Archive for the ‘event’ Category

Thursday 19 March

From wacko hippy-esk ideology, ‘sustainability’, or ‘eco-friendly’, or ‘green’ has now become globally accepted. But, as what? As an environmental urgency, as a political issue, as a technical problem, as a historical destiny, or as a new world order? And with which consequences?

The sustainability consensus is dangerous, since the concept has no political content and can be used for any cause. Carbon neutrality and zero emissions are like magic formulas, cover ups for complicated ethical questions about the inequalities in our societies. Architecture is called to rescue the planets future with eco-cities and sustainable design but what is this future is rarely discussed.

We invite you to join us in the examination of sustainability, and answer questions as: whose, what kind of and sustainability in which way? Help us setting the zero point, and let’s search for the strategies after zero and plan more sustainable furtures.

An expert meeting
Experts design Zero Point Manifesto for Sustainability
With Stefano Boeri, Arjen Oosterman, Piet Vollaard, Marjetica Portc and others

10.30 – 12.00 Discussion session
12.00 – 13.00 Lunch
13.00 – 14.30 Writing session

A public debateBy host Ole Bouman

20.10 – 20.30
‘Planning Sustainability after Zero’
Stefano Boeri on Sustainable Utopias and Dystopias
Moving away from the anthropocentric observation of the urban condition, Stefano Boeri understands non-growth and human retreat as producing valuable urban eco-systems. Reforestation protects natural zones and green corridors shelter animals from the anthropocentric world. These potentially create new ways of exchange between wildlife and human beings.

20.30 – 20.50
‘Searching Sustainability after Zero’
Marjetica Potrc on Sustainable strategies after urban crisis
Places where 20th century modernism failed have articulated new dialog
between rural and urban. New rural – urban coexistence is at the core of the existential concerns of contemporary society. Marjetica Potrc will give examples from her research projects in Amazonia, New Orleans, Detroit and the Nieuw West neighborhood of Amsterdam.

20.50 – 21.00

21.00 – 21.15

21.15 – 21.45

21.45 – 22.00
‘Manifesto presentation’
Arjen Oosterman

Marjetica Potrc
Marjetica Potrc is a Ljubljana-based artist and architect. She is best
known for her on-site projects using participatory design, her drawing
series, and her architectural case studies. Her work has been
exhibited extensively throughout Europe and the Americas.

Stefano Boeri
Stefano Boeri is an architect and director of Boeri Studio and editor in chief of the magazine Abitare. Boeri teaches urban design at the Milan Polytechnic, he is visiting professor at the Harvard Design School and he is the founder of the research agency Multiplicity. Previously he worked as editor in chief of Domus magazine.

Arjen Oosterman
Arjen Oosterman is editor-in-chief and publisher of Volume, an independent quarterly magazine that sets the agenda for design. By going beyond architecture’s definition of ‘making buildings,’ it reaches out for global views on designing environments, advocates broader attitudes to social structures, and reclaims the cultural and political significance of architecture. Created as a global idea platform to voice architecture any way, anywhere, anytime, it represents the expansion of architectural territories and the new mandate for design.


The research on the ‘Post Capitalist City‘ goes on, with a series of lectures at the Dutch Art Institute. Friday 12th Mireille Roddier (University of Michigan) will address DAI students with a lecture on Three forms of contemporary practices: Puppets, Vanguardistas & Guerillas – on various modes of creative operations in the city, and the various forms of occupation they attempt to resist.

Next workshops will include public lectures by Marjetica Potrc, and Design 99.

Further Reading
Urban Resistance 101 – By Mireille Roddier

[via: Detroit Unreal Estates Agency]

As announced, here are some notes on the Food and The City expert meeting held at the Amsterdam’s Academy of Architecture.

Our purpose was to collect ideas and data on the impact of food production on the environment and society, and to provide possible strategies to overcome the ongoing food crisis for VOLUME’s issue on Sustainability.

