In its recent issues, The Architectural Review has been on a mission, highlighting a phenomenon that they have named "Notopia." Characterized by a "loss of identity and cultural vibrancy" and "a global pandemic of generic buildings," Notopia is - in overly simplistic terms - a consequence of the cold logic of market forces combined with a disinterested populace. The AR's campaign therefore aims to analyze this "thing of terror" and push back by raising public awareness and by proposing alternatives. And they need your help.
ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this introduction to the July 2016 issue, Editor Christine Murray continues the crusade, begun in the previous issue, against "Notopia." Here, Murray describes Notopia's connection to our 21st century digital society, arguing that "the failed promise of the internet is how it has hurt the real world."
It may be found even in an attractive metropolis, densely packed with fine buildings old and new, replete with coffee shops and bicycle lanes. Here, Notopia is a simulacrum of inhabitation, like a stage set for its players. Nothing is what it seems. The historic apartments that overlook the twisted pedestrianized lanes of Barcelona are in fact hotel rooms for weekend visitors. The towering sea-view condominiums of Vancouver are foreign investment properties bought in exchange for citizenship. Detroit’s streets of elegant gabled houses have no services, the municipal water systems long turned off.
ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine’s monthly editions. In this introduction to the June 2016 issue on what the AR has provocatively named "Notopia," Editor Christine Murray outlines the defining characteristics of this "selfish city," the "pandemic of generic buildings have no connection to each other" - stating that their issue-long tirade against Notopia "is less a warning than a prophecy of doom."
If what is called the development of our cities is allowed to multiply at the present rate, then by the end of the century our world will consist of isolated oases of glassy monuments surrounded by a limbo of shacks and beige constructions, and we will be unable to distinguish any one global city from another.
This pandemic of generic buildings have no connection to each other, let alone to the climate and culture of their location.
With apologies to our forebear Ian Nairn, upon this scourge The Architectural Review bestows a name in the hope that it will stick – NOTOPIA. Its symptom (which one can observe without even leaving London) is that the edge of Mumbai will look like the beginning of Shenzhen, and the center of Singapore will look like downtown Dallas.