Eye-Candy

10559688_1064426183584175_44437481411702920_nWith modern Dutch urban planning’s almost religious dedication to function, every site, every millimeter, is given a specific, dedicated meaning. Planners, terrified of spatial non definition and other forms of perceived anarchy, organize the city with rigid efficiency. Easy-to-define, one-dimensional spaces and “experiences” are arrayed on the shelves of the urban super-supermarket waiting to be “bought,” consumed and shat out again by the modern city dweller. The result is a perpetual and numbing sameness. Xerox cities, urban cloning, planning laws, and regulations have jammed the city dweller’s global positioning system. His sense of address/identity has been eroded and with it the awareness of, and ability to decode, his environment. Within this contemporary landscape -a world of commerce,  functionality, efficiency, and eye-candy- the rules for urban this-and-thatness have already been written in stone and are not about to be erased to satisfy the whims of designer A, B, or C. The point, then, is for landscape planners and urban designers to lose their fear of the cloned metropolis and offset the weight of repetitive similarities embracing oddity and strangeness as part of the design toolkit. The introduction of off-beat and introverted spaces, unique objects, and indefinable elements, in addition to the freedom to play with indigenous natural elements and forgotten local flavors, offers the city dweller a refresher course in the identification and definition of specific places. The tree in the middle of a concrete desert; a rock balancing precariously above a stainless steel bridge; the simplicity of a water pool as  to a million marble slabs- perhaps the result of daring site manipulation become “addresses” of interest which the individual incorporates into his perpetual dream about a place of his own (different from the futile and nostalgic effort to recreate a place where he has been) a platform for exhibitionism, a world (or even just a zone) brimming with apocalyptic sensations, somewhere to relish the beauty of silence.

Adriaan Geuze, Colonizing the Void (2005)

Eye-Candy

Countless

Architects and industrial designers often see their designs as a final product of genius, whose aesthtic entriety originated in their minds. A design like that is thrown off by the slightest damage. Landscape architects have learnt to put that into perspective, because they know that their designs are continually adapted and transformed. We have learned to see landscape not as a “fait accompli”, but as the result of countless forces and initiatives.

Adriaan Geuze, Interview with Olof Koekebakker (1994)

arton21  Michel Corajoud, Parc du Sausset (1981)

Countless

Ambiguity

Adriaan Geuze’s rearrangement of the central Schouburgplein (theatre Square) in Rotterdam created the basis for a new stage-set for various groups of young people who have claimed spots on and around the edges of the square, where they exhibit themselves with their particular lifestyles: breakdancers on the square, tha parade of Antillian youngsters driving round the edge of the square in front of De Dolen concert hall and congress centre in their cars on Friday and Saturday evening, groups of young women who cluster toghether on the long benches opposite the multiplex cinema. This is how, dynamic cultural geography evolves, one in which meanings are not fixed but in an ongoing state of flux development.

This shift towards a cultural geographic approach involves a departure from the notion of absolutism in ascertaining the value of meaning of spaces. The essence of a cultural geography is precisely that analysis of the ambiguity or, in more political terms, the struggle between various meanings. Designing public domain can then become a question of stimulation of informal manifestations of diversity and the avoidance of interventions that are intended to make such manifestations impossible.

Maarten Hajer & Arnold Reijndorp, In Search of a New Public Domain (2001)

477-Marc-Heeman

Adriaan Geuze + West 8, Schouburgplein (1996) (photo Marc Heeman)

Ambiguity