(n)certainties – Columbia – Fall08


Columbia– Fall 2008

Studio Francois ROCHE | R&Sie(n) / New-territories.com

with the influence  of  :

Stephan Henrich | Machines Biennale 2008 (robots)

Benoit Durandin | I've heard about

with the invitation of  :

Marc Fornes as assistant-partner| Theverymany (scripts)


The contemporary city’s developmental tools manifest the tyranny of tightly scripted determinist procedures, planning mechanisms based on predictability. The city’s growth, densification and entropy are driven by pre-set and invariable geometrical projections. Urban morphological transformations are supposed to follow closed scenarios that cannot deviate from the pre-programmed representations on which they are based. Thus the cartography of the city’s becoming is fettered by a mode of production that takes the future as already written. Everything yet to come is spelled out in advance and tightly locked up by that forecast.

The contemporary city is formatted under Windows, unable to access the programming source codes (Linux).

There no reason to believe that the “everything under control” operating modes that condition the production of urban structures are capable of reflecting the complexities (the intertwining of issues and relational modes) of a mass media society where the multitude of citizens is gradually taking over from the republic’s centralized authorities.

The city’s making suffers from a democracy deficit and the abuse of tools that date back to a time when the reason of the few presided over the destiny of the many. The city’s very constitution is impermeable to the social shifts brought about by the dilution and fragmentation of the informational and productive mechanisms. The free-market space was constructed in terms of social control, and the contemporary city retains and reveals the stigmata of that construction.

Can we envision something totally different, urban structures driven by human contingencies? Can we work out adaptive scenarios that accept unpredictability and uncertainty as operating modes? Can we write the city based on growth scripts and open algorithms porous to a number of real-time inputs (human, relational, conflictual and other data) rather than trying to design an urban future formatted by rigid planning procedures?
Social contract/territorial contract
- “uncertainty (biotopes)” could be a self generating bio-structure made quite literally of contingent secretions. Its architecture is based on the principles of random growth and permanent incompletion. It develops by successive scenarios, without planning and without the authority of a pre-established plan. Its physical composition renders the community’s political structure visible.
- The proliferating network is constituted of both imported raw materials and local materials that have been recycled, synthesized and polymerised, resources arising from the animal and vegetable species that inhabit it. Operating anthroposophically, it generates modes of exchanges, flows and blood vessels.
- (n)certainties (biotopes) 2.0 recognizes and builds on the idea of an ever-emerging, shifting and above all fragile sociality. Growth is based on negotiations between neighbours and other residents, and at the same time subjected to collective constraints (accessibility and structural contradictions).
- (n)certainties (biotopes) 2.0 does not eradicate the pre-existing city but rather forms a sedimentary deposit over it, like Constant’s New Babylon. It can be described as a plug-in inserted into the urban fabric, or perhaps a three-dimensional tablecloth over attaching itself it.