Just spent the last couple of hours listening to Prof. Robert Sapolsky, Stanford University. This was a 11 year old lecture on emergence and I’ve enjoyed every single argument and every single story he said. I can’t believe how lucky we are to have access to this kind of input on the click of a button. Interestingly (and also ironically) enough, he concludes his lecture discussing bottom-up emergent phenomena: people not needing experts or blueprints to tell them how to go about, just randomness and simple rules that in high quantity produce quality. This is around the time first xMOOCs showed up and connectivist theory was taking off. I can’t believe how related the two are.
Last Easter, Yorgos (husband and studio partner) oversaw the construction of a treehouse in Tzoumerka. We have just received this wonderful video from BOULOUKI, the collective responsible for the workshop, and we are very proud and happy to share it with you all. Design-build workshops -once well planned- can become incredible tools for learning. Well done BOULOUKI and well done to all the students and craftsmen who participated.
“Shelters” project combined two workshops in tandem in the neighboring mountain refuges of Tzoumerka, during 1-6 of May 2019. The first one titled “Rearranging the traditional wood-fired oven” was about constructing an oven in the mountain refuge of Melissourgoi, using local stone, bricks, clay, pumice stone, lime and salt, as building materials. In the mountain refuge of Pramanta, the workshop was about using timber as the main material in order to “Introduce a tree-house in Tzoumerka”. During both workshops, apart from the site work and hands-on experience guided by 4 experienced masons, the 20 participants had the opportunity to attend a series of lectures and presentations given by reputable professors and teams related to the field of construction and commons.
Date: 01/05/2019 – 07/05/2019 Sponsors: Dalkafoukis Oikos, Stergiou ABEE, Mpougias Stones, Mr Bill
Fro the company’s site:
The base of the Wikkelhouse is ‘virgin fiber paperboard’, which is made from Scandinavian trees. This so called goldboard, is wrapped around a huge mold, with a method patented by RS Developments, while environmentally friendly glue is added. This creates a tough and insulating sandwich structure. By this wrapping process a heat insulation and construction method are integrated in a sustainable way. Afterwards each segment is finished with a protective film and a shell of wooden slats.Wikkelhouse meets the criteria for temporary or permanent housing. It is about eight times more durable than traditional construction.
VETEMENTS was started in 2014 as a French clothing and footwear “design collective” and brand founded by Georgian fashion designer Demna Gvasalia and CEO Guram Gvasalia in 2014. The brand was designed by a collective of their friends who had previous experience working for various known brands. Championing a more ‘pragmatic’ approach to fashion, Demna reflects the ‘down to earth nature’ that he says is reflected in what today’s youth wear. Operating from a philosophical and methodological approach to his designs, Demna propelled Vetements to world class status in just three short seasons (wiki).
Vetements is now trying to raise awareness on clothes overconsumption, overproduction and wastefulness by amassing tones of unused clothes on Harrods window displays. Clothing production is the second-biggest polluter on the planet and the company is trying to encourage companies to have their supply meet their demand.
Students protest the classical pastiche designs made for the Medical School (1968) at the University of Louvain/ University agrees to the formation of a student committee/ Students produce a counterproposal by Lucien Kroll who had no ties to the University/ Kroll organises collaborators and students into teams and turns design into an assemblage of disparate political fractions/ Work is done in his studio at a distance from the institution to ensure freedom/ Collaboration becomes “a kind of architectural method acting” accepting every outcome even if it defies prevailing arch conventions (de Graaf)/ Kroll, when denied the participation of le Roy, his preferred gardener, also engages the adjacent community into participating in the landscape component/ For two years this is an harmonious collaboration/ However, University representatives who visit the site oppose the outcome and the budget increase and fire Kroll/ Kroll exposes the contractor for high pricing but is then accused of vandalising the building site during his open call to the neighbouring community/ The building is highly criticised as a “failed experiment” and “less than a sum of its parts” (de Graaf)/ Petitions for the building’s demolition are opposed by massive support (Excerpts from Reinier de Graaf’s book: Four Walls and a Roof)
In a DOMUS article dated back in 2010, Kroll is presented as “icon of democratic architecture”:
Communication through architecture is an eminently political act, Kroll maintains: the architect is the catalyst of a creative process and social dynamic, in respect to which they make their knowledge available for the translation of interpersonal relationships into a suitable space (…) architects must step out of themselves and put themselves in the shoes of future residents.Full article available here
Parangoles concept and form were introduced by Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980) in an attempt to expose the chaotic web of relations of being-in-the-world. Oiticica worked to transform the “spectator” into a “participant. The colorful, improvised capes/cloaks encourage unpredictable movement that in turn signals the transition from the art-object to the body-subject:
we must be willing to get out of our comfort zones in order to reclaim the physical and symbolic spaces produced by hegemonic forces that attempt to confine relations between our own bodies and the bodies of others
“Experimenta Distrito” launched by Media Lab-Prado is a programme involving citizens in neighbourhood workshops hosted in the spaces of La Nave, libraries, social and cultural centres (site in spanish only: https://www.experimentadistrito.net/ )
This is one of the many initiatives taken by the mayor of Madrid in promoting the city as a warm and welcoming place as he described them in DOMUS and his interview with Manuela Carmena.
