That shouldn’t be news to any of us. However, it’s hard sometimes to remember the extent of that urbanization. By mid-century, we’re going to have about eight billion — perhaps more — people living in cities or within a day’s travel of one. We will be an overwhelmingly urban species. In order to provide the kind of energy that it would take for eight billion people living in cities that are even somewhat like the cities that those of us in the global North live in today, we would have to generate an absolutely astonishing amount of energy. It may be possible that we are not even able to build that much clean energy. So if we’re seriously talking about tackling climate change on an urbanizing planet, we need to look somewhere else for the solution.
The solution, in fact, may be closer to hand than we think, because all of those cities we’re building are opportunities. Every city determines to a very large extent the amount of energy used by its inhabitants. We tend to think of energy use as a behavioral thing — I choose to turn this light switch on — but really, enormous amounts of our energy use are predestined by the kinds of communities and cities that we live in.
Alex Steffen › TED, 2003
Olafur Eliasson › The Weather Project, Tate Modern, London, 2004
The subject of the weather has long shaped the content of everyday conversation. In The Weather Project, Olafur Eliasson takes this ubiquitous subject as the basis for exploring ideas about experiences, mediation and representation.
The creeping expansion of the monument across the global landscape is subtly revealed as its own neutralizer, thereby putting an end to its sublime terror.
The Continuous Monument stipulates no interiors, Supersurface suggests no exteriors.
The strange combination of professional practice and theoretical insurrectionism; of profitable industry contracts and sarcastic assaults on consumerism; of global fame and peasant culture, are the conflictual relationships in a body of research committed to engaging mainstream society. The members of SUPERSTUDIO have sought to discover the way towards making a better society, made up of individuals responsible to their communities, critically cognizant of their natural resources and shared cultures.
To finally reach the ideal goal of a non-designed community, SUPERSTUDIO progressively whittled away at the architectural relationship between the individual and the social contract, concluding the journey not with a new form of people’s architecture, but an architectural people ready to give their world a form.
Peter Lang › 2003
Some 30 years ago, Superstudio, a group of radical Florentine architects, proposed a gridded superstructure that would wrap around the world. Eventually, this structure, Il Monumento Continuo, would cover the entire surface of the planet, leaving the Earth as featureless as the smoothest desert, or, more to the point, as a wilfully low-brow, suburban-style western city.
The point was exaggerated but well made: Superstudio were commenting on the way globalisation was swamping the world. Given the way the world was developing, we might as well all live in one anonymous megastructure, with local cultures stripped away.
Superstudio’s continuous monument seems as relevant today as it did when first unveiled in a sequence of clever photo-collages in 1969.
Unlike Archigram, the British pop architecture group who saw new technology, when applied with wit, as a positive way into a hedonistic future, Superstudio saw 1960s technologia as a malevolent force. Although radicals rather than conservatives, they turned their back on the burgeoning conservation movement, too.
Jonathan Glancey › The Guardian, 2003
Superstudio’s Continuous Monument, developed in a series of collages and storyboards in 1969, is a vision of total urbanisation. There is nature and then there is the city, a single giant structure stretching across the landscape. The city’s form is determined by a geometric accumulation of white cuONbes - and if cities can be achieved simply by multiplying these basic components then there is no need any more for architects.
Their idea of a single design anticipates to some extent the cultural uniformity of globalisation and is also a pseudo-practical approach to a world of sprawling cities.
Justin McGuirk › IconEye, 2003
Na última década, a China assistiu a um “boom” da construção em altura, surgido para responder à crescente concentração da população rural nas principais cidades, sem equivalência em qualquer outro canto do planeta. Mas a construção dos arranha-céus e o êxodo demográfico causaram uma série considerável de estragos no meio ambiente, de efeitos ainda não totalmente apurados.
Este edifício em concreto, em Yueyang, é um exemplo de construção simplificada, da qual a empresa Broad Group tem sido pioneira. O fundador da empresa, Zhang Yue, considera, porém, o contrário. A construção simplificada, por exemplo, permite isto: a construção de uma torre em 15 dias.
Reuters › P3, 2012
A NOVA CULTURA DO INDIVÍDUO
Embora a nossa época se caracterize pelo desenvolvimento de uma nova economia de mercado, também somos testemunhas duma nova época de individualismo. EstaT não é, evidentemente, uma invenção recente. Em ruptura frontal com a ideologia das civilizações precedentes, organizadas de maneira holista e com um fundamento sagrado, o individualismo é um sistema de valores que instala o indivíduo livre e igual como valor central da nossa cultura, como fundamento da ordem social e política.
