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Making the City: The Immeuble Cit Unit Teaching Team: Pier Vittorio Aureli, Barbara Campbell-Lange, Fenella

Collingridge 1. Introduction 2. Organization of the Unit 3. Few Notes about the Background of the Project 4. Unit Readings 1. Introduction In recent years complex form, parametric systems of design and diagrams have become the norm in architecture. If these devices promise endless differentiation and adaptability to multiple situations, identities and performances, the results in fact contribute to a monotonous landscape of (value-free) diversity. Against this landscape, Diploma 14 proposes a return to simple forms not as retreat into the vacuum of self-referentiality (as in the glossy minimalism of contemporary architecture), but as a polemical way to confront (and understand) the insurmountable complexity of the city. Instead of naively mimicking urban complexity with architectural complexity, the unit proposes to critically understand urbanity as something that provides architecture with its very raison dtre, while being itself irreducible to architectural form. For this reason the unit encourages a rigorous (but not cause-and-effect) relationship between enquiries on the nature of the contemporary city and the development of architectural forms based on the composition and estrangement of physical spaces most literal attributes, such as walls, rooms, openings, connections and obstructions. The aim of the unit is to define an intelligible vocabulary of forms as a basis for rethinking the form of the contemporary city. Consequently, the use of diagrams, gratuitous iconic gestures and parametric complexity is strongly discouraged. The theme for this year will be the design of a building the Immeuble Cit (city building) with a critical mass comparable to that of the city. The simple premise for such a building will be to reduce the footprint to a minimum impact on the ground, thus countering the sprawl of urbanity. The Immeuble Cit must go beyond the commercial form of towers or any facile iconic or utopian gesture: instead, it is to be conceived as a radical (architectural) test for a number of spatial and political issues such as the relationship between living and work space, new forms of welfare and systems of bio-political government, the will to community or segregation, urban government and the possibility of conflict. The impulse behind this design problem is twofold: on the one hand it aims at a critique and revision of architecture and its specific history, on the other it challenges the present state of architectural form vis--vis the politics of the city. The context for this exercise will be the North- Western Metropolitan Area (NWMA), a region of 137 million inhabitants encompassing the old core of the EU (France, Belgium, UK, Germany and the Netherlands). The unit will consider this region as one city and, as such, the framework for the Immeuble Cit. 2. Organization of the Unit

The Year project is divided into three main and consecutive parts. Instead of the traditional formula design follow resarch, the Unit propose the following sequence: design, research, design. 2. 1 In the first term the students will be asked to develop a siteless model for the immeuble cit. This exercise should be executed as radical demonstratio per absurdum: these models should develop concepts of collective living to their extreme conclusion while being extremely realistic in their design form. The Immeuble cit should be able to host a community of 1.600 inhabitants. The Immeuble cit should provide space for living and working, and host all the necessary equipment to make the community self-sufficient. The immeuble cite is intended as opportunity to put forward innovative and extreme living standards in light of the increasing merging of living and working activities. Issue that must be considered in the design of this building are: the economy of construction means, accessibility, relationship between individual and collective spaces, materials and structural framework, the dialectic between flexibility and permanence (e.g. no value-free flexibility), the critical relationship between repetition and exception. Two fundamental issues that the project should confront are the critical relationship between pauperism and hedonism. In architecture, pauperism concerns the austerity of form for the sake of affordability. Hedonism concerns the pursuit of pleasure as fundamental aspect of life. Within our contemporary form of life where the entirety of our existence is dominated by work, hedonism has to be thought not as consumption or spectacle (which are the main modalities through which the management of work operates today), but as truly political state of being, as what the philosopher Gorgio Agamben defined as inoperosit (state of unproductivity). For this reason the Immeuble cite must be thought as the contradictory place of extreme efficiency in management and organization of collective space, and as the possibility of escaping such management. Students are asked to investigate these issues at first by means of design. At this stage any argument, proposal, or reflection must be advanced by the architectural project of the immeuble cite. The project must be drawn at scale 1:200, and should represented through plan, section, elevation, and axonometry. Representation must be direct and simple, made of line drawings. Parallel to this set of drawings, the students are asked to develop only one view of the interior. In contrast with the dryness of the other drawings, the view should be subtly narrative and evocative. A special workshop will be held about representation and its narrative effects. The project should be accompanied by an explanatory text. 2.2 In the second term, students are asked to substantiate their design with a critical enquiry into the projects references and background. Each student will develop a monographic research into critical aspects of collective living, and their historical background. This research will help the students to become aware of their design decision, and will led them to understand that any idea in architecture is simultaneously a projection for

