The Production of Space

“[Agree To All] offers an immersive but unsettling glimpse of how the future urban experience might look like for some, with smooth, frictionless landscapes, smart technologies in control and elite access to differentiated services. […] Whether a city will look like this or not, it will invariably be a part of a very unequal ‘winner-takes-all’ societies, which ‘thrive on debt and cheap money and the quick and massive burning of fossil fuels’. It’s in this kind of society that half of our cities will still have to be built […] We wonder however – what if these ‘alternative urban configurations’ don’t materialize? What if the dystopian imagination in the opening installation becomes reality? Let’s imagine what that city would look like.”

“Hajer writes that ‘real estate has given rise to an ever more speculative economy, especially during the last couple of decades. Instead of social need, it focused on the opportunity to make money on offices, shopping malls and housing for the upper class’. It did indeed, and cities of the future will see an even more powerful real estate sector and the increasing influence of the corporate sector on the production of space in general. This also means that decisions made democratically will gradually be replaced by decisions taken in corporate board rooms. Likewise urban interventions with a social or cultural dimension will increasingly be replaced by projects that produce the highest possible financial return.

“Money made in the real estate sector, but also elsewhere in the city, will quickly leave and end up in the hands of a few, and most likely in some tax havens as well. The urban economy will rapidly become an ‘extractive economy’, as Hajer calls them. Cities will increasingly open themselves up for extraction, competing for global flows of money through city-marketing campaigns aimed at foreign investors and visitors. This will result in a race to the bottom, and erode social and cultural capital at the local level. A crucial development allowing this extractive economy to expand is the continuing flexibilisation of the housing market. State-owned or rent-controlled housing is being rapidly sold off, providing investors with a host of new opportunities. The simultaneous elimination of housing rights allows for a quicker succession of rent hikes and will further consolidate the position of large real estate owners.”

Text: What the city of the future looks like if we don’t change course, Failed Architecture.

Pic: Eliel Saarinen’s Munkkiniemi–Haaga town plan. Aerial view from the north.

Speculative Geography

code46

“[Code 46] Production Designer Mark Tildesley pieced together a “creative geography” for the film. A scene might be made up of a few different locations, different pieces of buildings existing in reality thousands of miles from each other. Tildesley thought; “The most interesting thing to do would be to try to fool the audience by taking the most interesting bits from each location. So you’d have the impression that you were walking out of a door in one city, but you’d actually end up walking out of it into completely different place, somewhere else entirely.” They chose Shanghai and Dubai as locations because they have: “This extraordinary, contradictory architecture. In Shanghai there is Third World poverty in the shadow of some of the most modern skyscrapers in the world. In Dubai there is the skyscraper area of the city and then just behind it is the desert. It was those curious juxtapositions which were interesting and attractive.”

“The space created by Code 46 is a compelling, almost meditative, melancholic vision, muted and disquieting. The dream of globalization has soured into an overly surveilled and controlling world […] , where even sexual partners need to be DNA-vetted […] The film’s East-meets-West outlook evokes the futurist visions of J.G. Ballard, where the vermilion sands of Third World deserts are interrupted only by rundown settlements and sleek shimmering citystate protectorates. Shanghai is a perfect location, as, more than any other city, it is currently undergoing a rapid transformation into “the city of the future.” The already sci-fi-inflected design of the Oriental Pearl TV tower in Pudong clashes up against the art deco mansions of Shanghai’s faded colonial past. Yet it makes perfect sense that Pudong’s new skyscraper district should coexist with the older part of town, Puxi, across the Huangpu river.”

Code 46‘s dystopic sci-fi reality is a world on the brink of destruction, fractured into citystates, internationalist but isolated. A world of transience, of airport check-ins, and motorway check points. Where people are as disconnected as the locations themselves. The glowing – circular atrium of Shanghai’s Grand Hyatt, located in the feng shui’d Jiang Mao tower, or the City’s elevated highways, spiral people into themselves, into a reverie.”

Matt Hanson. Code 46 in Building Sci-Fi Moviescapes: The Science Behind The Fiction. Mies: Rotovision SA. 2004. pp 100-02.


Code 46 on IMDB


Code 46, Wikipedia

Zardoz Commands You

zardoz-_1974_

“In the year AD 2293, a post-apocalypse Earth is inhabited mostly by the “Brutals”, who are ruled by the “Exterminators”, “the Chosen” warrior class. The Exterminators worship the god Zardoz, a huge, flying, hollow stone head. Zardoz teaches:

The gun is good. The penis is evil. The penis shoots seeds, and makes new life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was, but the gun shoots death, and purifies the Earth of the filth of brutals. Go forth . . . and kill!

“The Zardoz god head supplies the Exterminators with weapons, while the Exterminators supply it with grain. Meanwhile, Zed [as in the last letter of the English alphabet] (played by Connery), an Exterminator, enters Zardoz, hidden in a load of grain, and shoots (and apparently kills) its pilot, Arthur Frayn (Niall Buggy) (identified as an Eternal in the story’s prologue), and travels to the Vortex. The Vortices are hidden communities of civilization where the immortal “Eternals” lead a luxurious but aimless existence.

“Arriving in the Vortex, Zed meets two women Eternals — Consuella (Charlotte Rampling) and May (Sara Kestelman) — with psychic powers; mentally overcoming him, they make him prisoner of their community. Consuella wants Zed destroyed immediately; others, led by May and a subversive Eternal named Friend (John Alderton), insist on keeping him for study…”

Zardoz synopsis Wikipedia
Zardoz title image Mr Bali Hai’s Psychotronic Titles