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Ciam: The Latest Architecture and News

Imagining Megastructures: How Utopia Can Shape Our Understanding of Technology

10:45 - 11 August, 2016
Imagining Megastructures: How Utopia Can Shape Our Understanding of Technology

“Utopia”: the word was coined by Sir Thomas More in 1516 when he started questioning the possibility of a perfect world where society would suffer no wars or insecurities, a place where everyone would prosper and fulfill both individual and collective ambitions. Yet such a perfect society can only exist with the creation of perfect built infrastructure, which possibly explains why architects have often fantasized on megastructures and how to “order” this dreamed society.

Megastructures, as imagined after World War 2 by the CIAM international congress and Team 10, are now regularly revived with the intent to solve social issues on a mass scale. Notably, architecture students have shown a renewed interest for walking cities as first conceived by Ron Herron of Archigram in the 1960s, assuming that megastructures could solve major crises in remote areas. Just as ETSA Madrid student Manuel Dominguez developed a nomadic city to encourage reforestation in Spain for his 2013 thesis project, Woodbury University graduate Rana Ahmadi has recently designed a walking city that would destroy land mines on its way. But these utopian projects also involve a considerable amount of technology, raising the question of how megastructures and technology can work together to give societies a new beginning.

Metabolic Machine/ Rana Ahmadi. Image © Rana Ahmadi Metabolic Machine/ Rana Ahmadi. Image © Rana Ahmadi Very Large Structure/ Manuel Dominguez. Image © Manuel Dominguez / Zuloark Very Large Structure/ Manuel Dominguez. Image © Manuel Dominguez / Zuloark + 25

'An Installation In Four Acts' - Exploring Structuralism At Rotterdam's Nieuwe Instituut

01:00 - 5 January, 2015
'An Installation In Four Acts' - Exploring Structuralism At Rotterdam's Nieuwe Instituut, Structuralism: 'An Installation In Four Acts'. Image via Het Nieuwe Instituut
Structuralism: 'An Installation In Four Acts'. Image via Het Nieuwe Instituut

Great movements in architecture are usually set in motion by a dull societal ache or as a response to a sudden, unforeseen reorientation of a community at large. The Dutch city of Rotterdam - vast swathes of which were cast into oblivion during the blitz of May 1940 - has been at the forefront of many shifts in approach to the built environment. It is therefore fitting that the latest exhibition at the Nieuwe Instituut (formerly the NAi), simply titled Structuralism, is being held in the city that was recently named Europe’s best.

Furthermore, Dutch Structuralism is a timely subject for Dirk van den Heuvel and the Jaap Bakema Study Centre (JBSC) in Delft to tackle. With major civic buildings like OMA's extension to Rotterdam's City Hall taking shape, it appears that a resurgence of Structuralist formal thought is appearing in the contemporary city. The exhibition seeks to shine a new light on the movement by uncovering drawings, models and texts which profoundly shaped 20th century architectural thinking.

'An Installation In Four Acts' Seminar Space. Image via Het Nieuwe Instituut Structuralism: From 'An Installation In Four Acts' looking towards 'Making Space, Leaving Space'. Image via Het Nieuwe Instituut Structuralism: 'An Installation In Four Acts'. Image via Het Nieuwe Instituut Structuralism: 'An Installation In Four Acts' - the mini-mega furniture. Image via Het Nieuwe Instituut + 28

What Can Be Learnt From The Smithsons' "New Brutalism" In 2014?

00:00 - 22 June, 2014
What Can Be Learnt From The Smithsons' "New Brutalism" In 2014?, Alison and Peter Smithson (year unknown)
Alison and Peter Smithson (year unknown)

Sheffield born Alison Gill, later to be known as Alison Smithson, was one half of one of the most influential Brutalist architectural partnerships in history. On the day that she would be celebrating her 86th birthday we take a look at how the impact of her and Peter Smithson's architecture still resonates well into the 21st century, most notably in the British Pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale. With London's Robin Hood Gardens, one of their most well known and large scale social housing projects, facing imminent demolition how might their style, hailed by Reyner Banham in 1955 as the "new brutalism", hold the key for future housing projects?

Robin Hood Gardens, London. Image Courtesy of John Levett - http://www.flickr.com/photos/joseph_beuys_hat/ Robin Hood Gardens, London. Image Courtesy of Amanda Vincent-Rous - http://www.flickr.com/photos/51746218@N03/ Drawing at the 2014 Venice Biennale, Alison & Peter Smithson (1963). Image © James Taylor-Foster Robin Hood Gardens, Alison and Peter Smithson + 8