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The Playful City: From the 1960s Strive for Spontaneity to Today’s Space of Entertainment - Failed Architecture
"The unscripted play advocated by the Eventstructure Research Group has over the last few decades been lost to increasingly consumption-oriented spaces, encouraging prescribed entertainment and leisure."



"Leisure and entertainment, or play?
Half a century later, the same ideas developed by the Eventstructure Research Group now provide the theme for the Dutch Pavilion at the 2018 International Venice Architecture Biennale: work, body, leisure. The exhibition addresses the spatial configurations, living conditions, and notions of the human body resulting from ongoing transformations in the ethos and the conditions of labour. How will these changes affect the relationship between work, body and leisure, and which possible scenarios could we design accordingly? The main theme and the questions raised all seem derived from Constant’s thinking, and are also in line with the philosophy of the Situationists and that of the Eventstructure Research Group. An important difference, however, is that leisure seems a less powerful term than play. In contemporary usage, leisure is a passive term, associated with holidays and relaxation–a temporary break from day-to-day working life. This is merely the opposite of work, a calculated part of economic logics, while the aim of the Situationists was actually to transform work into play, in such a way that work, play and the body eventually would become one.

The Situationists considered their contemporary city of the late 1950s to be one of boredom, and wished to change it into a city of stimulation. Today, one could now argue that our own physical city is not one of boredom: 24-hour shopping, multiplex cinemas, game consoles, texting, and whatever other myriad possibilities are available to entertain us day and night – an ongoing stream of information, impulses and encouragements for active consumption. Eat now! Drink now! Exercise now! Drive now! Play now! The present-day city is one of continuous (over)stimulation. Is this the city the Situationists had in mind? Probably not. We may also ask, are all these forms of play really that effective in eliminating our boredom? Sandi Mann, author of The Upside of Downtime: Why Boredom Is Good, argues quite the opposite: “The more entertained we are the more entertainment we need in order to feel satisfied. The more we fill our world with fast-moving, high-intensity, ever-changing stimulation, the more we get used to that and the less tolerant we become of lower levels.”

The Situationists’ idea of play is quite different from the 21st century, entertainment-driven idea of play. Their idea of play strived for true spontaneity. It aimed to be active, non-conformist, anti-capitalistic and therefore critical. Today’s non-critical ‘play’ is about passive consumption, over-stimulation and intellectually apathy.

Additionally, the Situationists aimed to restructure the modern aesthetic experience by rejecting functionalism, instead favouring and celebrating complexity. Present-day cities have become exactly that: a complex of layered physical infrastructures, roads, waterways, air-routes, tubes, electricity lines, antennas, digital highways and so on. The near future will most likely see a steady-increase of the complexity of this infrastructure, with drone-like postal services, personal air transportation and more virtual landscapes added to the city. Complex infrastructure – and entertainment – is all that surrounds us. The city the Situationists imagined is there, but more than that. It has stepped up, pushed the fast-forward button and gone into overdrive.

This complex and fast-paced modern city however did not make citizens more critical towards capitalism. Today’s modern city is a largely scripted complexity of abundance, but with little place for disorder. The excess and the abundance of stimulation in the city today would make an action like Pneutube nothing more than a side note in the daily high-speed routine. People would probably shrug their shoulders, look up from their smartphones for a few moments and then continue their day. If architecture nowadays is capable at all of stimulating critical and non-conformist thinking, it can only do that through much more radical interventions. The ambitions of the ERG could be adopted, but a different output will have to be found to make an actual difference in today’s society.

What would be considered a radical architectural intervention today? Does architecture have the power to disrupt the dominant system? If this seemed possible in the past, with buildings such as the Centre Pompidou, today’s architecture seems to have lost its revolutionary potential. Not many buildings today are capable of surprising us because of the ideas that fuelled them, and not just because they are bigger, larger, or taller than their neighbours. In order to be truly radical, an architectural intervention today should be capable of criticizing the domination of technology and the authority of the algorithm. As the capitalist society that ERG was trying to dismantle does not look so different from today’s market economy in which citizens walk, travel, and even vote according to Google, Airbnb, or Facebook. Can contemporary architecture provide critical reflection on that?"
consumerism  commercialism  jornkonijn  2018  play  openended  entertainment  leisure  situationist  architecture  markets  capitalism  society  cities  urban  urbanism  functionalism  complexity  open-ended 
march 2019 by robertogreco
RORY HYDE PROJECTS / BLOG » Blog Archive » ‘Know No Boundaries’: an interview with Matt Webb of BERG London
"we attempt to invent things and create culture. It’s not just enough to invent something and see it once, you have to change the world around you, get underneath it, interfere with it somehow, because otherwise you’re just problem solving. And I wont say that design has an exclusive hold over this – you can invent things and change culture with art, music, business practices, ethnography, market research; all of these are valid too – design just happens to be the way we do it…our things should be hopeful, and not just functional…beautiful, inventive and mainstream…you could see our work as experimental, or science-fiction, or futuristic…our design is essentially a political act. We design ‘normative’ products, normative being that you design for the world as it should be. Invention is always for the world as it should be, and not for the world you are in…Design these products and you’ll move the world just slightly in that direction."
mattwebb  berg  berglondon  design  invention  hope  culture  change  purpose  innovation  scifi  sciencefiction  designfiction  beauty  future  inventingthefuture  speculative  speculativedesign  fractionalai  ai  brucesterling  evolutionarysoup  storytelling  isaacasimov  arthurcclarke  argoscatalog  schooloscope  behavior  evocativeobjects  collaboration  functionalism  technology  architecture  people  structure  groups  experience  interdisciplinary  tinkering  multidisciplinary  play  playfulness  crossdisciplinary  flip  gamechanging 
january 2011 by robertogreco
Homenaje al Ingeniero Arquitecto Francisco Salamone [adding to my Salamone bookmark collection]
Don't let the Spanish scare you away. Go read the English Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Salamone . Here are some choice quotes to get you started: "Argentine architect who between 1936 and 1940, during the Infamous Decade, built more than 60 municipal buildings with elements of Art Deco style in 25 rural communities on the Argentine Pampas within the Buenos Aires Province. These buildings were some of the first examples of modern architecture in rural Argentine." And "a notable and very personal combination of Art Deco, authoritarianism, functionalism, Italian Futorismo and propaganda on a vast scale"

"Relevamiento fotográfico de la sorprendente Obra de Salamone realizada en una veintena de municipios de la Pcia de Buenos Aires entre 1936 y 1940 y de las demás obras sin catalogar en numerosas ciudades de la República." If that's not enough to pique your interest consider that he primarily designed town halls, cemetery portals, and slaughterhouses.
franciscosalamone  architecture  argentina  futurismartdeco  functionalism  authoritarianism  futorismo 
september 2010 by robertogreco

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