Sunday, 23 October 2011

Notes from the show 'Progress / OMA' @ Barbican

As a quasi-apocalyptic mood holds us, and the idea of a worldwide wave of 'saving' the environment shows signs of faltering - too expensive, politically unfeasible - we should rediscover the beauty of the desert: not only as a metaphor of our future, but perhaps as a state we could aspire to: present in unimaginable quantities, distributed over the entire globe, pure, often surprisingly habitable, (at least part of the year), they are also easier to "protect" than more demanding ecologies... A good way to begin our future...

What did those billions who left the city leave behind? The countryside is now the front line of transformation. A world formerly dictated by the seasons and the organization of agriculture is now a toxic mix of genetic experiment, science, incidental inhabitation, tax incentives, investment, political turmoil, spill over development, terminal class warfare, in other words more volatile than the most accelerated city...

If 'bloated' is the word that best describes the outcome of many forms of contemporary exaggeration / excess - bloated sectors, bloated bills - can we make sobriety appealing? Generic medicines have been a noticeable success in the war against inflation. Can we achieve the same effect in architecture by introducing GENERICS, designs that focus on essentials, repeatable perhaps, prefabricated even? Projects for instance that would embody legal minimums, foreign worker accommodation, a resurrection of the modernists' existenziminimum*, a voluntary surrender of that is unnecessary, that could have a political potential...

*the minimum accommodation necessary for a dignified existence.

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