Still frame from the interview “Some simple truths” granted by Yona Friedman to studioBASAR in 2011
“I am not interested in Utopias”
Y o n a F r i e d m a n
sB – What about the relations with other groups who were rethinking the city in the 60’s, like Cedric Price, The Metabolists or The Situationists.
Was then an exchange of ideas among you, as a community of professional debate?
YF – Cedric Price i’ve meet in the ’60. La Ville Spatiale was published in England and Cedric asked to meet me, I didn’t know him before. The same thing with the Metabolists, Masato Otaka in Japan published La Ville Spatiale in ’59 in Kindai Kenchiku.
sB – before the Metabolists?
YF – Yea. In a way the Metabolists group used the Ville Spatiale. You know, it happened that way, that the Ville Spatiale was a revolution, Archigram used it after.
sB – But you collaborate with them?
YF – I knew all these people because they came to see me. It’s very simple. I knew Peter Cook when he was a student, he came to see me, and Otake and Kurokawa.
sB – And what do you think about Metabolists or Archigram now, after they developed their projects?
YF – In a way … I have for example Kurokawa … “Metabolism” it is more a slogan than a program. But this is typical for Japan. You know, we can not judge with our standard. For the Japanese certain words, certain symbols are very important, and translate that, you look at it, and it is very different. I was quite a number of times in Japan and I have an idea of how they think.
sB – What did impressed you in Japan?
YF – In a way I liked it, but it’s again, with Japan… the Japanese don’t like the medieval Japan. Tourists are impressed by the medieval Japan.
sB – And you?
YF – In Japan, the behavior of the people is interesting. It is very, very ... Always in groups and very individualist in the same time. And that is interesting, not the hardware, but the software.
sB – And Archigram?
It was an European Utopia.
YF – It was graphism. Why not? That’s not a negative judgment. Peter Cook, when we met the first time, told me: I would like to do a publication with graphism like in the science fiction magazines.
sB – And he did.
YF – Yea. Ok, this was his program, so why not.
sB – And what about Constant and The Situationists? This was no graphism.
YF – He discovered independently, we didn’t know each other when he came out. But there is a difference: Constant is an artist, and he made the New Babylon as a big sculpture, and I was interested in the social thing. So the basis it’s very different.
sB – So your Utopia is a social one?
YF – You know I had a book with the title Realizable Utopias. I am not interested in Utopias, I am interested in their capacity to be realized, it’s a difference. I don’t think that wishful thinking it’s enough. This means in a way that you have to know what are the trends coming up. You can not invent a Utopia and convince people, but people can have ideas in a certain line and you can act to crystallize it.
Excerpt from the conversation entitled “Some simple truths” between Yona Friedman, Architect & Pioneer and studioBASAR: “From his home transformed in the model of his own dreams, Yona Friedman is telling about the possible utopia, where the architects learn from the people and where the constructions are more elastic and the living more flexible. The story links few key episodes in his life, like the participation in the CIAM X, the launch of the manifesto Mobile Architecture, or the meeting with Le Corbusier, but also some moments of accumulation and reflection, like his temporary residence in Bucharest in 1945.”
Interview realized by: Alex Axinte and Cristi Borcan (studioBASAR) / with the support of: Romanian Cultural Institute in Paris, in the framework of the RDC program (Residences de Creation) / edited by: Roxana Szel / period: discussion - 4 January 2011; realization of the film - July 2012 /
Watch the entire interview here: https://vimeo.com/198452174 ;