Mapping the City of the 21st Century: Desplans and KooZA/rch Open up the Discourse to Young Creatives

Desplans and KooZA/rch have revealed the three final winners of the #mycityscape competition. Inviting young creatives to this conversation, the open call questions the definition of the city, by asking “What establishes the identity of a city? What distinguishes one urban environment from the other? And What defines our relationship to the built landscape we inhabit?

Trying to find the tools to map the city of the 21st century, the competition encouraged young creatives to record the essence of their cityscape into one image. After selecting 12 shortlisted entries, the contest solicited a wider audience to decide the final winning designs, by voting for their favorites on social media. Following the release of the results, Christele Harrouk from ArchDaily had the chance to talk about the #mycityscape competition with both Desplans and KooZA/rch, discussing the theme and the whole process. Discover in this article the exchange as well as the final winning designs.

Winning Designs

Hybridity/ Jordan Pitruzzella

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Hybridity_Jordan-Pitruzzella. Image Courtesy of Desplans and KooZA/rch

Who has never dreamed of being elsewhere while being in the city? Hybrity is the city in constant hybridization, both « Iles de Nantes » and countryside. It is a fantasized and conceptual response from 21st century city, which wants to be fragmented and constantly reinterpreted by its citizens.

Behind the Glitch: Cityscape Transformation Mapping/ Snežana Zlatković

Mapping the City of the 21st Century: Desplans and KooZA/rch Open up the Discourse to Young Creatives - Image 5 of 6
Behind the Glitch-Cityscape Transformation Mapping_Snezana-Zlatkovic. Image Courtesy of Desplans and KooZA/rch

The proposed drawing methodology, developed during PhD research explore the immaterial aspects of cityscape transformations and merge static and dynamic qualities of spaces. By layering the layered, drawing encodes the relationship between invisible/visible, present/absent cityscape transformations over time and uncovers the aesthetics of density and chaotic city appearance.

Abstract explorations/ Alex Roux

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203_Koozarch_Competition_6. Image Courtesy of Desplans and KooZA/rch

Buildings invested through cross-use. Our future is still as undecided as it was 10 months ago, I choose to explore the transformation of cities in the abstract. So I imagine, reinterpret and redraw.

Read on for the Q&A with the organizers. For more information on the competition, check the official website.

Mapping the City of the 21st Century: Desplans and KooZA/rch Open up the Discourse to Young Creatives - Image 2 of 6
Courtesy of Desplans and KooZA/rch

About the Theme

ArchDaily: Let’s talk about your choice of subject. In this edition, you bring up the city of the 21st century, its definition, and architectural mapping approaches. Why do you think it’s important to rethink our know-how and our methods? Especially at this specific time in history?

Desplans: this pandemic allows us to put on hold our frenetic lives. Since the end of the previous century, we are living in times of profound changes with the digital revolution. Some compare it to the agricultural or industrial revolutions, but we believe Michel Serres’ comparison to the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg is more accurate. It started the Printing Revolution and then, at the Renaissance, the era of mass communication, which permanently altered the structure of society. We believe that we are living in similar times and we should rethink our know-how methods in order to shape and imagine cities adapted to our new ways of living at the information age. The city of the 21st century will not only be a smart city using different types of electronic methods and sensors to collect data in order to manage assets, resources, and services efficiently.

Koozarch: The project takes as a point of departure seminal works undertaken by architects and theorists as Debord, Tschumi, Koolhaas, and Ungers, amongst others, and their mappings of the city of the 20th century to open up the discourse to the young creative of today and his/her interpretation and understanding of the contemporary metropolis. Rather than attempting to map the city in absolute terms, the competition aimed to reconnect the individual to the latter at a time when we mostly find ourselves looking and experiencing this behind our masks and from the windows of our apartments. Metropolises are unique machines that have and will continue to develop throughout time, this pause is for us an opportunity to reflect on what constitutes the identity and soul of these urban environments for us individually and more importantly as a collective. As architects we often find ourselves conceptualizing future urban scenarios which seem to at times be extrapolated from a sci-fi sketch rather than reality, whilst at times it is just sufficient to pause, observe and engage with our surrounding environment to understand the values upon which good urban planning needs to draw upon at both the scale of the city and that of the neighborhood.

To this end, we strongly share Tschumi’s belief that our cities are not “simply about space and form, but also about an event, action, and what happens within space” and as such, we turned to the very act of mapping as an extremely personal act which would entail the contributors to intimately engage in an act of discovery and understanding of their city.

About the Competition

ArchDaily: Can you tell us more about this edition of the competition? How many entries have you collected and what is your overall impression of the submissions? Is there anything in particular that you noticed?

Koozarch: This was the first competition organized by KooZA/rch and we were naturally drawn to partner up with Desplans as they also share our interest in the power of the architectural imaginary as manifested through the act of drawing. The competition yielded more than 80 entries worldwide and it was quite unique to see the multitude of ways different individuals engaged with and interpreted their surrounding environment. All submissions were recorded/ drawn via the use of digital tools which might not have been the case should one have had greater liberty to roam through their streets and directly engaged with the urban fabric. What was most extraordinary was that few individuals explored the map itself but rather focused on re-interpretations of the act of mapping via a variety of mediums and tools.

About the 3 Winners

ArchDaily: What made their projects stand out from the rest of the proposals? And what are the innovative tools they introduced while mapping the city of the 21st century?

Koozarch: For this competition we collectively selected 12 winning entries amongst both teams and then opened up the voting process via Instagram, so arguably we did not ultimately decide the three winning designs but rather wanted to open up the discourse to a wider audience. In this regard, we were particularly impressed by submissions that looked at innovative ways of mapping the city beyond the canonical and the norm. We were drawn to projects which through the use of hashtags via micro-blogging and photo-sharing on virtual platforms revealed patterns, associations, and human interactions, to those which focused on the study of bacteria as a mean to critique the off-balance between urban vs. natural within our constructed environment, to those which attempted to grasp the collapsed and accelerated relationship between time and space as experienced by our frenetic life across our urban environments and the effect this has on our relationship to the city itself.

About Their Vision

ArchDaily: Finally, I would like to get your opinion on the interrogation you asked contestants: how can we, according to your vision, map the city of the 21st century?

The variety and diversity of submissions revealed that there is not one unique way of mapping the city of the 21st century as there is not one unique reading of what this constitutes.

Koozarch: The beauty lies in the multitude of perspectives and layers that one can associate and with which one can attempt to define the urban context that surrounds them, especially at a unique and radical time like this. As architects we often think of the power and role that big infrastructural projects have in shaping the city whilst, this competition reminded us of that contrarily it is the small fragments of our everyday lives that establish the essence of our metropolises.

This article is part of the ArchDaily Topic: The Future of Cities. Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our monthly topics. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.

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Cite: Christele Harrouk. "Mapping the City of the 21st Century: Desplans and KooZA/rch Open up the Discourse to Young Creatives" 03 Feb 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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