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City of Zagreb
City Office for Physical Planning, Construction, Communal Affairs and Traffic


Faculty of Architecture
University of Zagreb


City Acupuncture


Oris - House of Architecture




City of Zagreb
City Office for Culture, Education and Sport


Republic of Croatia
Ministry of Culture

Past forwARD

2nd Think Space UNCONFERENCE
 22 - 24 February, 2013, Zagreb, Croatia
On Past Forward Unconference

In architecture, as in many other things, the right project can make the wrong entrance, resting until archivists retrieve it from obscurity. In architecture as in comedy, timing is almost everything. Only rarely do certain projects manage to build their own time, retroactively shaping their own history and that of others. The three projects selected for Think Space last year: The Peak, Yokohama Port Terminal and Blur Building are examples of the later, each managing the rather difficult challenge of posing a new problem to the field and leaving that field transformed in its wake. In turn, the explicit question this competition posed to its entrants was where to stand in relation to these singular moments of transformation.

The theme Past Forward and its aforementioned questions posed by the Think Space 2012 guest curator Adrian Lahoud indeed triggered conversations hosted at the Unconference event. Conceived as a series of highly interactive sessions for a hundred participants, Past Forward Unconference enabled participants and winners from the three international competitions to meet in person at Lauba, People and Art House in Zagreb, 22-24 Feb 2013.

Along with its unique approach in which new forums for thought are created via new design objects, Think Space Programme was for the very first time leaning on historical discourse that normally takes the form of reflection through writing. As part of the 2012 cycle of competitions, Think Space was calling for Past Forward Papers in the following fields of inquiry: Architectural Manifestoes, Iconic Architecture and City Scapes. Through a vast amount of proposals submitted from researchers, scholars, and practitioners 30 pieces holding several intriguing topics have been selected an published on Unconference Proceedings CD. Within the Unconference programme a couple of authors also had opportunity to present their work in person.

Another asset to the Unconference Programme was The Competitive Hypothesis Exhibition, initially on display at Storefront Gallery for Art and Architecture in New York, 22 Jan -15 Feb 2013. The exhibition examines the role of competition(s) in architectural culture, understanding them not only as an index of architectural history but also as a laboratory for new forms of practice and work. Arranged into following sections: On Anonimity, Deception and AmbitionThe Natural Habitat of Homo OeconomicusThink Space Past Forward and Mind the Gap, the exhibition highlights the double meanings inherent in the 'competition': on one hand referring to the competition as a procurement mechanism for projects, on the other referring to an ethos or disposition that permeates work practice. Exceeding the Unconference event, the exhibition was on display at Lauba until 12 Mar 2013.

The very culmination of the Think Space 2012 Past Forward Programme happened in a form of public Award Ceremony on a snowy winter eve during the Unconferene event. The awarded authors coming from all around Europe and beyond (Austria, Croatia, France, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, UK and Mexico) were acknowledged for their exquisite achievements in experimental architecture in front of an international audience and local architectural community, together with regional participants of City Acupuncture Zagreb Workshop.

An invigorating background for the Unconference was significally enhanced by a site-specific installation ‘Untitled’ by Croatian artist Viktor Popović. In his work, as a result of useof neon tubes, light becomes a structural element that brings the installation to the verge of creating spatial ambient. The special treatment of architectural elements intertwined with historical layers of Lauba created a truly intriguing stage for Unconference activities. Originally an Austro-Hungarian military riding arena, Lauba was recently transformed into a gallery of contemporary art, offering participants of the event an encounter with contemporary visual art completely in line with the philosophy of the Think Space programme.

Embracing both design and theoretical reflection, research of historical precedents and creating contemporary history, Think Space places itself in relation to the past by suggesting how the future should or could be. Positioned at the intersection of the building practice, architectural viewpoints, global and local contexts – the greatest contribution of Think Space is that it helps emerge a nuanced image of global state in architecture.

We are looking forward to meet you at future Think Space events!

Yours sincerely, 
Think Space Team

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The partner organization Lauba People and Art House provides the perfect place for the Think Space unconference. Austro-Hungarian military riding arena that was recently transformed into a gallery of contemporary art, will offer the participants of the event an encounter with contemporary visual art completely in line with the conceptual philosophy of the Think Space programme.

The inspiring and artistic space of Lauba Hause where sessions and conversations will take place, will facilitate the exploration of the Past Forward theme and the interaction of participants in quest for disciplinary transformation.