the network architecture lab @
the columbia university
graduate school of architecture, planning, and preservation
Since the Renaissance, architecture has responded to new socio-cultural eras with utopian and dystopian schemes. Such fantasies have not only served to advance the discipline, but have also been a means by which architecture can research, analyze, and investigate society.
It is our contention that we are living in a new era defined by the network. During the last fifteen years, the Internet has joined us together and gone wireless; computing has become mobile while applications are increasingly network-based; the mobile phone has become the world's most successful gadget; virtually any form of publication has become available to virtually everyone. But these technological changes are only part of a broader shift in society. If in Fordist modernity the individual was located in a hierarchical system and if in post-Fordism the fragmented individual was in a system of flexible production and consumption, today we conceive of ourselves as networked individuals, assembled out of flows of people and things.
By and large, architecture has failed to deliver visionary proposals for this moment. This studio set out to remedy that situation. Students responded to our contemporary situation by studying an aspect of network culture in depth and producing schemes based on an exacerbation of that condition that could be utopian, dystopian, or both utopian and dystopian.
1 : Somebody Else’s Dream
Utopias, as figured in this studio, are not merely the products of free expressions but rather are understood as carefully constructed critical exacerbations of the contemporary condition.
In order to understand this situation, turn back to the 1960s and 1970s to find a utopia that you can claim for your own.
Week 1: How did it confront existing conditions? How did it operate?
Week 2: What if that Utopia was accelerated to the present day? How would it be changed?
Produce a project in response.
Review on 26 September.
Archigram, Instant City
Archizoom, No Stop City
Constant, New Babylon
Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis, Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture
Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis, City of the Captive Globe
Superstudio, Continuous Monument
2 : Utopia or Not
Interim Review, October 23
Interim Review, November 16
Final Review, December 6
Having chosen an aspect of network culture, research existing cultural trends and develop means a utopian project of substantial depth and resolution by the end of the term.
This studio, like all Netlab studios, is run as a think-tank. Students are encouraged to develop new working methods, new presentation methods, and to rethink the way the studio itself functions. To this end, each review is experimental. Reviews are developed based on in-studio discussions.
Interim review format
This review is based on the model of the science fair. Students will present their work at individual stations. At any given time two or three reviews will be taking place. Students not giving presentations will be participating in criticism as well, learning from each other and through the act of giving criticism.
Final review format
This review is based on the model of the gallery. Students will display work in a variety of media—image, model, and text—but will present it primarily through brief videos that hopefully will be completed the night before (you will receive an email as these are produced) and uploaded to the Internet. Videos willl also be shown alongside finished work in the review. Students will be available to discuss the work in the review. At 4.30 we will hold a round table discussion that we hope you can attend to talk about the trajectory of the work as a whole.