Cities are increasingly becoming smooth, scripted and completed urban landscapes, apparently freed from any kind of imperfection, abnormality or friction. The rise of the ‘smooth city’ is a major shift in the development of the city, and is closely related to similar processes of ‘smoothening’ in other domains, such as fashion or consumer technologies. The demand for safe, clean and well-functioning urban environments is understandable, but what does the consolidation of the ‘smooth city’ mean for the conflictive, non-normative and subversive side of the 21st century polis? Does the ‘smooth city’ threaten the vitality of public domain, and even the democratic character of our cities?
In this 5-day workshop, Failed Architecture’s René Boer and Mark Minkjan will guide the participants in a critical engagement with contemporary urban smoothness. After collectively developing a nuanced understanding of the smooth dimensions of central Rotterdam during the first 2 days, participants will start working in small groups on strategies and design interventions which will focus on developing a critical response to the ‘smoothness’ of a certain place, and the potential qualities of ‘unsmooth’ spaces. Which tools can be mobilized to disrupt the city’s smooth facade? Can policies allow for unsmoothening public space? Is it possible to ‘design against the smooth city’?
Register now via the Independent School for the City.