Author Archives: tpeeters

Blame the Architect update

Tomorrow Tuesday 10th January, 10.45-12.45, Berlagezaal 1

“Racaille!” The Banlieue riots, France 2005 -part II
“Broken city” The 2011 UK riots
Assignment description

Hope to see you all tomorrow!

Now that this Christmas thing is finally over, it’s time for serious business again: censorship. Meet Larissa Sansour, a Jerusalem-born artist with a passion, who found herself on the shortlist for the 2011 Elysee Museum Prize – which is sponsored by the crocophiles at Lacoste. Sansour was commissioned  to produce an artwork and she came up with a series of photographs depicting Nation Estate: a fictional high rise estate in Jerusalem which would house the whole Palestinian nation/state/people. Great. Right?

Not really apparently – according to the reptilo-people at least. Lacoste considered her artwork to be ‘too pro-Palestinian’ and told the museum to remove her from the shortlist, much to the outrage of the artist. Thankfully – and this is the brilliant part – the Musée de l’Elysée also values freedom of expression and sided (pdf) with Sansour on the matter, cancelling (here for French) the whole prize thing altogether. Art 1, Crocofascists 0. In a cover-up move, Lacoste now denies everything, which doesn’t leave anybody wondering at all: obviously a panic-induced attempt at censorship backfired. Big time. And now nobody in the art world will ever wear Lacoste polos again, even though they come in a gazillion fancy colours and are currently on sale. Wouter Vanstiphout has already burned his in front of the Lacostian embassy already, allegedly.

All this weirdly resembles this story, by the way. Or this one. And also, it’s not like Sansour didn’t attempt to claim the moon as a new Palestina in another artwork before settling for the Nation Estate building: she definitely went soft this time.

Dear students and other attendees of the Blame the Architect lecture series,
Unfortunately, the tuesday 20th December lecture is cancelled.

Next and last lecture Tuesday 10th January10.45-12.45, Berlagezaal 1

“Racaille!” The Banlieue riots, France 2005 -part II
“Broken city” The 2011 UK riots
Assignment description
Happy holidays and see you all in 2012!

Yes, it does look like a pixelated explosion. And no, there is no such thing as bad publicity – but perhaps only as long as your designs don’t resemble a disintegrating World Trade Center. Because when that happens, Keith Olbermann is going to name you worst person of the day (Bill O’Reilly came in third), your apology is going to be featured in the Dutch News, and commenters on Archinect and Dezeen are going to conclude the link with 9/11 is farfetched and ridiculous but the design is ugly anyway. Meanwhile, some guy at GizMag is unfazed by all the commotion and just thinks the towers are awesome - but what will the client think? Also, this provides an interesting plot twist: the building might not be inspired on a terrorist attack, but on collapsing buildings in general, something MVRDV should probably keep silent if it were true. They better play the Lego-card.

Why, now, has this not caused nearly as much commotion?


More background stuff on riots – this week we speak French. It’s  October 2005, when suddenly a wave of violence and unrest sweeps the modernist suburbs of France. A story of two boys, a tragic accident, thousands of burning cars and a hardline politician who would become president very soon. Two movies, two articles, and some music this week.

The very first thing you should do is watch La Haine: a moving, amazing, and apparently extremely realistic depiction of life in France’s ghetto’s. Nice soundtrack, too. The movie can be watched on YouTube – in non-subtitled ghetto-French, which supposedly is quite hard to understand even for French people. If you like your French movies a bit more disturbing, try this: Themroc.

The riots themselves, then. The fact that all of the unrest occured only in modernist suburbs makes for an interesting debate on the relationship between architectural style and anti-social behaviour: both Christopher Caldwell and John Lichfield wrote about this, in the NY Times and The Independent respectively.

Lastly, the extremely culturally diverse banlieues have produced some of the world’s best hip hop. It’s the language. It’s so beautiful.

Note for those who want to attend the lecture tomorrow: it will be held at 10:45, in lecture hall C!

It’s procrastinate-o-clock again! This time, the most glamorous riot of them all: the Rodney King riots. Los Angeles, 1992. Lots of anger. Lots of guns. Lots of helicopters and cameras. And gangster rap.

Ah, Los Angeles. Design as Politics loves it, admittedly because Reyner Banham does too. His book about the city is amazing, but this is even better: watching Banham himself cruise through town for about an hour is indeed an hour well spent. But that’s enough reality for now: more than anything Los Angeles is a place of myth and media and fiction. The city of course stars in about half a million movies – this one is great because it has Al Pacino, Robert de Niro and lots of violence. Else, try Blade Runner. Interestingly, Hollywood has also produced quite a few movies in which Los Angeles gets destroyed completely.

Then, the riots. This is what started it. Then this happened – for about a week. Naturally, there is an incredible amount of footage from the riots: do pay attention to the awesomeness of 90′s fashion and hair styles. Only in LA do looters care about their appearance. Also, this oddity of a documentary is an interesting watch if you can sit through the horrific starting credits.

