Intermediate 6 Joy Evelyn Wilson, Intermediate 6 (2015-16), Consumption Machine

Cities of Desire

Jeroen van Ameijde, Brendon Carlin

In 1993 William Gibson ignited controversy in the pages of Wired magazine with his gonzo-esque essay titled 'Disneyland with the Death Penalty', a report on the emerging metropolis of Singapore. Describing the city as a homogenous shopping mall full of convention centre-type buildings and droning consumers, Gibson declared that the squeaky clean, high-tech dystopia, conjured so often in mid-twentieth-century science fiction, had become a reality. So relieved was Gibson to flee a city devoid of any grit or pockets of otherness that on his next stop, Hong Kong, he saw the slum of Kowloon Walled City as a 'hive of dreams. Those mismatched, uncalculated windows. How they seemed to absorb all the frantic activity of Kai Tak airport, sucking in energy like a black hole. I was ready for something like that ... I loosened my tie, clearing Singapore airspace.'

Almost 25 years later, Gibson's tale seems even more prescient in view of the tendencies evident in contemporary London. Here, the city is gripped by an eerie, synthetic kind of homogeneity tempered by contented hedonism. Every moment and space of our lives is either consumed by work or spent consuming. Social and political spaces have become indistinguishable from consumption and workspaces. Architecture, like the droning consumer, has become a helpless bystander subservient to the developer, corporation and their Conservative government officials. Shall we cast our future at the feet of these interests, or do we want to claim an active role in inventing the city?

This year Intermediate 6 will consider how architecture - as the choreography of material, space, light, movement and policy - can chart trajectories and deploy tactics for otherness in London. We will ask how the furious work/consume/sleep/repeat ritual of everyday life might be channelled, interrupted or even exposed to open up possibilities for new, shared experiences of future London.

Unit Staff

Jeroen van Ameijde has been teaching at the AA since 2007 and is co-founder and director of Urban Systems, an office specialising in generative design methodologies now developing several large-scale projects in China. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Innsbruck and has lectured, published and taught workshops on digital design and fabrication worldwide. He has studied at the Delft University of Technology and has worked with offices in The Netherlands, Switzerland, New York, London and Hong Kong.

Brendon Carlin has been a unit master at the AA since 2011. He is co-founder of Urban Systems, a candidate with the AA PhD by Design Programme, and director of the AA's Tropicality Visiting School. He holds an MArch from the AADRL and has worked on a wide range of architectures in Holland, the UK, China and the US. Brendon has lectured and published extensively and has taught numerous courses and workshops at the University of Colorado, the Berlage Institute, the AA and Harvard.


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