Therefore was the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
The interpretation of the Genesis 11-1:9 narrative by generations of artists, notably from the Flemish school
In 1972 Ettore Sottssas Jr. imagines a domestic environment composed of a networked system of grey plastic containers, equipped with sliding wheels and plastic cables for reciprocal linking. Each container follows a function: a stove for cooking, refrigerator, wardrobe, shower room, the jukebox, library and a reading room. They represent a catalog of possibilities within which everyone can choose according to his own culture, and also organize, through their grouping or removal, either a solitary or a collective experience of living space.
“Not only the containers can be grouped or dissolved, but they can also take continuous configurations, or be snake-like, stiffened as Chinese walls, create transparent or closed, narrow or deep or broad, open or short areas, they can thus draw the most suitable scenario for the drama one intends to carry our or is actually carrying out.”
The technical drawings, paintings and furniture are accompanied by a film, which enhances the utopian nature of the project: more a series of ideas that a finished product, an ideal scenario of collective coexistence and communal living typical of those years. The anti-commercial logic of the project is reflected in the building of a domestic space where the individual is not subjected to any bias of “possession” of objects. The functions of living are universalized, since everyone can simply choose to use what he feels necessary. The project moves an implicit critique to the bourgeois household and foster the ideal of an emancipated woman which is free from the daily routine of cleaning the house or cooking. Instead, the collective, anarchic experience leaves to the individual the choice of how to live the domestic space. Sottsass said about the Mobile and Flexible Environment : “The idea is that anyone who lives in the midst of this furniture can bring them closer or move them away from his family whenever he wants to do it: so that he can manifest his feelings through the furniture, either if he’s in a solitary or in a group adventure, because the states, needs, dramas, joys, illnesses, births and deaths also take turns in the spaces.”
The film often describes oniric and dreamlike situations (probably recalling drugs’ use), and frequently adopts decoupages inspired by horror or crimes movies, in sequences of images without a unity of time, place and narrative. This brought Peter Lang, Luca Molinari and Mark Wasiuta, which have recently shown these films to the public after more than forty years of their production, to give credit to the Director Magri for staging a perfect Brechtian theater, denuded of distracting contexts.
Informations from ” Design e comunicazione audiovisiva industriale”, a thesis by Matteo Riva at the Politecnico di Milano (2009-2010) whose text is downloadable here.
Images via: Koichi Yanagimoto‘s Utopia board on Pinterest. (Images with texts are from Rassegna Magazine)
“If cities are a reflection of the society, what can we say about ourselves by looking at Istanbul? What kind of city are we leaving behind for future generations? Ecological limits have been surpassed. Economic limits have been surpassed. Population limits have been surpassed. Social cohesion has been lost. Here is the picture of neoliberal urbanism: Ecumenopolis.”
The background of the recent clashes in Turkey is the rapid transformation of a city, Istanbul, which has become, after London and Moscow, the third largest city in Europe with its nearby 15 million inhabitants.
The process of increasing urbanization is investigated in the documentary “Ekümenopolis: City without limits“. Already in its title, Ecumenopolis echoes the term coined in 1967 by Constantinos Apostolou Doxiadis, a Greek city planner: the idea of a single continuous worldwide city as a result of current urbanization and population growth trends. The documentary questions the transformation’s dynamics featuring interviews with experts, academics, investors, city dwellers etc.
The whole film is now available online in Turkish with English subtitles.
From the documentary’s synopsis:
“The neoliberal transformation that swept through the world economy during the 1980’s, and along with it the globalization process that picked up speed, brought with it a deep transformation in cities all over the world. For this new finance-centered economic structure, urban land became a tool for capital accumulation, which had deep effects on major cities of developing countries. In Istanbul, which already lacked a tradition of principled planning, the administrators of the city blindly adopted the neoliberal approach that put financial gain ahead of people’s needs; everyone fought to get a piece of the loot; and the result is a megashantytown of 15 million struggling with mesh of life-threatening problems.
