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!
Utopia I Utopia 2.0
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.
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
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.