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Citystreakers, Design by Live Action

"From the 11th until the 14th of January 2012, Nick Ceulemans and Tim Prins organized a 60 hour marathon workshop entitled Citystreakers. Together with 85 students of the Academie van Bouwkunst Maastricht and the Academie voor Architectuur en Stedenbouw Tilburg  they concentrated on learning from the ‘live’ city, the real city – the smart city. The workshop was set up to specifically look beyond the predictability of the planned city towards the unpredictability of the experienced city. Building on the theorem that as we experience the city, we mediate physical and social structures that include ever-changing combinations of fixed and flexible variables. The workshop looked at the city’s reality not made up of physical structures with fixed reference points, but as a complex reality that is constantly articulated and activated by the live realm. Realizing in other words that, without the live realm and without situations, there is no city.

The variables that govern situations and those that generate physical structures are undoubtedly different and we started questioning, challenging and building upon this difference in order to devise salient ways to act within this complexity. Focussing on an interdisciplinary approach to the issues, (as well as architects and urbanists the workshop was lead by a video director, a politician and a philosopher) the students used the method of "live-action-Photoshop" to experiment with blending representation and real space in an attempt to re-spatialise, re-vitalize a potential future for the city. Each student had to generate its own catalyst for change. Using the urban themes of conflict, control, exchange, fiction, groups, life, power, space, structures and time to reveal new potentials for peripheral urban streetlife. Questioning also the role that these themes play in the making of architectural space and speculating on their direct relevance to the ‘smart’ city.

The city itself – in this case Maastricht, and in particular its recent shopping area mutations hollowing-out historical retail in the urban periphery in favor of the renewed urban centre– was interpreted as the main catalyst. The workshop engaged with it, immersed itself in it, and identified, defined and subsequently invented the variables that influence its physical, social, political and economic contexts. It worked with direct action, video, physical frames, computer models, working drawings, text and animations in order to experiment with and propose, at the architectural and urban scales, composite spatial interventions that have a direct effect on the reality of the urban condition."

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