Over the last few months architectural firm Powerhouse Company have been working on the project Rien ne va Plus. This project consists of a research on the economic crisis and its intricate relation with architecture. This research resulted in an exhibition, that takes place at the architectural instute NAiM/Bureau Europa in Maastricht (The Netherlands), a reader that was published in collaboration with the magazine A10 and a series of debates.
You can also find the architect’s description after the break, along with photos of the exhibition taken by Johannes Schwartz and Christiaan van der Kooy, and a video created by Powerhouse Company.
The current global economic crisis, raging fully since September 2008, is already recognized as the biggest in the past 60 years and is expected to deepen even further. The social, economic and environmental impact of the crisis is unveiling a shocking truth regarding the effects of globalization, deregulation and the market economy that, at the same time, has been the basis of Western economic growth in the past few decades. The extent of this particular crisis, as well as the signs that a continuation of business as usual could prove fatal for our environment, indicates that a profound position on the current crisis is needed. The eroded morality that allowed the flourishing greed of the last decade prompted the depth of the malaise. Not only has our global economic system of a free market economy been proven to be flawed, we also seem to have lost moral guidelines for dealing with the excessive results of the free market economy.
The impact of the financial crash on architecture was unforeseen and unprecedented. Architectural projects were about the first investments to be put on hold, and architects, along with bankers, were the first who suffered collective layoffs.
This crisis is particularly relevant to architecture for two reasons. First, because this last boom was caused by the financial structures of real estate loans and speculation; Architecture was a means of wealth rather than well-being, with the result that houses were being built to be resold rather than inhabited. Architecture became a speculation feeder and obtained a doubtful role as marketeer. Second, because of the evolution of the ethics of architecture as well as its position towards and engagement with the society that produces it. Now the pressing question is how can we create architecture that is based on long-term qualities rather than on short-term profits?
The term Rien ne va Plus comes from the roulette table. It refers to the moment when all bets have been made, the moment of suspense before the outcome of chance is revealed. Literally, Rien ne va Plus is the moment where nothing goes anymore.
This exhibition doesn’t try to predict the outcome of the bets that were taken in our global casino economy. We don’t attempt to formulate the answer. Not only does the profound impact and interrelatedness of the various crises make it difficult to formulate immediate solutions, but most of all we feel that we need to make a shift in our overall mindset. That is why this exhibition is an opening to a conversation. In the coming year we will be creating a series of events throughout Europe concerning this book, to initiate a dialogue about the possible solutions to these crises. We hope you will engage; articulate your position, formulate suggestions, share your thoughts and perhaps in a year from now our conversations will have led to the point where we can start to reveal possible outcomes.
The reader Rien ne va Plus is a collection of texts by authors such as George Soros, Paul Krugman, Bruno Latour, Bart Lootsma, Saša Randić, Zvi Hecker and Nanne de Ru and Charles Bessard of Powerhouse Company. The graphic design is by Experimental Jetset. To obtain a free copy please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The exhibition Rien ne va Plus features 3D-diagrams designed and build by Powerhouse Company, along with films, texts and images. It will be on show until the 10th of January 2009. NAiM/Bureau Europa, Avenue Céramique 226, 6221 KX Maastricht, The Netherlands, T +31 (0)43-350 3020.
During the course of the exhibition, Powerhouse Company will organize a range of debates between architects and other practitioners within the field, on the issues addressed in the exhibition and reader. Coming events will take place on 8 November 2009 and 10 January 2010. For more information see www.powerhouse-company.com or www.bureau-europa.nl.