Urban Prototyping

International architecture symposium curated and moderated by Ilka & Andreas Ruby
held at University of Applied Arts Vienna Institute of Architecture, 29-30.06.2007

As there is no normative concept of city anymore, there is no normative concept of city-planning either. On the one hand, we see a landslide victory of the masterplan particularly in Asia with its seemingly unstoppable demand for instant cities to be planned and built from scratch in periods of 5-10 years. This seeming renaissance of the masterplan could however also be the sign of its agony, as most of Asia’s high-speed urbanism applies the masterplan mechanistically without evolving it further to match complex contemporary urban conditions. On the other hand, the masterplan easily finds its limits in situations where the city is essentially built already, yet still needs to be able to change and adapt to contemporary developments—such as in most saturated urban environments in Europe, but part of Asia too. Instead of imposing a generic order on to differential urban situations planning here needs to think the city starting from its particular conditions which by interaction form a larger urban system. This processual understanding of urban development implies a shift in the relationship of architecture to urbanism. Architecture is no longer the passive container to be filled with a predefined urban concept aka the Masterplan, but an active agent that contributes to the formation of an emergent urban organization. To do that architects need to conceive of buildings as urban prototypes that embody urban scenarios with sufficient critical mass and programmatic diversity to be able to inform their surrounding context.

Participants: Anne Lacaton, Lacaton & Vassal Architectes, France; Bjarke Ingels, BIG, Denmark; Mathias Müller & Daniel Niggli, EM2N, Switzerland; Alfredo Brillembourg & Hubert Klumpner, Urban Think Tank, Venezuela; Hitoshi Abe, AtelierHitoshi Abe, Sendai, Japan/UCLA, L.A. USA; Minsuk Cho, Mass Studies, Seoul, Korea; AlexanderD’Hooghe, MIT, USA; François Roche/R&Sie(n), Paris; Mark Wigley, Columbia University, USA