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“a couple miles to the right a few hours to the left you never know the whys or wheres of things that will explode you’re a star one minute and a pile of spacedust the next…then just a blinking dot of light to a lost sailor who needs you to navigate so a reminder, my comrades hold on tightly to the ones you love tonight, even if they’re only in your dreams.”—amanda palmer
“People don’t go online to become someone else, they go online and the network makes them into many selves, all as true in the moment as any other, and all changing the world with their tiny ephemeral footprints, making a trillion memories none of us will ever remember to remember, all watched over by machines of loving grace.”—Quinn Norton
Do you ever have dreams that are such intense, tangible actualizations of your deepest, most consuming fantasies that when you wake up all you can do is spend hours trying to replay it in your head, all the while ABSOLUTELY REELING from the devastation of having imagined such perfect pleasure only to have it disappear almost entirely upon waking?
A City of Nomads and Building-events
Walking House, designed by N55
In Central Florida, nestled among 40 square miles of land dedicated to the pure expression of consumerist bliss and infantile indulgence lies the Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow. Never fully finished -and intentionally so- the utopian community was set up by Walt Disney as a showcase of the most recent human achievements and as a testing ground for new urban planning methods. To avoid the complications linked with mixing corporately-owned land with residential zoning, EPCOT was to offer rental-only housing. Without land ownership and permanent residency, we cast off current spatial understandings of political geography, as well as a slew of infrastructural regulations that manage necessities like waste and water. However, the framework of nomadism may offer a more flexible and user-centric approach to design — central to adaptive building types that may answer much of today’s sustainability rhetoric.
At our Idea Jam at ThingTank a couple of weeks ago, we brainstormed how we might future-proof Upper Toronto. How do we design a city today that will be relevant 75 years from now, when it’s ready for occupancy? One idea that came to the forefront was the questioning of land ownership and the significance of fixed sites as anchors for the built environment. With another million residents arriving in Lower Toronto within the next 30 years, home ownership in Upper Toronto will have to be rationed through enforced maximums and minimums, or nomadism will need to take the place of residency as an expression of citizenship and personhood. At our consultation at the Fairview Library, participants brought up the idea of having services come to residents, decreasing the amount of consumer-based commuting throughout the city— a system that could feasibly be sustainable given the proper demand. Though idyllic garden-city type developments were thrown around at this stage, the idea Jam participants took up this subject without prompt, proposing pneumatic delivery tubes managed through an online marketplace.
A stone’s throw from this is the idea of building delivery — another proposal from our Idea Jam participants. Imagine a mobile school building that arrives in your neighbourhood for the day, departing at the end to serve a community elsewhere. Echoing Archigram’s Walking City, this idea has been passed around in paper architecture projects since the early 20th century, but if you look closely, you’ll see it slowly taking form in today’s cityscapes.
Last week, Allison Arieff argued for a move away from permanence as a central tenet of architecture, pointing towards pop-up shops and food carts as just two of many forms of ephemeral architecture that have emerged and already become part of our everyday environment. The formulation of architecture as event rather than as space may just be the way to future-proof Upper Toronto. According to Arieff, without the confines of locational commitment, long-term engineering strategies, and building codes, designers may have more means to more quickly employ emerging technologies. Architecture-as-event would also rid of the limitations that develop alongside trends and place-types. Opening up building components to re-use, this attitude would allow users an equal part in authoring an architecture that is in effect an open work. The city would forever be what the citizens make it, moving with them and for them.
our days like a fleeting shadow
When Rach mentioned today how quickly the exams have passed - four out of five papers for us HELMers - four weeks of studying concentrated so intensely into three days - it struck me anew how, enjoyable though it sometimes be, fleeting all this truly is. As is the case, every post-exam. Sometimes making me bite my lip in consternation and consider my perspectives. In that way studying can be a frighteningly obsessive pursuit; it can go on ad infinitum, and no matter what can still leave one feeling unprepared and discontented.
Because it doesn’t satisfy our deepest human longings. In fact, it only goes to show that we were created for more than this. Yes, enjoy your work and be satisfied with your lot. But certainly there is more to life - and ”He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecc 3:11)
On hindsight I’m thankful for only having had 2 weeks’ worth of studying in the holidays that have just past, considering what I’d have otherwise missed out on. I’m thankful even for the ‘distractions’, the intermittent smses, the quality time… things which I’d initially resolved to frown upon insofar as it impeded studying.
I know it’s time to let go of my time, my self, and stop being so obsessed with the need to control the way things go - because I can’t. In vain do I try to take hold of my future and ensure ‘success’ as I selfishly please. For who can even determine his next breath? Who knows what tomorrow will bring forth? And how could I be arrogant and foolish enough to even think for a second that I know better than the One who is above all, He who is perfect in all His plans and ways?
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)