Cities are boring; they no longer contain any mystery. Even on advertising billboards, that “last refuge of humour and poetry”, it’s increasingly difficult for us to distinguish mystery, wrote Ivan Shcheglov, the prophet and ‘mad diamond’ of situationism in Formulary for a New Urbanism (1953). 100 years after the Russian Revolution and 10 years after humankind passed 50% of the world population living in urbanization, Shcheglov’s words seem even more relevant. In the Norwegian film The Bothersome Man (2006), the main character finds himself in a city which is indistinguishable from the typical north-European city, apart from that the fact that alcohol and food have no taste and satisfying one’s passions brings no pleasure (Fourier would be horrorstruck). People are so lacking in hope that they try to commit suicide, but even this escape evades them. The city is comfortable and its inhabitants are courteous, but there is “no longer any way out” (as in the writings of Shcheglov, although he still believed in the possibility of attaining ideals). Is this merely cinema, though?
Reading our news feeds, we can see that the high-tech utopia in which all everyday problems have been resolved, food is delivered by drones, and citizens are kept well fed by a basic income has suddenly come closer. It’s as if mankind, after wandering for millennia along the paths of civilization’s development, has finally woken up in front of the walls of the coveted megalopolis – a paradise on earth – and found its gates open. Some people, without looking round, make their way towards the gate (see p. 37); others are frozen in doubt, re-reading menacing antiutopian novels (p. 26) and remembering what happened with the futurists at the beginning of the 20th century. There will also be those who will prefer to return to the forest – to build towers for shamanic mysteries (p. 80). A very few will take the view that the true city of the future has not yet even made it onto the drawing board and will require superhuman effort if it is to be built (p. 84).
Yet the majority, as if by inertia, head for the gates, since this is the direction which seems normal. You will ask: what will happen to the old cities? The ‘new normality’ replies: they have to be adapted, the functions of buildings have to be changed, and the buildings themselves must be partly reconstructed (p. 56). Something like the situations’ détournement again. The city centres will fill with tourists (and their inhabitants will be tourists too) – abstract selfie-people. It is for them that an ‘infrastructure of pleasures’ is being created (p. 46). Their voice is taken into account since the conditions of the ‘new normality’ in the ‘endless city’ will be created by the inhabitants themselves, in the same way that the subject of Soderbergh’s new series Mosaic is affected by viewers using apps on their smart phones. The demiurge author is dying for the umpteenth time, but can our ‘influential viewer’ consider himself to be at least partly an author? “In combining huts with palaces, ignorance with knowledge, how many new media are you preparing for us!” Claude Ledoux exclaimed in 1804. The number of variations of media (McLuhan) has turned out be truly infinite, but, strangely, hybridization is not leading to the creation of new entities; splinters of the whole are merely manifested in endless (machine-calculated) combinations, without in essence changing anything – a case of ‘Monkey unable to work out what to do with glasses’ [to refer to the subject of a famous tale by Ivan Krylov].
Philosopher Ray Brassier, while justifying Prometheism, is at a loss as to why “upsetting the balance [between what is given to man and what is made by man] is necessarily destructive” – and simultaneously notes that “rationality indeed includes elements of wildness” (see p. 109). The striving to “overcome the opposition between reason and the imagination” logically leads to xeno-architecture (see our piece on TAB on p. ?). As soon as we find ourselves in a post-humanist city and become truly bothersome, what point will there be in futurology? Nevertheless, the hope for better things is ineradicable: “The heart lives in the future; / The present is dismal,” wrote Pushkin. If the future seems dismal, it is worth looking more closely at the past (p. 94).
25 The Future
26 Brian Hatton. The Future: build it again, Sam
33 Angelina Davydova. Sustainability and the problem of unpredictability
37 The New Norm
38 Edwin Gardner. What will the City of the Future look like?
46 fi. Uusi Kaupunki. Lahio vuonna 2100 (‘Neighbourhood 2100’)
49 fi. Huttunen-Lipasti-Pakkanen Architects. Allas seawater swimming pool, Helsinki
53 lv. DJA. Open-air concert pavilion, the floodplains of the rivers Dviete and Burtnieki
56 ‘From the past into the future’. Yelena Mironova on a Dutch method of preserving heritage
60 ru. Ludi Architects. Butylka. Restoration and conversion of a prison building, Novaya Gollandiya, St Petersburg
65 ru. Yevgeny Gerasimov and partners, SPEECH. Nevskaya Ratusha complex, St Petersburg
70 ee. KOKO. Renovation of the grain store in the Rotermann Quarter, Tallinn
75 ru. Anastasiya Laptenok. Interview with Yana Golubeva, MLA+, St Petersburg 75
80 ee. ‘The Golden Age is coming on Earth’. Interview with Vilen Kunnapu
84 ru. Stepan Liphart. To Skryabin. Op. 71, No. 1
89 Aleksey Levchuk. Real modern architecture
91 ru. Aleksey Levchuk. Post-people on post-trees. Project for a transhumanist city
94 ru. St Petersburg as image of the future. Interview with Mikhail Filippov
102 lt. Linas Tuleikis, Kestutis Vaiksnoras, Paulius Vaitiekunas. Optimisto namas project
106 Adolf Loos. On poor little rich man
109 Burned out Man. The Second Diogenes Debate: Dwellers of the Future
114 ee. Re-metabolizing Paljassaare. Vision competition for Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2017
120 ru. Danil Ovcharenko. Ghost of the architectural ensemble. The 21st-Century St Petersburg Style competition results 120
126 ru. Marina Nikiforova. The Forest Code: how to build good-neighbourliness 126
131 Design lab
Small scale architectural structures by ALA, Kadarik Tuur Arhitektid, Fedor Oparin & Ilya Kulik, NRJA, DO ARCHITECTS
151 Design & technology