Lastly, there is music. Lots of it. And a white, British reporter talking about LA’s gang culture in 2008.

Note for those who want to attend the lecture: tomorrow’s and next week’s lecture will be held at 10:45, in lecture hall C!

We at Design as Politics love New Towns – urbanism rarely gets more visibly political than when governments start planning entirely new cities. Also, operating in the DMZ between policy and design ourselves, we like interdisciplinarity very much.

If you combine these two, you get a new INTI lecture series which will be held in the spring 2012 semester at both the University of Amsterdam and the TU Delft. I you’re a student of either university – or another one for that matter – and you got some (read: 10) ECTS to tackle next semester, do enroll asap: the program looks awesome, and even includes a trip to everybody’s favourite new town Milton Keynes. For a full lecture program, dates, etcetera, click here. Sounds amazing simply because it is amazing.

If you’d like to join, do two things: enroll via your own university (TU Delft course code: AR0265), and send an e-mail to Thanks.



Yes! Another lecture! And more tips on how to waste time on the youtubes! This week: the 1985 Broadwater Farm riot in London. Extra interesting because of the recent London riots – about which much, much more very soon. For now, lots of grainy VHS-format fun below.

The first half of the 80′s were somewhat of a riotous period in the UK: the Broadwater Farm incidents were part of a larger series of uprisings. See for instance John Akomfrah’s Handsworth Songs (part 1,2,3,4), documenting racial tensions leading up to a series of riots in Handsworth, Birmingham (Wouter Vanstiphout’s favourite reggae band published an album about Handsworth, by the way). Also, Tom Cordell made a beautiful documentary on London and its planning history, but it is rather hard to find – here’s the trailer. For even more on London’s cityscape, we kindly refer you to Johnny Rotten.

But in Broadwater Farm, a police officer was murdered by the mob – something that hadn’t happened in more than a century. Everybody’s favourite documentary manufacturer – the BBC – reconstructed the how, where and who (or, in this case, who not) twice: click here and here (watchable in the UK only, unfortunately). Also, Broadwater Farm itself also has a devoted reggae track from the 80′s – and a number of, ehm, more contemporary beat poets, too. For more on the estate itself, see the BF Community Centre website.

For a comparison between 1985 and 2011, see this article in the Telegraph.

Picture by Cromacom

Has the hunger for freedom and democracy of the late seventies and eighties in Barcelona abdicated in favor of the omnipresent unquestionable western neoliberal city model? Or are the catalan urban planners still feisty? Rebels or private lobbyists?
What is the Barcelona Model? Was it over after the ’92 Olympics that “put the city on the map” or is it still operative today? Was it an instant-success short term formula or does it have more layering, deeper fingers on the the shaping of the city? For better or for worse?
Josep Maria Montaner (alert: in order to understand Spanish wikipedia articles you de need to understand the language at least a little bit) has some answers. Or at least, an opinion backed by his work, together with Zaida Muxí, on Architecture and Politics. Sounds familiar around here.
Montaner also holds several prizes and has published many books, along with his periodical critical articles in La Vanguardia and El País, for which he got the National Urbanism Prize for journalism in 2005.
For those interested and in the vicinity please do attend the lecture this afternoon (Friday 25th that is), at the TU Delft Architecture FacultyThe Barcelona Model: From the Beginning of Democracy to Now.
For more information on Montaner and Muxí:  Laboratorio Vivienda 21.

„Architecten willen heel graag de samenleving vormgeven. Dat had ik ook.”

Fascinerend: Fleur Agema (hier 24 uur opgesloten in een ruimte met Wilfried de Jong), kamerlid voor de PVV en secondant van Geert Wilders, genoot een architectonische opleiding. Op de Academie van Bouwkunst te Amsterdam. Ze werkte een tijdje bij een ontwerpbureau (waar lijkt onduidelijk, en wij doen uiteraard niet aan speculatie), maar een zenuwaandoening dwong haar een carrièrestap te maken: de ontwerpster werd politica.

Mevrouw Agema studeerde af met een ontwerp voor een gevangenis (pas op:, dus wellicht niet geheel ongekleurd). Een gevangenis met een zeer precies georkestreerd leer- en heropvoedingsprogramma. Kunstenaar Jonas Staal herinterpreteerde haar project en schreef en illustreerde (lees: modelleerde) er een boek over vol – hier te bestellen als fysiek object en hier gratis te downloaden in PDF-vorm. Lekker donkere renders.

Design as Politics wacht met smart op de eerste door een CDA-kamerlid ontworpen aanleunwoning. En de Partij van de Dieren kan niet snel genoeg met een voorstel voor een uitbreiding van Artis komen wat ons betreft – omdat de kruisbestuiving ontwerp-politiek ook andersom ongetwijfeld stof tot bloggen geeft.