Tien Chen / USA
This competition entry imagines a dystopic future in which environmental challenges have pushed society to inhabit the ruins of an energy pipeline near present-day Barrow, Alaska. The city, an organization of built structures hung off the precipice of a mega-structure, houses a community of voluntary prisoners-- residents who rarely leave their private spaces, but maintain active social networks online. Loneliness, greater than a social ill, constitutes the core of Barrow’s experience despite its community’s apparent contentedness. In Barrow, the architecture, while sustaining society, also physically limits its individuals to solitary lives. Given Barrow’s extreme verticality and fast speed Internet, the notion of public is rendered obsolete in this city.
Described through physical models, animations, and narrative, the world portrayed in Moving to Barrow, Alaska addresses the issue of modern-day loneliness through utopian thinking with a sense of humor. Like Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967), it satirizes the benefits of technological innovation to present day urban environments. This fictional world asks us cheekily: Why do we feel increasingly isolated despite rising urban density and expanding digital connectivity?
This design idea offers critical storytelling as a solution to rising levels of loneliness in present-day cities. It expresses the paradoxical nature of contemporary alienation through the design of experimental urbanisms; and encourages a digital culture of “bedroom pop architecture” amongst amateur architects, as an avenue for communicating issues surrounding the contemporary urban condition. This entry sees the potential of personal storytelling and art making as methods to confront issues like contemporary loneliness.
Animation link here.
The Paradox of Our Existence
Michelle Antonorsi / USA
As human beings we are alone. Our lives are ours and ours alone. I only see what my eyes see and feel what my fingers touch. I only know what it is to be me and can only wonder what it is to be you. There is a melancholic note to this realization. However, while our experience may be singular, our perception individual, we experience this collectively. Together alone; that is the paradox.
We are alone, yet we have an uncontrollable urge not to be. We have an innate need to connect, to socialize, to befriend, to love, to share our experiences. It is this discomfort and unease with aloneness that feeds the plague of loneliness. How is it that at the peak of our interconnected world loneliness prevails, more than ever? It is because we have forgotten, denied, and even feared the very essence of our existence.
We have confused loneliness with aloneness. But aloneness is a gift. It is endless possibilities, it is latent potentials, it is space for creativity. It allows us to explore the sound of silence and the taste of time. It is in the space between every breath and in the blurred vision of our peripheries. It is an open invitation to know and to love ourselves.
It is the paradox of our existence. Together alone and alone together, for we may feel lonely when we have the most company, and we may not feel lonely when we are absolutely alone. This is because loneliness surges from an unfulfilled need to bond with another. But it is impossible to bond without first accepting aloneness and embracing it for the gift that it is. So to combat loneliness learn to be alone, and learn to love it. Learn to love yourself, before you love another.
So what is it? It is a temple. A space for solitude and contemplation. A space for rituals. A space for reflection and meditation. A space for self-discoveries. A space to reconnect with our true selves (our forgotten inner children) space to get in touch with our senses. A space to shed the constraints and expectations of society. A space to know yourself.
But ultimately it is a bathroom.
James Killeavy / UK
One common condition of a post-industrial, capitalist society is the stratification and isolation of its populace, this is no more apparent than in mega-cities such as New York. New communication technologies provide the capability to diminish this condition, yet, so far, these technologies have remained in the virtual realm. The intersections of information, life, machines and matter display complexities that suggest the possibility of a much deeper synthesis.
Synthesia is a project that aims to eliminate social divisions and develop a new state of human connectivity through blurring the boundaries between local and regional scales, virtual and physical realms and internal and external conditions. Developing a collective nervous system for the city.
This nervous system is manifested in the physical realm through two parts. The peripheral nervous system in the form of interactive glass elements placed on each block in Manhattan and the central nervous system, an interactive pavilion set in Central Park. This pavilion uses moving electrochromatic glass panels that embody the various inputs through color, height, and intensity of natural light. These elements allow the city’s populace to actively and passively communicate with each other on a regional scale.
For example, standing under a block New York block that feels stressed would intentionally make the inhabitant feel stressed, through creating affects that influence the inhabitant’s mood such as low ceiling height, less natural light, and intense red coloring. The pavilion, therefore, plays on the idea of emotional contagion on a city scale, creating a sense of empathy and togetherness and reducing isolation and loneliness.
The pavilion is both reactive and interactive, encouraging users to communicate, play, react in virtual and physical space. Thus, Synthesia has the potential to become much more than an environmental or emotional prosthesis, it unites all aspects of humanity into one collective, unified system.
Pneumatic Archives of Subjectivities and Imaginaries
Kane Hassebrock, Nicholas Raap, Jake Spangler, Megan Zeien / USA
Our project is an agglomeration of pneumatic structures that spatially invades the entire city of San Francisco. The architecture parallels perceptual conditions of fog - confusion, spatial disorientation, and blurred boundaries. It instrumentalizes these conditions to spatially confront everyone, impeding all functions in the city, to enable imagination and connectivity in our current oppressive era.
The logic that governs our contemporary society force a singular vision of the world and attempts to stifle all imagination of any alternative. These same logics produce systemic violence like total environmental degradation, complete financialization, and the false promise of a good life, resulting in corporations like Airbnb, Uber, or Amazon that feed and profit on aspects of normal, everyday life. We find these practices to be unethical and unsustainable. Our architecture seeks to provide a space that will allow and enable new imaginaries to be had, space not controlled by these logics, a space to resist and create new networks of social relations, fighting against loneliness.
Our design explores how space and both social and literal atmospheres can be architecturalized and instrumentalized in exploratory forms. Being surrounded by San Francisco’s fog perfectly produces a defining hyperawareness and disorientation, which our proposal takes as a site and a governing logic.
Our architecture begins to invade the city concurrently with the fog. Pneumatics are produced by the Factory―a structure located in the Pacific―from plastic ocean garbage, transforming the waste into double-walled membranes which are then embedded with technological and environmental control systems before being super-pressurized and launched into the atmosphere. The pneumatics strategically rearranges their pathways to respond to needs present within, relying on the technology to carry out its spatial intentions and revolutionary phenomena.