Tag Archives: Beyond

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 @ sunpublishers.nl ) until September 15th 2010.

Beyond #03 – Trends and Fads

I’m glad to announce that everybody’s favorite summer read is now out and about and ready to be ordered through the appropriate… Sun Publishers.

Yes, it is true. While Values and Symptoms just got an excellent review at the influential We Make Money Not Art, the third take of Beyond’s fictional approach to the post-contemporary city is now fresh from the print, ready to find a nice niche in your brain’s pleasure centre.

Forget traditional distribution channels – that is, give up the hope of finding Beyond in a bookshop near you – and just enjoy it asap.

Meanwhile, I’m gathering notes on another stranger-than-fiction urban enclave, soon to be unveiled right here: Macao, long after Josef von Sternberg portrayed the devil – and this peculiar city – as another extraordinary woman.

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.

Should I stay or should I go?

Like the occasionally revised song by The Clash goes, and as hinted at by a Portu-guese blogger, should one go back to “Morality and Architecture” by David Watkin or to “Architecture and Morality” by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark?

Beyond #02, on “Values and Symptoms,” has finally arrived to solve such raging moral dilemmas.

As I wrote in “The Bad, the Good and Everybody Else” you have to read the book to “make your own judgement…” And the stories by writers such as Douglas Coupland and Rui Zink, the Belgian philosopher Lieven de Cauter, and architects such as Sam Jacob, François Roche, Andrés Jaque, Iassen Markov, and Markus Miessen should hopefully help you to make up your mind… lol.

As for myself, I’m becoming torn between enjoying my own jolly autumn readings and stay home with my darling babies, or go for yet another trip… It’s been some hectic times and while airplanes and airports are starting to get on my nerves, there I go again, if only for a couple of days.


The thing is, Beyond #02 is out and about and people seem to be curious about why a fictional take on the world of architecture and the city can prove useful for the progression of architectural knowledge.

At this time, and on proposal of Mario Ballesteros, our panel will discuss the deliberate slowness of print as against the instantaneity of the digital, and I will be probably musing about how fiction is indeed something that infiltrates one’s system of thought in quite unexpected ways.

As Fernando Pessoa once said about Coca-Cola – in one of the very few incursions of the Portuguese poet into the world of publicity – one could also say about fiction that “primeiro estranha-se, depois entranha-se.”

And being that now you have to figure out the untranslatable word play that led to the strange, yet ingrained political effect of having the American beverage prohibited during the Portuguese fascist regime, I can only add that this was yet another good example of how reality is assaulted by fictional techniques.

Beyond Again

As we were getting news of Beyond 01‘s award in the American Design Awards – a 2nd prize in book design inbetween 1415 global entries – Florian Mewes, the series graphic designer, was finishing this stunning cover for Beyond 02


The current issue of Beyond is being launched next Thursday 19th, 6pm, within the International Architecture Biennale of Rotterdam, at the Nai.

After Venice (with Yehuda Safran, Reed Krolloff, Shumon Basar and Map Office), after Harvard (with Eve Blau), after London (with Colin Fournier, Sam Jacob and Liam Young), it is my immense pleasure to announce that our first presentation in the Netherlands will consist of a reading of “Feast in A War Zone – A Palestin-ian Diary” by its author, the philosopher and writer Lieven de Cauter.

Contributors to this volume Emiliano Gandolfi, Markus Miessen and Marc Schuilenburg will also be present to enter the discussion on this issue.

The event is kindly welcomed by the IABR in its Open City Event Program and precedes Eyal Weizman‘s lecture on Forensic Architecture on the context of the REFUGE cluster curated by Philipp Misselwitz and Can Altay .

As for the contents of Values & Symptoms I will soon disclose a few goodies… dbvcmscsabmnbcmnadsb

On Traveling

Two of the best outcomes of flying away from home for a short-period are the possibility to hunt for the information being transmitted through the air of cities, and then, of course, to update on those crucial personal networks of people who are creating stuff that somehow relates to your interests.

While Beyond presentations in Harvard GSD and at the Architectural Association, in London, originated very positive and challenging echoes, the Rotterdam Architecture Biennale and its Open City proposal provided fertile ground to both of the aforementioned activities.

