Cities, Milan Design Week 2018
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Trouble Making at Base Zona Tortona. Questioning smart cities

The Fuorisalone at BASE in Zona Tortona will be a critical investigation of Smart Cities and City Making. Among the initiatives, Trouble Making by Raumplan: on how mass phenomena and the web are redesigning cities. Bottom up.

Trouble Making – Who is Making The City ? by Raumplan provides food for thought. It’s an invite to make time to analysis in a moment of hectic changes. Because although urbanism (as Peter Zumthor states in this interview) there is no doubt that cities are changing nonetheless.

We are the new urbanism

According to Raumplan, what drives these changes are the collective forces. They have always esitisted but now they are amplified – for better or for worse – by the internet and social media. As it happened for the Night of Lanterns in Milan a few years ago, sayd Pietro Bonomi, one of the founders of Raumplan. «90 thousand people took part in the event organized by the Italian Buddhist Union thanks to a post that became viral on Facebook (whereas previous happenings had only had a hundred people)».

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What we will see in Trouble Making – Who is Making The City ?

Since 2013, the Raumplan collective has questioned the status quo. Not criticizing but proposing food for thought. Because, as their name explains (it is inspired by the way in which Adolf Loos tackled spatial complexity), investigating is a primordial and necessary condition before designing.

In Trouble Making – Who Is Making The City? we will see how Airbnb is changing our homes and furniture, how mass tourism transforms the city into a marketing product. We will enter the daily life of a food delivery guy, we will observe how urban spaces are distorted or interpreted by digital communication flows.

Pietro Bonomi (Raumplan co-founder), why are collective phenomena so important?

«Because they are the contemporary substitute for urbanism. That has failed – by will or lack of possibility. And so political and technical direction has been replaced by a proliferation of individual initiatives that in recent years have multiplied and were amplified thanks to technology. The exhibition speaks of this phenomenon, which has complex implications»

What is Trouble Making – Who Is Making The City about?

«With Trouble Making – Who Is Making The City ? we wanted to focus the attention onto phenomena that, at various degrees, are building cities. Despite being non-spacial and global occurrences. Like platform capitalism (more on this here) and home sharing, disintermediation of economies and informations, IoT. We are interested in the concrete effects of the conflict between the flows (of capital, of information, of people) that cross cities and  places. With the latter, we mean not physical spaces but realities that cannot exist outside their own territory: historical, social, architectural, legislative but also individual structures that resist (or do not resist) the swirling passage of the flows».

L’indagine sugli interni di AirBnB

What is the message of Trouble Making – Who Is Making The City ?

«The exhibition does not express judgments but has the ambition to gather people around the problem: to make them think and discuss. And maybe even create a visual imagery related to these issues. Because Trouble Making evaluates the possibility that some seemingly unrelated phenomena converge in each other in designing a new model of city, economy and work. Whose consequences we struggle to imagine».

Donato Ricci, you have worked on Airbnb with Calibro and òbelo. What will you show?

«We wanted to provide visual testimony of the impact of Airbnb on cities, on the homogenization of taste and style of living. Our survey highlighted recurring tastes, aesthetics and repeated objects, spaces without any trace of those who actually live there. Which is odd, considering we are talking about a sharing service. In these elements we find one of the contradictory logics of the platform, which is common to many other digital services (from Pinterest to Instagram, from Tinder to Behance)».

Which is?

«It is a logic that denies strategies related to economies of scale but replaces them with the imperative to produce the uniqueness of a personal style. That should be always surprising (but also reassuring). Thus the platform has been transformed into the largest interior design photo archive in the world where one imitates one another. As a consequence, local domesticity disappears. The platforms simplify our lives but also drive our way of living and co-existing with others. Attention should therefore shift to design and designers. Perhaps it is up to them to try to produce spaces for critical and productive discussion on this type of work».

Tour de Force, di Louis De Belle e Giacomo Traldi

Louis De Belle, your movie deals with mass tourism in cities. How?

«Tour de Force – made with Giacomo Traldi – documents some of the emblematic moments linked to mass-city tourism. Tourist buses, now part of the urban landscape, allow tourists ‘hit and run’ to see a city in a few hours. The film’s title summarizes its paradoxical aspect: on the one hand, it highlights the exceptional feat of visiting a large city like Milan in an hour, but on the other it echoes the feeling of a forced tour, in which the passenger remains a passive actor. . The film gives the viewer the opportunity to draw conclusions, through a story in pictures that – devoid of sound moment – offers an unusual point of view on a theme often addressed but, at times, controversial».

The exhibition ends with a sculpture by åyr that is an Achille Castiglioni quote. Why?

«In the 100th anniversary of Achille Castiglioni’s birth (smore on this and on the 100×100 Achille exhibition here), åyr turned an icon made by the designer into a provocation. It is located at the end of the show because it represents an epitaph for the social and economic model in which Italian Design flourished in the past. Yet the piece of art also has an intrinsic force: never like in this case it will be necessary to see in order to believe».

Trouble Making – Who Is Making The City – curated by Raumplan. BASE, via Bergognone 34 (MM Porta Genova). Fuorisalone 2018 event

Cover photo: Insiders by Delfino Sisto Legnani

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