10/03/2009

My opinion of Enjeu Capital(es) reference



This thread deals with the conference Enjeu capital(es). Les métropoles de la grande échelle, or how to rethink city in terms of macro.
But… almost nobody discussed deeply this topic.
I'm reserved in my opinion, and I may be not the only one. If yestersday sessions were interesting, this day was… Participants such as Rem Koolhaas, Dominique Perrault, Brendan McFarlane, Kuma Kengo, and Thom Mayne were exceptional as usually. They all present their research on city and the relationship between architecture and city. But I will go back to this part, later.
The reproach that I would like formulate concerns the choice of the topic. Not was it uninteresting, but it seemed be a little bit conceptual. This is of course my opinion. Yet, during the discussion at the end of yesterday afternoon session, the question that the mediator posed to these participants made them disconcerted, if not confused, such as Koolhaas and Mayne which insisted on the mediator repeating his question, if not reformulating it, as I wrote on twitter (and I will write a review on my blog). The problem of the question was that it was too much focused on image, materials, and representation, and not enough on the context of city. Brief, his questions were nothing to do with the topic, in my opinion.
Let's analyse this afternoon session:
The most interesting point is Rem Koolhaas's intervention. He announced that he is now working on "countryside". This territory is now a virgin territory insofar as its population migrated to the city. This is what he said to justify his shift into countryside. It is relevant that city is saturated and nothing new can be done. Even though many projects, reflections and competition show that there is still something to do. Rethinking the city relevant to new tools, new materials, new lifestyle and taking account of the mutation of the urbanity is an illustration that city may be saturated but not "finished". Even if Koolhaas has not said in this way, architects should now rethink the concept of countryside and its relation to the urban environment. I think that it can be a track that needs be explored. He, in fact, is focusing on the complexity city/non-city. To a certain extent, he was not too far from Adriaan Geuze's conception of the city. I am sure that a new debate will emerge from his research.
Thom Mayne rethought his presentation in order to respond to what he heard the morning session (I was not there so I won't say more on FOA, UnStudio, etc). It was very interesting to hear Mayne discussing his work starting from the city as both object and subject, and not restricted to the object. I am among those who usually analyse his architecture for itself and not in the relation on its context, say, the city, while we usually do when examining OMA's projects. His presentation was very fresh and informative.
Kuma Kengo started by considering Japanese city according to keyword, such as screen, grain and roof. I maybe forgot one. It was very interesting but he hasn't pursued his argument, rather, he presented his work. It would be rather to explore the concept of city in Japan. But for those who didn't know him pretty much (or hadn't the opportunity to hear him), it was a great opportunity to discover his work or hear his work again.
MacFarlane talked on his work, in particular his both and most popular projects : Docks de Paris (Seine), and Pavillon Quai Rimbaud in Lyon. For the both projects, Jakob + McFarlane attempted to reinvent the concept of public space, and explored the relation to the site where they intervened. But I didn't find any relation to the main topic ; or he was a bit too far from the concept of city.
Dominique Perrault presented several aspects of his project. For each of them, he attempted to demonstrate the importance of the site (the city) in his project. I particularly appreciated his presentation, but as it was crowded and we had to move for another place to attend the conference, I missed 10 minutes of his presentation. Sad. Because he talked on the importance of water in the 21st century, and I remark that water will be one of the core element of the 21st century.
Back to the discussion. The discussion between all the participants and the mediator was cut short, if I can say. Architects maybe supposed to be questioned on their presentation, and this was what the mediator tried to do but… This is why I am desappointed.
Yersterday afternoon (I missed the morning sessions) was better in many respects. I particularly appreciated both landscape-architect Adriaan Geuze (West 8) and architect Ken Yeang's interventions. Yeang presented his 5 strategies that articulate the concept of green and city. I chose several points. The main idea in to environ the city in accordance with biointegration, green and vertical urbanism, the impact of climate change on urban (and non-urban) environment, complex and green building. I recorded his presentation and I will write a short review on his presentation, when I will have time. Then Geuze. His presentation focused on the ecological agenda of metropolis. After having presented ecological agenda of several metropolis, he analysed Paris one. Around Paris, you've got countryside, and what Geuze wanted to say — but I may be wrong — is to preserve this relationship of city and countryside (or non-city as Koolhaas said today). He then analysed Paris urban organisation in accordance with the topic of nature. He said that Haussmann envisioned the planification of Paris by integrating natural patterns such as garden, trees, parks, etc. It seems that he was influenced by French patrimony such as le Chateau de Versaille, et that of Vaux-le-Vicomte, both of them organised on the concept of greenery. So Le Grand Paris must envision the importance of its legacy — in terms of greenery (of course). It was very interesting and like Yeang, I've got a recording of his presentation that I will transcript (the main ideas) into my blog.
The discussion between all the participants (included Niven Sidor, Andrea Branzi and James Wines) was better than today maybe because the architects talked more than the mediator, and the last one was more careful to what they said.
In a new thread I will focus on these issues sus-mentioned.




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