Focusing on projecting new living conditions circa 2085 in the Netherlands, “A Wonderful World” master class with Wiel Arets at the Berlage Institute Postgraduate Research Laboratory, challenged participants to rethink the proposition of living in a metropolis, high-rise building. Researching and redefining the map of the world, all of the continents were being projected to be within a 288 minute radius with a maximum travel distance of 72 minutes between continents. The basic question put forward: How will the city develop within our extremely exciting, complex, but shrinking world?
The Future Outdoors team shared with us their research and proposal to this question. Follow the break for a description and drawings.
Project Team: Juan Carlos Aristizabal, Gabriel Cuellar, Silvia Gioberti, Samia Henni, Ivan Nasution, Githa Ong Photographs: Courtesy of Future Outdoors
The basic premise of how we occupy space, and its quality, have been revolutionized continuously since over 12,000 years. The great revolutions of humanity correspond not only to production and technology but the very mentality of space–spatial revolutions. Despite this continuous realignment of space, a general dichotomy arises that serves as a basis for architecture, the city and our lives in them: indoors and outdoors.
Prior to 10,000 BCE, humans built campfires and sought out food and pleasance in the outdoors. This ancient culture describes a sort of “state of nature,” before introducing the dichotomy of indoors and outdoors for our lives. The first spatial revolution corresponds to the Agricultural Revolution. Representing the first large leap into the sedentary, our ancestors saw this as an escape from the wild into civilization, a shift from the outdoors into the indoors. The second spatial revolution corresponds to the Industrial Revolution. From then on, we understand the city as a interior, a congested closed place, that lacks the fresh air, wildlife and “wellness” that the apparent “natural” landscape offered. The third spatial revolution corresponds to the 20th century and is well-described in Reyner Banham’s essay, “A home is not a house,” where we become subject to the “virtual.” The fundamental relationships of the indoors, outdoors, climate and geography, are obliterated, as we watch nature shows on TV and enjoy 21C temperature year-round.
The latest spatial revolution corresponds to the Information Revolution, when virtual space, transmitted from ubiquitous wireless hubs, orbiting satellites, and portable devices connected to the WWW constitute the new global “indoors.” Just as the “indoors” of the pre-modern city were understood as unhealthy and crowded and prompted creation of public parks, we see today in medical research that the “indoor” world of wi-fi is harmful in different ways. One claim is the constant anticipation, related to stimulation of dopamine, of incoming e-mails and SMSs uses up brain power, leaving people unable to “be fully in the moment” and deprived of “downtime.” The electromagnetic radiation itself may also have a harmful effect on the body.
Future generations of society, who by nature live in the wireless world, will physically and mentally need an outdoors that responds to the electromagnetic dimension of life.
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Considering that all of these conditions will be heightened to the extreme in the future, the task of the project is to not shape the new indoors, but rather invent the new outdoors as the next spatial revolution. Our project therefore is based in the premise that the new outdoors is precisely outside of the ubiquitous and pervasive wireless dimension, a sort of inversion of conventional understanding, a heterotopic carte blanche, unshackled from mobile devices.
In 2085, we will see digital infrastructure achieve a total coverage, all people participating in global wi-fi communication which eliminates the traditional geographic differences between the urban, the natural, interior, exterior, etc. Taking a parameter from electromagnetivity, geographically overlapping areas become defined by “electronic terroir,” the specific and compatible GHz frequency ranges for the millions of wi-fi users in the city.
At the same time, the new megapolis will be transformed to work alongside computers and the wireless dimension, the “e-space” city. Surface areas, floating platforms in the open air, within the new city are parametrically organized, efficiently providing for all programs. Whereas the outdoors was traditionally designated by “mother nature,” and the indoors was conceived by man, the inverse happens in the future–the outdoors is designed by man and the indoors is planned by computation. Just as we heard of wi-fi hotspots by word-of-mouth in the 1990s, in the 2080s the new outdoors becomes a discussed, socially activated realm.
We know that the thick walls and materials of current buildings obstruct wireless signals, like gigantic Faraday cages, and embody the 20th century notion of indoors and outdoors. Thus, we invert this relationship and allow the new indoors to reign, by radicalizing the architecture material palette and disintegrating building components into space and climate. On one hand, the surface areas of the city reflect electromagnetic signals like a Hall of Mirrors, providing complete coverage of the wireless connectivity. On the other hand, the envelope of the new outdoors is characterized by new materiality that nullifies wi-fi signals.
The future outdoors is the absence of wi-fi connection. Specifically, the new outdoors is a logic to “un-plug” areas of the city. When the city is designed by computer and wi-fi, the spatial agency people have is to subtract, to “un-plug” area, and create outdoors spaces from the “e-space.” This is achieved by enveloping and joining together a quantity of the city’s surface areas.
The architectural model of 2085 elaborates the Semperian Hut. What was the outdoor hearth becomes the wireless signal, what was an interior room becomes the carte blanche. Architecture that reacts to the real dimension of the time.