Brief Encounter 2.0 / LUKE JONES

responding to "Where will we live tomorrow?"

For a while, it was axiomatic that the city of the future would be big, planet spanning, sublimely terrifying, thrillingly inhuman, mountainous, cavernous wonderful. But I have no interest in a modest future.

In my dreams we all live in a city without an end. The mode of inhabitation is a continuous drift: street to street, cafe to cafe, downstairs, up elevators. The city is a landscape, a continuous terrain. Nature is still out there somewhere. It can be seen.

There is a view of mountains or the ocean, at the end of this or that street. But we don’t have to go there. There are no tedious drives out into the desert, or the hinterland of sheds and polytunnels. All life is on that continuous journey, a tarmac garland around the earth, views deep into terra incognita to right and left…

Of course, rationally every question about the future hangs on climate change. Everything is downstream of that very large fact. That doesn’t mean that futures have to be commensurately big. I can understand the trend for modesty, the flight to smallness, the day-dream of peripheral and hermetic trash-farming. You tinker on the margins, alone under a lowering sky. You meditate on the reflection of a lone pine in your ancient CRT monitor. Later, you water your tomatoes. It’s all very cosy.

But it’s all too marginal. I find it impossible to imagine a future where we aren’t all, all of us, humans, in some sense connected. The whole world, entire, together, with all its conflict is where we belong. There isn’t any hiding place that wouldn’t also be a prison…

Luke Jones
is an architect and writer from London. He is a founder and co-host of the podcast About Buildings + Cities. He is the writer, with Anna Mill, of the graphic novels ‚Square Eyes‚ (2018) and ‚Exile’s Letter‚ (2019). His practice Heat Island explores the future possibilities of architecture in an era of ecological transformation. He teaches design at the Royal College of Art and the Bartlett School of Architecture.
Where will we live tomorrow?  – This question is actually the title of a book with the same name – Où vivrons-nous demain? – from the 1960s by the French architecture critic Michel Ragon. He is behind the theory of prospective architecture, and in this book he explores the ideas of what the architecture of the future should be, what form our cities should take in the conditions of urban overpopulation and changing work/leisure ratios, and so on… even with the constant industrialization and the consequent deterioration of our environment.
Brief Encounter* is a short and quick format that aims to reveal relationships between individuals, different professions, etc. By avoiding a more complex interview, it aims to recall the immediacy, the lightness of a single, acute, direct but essential question. A brief encounter of two people, a chance to ask someone about something related to their professional interest at a given time, publicly. A meeting framed by the extent of a single question and the virtual space of MAG D A.
* Brief Encounter comes from the 40´s movie by David Lean, about a chance meeting of two random people at a railway station.
8 / 11 / 2021
by Gabriela Smetanová
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