A CULTURA MUNDO COMO CIVILIZAÇÃO
A hipermodernidade toma forma sobretudo na urbanização excrescente do mundo. Estamos na época das megalópoles, das hipercidades tentaculares que congregam milhões de indivíduos e que, longe dos bairros centrais e ricos, geram periferias e subúrbios explosivos, uma vez que as cidades são o horizonte de vida dos seres humanos de todo o planeta.
Gilles Lipovetsky + Jean Serroy ›
A cultura-mundo - Resposta a uma sociedade desorientada, 2008
Olafur Eliasson › The Weather Project, Tate Modern, London, 2004
Moholy Nagy’s holistic approach, “to feel what we know and to know what we feel,” is subsumed in Eliasson’s work. He tries “to make us aware of our motions and to include us in the exhibition in a way that allows us to perceive what we know and to know what we perceive.”
The installation can in many ways be considered exemplary of his works with light, and can even be extended to include his previous oeuvre. Olafur Eliasson draws on the natural elements of light, earth, fire, air, and water in order to focus on the central themes of nature, natural processes and the (transformed) understanding of natural and the natural environment. However, the questions about climate or the morphology of landscapes that appear in his work are in no way self-referential, but are always aimed at the participation of the persons who share the same sphere with these phenomena: “I am particularly interested in the relationship between the individual, the visitor and the environment in with he finds himself.
In Eliasson’s work, light has a “nature” of its own, it is part of the artist’s “experiment set-up”. He insists on declaring that he is working on “models of perception and not on perception itself. These models have represented the historical spaces over the past hundred years. It is this that I am concerned with and that I also question”.
Annelie Lutgens + Holger Broeker › Olafur Eliasson - Your Lighthouse, 2004
O que é interessante na diversidade de estímulos que as cidades produzem, é que a estrutura das cidades resulta da combinação entre o planeado urbanisticamente, de raiz cultural ou religiosa, e a irrupção de decisões individuais ou de grupo feita pelos habitantes da cidade. E a diversidade dos perfis das cidades, que são o que determina que as mesmas possam construir memórias culturais mais ou menos pertinentes, é algo que resulta das práticas culturais dos cidadãos na relação de tensão ou de empatia com as suas cidades.
A minha cidade ideal é uma antologia de lugares de outras cidades, é uma colagem de lugares, e é assim que eu vejo o rio Tejo e as varandas que para ele dão ao lado dos arranha-céus de Hong-Kong, com destaque para o Banco da China de LM. Pei, que dão para o Mar das Pérolas. E esse banco, na minha cidade, faz esquina com a rua das livrarias do Rio de Janeiro, na mesma rua do China Club de Paris que, nesta minha cidade, fica defronte do Jardim do Luxemburgo, no meio dos quais fica o café Pullmans de Utrecht, que dá para a 9 de Julho de Buenos Aires, onde fica o Museu de Fotografia de Aries e a biblioteca de Nova Iorque da rua 42 e a Livraria Lello no Porto, que cruzam com a avenida Eduardo Mondlane no Maputo, onde fica o colorido mercado de Hanói, vizinho do mercado de Barcelona, defronte da esplanada do Sporting Club de Beirute, que dá para o Mediterrâneo.
António Pinto Ribeiro › Prototypo #007 “Cidade em Performance”, 2002
Edward Burtynsky › City Overview, Shanghai, 2004
At the start of the 20th century, 10 percent of the earth’s population lived in cities. By the end of this decade, 50 percent will be urban dwellers. By 2015, there will be 58 metro areas with more than 5 million inhabitants each. Of these enclaves, 48 will be located outside the developed world. The lower-profile cities - those like Bombay, Lagos, and Dhaka - are flourishing the most, while traditional mega-metropolises, such as London, Osaka, and Detroit, are stagnating.
Office for Metropolitan Architecture › Wired Magazine, 2003
The past three decades have produced more change in more cultures than any other time in history. Radically accelerated growth, deregulation, and globalization have redrawn our familiar maps and reset the parameters: Borders are inscribed and permeated, control zones imposed and violated, jurisdictions declared and ignored, markets pumped up and punctured. And at the same time, entirely new spatial conditions, demanding new definitions, have emerged.
