Updates–Small Steps with Big Effects
The expulsion from paradise is irrevocable. And yet paradise, whether hortus conclusus or land of plenty, remains an enduring component of our conception of the ideal. The apple of knowledge and the philosophy of the Enlightenment have left an indelible cultural mark on our society. But given our knowledge that a return to a supposedly- ideal primitive state is impossible, we would do well to direct our gaze forward instead. The great social and environmental problems stand clearly before our eyes. We recognize that there is no one right path forward and that it is impossible to predict all the future consequences of today’s actions. And thus we must endure a condition of unpredictability, choose amongst a large variety of possibilities and pursue various options at the same time. In our complex, individualised world, this multi-optionality has become a challenge in that we are supposedly capable of determining everything, and yet for all intents and purposes, still seem to be at the mercy of global developments.
Updating Germany presents projects that attempt to tie into existing processes as updates, thereby venturing small and large steps into the future. We know updates from our computer: existing systems are enhanced step-by-step, the given elements improved as required, the malfunctioning parts replaced with new ones. Every updated version brings with it numerous improvements, corrections and innovations – and also new mistakes. Updates are branching trajectories full of detours and impasses. But these small steps can bring about big changes.
Architects and urban planners must – and do – contribute to the process of updating our world. They conserve, insulate and optimise. But doing so far from depletes the possibilities of design and spatial intervention. We’re interested in that which transcends the latest technology: new concepts, mindsets and strategies that – step by step, update by update – will restructure behavioural patterns and notions of living. Pursuant to the motto of the 11th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, “Out There: Architecture Beyond Building,” we use an expanded architectural concept that encompasses the entire lived environment with all its spatial overlaps and interconnections.
Updating Germany seeks to open up more spaces of possibility for a better future. To that end, we set out on a search and gathered 100 projects that we present in the catalogue accompanying the German contribution. The projects we chose are evidence of a growing movement in search of answers, which we must together endorse. Perhaps in a few years, we will laugh at some of the projects and ideas presented here, as today we chuckle at some of the technical visions of the Modern. But we will surely look back on others as path-breakers for a new way of thinking, perhaps even a new era. Our contribution cannot and does not point to an unambiguously “right” path towards the future, but rather poses questions – to architects, city planners, designers and all the exhibition’s visitors.
The Exhibition at the German Pavilion
We live in a state of imbalance – between industrial and so-called developing countries, between technical gimmick and sheer necessity, between the conception of paradise and the acceptance of catastrophic conditions. The exhibition design of the German contribution seizes upon global challenges: the focal point of the exhibition is a mobile that symbolises the perpetual search for equilibrium and the complexity of the systems in which we find ourselves today. Change one parameter, and the whole system is set into motion – a reminder that simultaneously sounds a note of caution and gives cause for hope. Twenty projects are shown in the mobile, ranging from research to design, from science to art; twenty intelligent, surprising and sometimes quite simple ideas. But just like the world, the mobile exists in a state of imbalance. Alone, the updates presented cannot even-out the global tilt. Are the ideas presented too light or too heavy? What additional updates do we need to bring things into balance?