On the 16 of September we took our students to the city of Almere for a workshop with urban planner and artist Ton Matton, who positions his own work somewhere between object-design, society-shape, ecological urban planning and artist-actionismus.
Matton received us at the building site of his Type EW58/08 house – a replica of a very simple GDR working class dwelling – which is currently being constructed in one of Almere’s new neighbourhoods. In an improvised outdoor lecture room, with chairs made from cargo pallets and a white minivan functioning as a projection screen, he gave an inspiring lecture explaining his utopian philosophy of ‘autarkic architectural moments’ as the common ground which links all his projects.
While presenting a selection of his previous work and showing the genesis of the Type EW58/08 house, Matton explained how at some point in his life he realised that it’s almost impossible to fundamentally change in the modern world. And how, in order to not get caught up in apocalyptic thinking, he therefore introduced the notion of ‘trendy pragmatism’ as one way to carry out interventions that might not help on a large scale, but should at least feel like you’re doing the right thing.
After a lively discussion in which he confronted the students with their responsibility as an architect, but above all as well-informed consumers, he send them off into the city of Almere to capture Utopian moments in the Suburb. While being skeptical at first, the students discovered some personal micro-utopias – ranging from the green suburban identity to peoples own private castles.