Three different models and ways of thinking the present and the future of agriculture were confronted, but some initial points were shared among our guests:

  • The era of the Green Revolution has come to an end: our agricultural model – as it is based on massive use of fossil fuel, – is today economically inefficient, and noxious for the environment
  • For this reason, the Green Revolution food system is no longer able to feed a growing world population and to deal with poverty and social inequalities
  • New models of food production, processing, retail and consumption are needed to overcome the present crisis
  • All the possible new models must get food production back to the urban environment

Peter Smeets from Wageningen University presented data and future projection on agricultural markets and techniques, showing advanced technologies able to reduce energy and chemical inputs, improving yields and profitability of agriculture enterprises. Food production, especially high added value crops, should be integrated in the metropolitan areas, taking advantage from transporation, cognitive and technological networks. Forms of international horizontal and vertical labour division are welcome in this model, taking advantage of comparative production costs.

On the contrary, artist and designer Debra Solomon criticized this position, claiming that hi-tech developments require a further centralization of the food industry in few, big corporations, threatening the delicate balance of local food systems and expropriating communities from their right to food sovreignity.
For this reason, she advocates the development of light technologies designed around communities, seeking integration with other urban activities.

Architect Jago van Bergen, presented a totally different approach.
A future crisis scenario – the rising sea level and the salinization of agricultural land in the Randstad area – is taken as an opportunity to re-think agricultural production, giving the possibility to design for the first time a true, genuine “Dutch cuisine”, generated by the specificities of the Randstad territory.

Contributions from Debra Solomon, Jago van Bergen and from the Alterra department of Wageningen Universities will be featured in VOLUME 18.

VOLUME’s research on sustainability for VOLUME 18, perspectives beyond issues of CO2 emission and carbon fossil fuel consumption, inspired collaboration with the Van Abbemuseum. On October 4 its ‘Heartland’ exhibition opened. Ideologically there are clear links between these projects. The institutes share an interdisciplinary research approach and both teams attempt to understand social, cultural and environmental sustainability in a manner, which is disconnected from development discourse and market driven practice.
To exchange and discuss positions and findings an expert meeting was staged at the Van Abbemuseum. Two positions initiated the debate. These will be presented more extensively in VOLUME 18, here we present some core ideas.

Marjetica Potrč linked the disillusionment with state structures to disillusionment with modernist architecture. She illustrated this with imagery of decaying social housing and school buildings in New Orleans. Post-capitalism, she argued, can be understood as entering a stage of survival. According to Potrc in Albania’s capital Tirana one can see how a societal agreement by citizens who go against modernism works out. She referred to the city painting project of Mayor Edi Rama. Potrč also mentioned that societies which came into being in a situation of post-capitalism do sustainable design in a local way: more autonomous, with vernacular methods and focused on self-sustainability. As an example she presented the Shot Gun house. As such, post-capitalism implied for her also a sort of post-nationalism, which could be seen in the arising of city-networks in former Yugoslavia. A theme she researched in her Lost Highway project.

Andrew Herscher, who discussed a project entitled Detroit Unreal Estate Agency, argued that Detroit in the normal economic, political and cultural narrative is characterized as a city of the urban sublime, the shrinking city (empty spaces), ruins, a forgotten city or a city of loss (in terms of population, economy and urbanity). The city transforms because of these narratives into something invisible, disconnected from the realm of economy. Yet, Herscher pleas that we might as well consider this a transformation: the city gains other values in terms of the dream or the desire; the non-existent according to capitalism. As such, the city becomes the site of creativity instead of the site of inefficiency, danger and inflation. Herscher claims that focusing unreal estate is not an attempt to discard the suffering and violence in Detroit, which capitalism normalizes, but that challenges our concept of sustainability and our view on the urban condition.

Some questions and propositions that arose from the discussion:
– Sustainability is in many ways to be considered the next stage in a class war.
– To really understand what is happening in a city in terms of sustainable development over time, we need not only to zoom out spatially but also temporally.
– A practice of the post-capitalist city which might enhance a different kind of sustainability could be brought about by the practice of play, in other words the practice of the homo ludens. A practice of play would most likely challenge boundaries of the private and the public.

Contributions by Marjetica Potrč, Andrew Herscher, Mireille Roddier and Stephanie Smith will be included in VOLUME 18.

