Total Space research workshop
The Jaap Bakema Study Centre organised the second Total Space research workshop on November 2nd in Het Nieuwe Instituut. The research workshop was part of the research project into structuralism, and is part of the preparations for an exhibition at Het Nieuwe Instituut in 2017. The workshop aimed to explore current developments in the digital realm and their impact on city planning and architecture.
2 November 2015 11:00 - 17:00
The workshop involved short presentations of research-in-progress and exploratory debates. Special guests were Benjamin Bratton (Center for Design and Geopolitics, San Diego) and Troy Conrad Therrien (Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC), who were joined by a select group of experts.
Throughout his life the Dutch architect Jaap Bakema (1914-1981) sought to convey to his students and colleagues the notion of what he called 'total space', 'total life', or even 'total urbanization'. In his view architectural design had to help in making people aware of the larger environment to which they belong and in which they operate. Architecture could not be uncoupled from urbanism, but had to relate to the deeper structure of society. His conceptualization of architecture was programme and process based and it put social and visual relationships at the centre, which betrays his adherence to both structuralism as voiced in the Dutch journal Forum of which he was an editor together with Aldo van Eyck, and the Team 10 discourse in post-war modern architecture, while building on the legacy of the Dutch De Stijl movement and Dutch functionalism.
'Growth and Change', 'Habitat', 'Ascending Dimensions' and the 'Aesthetics of Number' were all key terms which Bakema linked to a political programme for a social-democratic, egalitarian and open society as embodied by the Western European welfare state system. Other words of the period are 'network', 'patterns', 'environment', 'metabolism' or 'ecological urbanism'. Today, many of these historical terms from the 1950s and 1960s are used to describe the current transformations of our urban lifestyles and environments under the influence of new digital information technologies (e.g. IABR 2014, the Utrecht Hacking Habitat event, the Globale at ZKM or the Ars Electronica festival in Linz).
Through a series of research workshops we aimed to investigate the historical continuities and changes, as well as the crossovers between architecture, planning, anthropology and systems theory. The workshop series is part of the programme of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre, in particular the research project into structuralism. The series is part of the preparations for a second exhibition at Het Nieuwe Instituut in 2017. The first public presentation of this research was a show called 'An installation in four acts: education, ideals, building, the city' (Fall 2014). This exhibition focused on historical developments in Dutch architecture and the archive of Het Nieuwe Instituut, with a discursive programme of salons and events. The second presentation 'Total Space' will focus on the international dimensions of structuralism, crossdisciplinary exchange, and will connect the recent history of the 20th century with speculations on the future of our lifestyles and the 21st century city.
The first workshop focused on the historical developments in architecture and planning with contributions by Laurent Stalder (ETH Zürich), M. Christine Boyer (Princeton University), and Tom Avermaete (TU Delft). The second workshop aims to explore current developments in the digital realm and their impact on city planning and architecture. In the way mass car ownership produced Levittown, or radio technology enabled missions to the moon, we are curious to learn what sort of spaces are currently being produced by the new digital information systems.
Sunday, November 1st, Het Nieuwe Instituut organized the annual Benno Premsela Lecture in Amsterdam, in cooperation with the Society of Arts. This year's lecture was held by American sociologist, architecture and design theorist Benjamin Bratton. His lecture examined the consequences of the widespread digitalization for our cities. He sketched the way in which cities could develop in relation to algorithmic perception, sensory perception, cognition and physical automation.
Friday, October 30th, Het Nieuwe Instituut organized together with The Berlage a public lecture by Troy Conrad Therrien, curator of architecture and digital initatives at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (NYC).