Especially in the past 10 years, as the World Bank foresaw in its reports, Istanbul has been changing from an industrial city to a finance and service-centered city, competing with other world cities for investment. Making Istanbul attractive for investors requires not only the abolishment of legal controls that look out for the public good, but also a parallel transformation of the users of the city. This means that the working class who actually built the city as an industrial center no longer have a place in the new consumption-centered finance and service city. So what is planned for these people?This is where the “urban renewal” projects come into play. Armed with new powers never before imagined, TOKI (State Housing Administration), together with the municipalities and private investors, are trying to reshape the urban landscape in this new vision. With international capital behind them, land plans in their hands, square meters and building coefficients in their minds, they are demolishing neighborhoods, and instead building skyscrapers, highways and shopping malls. But who do these new spaces serve?
The huge gap between the rich and the poor in Istanbul is reflected more and more in the urban landscape, and at the same time feeds on the spatial segregation. While the rich isolate themselves in gated communities, residences and plazas; new poverty cycles born in social housing communities on the prifery of the city designed as human depots continue to push millions to desperation and hopelessness. So who is responsible for this social legacy that we are leaving for future generations?While billions of dollars are wasted on new road tunnels, junctions, and viaducts with a complete disregard for the scientific fact that all new roads eventually create their own traffic, Istanbul in 2010 has to contend with a single-line eight-station metro “system”. Due to insufficient budget allocations for mass public transportation, rail and other alternative transport systems, millions of people are tormented in traffic, and billions of dollars worth of time go out the exhaust pipe. What do our administrators do? You guessed right: more roads!
Everything changes so fast in this city of 15 million that it is impossible to even take a snap-shot for planning. Plans are outdated even as they are being made. A chronic case of planlessness. Meanwhile, the population keeps increasing and the city expands uncontrollably pushing up against Tekirdağ in the east and Kocaeli in the west. But does Istanbul really have a plan?In 1980 the first plan for Istanbul on a metropolitan scale was produced. In that plan report, it is noted that the topography and the geographic nature of the city would only support a maximum population of 5 million. At the time, Istanbul had 3.5 million people living in it. Now we are 15 million, and in 15 years we will be 23 million. Almost 5 times the sustainable size. Today we bring water to Istanbul from as far away as Bolu, and suck-up the entire water in Thrace, destroying the natural environment there. The northern forest areas disappear at a rapid pace, and the project for a 3rd bridge over the Bosphorous is threatening the remaining forests and water reservoirs giving life to Istanbul. The bridges that connect the two continents are segregating our society through the urban land speculation that they trigger. So what are we, the people of Istanbul, doing against this pillage?
If cities are a reflection of the society, what can we say about ourselves by looking at Istanbul? What kind of city are we leaving behind for future generations? Ecological limits have been surpassed. Economic limits have been surpassed. Population limits have been surpassed. Social cohesion has been lost. Here is the picture of neoliberal urbanism: Ecumenopolis.
Ecumenopolis aims for a holistic approach to Istanbul, questioning not only the transformation, but the dynamics behind it as well. From demolished shantytowns to the tops of skyscrapers, from the depths of Marmaray to the alternative routes of the 3rd bridge, from real estate investors to urban opposition, the film will take us on a long journey in this city without limits. We will speak with experts, academics, writers, investors, city-dwellers, and community leaders; and we will take a look at the city on a macro level through animated maps and graphics. Perhaps you will rediscover the city that you live in and we hope that you will not sit back and watch this transformation but question it. In the end this is what democracy requires of us.
Xavier Delory, born 1973 in Belgium, is a photographer exploring the “landscape in mutation and the drifts of modern man”.
This is his cycle “Habitat”:
“Our countryside (in Belgium as well as in many other western countries) is monopolized by one specific type of houses called “clé sur porte” (turnkey) (def.: Urban prefab cluster of similar forms implanted in the landscape without any effort of integration).
The cycle Habitat throws a look at this type of “architecture”. The concept of protection and stereotyped block is pushed to its extremes (similar to out withdrawal into on ourselves and our formatted lives).”
Socks-Studio is Fosco Lucarelli and Mariabruna Fabrizi + collaborators.
Except where otherwise noted, the content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.
Powered by WordPress