Darryl Chen, 07 11 09

A full house at TINAG’s Festival of Urbanism witnessed a healthy debate over whether dystopia offers us a productive way of looking at the future. Chaired by Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today’s Darryl Chen, a strong cast of emerging and seasoned urbanists responded to the topic with an incredibly broad range of projects. Click the vid for an introduction to the theme. Full documentation will be included in a forthcoming Critical Cities volume. But for now, here are some (out of context) highlights from the discussion:

Amin Taha: The visions we had of our project were initially horrific visions. Someone described it as Bond villain chic… some mad person’s utopia.

Finn Williams: Both utopias and dystopias rely on a cynicism about the present.

Austin Williams: There is nothing cynical about me. I am critical. I am skeptical, but not cynical.

Tomas Klassnik: I challenge the idea that Ikea was a second rate version of the Bauhaus, whereas maybe it was the perfect realization of what they set out to achieve.

Darryl Chen: Our project was an exercise in design and an exercise in the opposite of design, because we imagined how our designs might have a life beyond the designer’s remit – how they might be subverted by other forces that we’d be happy to accept beyond questions of good and bad.

Austin Williams: Design may alter the face of the earth, but ultimately design doesn’t change the world.

Liam Young: Pure fantasy is indulgent. The speculative project is only worthwhile if it’s based on some kind of rigour, analysis, or some kind of critical problem to start with.

Alex Warnock-Smith: None of the projects we’ve shown tonight was successful. They’ve all failed since we weren’t able to implement them.

Liam Young: Perhaps they have a life apart from their implementation, that they can find traction and generate a set of ideas around them that’s divorced from whether or not they are built.

Elena Pascolo: Design is not an end product. The power of design is as a tool for thinking.

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