ATTENTION to your CITY
“IN ONE HOUR:
9 inhabitants increasing in New York; 12 inhabitants increasing in London; 47 inhabitants increasing in Delhi; 60 inhabitants increasing in Manila…” (…) At the outset of the twentieth certury, 10%of the population lived in cities; in 2000, around 50% of the world population lives in cities…”
These numbers are taken from the first pages of Rem Koolhaas’s book . They show that we live in an era where our world changes most dramatically and intensively every day. Cities are under mutations. Urban change approaches with the speed of a flood wave, no matter if it is on the cities visual surface or beneath. “We are in fact witnessing the fastest and most wide-ranging urbanization process in history”. City dwellers around the globe cannot ignore nor escape this current wave of change.
If a city can be considered as an ever changing organism instead of something static, then urban reconstruct can be seen as a surgery to the human body. There is no doubt that we are always frightened by surgery and want to know more details about the treatment processes as well as the risks. As an individual in the urban community, I couldn’t help to ask the question if we were involved or if we cared about these developments and movements?” - The tragic conflict between the local people in Stuttgart and the German government for the urban infrastructural project “Stuttgart 21” gave a negative answer. There are huge communication barriers scheme blocking the access for people to receive information. Since the beginning of project plan, there was no chance given to inhabitants participation till the real construction started…
However, as a designer of spaces, public and private, I am obligated to suggest a solution.
When I met theElbphilharmonie InformationPavilion in Hamburg on the Magellan Terraces , the opportunity appeared to me. This delicate little black structure stood opposite of the concert hall construction site, serving as a visitor center to offer valuable information about the design as well as the use of the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall to people from all over the world. The pavillion impressively showed me how a public space and public structure can play a significant role in advertising a new urban development. I was amazed by the sculpture “Viewing and listening cones” on the façade. They are the medias for visitors that let them experience and anticipate symphonic music concerts. The attractiveness of the cones go along with Bruce Bartan’s wish about advertising: ”I like to think of advertising as something big, something splendid, something which goes deep down into an institution and gets a hold of the soul of it (…) institutions have souls, just as men and nations have souls.” At that moment, the pavilion space and concept connected with my soul and desires. It described a picture of symphonic performances, drew my attention to the under-construction building and brought up to my desire to participate in those events in the concert hall in the future. - “Think of the brand as the core meaning of the modern corporation, and of the advertisement as one vehicle used to convey that meaning to the world” . Encouraged by Naomi Klein’s lines, I realized that this tiny pavillion is foremost a media for informing visitors and guests. However, it holds a bigger agenda, a bigger goal: the branding of new Hamburg, major development programs.
Nowadays a life without branding is no longer imaginable. The “I”-series products from Macintosh (Apple) merged the user’s identities with their electronic devices, so that everyone was encouraged to join the “I” family in order to be en vogue. If one noticed how much the “iPhone 4” is in pursuit today, then it won’t be difficult to understand branding as a very powerful tool to disseminate information, building up an image and then communicating it to people. City brands will also create realms for people that they then want to be a member of it. The “City Branding Communication Model” invented by Michail Kavaratzis illustrates the forms of communication driving the image of a city. “Landscape this including urban design, architectural features, and outside public spaces in a city and have a strong communicative effect (…) This implies that such activities should (partly) be driven by the people in charge of city branding.” Thus I believe that advertising plays a crucial role for the creation of public spaces and building a city branding image for inhabitants.
So how to create a realm or reality for advertising objects in public space that catch visitors’ and city dwellers’ attention? This question became the driving issue for my research. Lars Spuybroek mentioned that “We would never understand how the room is replaced with a larger sense of spatiality without film and mechanical movement in general (…) Le Corbusier did his designing with the camera (…) He used the camera as a drawing machine instead of a seeing machine” . This is why “Las Vegas was designed by an automobile”. Bernard Tschumi famous quote "There is no architecture without action, no architecture without event, no architecture without program" indicates that human being’s understanding of space is actually from experiencing images and events in sequences and speeds. In another words, space is just like a film. Space designers do similar work as screenwriters, setting up different scenarios and orchestrating them in interesting sequences. If public spaces in cities can be defined into different layers, for example walking-speed, biking-speed and automobile-speed layers (or also culture/industry/nature layers), then I could set up certain scenarios among those layers to create experiences for visitors.
Furthermore, I am going to introduce Mark Wigley’s concept that “Architecture indeed do not create buildings, but discourses about buildings” into public space design research. If buildings can be described by architecture without any solid body, then branded city development program can be advertised in public city spaces by producing several events. Processes of urban transformations take a long period to be realized. The advertisement platform can be a festival as a strategy to program events that attract people and that focus in a long term with the cities development program.
Once I saw a few tips sticking on the fence around a construction site. They were full of people’s hopes and dreams and imaginations about their city’s future. This strengthened my interest for my research proposal. If production can be branded and presented by advertisements, why don’t we advertise the city’s development to make it more understandable for inhabitants? It is about their past memory, it is their daily life at present, it decides their future.
Rem Koolhaas.MUTATIONS (ACTAR, 2000) http://www.hafencity.com/en/infocenter/elbphilharmonie-information-pavilion.htmlNaomi Kein, No logo (Picador; Tenth Anniversary edition, 2009)http://www.eurib.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Documenten/PDF/City_branding_ENGELS/Kavaratzis_-_City_branding-EN.pdfLars Spuybroek , The Architecture of Continuity (NAi Publishers, 2009)http://www.tschumi.com/Mark Wigley, L&B Volume 14