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Book – Fast-Forward Urbanism

Putting a new school of thought out there is a big thing. Especially in the climate of not having an established ideology or direction, establishing a group with a clear manifesto is extremely difficult.

Currently trends are all over the place and every thing is hyped, but a clear structured and concept lead direction is not established. THere are several technological directions and trends running, from mobile to location based and socia networking, but those don’t go under some ideologically guided interest. Also visualisation, data mining, and temporal aspects are topics currently en-vogue, but again no further big picture.

Duck and Cover
Image by RSAUD taken from Architizer / Duck and Cover: Thinking out of the Big Box. This proposal for a “big box community”, titled Duck-and Cover in reference to its interest in advancing the discourse introduced by Venturi’s Duck and Decorated Shed, puts forth an architectural strategy-cum-business plan which harnesses the vagaries of private investment and NIMBYism to act as a Trojan horse of sorts: one that proffers a new politics of urban community and public life. This project forms part of the chapter ‘Regenerating Economies’.

The last bigger movements were big at the beginning of the last century such as the modernists and ever since ideologies are on the decline. One of the topics that comes closest is maybe the ecological or sustainability topic, but even here it is a very individualistic pursuing of ideas.

Fast Forward Urbanism – Rethinking Architect’s Engagement with the City‘ is the latest Princeton Architectural Press publication challenging this current lack of collective ideology and the group based around the cityLAB at UCLA publish their concepts and thoughts in book form as a “testament to the group’s provokative launch into terrain”. It started back in 2006 with a two day workshop and has extended since.

The publication’s overall theme is the transformation of the city through small architectural projects. The authors Dana Cuff and Roger Sherman argue that “the city appears as a stop-action frame: nothing happens for interminable periods, when suddenly we arrive at built results seemingly by fast-forward, with no clear grasp of how we got there. Like a series of discontinuous jump-cuts, the landscape transforms in a sequence of disorienting new frames where the destabilization is never complete”.

The book is structures in four chapters ‘Recycling Ecoogies’, ‘Rerouting Infrastructure’ and ‘Regeneraing Economies’. Each has as a n introduction creating the context three essays. Each chapter then employes several projects to illustrate the points made and discuss the ideas with more practical context. Some of the project shown are built and others are in planning. Some others are thought experiments.

Fast-Forward Book Cover
Image by urbanTick taken from Fast-Forward Urbanism / Cover of the book ‘Fast-Forward – Rethinking Architecture’s Engagement with the City’ by Dana Cuff and Roger Sherman. Published by Princeton Architecture Press.

Cuff, D. & Sherman, R. eds., 2011. Fastforward Urbanism: Rethinking Architectureʼs Engagement with the City, New York, Princeton Architectural Press.