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January 05, 2008

Instant City

I had an interesting moment of serendipity recently; I read a post by Stephen which mentioned the 'time warp' effect between the city and the su-urban and rural spaces. At the same time I was hunting down images from avant-garde architecture group Archigram for a desktop image, and eventually chose Peter Cook's Instant City concept.

The instant city is an urban intervention in a rural town. A zeppelin floats into town, hooks into the center and bombards the town with art, events, temporary structures, media infrastructure such as billboards, projectors and screens, and other stimulations, then eventually drifts off after installing a wide range of communications infrastructure that hooks the town into the new urban network. The intention being intensive and deliberate cultural urbanisation.

image of the instant city by Peter Cook, taken from Archigram

Here's the Wikipedia description:

Instant City is a mobile technological event that drifts into underdeveloped, drab towns via air (balloons) with provisional structures (performance spaces) in tow. The effect is a deliberate overstimulation to produce mass culture, with an embrace of advertising aesthetics. The whole endeavor is intended to eventually move on leaving behind advanced technology hook-ups.

image of the instant city by Peter Cook, taken from Archigram

This concept was designed in the 1960's; the architect visited Woodstock a few weeks later and reportedly commented "mine looked better". A more contemporary example would be UK rave culture in the 1990's, where techno-fetishist music culture burst into the countryside. Its not surprising the grey, boring, rurally-elected conservative government of the time actually created a badly-written law to try and ban it.

In the noughties, are social software and popular media sharing networks a new Instant City? Hooking up the rural bedroom composer with the clubs of New York and London; delivering an urban design ethic through the presentation of websites, profile images, and advertising images; finding global personal connections through virtual matching algorithms - a virtual urbanisation that addresses the time warp, but without the multi-storey car park.

Of course I've got a bit of an urban bias - I tried village life and I hated it!

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