Where space was considered permanent, it now feels transitory - on its way to becoming. The words and ideas of architecture, once the official language of space, no longer seem capable of describing this proliferation of new conditions. But even as its utility is questioned in the real world, architectural language survives, its repertoire of concepts and metaphors resurrected to create clarity and definition in new, unfamiliar domains. Words that die in the real are reborn in the virtual.
Rem Koolhaas › Wired Magazine, 2003
Hubert Blanz › Roadshow #02, 2007
The UN planet-watchers have found not just that we are becoming an urban species but that the world’s cities are growing and merging with each other, forming vast “megaregions
But what will it be like to live in the endless city?
The answer, says British environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, depends not on the size but what on what kind of cities we build. In Europe you can travel across heavily urbanized areas without even being aware that you are in a megalopolis. A long history of parks, open space, civic responsibility and good public transport has not divorced people from the natural world. “Sustainability can certainly be achieved in urban areas. Cities actually have some distinct advantages when it comes to energy use and transport,” says Porritt.
But life in the endless city would be psychologically intolerable without contact with nature, he says. The vast city disconnected from the natural world and impossible to leave becomes a vast prison with potentially terrible consequences for both human society and the planet itself.
John Vidal › Adbusters #90: Whole Brain Catalog, 2010
When we call a landscape or a piece of art ‘sublime,’ we express the fact that it evokes particular beauty or excellence. Note that the ‘sublime’ is not only an aesthetic characterization; a moral action of high standing or an unparalleled goal in a soccer game may also be called ‘sublime.’ Roughly speaking, the sublime is something that exceeds the ordinary.
The sublime confronts us with that which exceeds our very understanding.
The sublime refers to the wild, unbounded grandeur of nature, which is thus contrasted starkly with the more harmonious experience of beauty.
Jos de Mul › Next Nature, 2011
Edward Burtynsky › Nanpu Bridge Interchange, Shanghai, 2004
Today, this environment is completely governed by us. It has lost all originality.
How natural is it to have a nine-to-five job, and to go to the office with a suit and a tie? The roofs over our heads, the chairs we sit on, even the trees in the forest-they are all what we want them to be. Just take a look around, and try and find the most natural object present in the space you are in right now.
Most likely that will be you.
Let us look at it from our own perspective: nature as human experience. The associations that most people have with the notion of nature can be summed up in such terms as infinite, inaccessible, overwhelming in power, primal, wild and fearsome. But where can this kind of nature be found nowadays? In the park on the outskirts of the town? Or on the windowsill, where your cat is gently sleeping? Probably not. Our next nature arises from cultural products that have become so complex that the only way we can relate to them is in terms of a man-nature relationship.
Nature, in the sense of trees, plants, animals, atoms, or climate, has turned into some sort of cultural category. At the same time, products of culture, which we used to be in control of, tend to outgrow us more and more. Those “natural powers” seem to shift to another field.
Koert Van Mensvoort › Next Nature, 2005
Manufactered Landscapes › Jennifer Baichwal, 2006
On the works of Edward Burtynsky
Yet our reactions will inevitably be more emotional than intellectual, and for this reason their work underscores as well the limits of photography as an instrument of education and catalyst for change. For while the formal beauty and strangeness of an image like Burtynsky’s Ferrous Bushling #18 might make us pause and reflect, and ask questions, we will need additional information to translate that moment of reflection into environmental insight — to answer those questions in meaningful terms.
Mark Feldman › Design Observer, 2012
Edward Burtynsky › Iberia Quarries # 3, Pardais, Portugal, 2006
For, as many observers have noted, what is already designed exerts a huge influence over the design of our lives, and what comes next. Design converts nature’s capital and man’s (human and financial) capital into ‘man-made’ capital by giving it form, by embedding meaning (by vesting the form with symbolic capital), by defining societal values and, ultimately, by designing our perception of reality. Design contributes to the evolution of individual human capital and defines our collectively held social capital. Design is the medium through which these capitals are transformed into materialized and symbolic languages.
For the past 250 years design has endorsed the notion of economic progress by making the newly materialized forms ‘culturally acceptable’, in symbolic, aesthetic and functional terms.
Alastair Fuad-Luke › Design Activism, 2009