the future and a retrospective analysis/judgment of the city of the past. This enquiry will be develop in the form of a text. Parallel to this monographic inquiry, the students will collaborate on a collective analysis of the site of the project, the North Western Metropolitan Area which will be the site of the project. The analysis will be executed by drawing a synthetic and conceptual map of the area. The task is to render this region in the form of city. A special workshop will be held on imaginative cartography as a means of urban vision. 2.3 In the third term the students will further develop the Immeuble cit. The previous model will be apply to a critical site within the North Western Metropolitan Area, and thus revised and changed if necessary. The project will be developed in all its details. Effort will be invested in representation and argumentation of the project. 3. Few notes about the background of the project A fundamental question held in the studio is what sort of political subjectivity this project addresses. In other words, for whom we will envision the immeuble cit. Any answer to this questions has to fist carefully consider that architecture has always been subservient to the ruling authorities in human society. Indeed there is not an architecture of opposition. To realize built architecture, architects have to explicitly or implicitly, consciously or unconsciously comply with the priorities of the power system in force. Architects whose principles oppose these priorities find themselves unable to realize their architecture and can only postulate, by means of projects, conjectures anticipating an alternative regime. Those architects are often the harbingers of a new political subject. The main argument behind the idea of the Immeuble cit stems from the observation that today the relationship between those who live and work in the city and the city itself recalls the relationship that workers use to have with the factory during the era of industrial expansion1. If the factory was dominated by the spatially and temporally choreographed rhythm of the assembly line, todays cities are dominated by the pervasive informality of social relationships in which any aspect of human communication and cognition is expected to become a factor of production. In other words, the contemporary city in spite of its increasing complexities, contradictions, and informalities has become reduced to simply being a site for production, and its inhabitants are (potentially) the new working class. This is evident if we consider the fact that capitalistic production has historically and radically evolved by expanding its domain from the manufacture of goods to production of services such as communication, education and cultural exchange. Production occurs not only in terms of what we traditionally understood as working activities, but tends to coincide with the whole spectrum of social activities as the ones related to culture, media, and education, and all the bio-political means of life (re)production. Thus, work is not political, but bio-political: its domain has finally extended into our entire life. This condition of unlimited extension of work into any sphere of human life has created a new political subject that although we can still address it as working
1

See: Antonio Negri, Dalla Fabbrica alla Metropoli (Roma: Datanews, 2008).

class has nothing to do with the traditional features of the proletariat. This new working class is made of workers in the material and service industry, but also of people like us: students, professors, free-lance designers, programmers, translators, educators, artists, poets, intellectuals, etc. Beside the fancy and dangerously misleading way in which these workers are label as Creative Class a term used to uncritically celebrate this new wave of immaterial labour as a the eden of work - lies the absolute economic instability in which these workers find themselves. Economic instability is here the condition in which the so much celebrated value of flexibility that is implied in social, cultural, and economic behaviours is appropriated and interpreted by work as the condition of precariousness of life of the workers themselves. This precariousness is the very core of contemporary production. It is like if someone is telling us the following: the more you learn to cope with the instability and unpredictability of working conditions, the more you are productive under the a regime that in order to maintains its power and being productive has to adapt itself to any condition. This precariousness of life is further exacerbated in Europe by the backfiring of Globalization in which work has become the ultimate means market competition. Global competition of work a phenomena that some economist has called a global civil war - has forced the labour market of Europe to compete with other (cheaper) labour markets by dramatically decreasing the wage power of the average European worker, producing a new poor middle-class citizen. This new poor middle-class citizen is called The Precarious worker, and unlike the traditional proletariat has still neither political, nor cultural form. In the studio we maintains that to propose project at the scale of the entire city today is to address the emergence of this political subject. We will also maintains that political subjects are not the by-product of some sociological identity: lifestyles, groups, communities, social targets, etc., but that political subjects are made of the balance of powers at stake. In the studio we will assume that the powers at stake are: work the fact that anything that exists in society has to be productive and thus must be putted at work, and the workers those who find themselves shaped by this condition of work, but that can potentially express a subjectivity that exceeds its social, cultural, and political boundaries. In this light, notions such as architectural form and monumentality acquire a radically different motivation that they use to have in the past. No longer direct manifestation of an imposed order, monumentality will be seen as the tangible incarnation of what exceeds urbanization and its market of values made of flexibility, smoothness, consensus, sustainability, commercial revenue, and mediatic success. This new monumentality is an act of ideological detournamont: is appropriated from its original function to celebrate constituted powers, and addressed to the dignity of those who work in the city. Furthermore, in the studio we will assume that monumentality has to take the form of collective gathering points where the combination of work and living in the same place makes evident the positive side effect of work: cooperation, coexistence - the collective. If work is (always) a form of exploitation is also true that work gathers people together and thus makes real (and tangible) their togetherness. Architectural types of this paradoxical social monumentality are: Benedictine Monasteries, Charles Fouriers transformation of the Mall into a Phalanx, Victor Hortas conversion of bourgeoise steel architecture into the Palace of the People, the Bruxelless Maison de Peuple, Peter Berhens Vinarsky-hof, Le Corbusiers Unite DHabitation, OMAs Welfare Palace. In all the examples each of them seen in its time monumentality and form were interpreted not as celebration, but as a socialized collective consciousness.