Firstly, let’s say that the openings and parties provided abundant opportunities to get acquainted to interesting newcomers, but also to build on friendships that are actually nurtured across years of events and happenings. And this, let me tell you, is an essential aspect to any self-regarding Biennale. Secondly, there were new contents to be scrutinized – which is not always true of this kind of organizations, even in the case of the bigger and more established events.

With its stress on community and cooperation driven projects, the Rotterdam Architecture Biennale was a perfect counterpart to the eager commercial drive and dislocated self-amazement that the London Design Week still emanates… In fact, in superficially sniffing l’essence of the two events, one cannot but wonder which one is indeed talking about our effective future…

The relevant fact is perhaps that the Rotterdam event managed to be a multicultural event in a small but multicultural city, while the LDW was only the “reflection on a golden eye” of a creative world relatively happy with itself and its own small dealings – that is, a monocultural event in a multicultural megalopolis.


And this is why, in London, I definitely preferred the amazing liveliness of Brick Lane on a sunny Sunday morning or an independent event like Publish and Be Damned – an alternative self-publishing magazine fair pointed to me by Elias Redstone from the Architectural Foundation…

Beyond and Beyond

Now that Beyond is showing up in reviews in Volume and Abitare it’s a good time to announce that, following the buzz on all the beyonds, I’ll be presenting the bookazine at the Beyond Media Festival, in Florence, on the 10th of July.

I’m proud to be talking alongside Piero Frassinelli, from Superstudio – whose 1971 essay on “Twelve Ideal Cities” was featured as a reprint in the Scenarios & Speculations issue of Beyond.

The talk is on “Writing and Vision – Between Reality and Fiction” and is one in a programme of many, including international speakers such as Derrick de Kherkove, Marcos Novak, Beatriz Colomina, Peter Lang and Frédéric Migayrou.

All the beyonds…

Definitely, the buzz of the “beyond” seems to have established itself firmly in the firmament of the architecture and design worlds…

After the science fiction magazines of the past, after my own Beyond Consumption in 2003, after the Beyond Media festival in Florence, after Volume’s “To Beyond or Not to Be,” after the Venice Biennale’s Architecture Beyond Building, and, of course, after the all-encompassing Beyond the Beyond, now it is the time for Beyond Architecture, a clever book on something I had already imagined as a full-length exhibition: the fictional depictions of unexisting, speculative architectures, namely through techniques of photomontage.

Beyond Architecture

An extensive listing of artists working along these lines had already appeared in none other than the commentaries to a post by Geoff Manaugh on Filip du Jardin, but now a full book honours this recent and pervesasive trend reaching the outskirts of built architecture.

As I wrote in an introduction to the work of Kobas Laksa, this is now a very palpable tendency. The logic of photomontage is back, although no longer with the playful, self-deceiving, and expressionistic overtones of the past. Recurring to digital technology, visual collage is today inclined to extreme and precise, if slightly surreal, depictions of yet inexistent realities. Such imagery thus acquires an unexpected narrative quality. Whereas classical photo collage once served the clash of different signs and meanings, the Photoshop technique is today dedicated to conjure its own fiction, albeit with an almost absurd degree of realism. After architects and advertisers have used the by now banal image software to project a wishful authenticity onto their constructions and products, now it is the artists who are making use of it to create a disturbing, alternate version of reality. As Philip K. Dick once described, it is a “law of economy” that nothing should go to waste: even the unreal is welcome…

Scenarios & Speculations

It’s been a while, but good news are worth waiting for:

Beyond, the urban bookazine I’m editing for SUN Architecture in Amsterdam,   is soon hitting the streets and you can already enjoy an excerpt of the            “White Fungus” story by guest cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling.


Beyond will be published twice a year, and will offer short fictions and essays from young upcoming architectural and urban writers.
The first issue, on “Scenarios and Speculations,” includes special features such as the “Re:doing Dubai” graphic novel, by Wes Jones, the reprint of Superstudio’s 1971 “Twelve  Ideal Cities,” and a postscript by Aaron Betsky, director of the latest Architecture Venice Biennale.

Beyond, Short Stories on the Post-Contemporary ISBN9789085066958