How will migration influence architecture and the city?
Agnes Denes, Wheatfield—A Confrontation. Two acres of wheat planted and harvested by the artist on the Battery Park landfill, Manhattan, Summer 1982.
Commissioned by Public Art Fund. Photo by John McGrall.
Courtesy the artist and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects.
Urban and rural flux
The merging of place is a development seen globally, enabled by the internet, developed transportation and growing metro areas. Here, cities become more alike and areas balance out, the dystopian vision of such being that place-specific characteristics gradually vanish and the planet becomes one homogenous global empire. One can find great similarities, both architectural and experientially, in a rural Norwegian village as to a city of millions in China.
This development is reflected in architecture, where modern tectonics becomes more standardised and less connected to the local identity. Now it is possible to draw inspiration from the unlimited palette of Pinterest from wherever you are in the world. It is up to us as architects to make sure that the traditional sense of place doesn’t vanish under global unison. The loss of characteristics of place is problematic in this sense, but is it an unstoppable consequence of globalisation?
It’s interesting to talk about migration and globalisation in the midst of a global pandemic. Our office operates in the Nordic setting, and over the last year there has been a constant flow of people looking to escape the “infected” cities in search of the countryside. This out-migration can be seen globally to an even greater extent. A complete reverse to the vast urban flight for the last 100 years. Previously, cities have represented opportunities and the exotic, but over the last year the countryside have taken that role.
Could this sudden change in priorities make people feel more connected to the countryside, and thus, feel a greater appreciation of place? Can we as architects use this newfound love for the countryside as a starting point to create more place-specific spaces, both architecturally and experientially? It’s in the countryside where we find the traditional ways of building and planning. It's here we have the light, space and air. When cities become more generic and dense, it's important to rediscover the vernacular and traditional. But more importantly, can we draw from qualities found in the countryside for the context of urban development?
RÅ arkitektur is an Oslo based practice, established in 2017 by Gustav Jerlvall Jeppsson (MA Architecture, KADK, RMIT & RISD) and Sarita Poptani (MA Architecture, ARTS & RISD).
RÅ approaches each project as a unique opportunity, particularly to its context and purpose. Working over a diverse range of locations from inner urban areas to sensitive rural and archipelago environments, we explore how to make architecture that is generous, opportunistic, and connected to its specific physical as well as its social and cultural setting. Our built programs take on simple geometries and restrained materials, focusing on spatial conditions, clarity, and durability.