La Nave: Located in Villaverde, a district on the outskirts of Madrid, La Nave Böetticher was once a lift factory owned by the Böetticher company. An industrial building from the 1940’s refurbished for use as a public facility by Madrid City Council, and inaugurated in 2016. La Nave is dedicated to entrepreneurship and innovation and hosts a great number of activities and events related to the promotion of new technologies, technical dissemination, training, and employability. Characterized by a central open-plan space covered by a large barrel vault and a skylight, the refurbishment preserved certain historical elements as decoration and added vertical latticework inspired by the colors of fiber optics to the concrete façade. Its main areas are the Pavilion, the Tower, the Classrooms, the Auditorium, and the Containers. The building has thermo-solar and geothermal energy; it collects rainwater for watering, and it features a roof garden. The roof offers a panoramic view of the Villaverde neighborhood. (http://www.lanavemadrid.com/ )
I happened to see the add for this event the other day and I said why not(?) and today it turned out to be a very interesting day. Given the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the Impact hub initiative a three day event is dedicated to discussing how technology can change everyday life; how collaboration can be achieved at an urban scale and what is circular economy and how can cities profit from it. The day started with a panel discussion between Charles Landry, Sebastian Schlueter representing Actors of Urban Change and Tom Fleming from tfcreativeconsultancy.
All three speakers shared their experience from projects they are currently involved in that enhance open participation and seek to bring people together in joint activities or causes. Landry spoke of the need of a systemic change that draws attention to how the individuals can perform better.This is an idea he has already experimented with in his Creative Bureaucracy concept (and book) and through the related festival that bares the same name*. Schueter spoke of the need to be critical of public initiatives for they sometimes tend to obscure some other important perspectives. In particular, he spoke of the Berlin Tempelhof Airport and how peoples’ persistence to keep it as a park blocked any discussion on how this vast area could be used for the common good. Finally, Tom Fleming, spoke of cultural activities as a means of bringing people together. He specifically mentioned how we need art festivals more than museums as a way of being with others and interacting in real time with them instead of simply observing them from a distance. The panel discussion ended with a few inspiring comments from Miograd Kuc who claimed that art cannot necessarily provide all the answers in terms of raising public interest; instead, art is supposed to question society’s power dynamics in the first place and therefore it needs to maintain its independent character.
In the second half of the day, we split in four different workshops. I joined Sebastian’s workshop on collaborative practices in cities. It was a great round table discussion between people representing various agencies whether civic; public; or private. The two questions that were raised were a. what are the difficulties we come up with in collaborations that involve multiple parties from different fields/interests and b. what can sustain such a collaboration in time.
This three-day event will culminate tomorrow at Kypseli Market with a series of live events. As Landry eloquently put it, a city is a drama in time.
*The second Creative Bureaucracy festival will be held in Berlin from 20 to 22 September 2019
Article discusses the efforts of Prof. Williams in UCL in promoting the ideas and practices of the Circular City by establishing UCL’s Circular Cities Hub in 2016.
A book is to be expected in 2020 entitled “Circular Cities: A Revolution in Urban Sustainability” by Williams that will be published by Routledge.