Trough these artifacts collective consciousness, which is the very form of any political subject, exceeds the boundaries sets by their economic purpose, and becomes political, that is collective per se. In the studio we will assume that today one of the most crucial epicentre of work and production is learning and research, and thus what we use to call University. More than just the place of the academia, today Universities are veritable social factories that embodied, in the most radical terms, the attributes of post-fordist production, such as over-abundance of social relationships and opportunities, social mobility, communication, and extreme flexibility and instability o cultural programs. As such the university cannot be thought any longer through the model of the campus, but has to be imagined as something that has reached the critical mass of the city itself. A point of departure of our re-conceptualization of this model of work will be Cedric Prices project for Pottery Thinkbelt. In the 1960s Cedric Price proposed to convert the rusting railways network that served the industrial area of North Staffordshire into an educational campus. Price proposed the educational apparatus of learning as mobile, flexible, and constantly subjected to be adapted to the demands of technological development and its offspring of labour skills. The project proposed mobility and flexibility as the core of the education process. Ironically within post-fordist Capitalism, Cedrics Price project for Pottery Thinkbelt is no longer a vision of social emancipation, but it has become the evocative description of the present condition of the way capitalism and its and reproductive apparatus seizes the city by managing the latter perpetual state of flux and instability. In the third term the Unit propose to critically exacerbate the scale and the concept of Prices Pottery Thinkbelt and to apply this model within the infrastructural network of the North Western Metropolitan Area of Europe. This new framework is meant to figure forth the latent welfare capital of this area, which is one of the densest in the world in terms o inhabitants and infrastructure. In such a Framework the Immeuble Cit will constitute the hubs of this new city. The Immeuble Cit will be the urban form that simultaneously accommodate the forces of capital, and render them explicit and thus critical. 4. Readings Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1958). Hannah Arendt, Introduction into Politics, in Jerome Kohn (edited by) The Promise of Politics (Schocken Books: New York, 2005). Paolo Virno, The Grammar of the Multitude: For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life (The Mit Press: Cambridge Ma., 2004). Paolo Virno, Three Remarks Regarding the Multitudes Subjectivity and its Aesthetic Component, in Daniel Birnbaum, Isabelle Graw, Under Pressure: Pictures, Subjects, and the New Spirit of Capitalism (Sternberg Press: New York, 2008), pp. 30-45. Brett Neilson and Ned Rossiter, Precarity as Political Concept: New Forms of Connection, Subjectivation and Organization in: Open Issue 17 (2009), A

Precarious existence: Vulnerability in the Pubic Domain (Nai Publisher: Rotterdam 2009), pp. 48-64. Rem Koolhaas, Bigness: or the Problem of Dimension, in OMA, Rem Koolhaas, Bruce Mau, SMXL (Monacelli Press: New York, 2009), pp. 495-516. Kenneth Frampton, Megaform as Urban Landscape (University of Michigan Press: Chicago, 1999).