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Advanced Studio 2019

Tae-young Kim

Extreme Architecture – Archaeology for the Future in the era of Urgency


RFP for a City for ‘the Useless’ / 22 February 2019

Dear Architects,

 An unfortunate circumstance is being prevailed upon us, overshadowing the destiny of a city as we have known it. It is not the sudden emergence of refugees out of climate disasters or political upheavals. It is the historic joint venture of Bio-engineering and Information technology that has made most of ‘us’ redundant and put them into the new human species of ‘the Useless’ or ‘the Irrelevant’. The Useless, once the victorious makers of the city, now face exile from the very city that they built as the city no longer needs most of the humans at all apart from the handful in control. Now we are sending you, Architects, an urgent request for proposals to create a new city – a project of transplanting the useless humans into a new city – a project of transplanting the useless humans into a new city. In the era in which most human beings have been made irrelevant, a city accommodates them may have a greater chance of being human than the city left behind. Therefore, do not consider this as a mere opportunity to relocate the Useless but as a great opportunity to re-think humanity.


 Before it is too late, the core values that made our city serve humanity need to be noted and collected. They may be found in artifacts, architecture, and cultural and social landscapes, which we hope will reawaken collective awareness, creative minds, evocative memory, and intuitive and rational decisions… that made the old cities. The collected values need to interpreted to a new system which should be processed quickly for mass production and fabrication. Explore the innovative materials and fabrication methods that are yet to be commercialized, but do not forget that humans – the Useless in particular – should be part of the process that construct and live in the city.


 Can you re-claim the power of human architects in this process, most of whom are to be replaced by A.I. also in the next stage of redundancy? Can you claim that human aspects are critical in the design process of a city for humans, empowering the Useless? What are the human aspects then, needed in the design process? Is it a fast and slow, back-and-forth movement of hands drawing that clarifies what is not yet in a paper; or visionary eyes that can see what a machine cannot see? Murmurings, daydreams, errors, deviations, accidents, laughter, tears, joy… Are they the last resources that you would use as human architects to propose the last city for humans? Pleasure, imagination, emotions, intellectual sensuality… are they valid contributors to the creation of new communities?


 As human repeat trials and errors, your ambitions may not be successful this time. But you will try hard, putting forward your hypothesis and its most likely possibilities in constant questioning and believing. Is your proposal local with intimate reality for the residents? Is it a universal solution with generic prototypes that can be applied to anywhere? Or, it may refer to the impossibility of a savior, ending up with a critical contemplation of our city as it is the only thing that you can do after all. It is all up to you, human architects.

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