Dark Side Club - a salon for conversation

Individual Evenings' Themes

­Gary Bates, Gro Bonesmo, Adam Kurdahl

(Space Group, Norway)

25th August 2012

"The Next Golden Age" - the effect of energy revenue on South American countries in respect of their masterplanning of new communities.


Urban planning experienced an intellectual rebirth in the 90’s largely through the work of OMA, busy translating Delirious New York into large scale urban investigations around the world. Architects, inspired by this discourse, started to expand their intellectual repertoire, and schools followed suit. The explosion of digital tools in architecture culminated in CAD planning, parametric modeling, and foam city. Nevertheless, while there were arguably some compelling plans, ideas that questioned certain logics of cities, their redundancies, social structures, and their relationship to their own history – from Allens Souk to Koolhaas’ La Defense - there remain little to no examples of executed plans, where theory elevates itself off the paper and into practice. So we are in a holding position, waiting for the results of Kowloon, Masdar, and Song Do New Town.
Major economic downturns, of the magnitude of the current GEC, historically have 3 specific stages.

The roaring 20’s in the USA, following WWI, were marked by rapid economic growth and technological development. The assembly line for the Ford Model T put 15 million cars on the road (and catapulted the supporting infrastructure that needed to be built). The Spirit of St. Louis crossed the Atlantic. And for the first time more Americans were living in cities than in the countryside. In 1929 the stock market crashed, marking the beginning of the Great Depression.

Following this downturn, one where unemployment in the USA reached unprecedented levels (25%), a new GOLDEN AGE emerged.

THE NEXT GOLDEN AGE - Energy and the future of Urbanism in South America

The European development model is a product of strong (social) democracy with strong public sectors and a SLOW pace of development. The South American (SA) model is now FAST, due to the possibilities and realities of a new Golden age of Energy. The cities have experienced exponential growth beyond any European city at a moment where construction technology and capital is much BIGGER and faster than ever before.

Architecture used to be investment. Now Urbanism has become an investment. Gehl is looking back. The Dutch are trying to create chaos and autonomy to find a new way forward. The Chinese are creating mass cities at a breathtaking speed but in dictatorship. SA has FAST growing economies and cities, in already enormous cities, and they don’t have the public structure or history to handle it in the “European” model.

What we can observe happening in places in SA over the last years is highly pragmatic, small-scale urban interventions dispersed throughout The City, with no coherent global plan for the cities and with a speed of execution that almost impedes the possibility of planning.

In the Darkside we will discuss the unity of SA with ENERGY as the motor driving development in this New Golden Age, and, in doing so, uncover the emergence of a new URBANISM for SOUTH AMERICA.

Kjetil Thorsen (Snøhetta), Jorunn Sannes and Bjarne Melgaard

26th August

Art and Architectures Blurred Boundaries - the many layered and muddled overlap of Art and Architecture in their creation, creators and clients

Bjarne Melgaard vs snøhetta vs Melgaard

In the current climate of pluralistic approaches to multidisciplinary collaborations, the world of art and architecture is attempting to redefine itself within these discussions. In lack of definitions, or at least in lack of descriptive words, the reality of project dominated works, seem to be piling up, whilst more theoretical reflections on the same subject are less dominant in the public domain.
It is the intention of this evening conversation to dwell on the particular relationship of art and architecture, including historical reflections of and contemporary politics in a global setting. (documenta 13).
It will not be attempted to have a final outcome or resolution, but rather be attempted to initiate further reflections around the practice of layered authorships.
Will this encourage more (press) focus on the pieces themselves, rather than on their authors?
Will the genius artist or architect become obsolete?
Will this result in less autonomous art or architecture?
History has a woven, rich and tense interface (between Architecture and Art).

The Club will (bravely) explore this blurred boundary, set out some parameters, agree some definitions and disagree others. It will (attempt) to rise to this challenge and add to this debate, record some more thinking and draw some more conclusions for future generations' inhabitors of our spaces and viewers of our output to consider.

Francois Roche, Hernan Diaz Alonso and Matias del Campo

27th August

Menu in Three Parts

What better place than Venice to start a conversation on the sublime, the grotesque, and the toxic effect of romantic notions in contemporary architecture. The intertwining of technology, desires, obsessions and atmosphere form the stage-set for a conversation gravitating around the noble, the splendid, terror and awe.

The Menu:

(in)Toxic Sublimini
A recipe for the feedback of repulsive magnetism, screaming “poiesis” in the syrupy distressnessless misunderstanding. Three ingredients of the sublime: the noble, the splendid and the terrifying form a course oscillating between toxic substance and boundless form. You have to be sublime at least once a day; toxic could be the cure for it, if produced twice a day.

Grotesque Romanticizing
A gravy for schmaltzy affect, effect, infects, faces, fooding facing realities and Trolls, in the childish meal of cruelty.
The grotesque as a romantic notion, framed by desires for beautiful, tasteful monsters, exquisite corpses and synthetic nature. Grotesque romanticizing cannot be cooked it can only be tested, so we can only hope for them, and them forget about the hope and we left with them.

Nostal(geek) Atmosphera
A birthday cake for the temptation of sugar-ice-comput-DIY vomiting a back tomorrow lost tasty paradise. Who said yes-Tea-day? Chromatic pastry radiating in atmospheric hues, triggering the Geeks desire to explore (the past? The present? The future?). Therefore the
alternative to paranoid delusion, paranoid atmospheres, so we are trading on an emergency of the now, maybe atmosphere becomes Lust, not a bad trade.

That means that a conversation can shift, in its own small way, where we are going as a discipline, because we are arguing that this is the direction where things are heading. Again, this is part of making a very specific contribution to a very specific conversation. Conversations are inherently collective even if sometimes in architecture one or two people dominate them for a little while (or think that they do when actually most everybody ends up ignoring them). We need to understand where our part of the conversation came from, where it is now, where other people think it’s going, and then figure out how, in our own unique way, to move the line of what is possible and what is impossible.