Category Archives: call for contributions

Performance Towards Participation

This week I take part in the El Arte és Ación/Performance & Arquitectura multifaceted event in Madrid. With an amazing array of participants, this will present, instill and again put to discussion the emergent connections between current practices of architecture of engagement and Performance Art.

After one or two posts on this, the event impels me to finally announce here that the international open call for Performance Architecture within the 2012 European Capital of Culture is now up and about, ready to be propagated like a benign virus to whoever might feel challenged to set out ideas, programs and architectural concepts that may win the streets back to the people.*

This open call for five temporary urban interventions in the city of Guimarães will offer kick-start prizes of 12.000€ to concepts that are able to promote the appropriation (or occupation?) of controversial public spaces by city inhabitants. Proposals are to be submitted online until January 6th 2012.

Implying that anyone who wants to contribute to the reconstruction of current notions of public space has to somehow become a full cultural producer, the competition invites multidisciplinary teams of artists, architects, designers, etc., to send out ideas that can reactivate performance strategies and simultaneously (re)invent participative architectures in the urban realm.

A one-day seminar on the theme will follow on the 25th February 2012, involving members of the juri Santiago Cirugeda, Didier Fiuza Faustino, A77, Raumlabor, and Office for Subversive Architecture, inbetween other special guests. At that occasion, the five lucky winners – who may be entitled to a one month residency in situ – will also be publicly announced, together with further 25 proposals selected for a small exhibition and catalogue.

Accidents & Failures

As I have just received my copies of Beyond #03 – and fantastic they look in their shiny pink – I may as well announce that the Call for Contributions is out for Beyond‘s next issue on Accidents & Failures.

© John Minihan, via Agaudi.

Under the banner of Samuel Beckett’s “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better,” I’m welcoming fictions and experimental pieces on the intricacies and ambiguities of failure – if not on the illusions of perfect achievement or the happiness of chance.

Accidents, mistakes, errors, blunders, slips, faults, collapses, mishaps, missteps, miscalculations and other human disasters are all part of the city’s historical progression, and they often provide immense impulses for renewal and for uprooting what tends to become an inert status quo.

How can the outlooks on cities and architecture, as well as our perspectives on daily practice, gain consciousness from the accidents and the failures of past and present? After Virilio, how can we develop a positive theory of errors and mistakes? How can we embrace failure as methodology?

While modernist ideologies, technological truths, political principles, and the conditioned actions of urban planners are shadowed by permanent claims of social failure, what cautionary tales can we today evoke so as to insinuate new views and positions on all of ours tomorrow’s cities?

I’m looking out for your witty, insightful accounts… So, do send your stories to Martien de Vletter at Sun Publishers ( email: m.devletter @ ) until September 15th 2010.

Fiction vs. the Return of the Real

Be it trend or fad, as I was pointing out in my previous post, this is a curious turning point for architecture, or at least for the architecture that gets to be published in those tracts of the blogosphere where many people are looking at.

It’s as if architecture – or its desire – is suddenly torn between the return to real needs and its own need to fantasize, be it through fiction – on which, I remind you, there’s a Call for Papers out there until the 6th April – or by the way of utopias now made possible by booming available technologies.

In the latest two newsletters I’ve received from Designboom – each covering one day of posts – one of the featured projects is again a conglomeration of shipping containers, and another a prefab house that presents itself under the guise of a 50’s childbook-like graphic illustration…

But this is only the beggining… So, please introduce your sound track now for Something Bigger, Something Better…

The next one is a bewildering sci-fi freshwater factory, competing with the water-purification skyscraper in Jakarta, and revealing that, long after François Roche‘s avant-garde move with his pollution-eating building a few years ago, architects are now quickly following on the footsteps of designers in their apt inclination to solve very down-to-water problems

As such, also the following one is a clever, crazy highrise that addresses the issue of water conflits in Sudan. And these guys coming from Poland, after Venice they have already an headstart in using fiction as a means to an architectural end…

Another is an utopian, but well-thought suspended prison fashioned after Archigram‘s walking cities, and the next one, again after Hotel Poland, is yet another contribution to the transformation of the Guggenheim museum void into yet another scenario of the near future…

(And, OK, one project is the new headquarters of The Hague International Criminal Court trying to desguise its screaming dull real-politik appearance by filling itself with Babylonic hanging gardens…)

If now everything is possible, let’s indeed pick those brains out for the most surrealist, out-of-the-box solutions for the return of the real – as it’s now being shown in an architecture office near you.

All Things Urban

Don’t ask me why, but my fascination for urban themes and city imagery can be somehow epitomized by this video of Four Tet’s She Moves She.

It reminds me of my own images of Japan years ago and so it is also a good leitmotif for linking here into the new blog of a long existing, long hibernating cultural association dedicated to urban knowledge.

CUC, or the Centre for Contemporary Urban Culture, was and is again an interdisciplinary platform dedicated to all things urban, promoting projects and discussions that are related to urban culture and city creativity.

CUC was funded 10 years ago to put up the Post.Rotterdam exhibition – with Rem Koolhaas, MVRDV, West 8 and others – and is now back into activity with new people, to promote, co-organize and be the private partner of projects like Emergent Megalopolis and Once Upon a Place.

I hope that the new CUC blog will also represent an opportunity to cook up a multi-voiced reflection on current urban matters in Portuguese language. Everybody is welcome to contribute and heat up future discussions…

Trends and Fads

Talking about trendiness, as announced in the current volume of Beyond the third short-story collection in the book-series-cum-urban-literary-bookazine will be on the theme of Trends and Fads, due to be published in May 2010.

As it says in the Call for Contributions for the next issue,

While the many happily embrace consumption as lifestyle and instantly embark in any fad that may fulfill a sense of permanent gratification, the very few that claim to resist the lure of fashion also constantly fail to understand the mechanisms by which trends and fads actually affect cultural productions at every level.

Architecture and urban creation do not escape a tendency that is pervasive in all cultural scopes, which is the inescapable impact that both long-term trends and short-notice fads have on the production and consumption of ideas, objects and sites.

From celebrity to everyday culture, from gravity to ornament, from iconology to no-branding, from affluence to asceticism, from aestheticization to ugliness, from depression to optimism, from starchitecture to emergence, from pressure groups to particular interests, which are the currents and whims that are today deeply affecting the definition of our cityscapes?

Now that the holidays are arriving, do remember to pick up your Brett Easton Ellis and, if you think you are able to produce an interesting fiction of 2000 words max about such issues, do give it a try. We are open to submissions through Beyond’s webpage until the end of January 2010.