The Naked City

Globalization and immense developments in technology have changed the world over the last fifteen years or so more drastically than ever before. Architecture has responded to these changes most optimistically.The first ArchiLab presentations were the stage for a generation of architects that grew up with these developments. They embraced the latest in computer software to produce daring new forms and developed new architectural discourses and methods that would allow working in a global context.The work they produced fitted perfectly in the tradition of experimental architecture of the nineteen sixties, which is so well represented in the extraordinary collection of the FRAC Centre.This archi- tecture found wide acclaim in exhibitions like Latent Utopias in Graz and Architectures Non Standard in the Centre Pompidou in Paris; these architects are building and win important prizes. ArchiLab 2004 wants to open up a next phase in this development. Today, we become aware that the technological and socio- geographical revolution of the nineteen nineties also produces a series of emerging effects and new possibilities that need to be addressed. Globalization does not just produce new prosperous metropolitan concentrations of urbanity; it also causes large areas to shrink. Parts of the “ThirdWorld” are folding into the first.The dissolution of the nation state produces a crisis of the welfare state that was intimately connected to housing programs and urban planning. Individualization creates a demand for a greater diversity in architecture.The nature and use of public space are changing. Over the last years, an important group of architects has begun investigating these phenomena and started to develop new strategies and methods to deal with them. An important aspect of this new direction in architecture is an interest in the reality of the new urban conditions as they take shape today even without the intervention of architects. Research and a critical interpretation of reality are often presented as cultural statements in itself. But one can also see this research as a return to the “other” origins of modernism, in which architects like Le Corbusier, Hilberseimer and Van Eesteren tried to come to a deeper understanding of the existing city of their time to be able to come up with new, more appropriate organizations. At the same time, instead of simply using off the shelve software that was often developed for completely different purposes, for example for visual special effects in the film industry, we see that architects start to develop and write their own software. Very often, we see that this software focuses more on the organi- zational aspects of architecture and urbanism than on the formal aspects and aspects of manufacturing. ArchiLab 2004 will again attach to certain tendencies as they can be found in the collection of the FRAC Centre. But more than before it looks for the continuation of a tradition that was started by Situationists like Guy Debord and Constant Nieuwenhuys, artists like Gordon Matta Clark and investi- gators and thinkers of the large scale like Rem Koolhaas.The subtitle of ArchiLab 2004, “From Naked City to Smart Mobs”, refers to both the seminal work of Debord and Asger Jorn and to the contemporary realiza- tion of Situationism in the phenomenon of “Smart Mobs”, as Howard Rheingold calls them: new, informal organizations produced by the rise of wireless computer networks.

ArchiLab 2004 will bring back the reality of the city in its most bare and sometimes even barren form. It will also introduce Orléans – with its various problems and potentials in many ways prototypical for the contemporary European city – as a part of this reality. This will be realized in the forms of walks through and projects for Orléans. But it will also present some installations, in which the power and poetry of cutting edge contemporary archi tecture and urbanism cannot only be seen, but also be experienced one to one.

Bart Lootsma, curator Archilab 2004

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Link to website Archilab2004

Catalogue and Exhibition The Naked City. With a contribution on the Society of The And
Archilab, Orleans, France, 2004, chief editor Bart Lootsma

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