Utopioids / The Generic Sublime IV

Skyscraper collectives, tower agglomerations, mixed-use developments, high-rise housing developments, marinas and luxury condominiums; airport hubs, office enclaves, industrial parks, hotel complexes, conference centers, financial centers; satellite cities, theme parks, thematic cities, branded cities, central districts, gated communities: what is the potential latent in extraordinarily large urban typologies currently restricted by the typological tradition of urbanism and by the predominant segregation of disciplinary domains? What is the reach of such potential to think aggressively about the contemporary metropolitan condition and to imagine future developmental models? Following on our three previous experiences, neonatures (2010), overurbanism (2011), and neokoolhisms (2012), the Generic Sublime IV undertakes the project of radical integration in the ultimate post-urban megalomania: a complex building that organizes the territory via its assimilation in a synthetic field of competition and synergy.

The Generic Sublime upgrades the potentials of the skyscraper by means of exploring the self-surmounting form that the anti-urban takes when assembled in a collective: cities made of ‘cities within the city’. If the skyscraper operates as a ready-made laboratory for new modes of collective life ‘to offer an aggressive alternative reality that discredits all naturalistic urban realities’, the Generic Sublime is the quasi-utopian laboratory that emerges when these realities operate in a multiplicity. This upgrade is based on the assembly of the organizational protocols of large-scale types in a manifold singularity: the monstrous globalized commune. Expressions of a ‘future anterior’, these archaic configurations betray their own conditions of existence -the ruthless logics of maximum commercial benefit, and self-estrange as a result of excess and extensiveness, operating at the highest level of nonlinear emergence in architecture. Radically domesticated, the territory achieves the artificial wilderness of a bold architectural artifact, whose power operates fully beyond ideology, in a condition that can be named as utopioid, that is, ‘of similar form to, but not the same as utopian’. Restricted, austere, stringent, and even simple in their premises, but plentiful, expansive, and magnanimous in their expression, unbound of any dependence, or even any care for reason, utopiods employ any form of ratio, commercially effective, culturally active, artistically creative, ideologically radical, or service driven, as a means for the propagation of its relentless canon: brutal indifference.

In this move, both deeply instrumental to the illusory values of the real and radically emancipating into the realm of the fantastic by means of those same values, the straightjacket of the urbanism of good intentions*, untied by the skyscraper, is taken to a new state of crisis, now reconfigured under a double cynicism and with the blunt force of an affirmative artistic invention. The Studio will explore this renewed opportunity through the investigation of how canonical utopian models from the XX century, from futurism to metabolism, from megastructures to megaforms, from the speculations of Soleri to the postulates of Team X, from the territorial imagery of Le Corbusier to that of Superstudio, can be reappointed and redescribed today to index the expansive logics of large-scale development now taking place around the globe, transcending the moral limitations of their own ‘authentic’ idealistic mind-sets towards the blatant generation of banal yet severe territorial-scale anti-urban models.

We will call this forth stage of The Generic Sublime, ‘Utopiods’.