We are living in an age where nation states seem to become weaker and weaker, under the influence of privatisation, localism but also of globalisation and supra-national politics like that of the European Union. Countries seem to be both falling apart in small fragments as well as being dissolved into huge global networks. Architecture and Urbanism have for a long time been dependent on the nation state. We cannot imagine doing without a strong government and huge public investments for developing housing projects and public buildings, or for designing huge and even utopian visions for new cities and regions. Architecture and planning are starting to lose their traditional role and authority to represent the nation.
But is this a bad thing? Can we imagine a world without the state? Can we imagine architecture and planning without public authority? Can we imagine a purely community based design? Now that we see the structures and certainties of the twentieth century crumbling around us, the new ideas are coming from small, autonomous even anarchistic communities and initiatives. Here we find the imagination of new societies: on the ruins of the welfare state.
During this studio we look for the utopian thinking that comes up when old orders collapse. We ask the students to imagine their ideal small community, as a radical alternative to the large systems that we are living in but that cannot function much longer and to develop plausible ways of realizing them. All scales are allowed, all ideologies are allowed, all levels of realism are allowed, as long they are consistent, imaginative and relevant to the problems our cities and regions are facing right now.