An interesting article in the AR, discussing Darryl Chen’s recent thinktank at the Architectural Association: (full link here)
What happens when the ideals of Chairman Mao meet the theories of David Cameron? The most compelling nugget of the British contribution to the Venice Biennale was Daryl Chen’s New Socialist Village, a provocative project fusing British neoliberal capitalism with Chinese collectivist localism. Rather than present a single installation, the 2012 British Pavilion’s Venice Takeaway hosted 10 research projects each exploring a different nation’s urban conditions in relation to the UK. Now reconfigured for a new exhibition at the RIBA, a programme of public events which use the ideas of the research to challenge British architectural and planning conventions.
Chen’s work draws from the Chinese phenomena of urban villages, hotbeds of artistic culture unable to flourish within the city-proper’s Special Economic Zones, deriving a set of lessons with which existing communities in the UK could be transformed into prosperous deregulated neighbourhoods unburdened by state control. The vision of happy citizens eagerly self-governing while channelling their new found liberty in to lucrative digital and physical products sounds like a libertarian’s paradise. Like Occupy-activists-turned-Randian-heroes, the workers would contentedly juggle self interest with community vision. According to Chen this condition quickly leads to a new vernacular of cheap copy-cat extensions and repurposing until the village has its own democratic morphology, distinct enough to draw tourism while open enough that all citizens can participate.
The article also mentions research being undertaken as part of my written thesis, Hidden Rules, investigating the historical relationship between informal settlements and rule-making:
..new research revealing that in neolithic village communities from a supposedly pre-regulatory age there were in fact numerous rules governing the urban realm. It was only when social trust that the rules would be upheld was broken that such unwritten regulations began to be recorded, thus spawning early forms of planning legislation.