February 21, 2019 - Het Nieuwe Instituut - Open Systems and Total Cities
e-flux Architecture
February 21, 2019
February 21, 2019

Het Nieuwe Instituut

Van den Broek en Bakema, Ideas competition for the design of Bochum University, 1962. Aerial view of the model. Source: Archive of Broekbakema architects, project number 1333.

Open Systems and Total Cities
Lecture by Georg Vrachliotis
March 7, 2019, 7:30pm

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam
The Netherlands

totalspace.hetnieuweinstituut.nl
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On Thursday, March 7, a lecture by Georg Vrachliotis (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) will mark the finale of Habitat: Expanding Architecture at Het Nieuwe Instituut. Vrachliotis will talk about the influence of systems theory on architecture and planning, with particular attention to the case of Swiss architect Fritz Haller, who created one of the most enigmatic visions regarding total urban systems.

Habitat: Expanding Architecture captures a key moment in the history of architecture and urban planning: the tenth CIAM conference at Dubrovnik in 1956. Here the concept "habitat" was a central theme: an expanding understanding of architecture was proposed through a new ecological approach. Disciplinary autonomy was dismissed for a relational idea of architecture as part of a larger, dynamic whole. Habitat presents an archival reconstruction of the material from the CIAM conference, along with a selection from the archive of Het Nieuwe Instituut and private collections to further illustrate how ecological approaches to architecture have been interpreted in different ways since 1956. The exhibition is curated by Dirk van den Heuvel, head of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre.

The Habitat: Expanding Architecture research installation and discursive programme were the first in a series of Total Space programme installations by the Jaap Bakema Study Centre. It explores the interdisciplinary exchanges between the fields of architecture, urban planning, anthropology and systems theory. From the first propositions for networked cities and megastructures in the 1950s and 1960s, up to developments such as smart cities and virtual territories today, the concept of a total, all-encompassing space remains a recurrent motif. The point of departure becomes interactive networks, rather than discrete objects and domains. A second iteration of this ongoing programme will open at Het Nieuwe Instituut in late 2019.

Vrachliotis’ lecture, Open Systems and Total Cities, will discuss the radical proposals of Fritz Haller (1924-2012), who is primarily remembered for his design of the modular furniture system USM. However, this furniture system was in fact only the modest demonstration of a much larger theory concerning urban planning at a planetary scale. Haller connected ideas for spatial and temporal ordering with his research for the synchronization of language systems. This remarkable conceptual link lead Haller to interpret the entire city as one large construction system. Haller's investigations created an outline for new forms of perception based on notions of infrastructural space and landscape, and transferred the technically invisible into geometric form.

Georg Vrachliotis is Professor of Architecture Theory and director of the architecture research archive at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). He was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Architecture in 2016. He is the curator and (co)author of Geregelte Verhältnisse. Architektur und technisches Denken in der Epoche der Kybernetik (2009), Structuralism Reloaded. Rule-Based Design in Architecture and Urbanism (with T. Valena and T. Avermaete, 2011), Fritz Haller. Architect and Researcher (with Laurent Stalder, 2014) and of Frei Otto. Thinking by Modeling (2017).

Previous lectures were given by Erik Rietveld (RAAAF), Alessandra Ponte (Université de Montréal), Leonardo Zuccaro Marchi (TU Delft), and Hadas Steiner (University at Buffalo). Archive conversations were held with authors of the archival material on show—one with the former members of the Tanthof Working Group (Anneloes and Hiwe Groenewolt, Frans Hooykaas, Joost Váhl, Peter Lüthi) and one with Frits Palmboom and Pjotr Gonggrijp. The Jaap Bakema Study Centre will publish a book containing adaptations of the various lectures, expanded with reproductions of the material shown at the exhibition.

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