Expert meeting Nr. 2VOLUME i.c.w. VAN ABBEMUSEUM

Since a sustainable city is often understood as a society of zero emission or carbon neutrality, we decided to ask ourselves:

What happens AFTER ZERO, when this ideal stage is reached? What are the theoretical guidelines and interesting practices for designing a sustainable city?
We think that the experiences of those who work in shrinking cities or cities in ‘crisis’ are in the process of finding answers to these questions. As these places offer a radically different case study on what a normal urban condition is, namely a condition which is not only determined by capitalist development incentives, but rather a kind of post-capitalist condition with a different logic to produce and a different set of ethics.

One of the issues on the table, providing the topic for an internal seminar at the VAN ABBEMUSEUM, under the conceptual banner of their Heartland project, is therefore the relation between ethics and sustainability.  On 22 September 2008 VOLUME will discuss this and more together with Kerstin Niemann, Stephanie Smith, Clare Butcher, Marjetica Potrc, Andrew Herscher, Femke Lutgerink, Joost Janmaat, Gijs van Oenen, Chris Keulemans, Mireille Roddier, José Subero Diaz, Simon Dermout Cramer and Design 99.

The results of the meeting will be featured in this blog, and in VOLUME 18.

Did you know? Cities have always been shaped by food.

Different systems of food production, storage, distribution, and consumption patterns affected the form of cities in history, from the first cities of Mesopotamia, to the proto-hydroponic terraces of Machu Picchu, from the post-war Western cities to the Southern Megalopolis.

Our food system is the product of the so-called Green Revolution, begun in the Fourties. But today the Green Revolution shows its limits. Of course, it is criticized by ecologists and anti-globalization activists for the damages it causes to the environment and for its negative consequences for the poor in developing countries. But also, seems that the Green Revolution techniques are no longer profitable for the agriculture businness.

Therefore, a new, Greener Revolution is about to come.

Will it be based on new, hi-tech, top-down solutions, or through on the empowerment of local communities with low tech, convivial lifestyles? How will the post- Green Revolution cities look like? How to overcome the ongoing global food crisis? What about biofuels?

We will discuss these and other topics next Wednesday at the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam, together with Debra Solomon, Peter Smeets, Steef Buijs, Jago van Bergen, Henk de Zeeuw, Henk van Latestijn and Rutger Groot Wassink.

The results of the meeting will be featured in this blog, and in Volume 18.

If sustainability is a global theme to address, the Venice Biennale 2008 must be the place to substantiate the claim of architecture to address our future needs and possibilities. Since this Biennale focuses on avant-gardes from the past and the present, practices that ‘go beyond building’, it comes as no surprise that many projects and presentations fall in the broad category of sustainability. What is surprising that sustainability equals green. Green cities, eco-zones, ecological futures. As far as design is concerned sustainability is basically about merging urban culture and nature, be it ‘natural nature’ or ‘productive nature’. Is that all there is to it?

We discussed these themes today at the Dutch Pavilion.

Here are some images of the debates.

More details on the debates coming in the next days.

Launch THE READER #11

The 11th International Architecture Exhibition Biennale di Venezia
Out There: Architecture Beyond Building

11 September 2008
Dutch Pavilion

ArchiPhoenix Faculties for Architecture

The Dutch Pavilion in Venice

Volume and Abitare present together THE READER #11 on ‘Ecology of Information’.

In line with the Sustainable Dystopias installations, supported by Abitare and designed by Boeri Studio for the 11th Architecture Biennale of Venice, The Reader presents a series of articles which, in discussing the deeper meaning behind ‘ecosophie’, offers readers food for thought about the hot issue of urban sustainability. This issue of The Reader has been edited jointly by the editorial boards of Volume and Abitare, who have selected material from the international press and their respective archives.
Volume and Abitare collaboration has only just begun…

  • This blog functions as a platform for thinking out loud on the evasive concept of 'sustainability’. Volume and Abitare both draw from their own experience and visions in an attempt to reassess what is at stake.
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  • OUT NOW: Volume #18 – After Zero

    Sustainability according to Volume: After Zero is not about design inspired by the fear of tsunamis or Katrinas, but proposes an understanding of our society beyond zero. CHECK IT OUT