Presenting six cities built between the World War II and the present day, the installation sets their extraordinary diversity against the spatial, demographic, and economic formulas that lay behind their development. Displayed through a mix of bold typography, architectural elements, models, and painted canvases, this installation evokes the mix of complexity and control common to modern cities.
Crimson Architectural Historians were inspired by the writings of British American historian Tony Judt, who reflected on the hopeful project of the twentieth century to make education, health, justice, and culture available to the masses, and how this has been replaced by the current political and economic discourse where the “just, the “moral”, or the “good” hardly feature, replaced by process, profit, efficiency, and expediency.
Similarly, this exhibition argues, the progressive and public ideals of planning have disappeared, its communitarian meaning has been lost, and planning has become a purely managerial tool deployed across every economic, cultural, and political context. Of the six exemplar cities featured here, three represent ideals of emancipation, social equality, and progress, and three stand for the present generation of new cities, which are based on familiar formar characteristics, but lack a comprehensive social idea.
The cities are Stevenage (UK), a prototype of postwar New Towns and the example for hundreds of new cities around the world; Tema (Ghana), a Western-style “welfare” city exported to the first new nation state of decolonizing Africa; Almere (The Netherlands), a suburban new city in which individualism and personal choice were added to the notion of the collective; King Abdullah Economic City (Saudi Arabia), which is located in the middle of the desert, primarily to attract foreign investment; Songjiang (China), where endless standard housing towers, with a small “historic” enclave, are designed by foreign architects; and AlphaVille-Tamboré (Brasil), the gated city, built as a commercial development with all services located outside the wall.