/Utopia / 2.0

In order to uncover paradoxical situation in which we live, Glass Peristyle project used the simulation of paradoxes that could also be seen as a phenomenon of a spectacle. Moreover, project (ab)used spectacle as an object, a method, and a context.

The project simply relied on the nature of a spectacle, characterized as a fragmented, dispersed and often not related content, but closed in highly entropic and predictable system. Movement through the system is mostly circular, never causal or creative. All those characteristics could easily be visualized by random opening of one of the thousands internet portals.

Furthermore, spectacle, as delivered within the current media policies, is targeting our free time that also happens to be fragmented and dispersed. It was enough just to read bombastic titles, see visuals, and make conclusions. One’s impulsive reaction also occurs in his/her few scattered moments of free time!

The question is, if spectacle takes one side of our free time, what is on the other side? Is there any positive or productive consequence of that cracked and worn coin?

Attempts to analyze nature and historical perspective of alternative ways of spending free time reveal rich and inspiring utopist imaginary of last few decades of 20th century!

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Guy Debord, a philosopher and a theoretician who defined a term spectacle, together with his colleague Asger Jorn from group called ‘Situationist movement’ designed the Naked city project (1957). The authors simply cut and fragmented Hausmann’s map of Paris, and connected different pieces, following their own logic, sensibility and interests. They made personalized maps of the city, tracking their own psychogeography, a kind of virtual layer above the tangible urban ground.  

Different approach to urban planning was also suggested by a theoretician Christopher Alexander who stressed problems of the functional and divided urban planning in his essay The City is not the Tree (1965). Instead of modernist zoning, he proposed a form of semilattice – partly ordered net that reflects an overlapped social structure, interactions and activities.

Furthermore, New Babylon project (1959 - 1974), led by Constant, another member of the Situationists, was based on interconnected groups of objects in which people could be creative and playful, construct or deconstruct their own spaces, as well as wander among places to search for new sensations and self-fulfillment. 

Rather similar visual presentation, though certainly more illustrative for this purpose, is Yonna Friedmann’s Spatial City project (1960). The project was developed on the ground of the following elementary belief: architecture should only provide a framework for inhabitants to construct their homes, relying only on their needs and ideas, without a guidance of a master builder. Hence, in order to overtop the existing urban structure and be adaptable to constant changes, new architecture has to be flexible and made of lightweight materials. Friedmann also pleads for free time that can be fulfilled with playful construction of one’s own environment.     


All of the cited projects are related to the concept of free time which can be observed as a framework for personalized, creative and opened public participation (public play) that should help to design our collective environment. Therefore, we can unquestionably recognize the nature of our recent, networked free time and conclude that nowadays new amazing collective design resource is not technology or specific skills, but merely our free time!

In that case, to paraphrase Yonna Friedmann’s words, people just need a “right framework”, an incubator with particular circumstances and opportunities which can stimulate them (users) to make specific GeoLocated content and interactions during their free time. “New design” must deal with the task of dragging users from “dark side” of their virtual and networked free time to the productive side of elaborated urban creativity and play. 

In the collectively created environment, the traditional role of architect is shifted from that of author to that of initiator and moderator (of urban identities).

Emerging question is: If design becomes a collective process at the global scale, and if free time takes a role of dominant design resource, can we start to speculate in what way the structure of our virtual and networked free time will affect the urban structures and design?

If spending free time implies being on the network, the design terminology should soon be switched from CAD (computer added design) to NED (network added design), concept based on designing through social needs and relations at global scale.

All of the ideas discussed above present a fertile substance extruded from the global media matter by throwing antiproject in it. They stand on the opposite side of anger, frustration and destructive emotions which Glass Peristyle provoked and are waiting to be noticed, shaped or reshaped above the particular spots of tangible urbanity.