Part of this has involved viewing cities holistically. This means not just looking at resources, but seeing urban areas as organisms that constantly adapt to changes, such as migration and increasing diversity, as well as considering different trajectories of development, from shrinking, post-industrial cities such as Detroit, to places like London, where corporate and foreign investment is squeezing out lower-value, circular activities.
Which are the Future Cities of the world?
This is a five-part web documentary by Yvonne Brandwijk (photographer) and Stephanie Bakker (journalist) that tries to answer which cities are looking to outstrip the current megacities in terms of growth, innovation and creativity.
The two creators examine 5 cities; Kinshasa, Lima, Yangon, Medellin and Addis Ababa. They look at the world behind the demographics and search what energy drives them change and innovation. All videos are incredibly interesting and refreshing to see. Check them out!
Image available here
RCA Report on the nature of design with a capital D
- central concern is “the conception and realization of new things”
- it encompasses the appreciation of “material culture” and the application of “the arts of planning, inventing, making and doing.”
- at its core is the ‘language’ of ‘modelling’; it is possible to develop students’ aptitudes in this ‘language’, equivalent to aptitudes in the ‘language’ of the sciences – numeracy – and the ‘language’ of humanities – literacy
- design has its own distinct ‘things to know, ways of knowing them, and ways of finding out about them’
Education in any of these ‘cultures’ entails the following three aspects:
- the transmission of knowledge about a phenomenon of study
- a training in the appropriate methods of enquiry
- an initiation into the belief systems and values of the ‘culture’
If we contrast the sciences, the humanities, and design under each aspect, we may become clearer of what we mean by design, and what is particular to it.
the phenomenon of study in each culture is:
- in the sciences: the natural world
- in the humanities: human experience
- in design: the man-made world
the appropriate methods in each culture are:
- in the sciences: controlled experiment, classification, analysis
- in the humanities: analogy, metaphor, criticism, evaluation
- in design: modelling, pattern-formation, synthesis
the values of each culture are:
- in the sciences: objectivity, rationality, neutrality, and a concern for ‘truth’
- in the humanities: subjectivity, imagination, commitment, and a concern for ‘justice’
- in design: practicality, ingenuity, empathy, and a concern for ‘appropriateness’
Perhaps it would be better to regard the ‘third culture’ as technology, rather than design (…) Technology involves a synthesis of knowledge and skills from both the sciences and the humanities, in the pursuit of practical tasks.
Cross, N., 1982. Designerly ways of knowling. In Design Studies, Vol. 3, no. 4 pp. 221-227
Image available here
- university research often detracts from the quality of teaching (Pocklington and Tupper 2002: 7)
- courses taught by those at the cutting edge of research will necessarily be of higher quality than those taught by those merely using the research results of others – whatever the apparent quality of their style of delivery (Lee 2004: 9)
- there is clear evidence from a range of studies in different types of institutions of students valuing learning in a research-based environment (Jenkins 2004: 29)
- students are likely to gain most benefit from research, in terms of depth of learning and understanding, when they are also involved in research (Healey and Roberts 2004)
A range of terms is used in the literature, often interchangeably, to describe the research-teaching nexus. Griffiths (2004) suggests that a distinction might be made between teaching which is predominantly:
- Research-led: where students learn about research findings, the curriculum content is dominated by staff research interests, and information transmission is the main teaching mode;
- Research-oriented: where students learn about research processes, the curriculum emphasizes as much the processes by which knowledge is produced as learning knowledge that has been achieved, and staff try to engender a research ethos through their teaching;
- Research-based: where students learn as researchers, the curriculum is largely designed around inquiry-based activities, and the division of roles between teacher and student is minimized
- Research-tutored: top left quadrant, which, although not recognized by Griffiths (2004), is student-focused and emphasizes research content (see image above)
research is context specific and multidisciplinary rather than pure and discipline based; it has social relevance rather than being hypothesis led; it uses fuzzy, rather than empirically based data; it is problem solving rather than deductive. In what might be termed the commodification of knowledge, how knowledge is managed, synthesized and adapted become as important as knowledge itself (Jenkins and Zetter, 2003: 11)
Healey, M., 2005. Linking research and teaching: exploring disciplinary spaces and the role of inquiry-based learning. In Barnett, R (ed) (2005) Reshaping the University: New Relationships between Research, Scholarship and Teaching. McGraw Hill / Open University Press, pp.67-78
Image available here