2012 - 2013: UTOPIAS
Josep Mias, Johan Berglund
"An underdose of utopia can
be as dangerous as an overdose."
— Reinier de Graaf, Dezeen, September 2012
"I do not want to talk to you
about architecture. I detest talk about architecture."
— Le Corbusier, AA after-dinner speech, 1 April 1953
Unit 16 wants to exist in a close symbiosis between academic research and architectural practice. Our way of working is close to how projects exists in a practice, with constant testing and "reflecting through action", in order to challenge the limits of architecture. Our work is centered around the production of buildings, landscapes and spaces. We see architecture as an act of realisation; of making something real, which was only previously a brief thought, a vague concept, a utopian dream. Through this act we have the power to transform the world around us, and with that, the responsibility to make sure we leave something positive behind.
This year, unit 16 will investigate the next summer olympics, to be held in Rio in four years time. The projects will be dealing with the political agendas and ideals that have shaped the idea of the olympic games (and Brasil itself), as well as the often problematic physical legacy that is connected to hosting the olympics. What is left behind when the games are over? By researching into the London olympics, specifically the ideas surrounding the continued legacy project of the olympic park area, we will learn from its successes and failures, in order to propose ideas for the Rio olympics, and the life in Rio and Brasil after the games.
Growing Olympic Archipelago
The olympics allows us to think about the continuity of architecture in time. The world is seemingly acting in a global olympic relay race; every city is given the baton by the previous one. In this process, it is interesting to think about the transfer from one olympic host to another. What can be understood and learnt from the previous one, so that the next olympic games (and its legacy) can be improved? We will look for knowledge and ideas, and attempt to understand these political, geographic and spatial trips, where architecture is part of the baggage.
We will question the duration of the existence of our architecture, and encourage students to look at extremes. How do you build in an inventive and sustainable way for only three weeks, and how do you create buildings and cities that will last for millennia? We will also question many things surrounding the production of architecture currently taken for granted, such as the assumed lifespan of new buildings, currently being based on guarantees given by material manufacturers and builders, as well as the absurd and unsustainable cost of building for short periods of time. We will look for inventive and utopian architectures, architectures that question permanence, duration, and temporality; architectural and urban spaces that can evolve and change rather than being demolished as they become outdated.
Unit 16 will be part of a global network of research, related to the the Olympic Architectural Project in Rio de Janeiro. The final projects will be displayed in Museo da Casa Brasileira in Sao Paulo. We will also be exhibiting the Miami-based projects from last year in Miami, Bogota, Panama City, Mexico City, and New York, thanks to the support of Designalter Foundation. In September, we were invited by the Fargfabriken Art Foundation as one of five teams to propose ideas for the urban infrastructural development of Stockholm. The result of this work will be exhibited at Fargfabriken in Stockholm in November 2012. Nüssli, the main contractor for several of the temporary pavilions in London 2012 will be our main sponsor for this year.