Tragic Lost

How do modern cultures deal with the experience of loss or personal and social limitations? What tools are we given to process sickness, heartbreak or failed personal ambitions? How do we engage death and the death of our loved ones? How mature is modernity?
  
Read our essay The Tragic Lost

Roadmap to the New World

Roadmap to the New World

Check our online roadmap to the new world. It’s a historic-futuristic hypothesis that presents two scenario’s that explore the future of work; one bad; one good; both realistic. Click here to go to the site! (The featured picture is a summary of the map that is given as a hand-out to visitors of our exhibition Workshop for the New World, in Bureau Europa.)

A Romantic Idol

A Romantic Idol

This weekend we explored Lelystad (Netherlands) in advance of a comparative study to new towns Marl (Germany), Lelystad (Holland) and Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgian). (Before I put the next idea on paper I must say that I had a great time exploring Lelystad! These feelings and ideas come from a good place.) After four days of suburban garden city exploration I wanted to create a destroyer – an installation that will work as a Idol for gut-feeling, subjectivity and humility in the face of nature. An idol that will remind the inhabitants of Marl, Lelystad and Louvain la Neuve that they are not defined by those who build the city, and who’s ideas loom over the city like a black moon in a clear sky. In my mind this installation, this idol, will stamp their earth, burn their minds and flood their homes. And they will love it! A young city will need a young heart in the […]

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Artificial hills

Sacrificial Landscape

Marl’s mining industry and now its Chemiepark have been the most influential factors in shaping the city and populating its horizons with mining shafts, chimney’s and  plumes of smoke. The other day I came across a beautifully poetic notion that describes this landscape and perhaps the impact it has on the psyche of the people who inhabit it. Marl’s surroundings form a sacrificial landscape. It must ‘die’ so that the urban centers may of the world may live, as Alexis Madrigal puts it in a piece where he describes the sacrificial landscape in the TV series True Detective . He borrows the term from environmental historian Brian Black who used it for describing the impact of the petrochemical industry on the landscape of Pennsylvania. Around Marl the mining industry has literally turned the landscape inside-out. The surrounding hills are mounds made of excavated earth. The forests used to be harvested for wood for supporting […]

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Brutalist backdrop

Paradise Lost

“The best is still to come” — It is something we would say to each other when we’re down, when our expectations are violated. When things didn’t work out as planned or are move forward slower than expected. We want to tell success stories about how well we did. Especially about how our skills, plans and ideas were instrumental into realizing something. This puts a lot of pressure on us. On the one hand we want to dream big, and plan bold projects. But when we fail it was our own fault. Blaming others, or circumstance is considered a weakness. This is the burden of the failed utopia’s that we inhabit today. They were somebody else’s dream, and of course they didn’t materialise in the way that was expected. This goes for practically all modernist social engineering and urban planning schemes. Marl is no exception. In order to move beyond […]

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Unfulfilled Dream

Unfulfilled Dream

This weekend we explored Marl (Germany) in advance of a comparative study to new towns Marl, Lelystad (Holland) and Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgian). During our reconnaissance Tim Verlaan of Failed Architecture and I paid a visit to the city archive and uncovered amongst other things this document listing the participants, and winners, of the competition that led up to the building of Marl’s iconic city hall in the sixties (see image below). Since most of the coal mines closed Marl is a city in decline. The only thing remembering its once promising future is its city hall, commissioned to facilitate Marl transformation of a small regional town to a modern industrial metropolis. The building was already considered oversized (even redundant) when construction started because of the changing economic landscape. It became cheaper to import low quality coal from far away places as Australia and Spitsbergen then to mine the high quality resources […]

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Memory Fields and Labyrinth Landscapes

Memory Fields and Labyrinth Landscapes

During September and October 2013 Monnik gave the design and research studio Castle Almere — Landscape, Ruin and Spolia at the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam. The question the studio raised was: How can instead of the belief in progress notions of tragedy and dealing with limitations inspire architecture?  The studio was an introduction to notions how we, modern man,  are increasingly losing our ability to deal with limitations and loss (you can read the studio introduction here). These themes were  introduced with our essay The Tragic Lost, Jim Jarmush’s film Dead Man, a personal anecdote/memory each one brought to the studio and the analysis of reference projects ranging from Svalbard’s Seed Vault tot the Burning Man Festival, but also the pilgrimage route The Way of St. James and the Long Now Foundation‘s 10.000 year Clock. Throughout the project the landscape design and architecture students were introduced to how our current distinction between nature […]

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Tzimtzum

Tzimtzum

A beautiful and intriguing concept that was brought to our attention by Arne Hendriks: “The Tzimtzum is a term used in the Lurianic Kabbalah teaching of Isaac Luria, to explain his doctrine that God began the process of creation by “contracting” his infinite light in order to allow for a “conceptual space” in which the finite and seemingly independent realms could exist. This primordial initial contraction, forming a “empty space”, into which new creative light could beam, is denoted by general reference to the Tzimtzum. Because the Tzimtzum results in the “empty space” in which spiritual and physical Worlds and ultimately, free will can exist, God is often referred to as “the Omnipresent”. “He is the Place of the World, but the World is not His Place”.” – From Wikipedia I find the concept of Tzimtzum very intriguing. When thinking about the 8 Billion City, a man-made totality, i.e. an engine […]

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Under Concrete Skin

Under Concrete Skin

This text was taken from the Under Concrete Skin project proposal, a research project by Monnik and Carlos Cazalis. We expect to start our research media 2014. Please comment or critique! Under Concrete Skin Urban life has become the quintessential human experience. An experience shaped by man-made surroundings and framed by cultural references, like habits, customs, conventions, advertising, tradition, mythology, movies, urban myths, etc. Since culture is a product of our collective imagination, urban life is thus essentially to live inside our own fantasy – a place where (natural) limitations are of increasingly little consequence. Tokyo is the biggest and most populous city in the world. The Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area is home to 36 million people. The city is often experienced as a perfect interior – it is safe, clean and convenient. Trains run like clockwork and there is almost no litter on the streets, nor is there any loitering, vandalism, […]

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Growth = War

Growth = War

  The growth economy is really a war economy. This is what I recently learnt when reading Rutger Bregman‘s piece (NL) on de Correspondent “Leugens, grove leugens en het bbp“. Bregman writes that: “According to some historians the invention of the GDP has been more important than the invention of the atom bomb. The GDP turned out to be an amazing measure of the strength of a war economy” Bregman goes on to explain that during WWII it was of strategic importance to the war effort to have good statistics about how productive the economy was, since the country which could send more tanks, planes and bombs into battle would win the war. Also when the future of a nation and millions of lives are at stake one needs to do everything one possibly can to win. It is fine to borrow from the future, to plunge into debt, to […]

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