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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


by David Garcia

MAGNETIC NORTH, the Arctic lands [From Greenland to Iceland, via Svalbard].

The Arctic has been a territory that has attracted man for centuries. Be it for resources, trade or geopolitical presence, this umbilical link to no-where and everywhere has more often than not been a voyage in time, than the certainty of a geographic point. The magnetic north, being in constant migration, is in constant discordance with its twin, the cultural the coordinate grid, and as a result we are bound and eternally confused by two never matching epicentres; territory doppelgänger. The confusion does not end here.

The surrounding Arctic states that border the  Arctic Ocean—Russia, Norway, the United States, Canada, and Denmark (via Greenland)—are limited to a 200-nautical-mile economic zone around their coasts. In this context, half way between Norway and the North Pole, the archipelago of Svalbard has been a key geographic point in the Arctic. From whaling in the 17th and 18th century to coal extraction in the 20th, Svalbard is still a centre for resource exploitation, albeit now shifted towards scientific research and tourism. Bound and pulled by geopolitical agendas, its territory being prime Arctic real-estate, boundaries and claims have only recently been resolved. On a land only 10 degrees from the North Pole and the polar pie with few crumbs left, the new frontiers are vertical, not horizontal; in 2007 Russia placed a flag on the North Pole, under the ice sheet, on the sea floor.

Svalbard can be take as an example [but not the only one] of different case studies in the same region where territories are only maintained by money, far away money. This include huge subsidies from nearby countries such as Norway, and Russia. Another cases include Kivalina, an indigenous community in the northwestern coast of Alaska, which economically depends of natural resources that are passing through a stage of destruction due to climate change and CO2 emissions caused by big corporations, including Exxon Mobile, Shell and BP; or the Aleutanian Islands, once with a  economy focused on raising sheep and reindeers and now with its economy  primarily based upon fishing, and, to a lesser extent, the presence of American military.

Money also dictates the immigration policies in a direct manner in all these small communities, as Svalbard, Kivalina or the Aleutanian Islands, among others. They represent the type of contradiction needed for territories under definition, of blurred presents and multiple futures.

Competition Brief

Open call for a design competition to envision the economic and geopolitical future of the Arctic lands.

The competition looks for a design proposal that tackles the present economic and territorial challenges in the present and future of the Arctic lands.

The outback’s and peripheries are the territories that best reflect our idiosyncrasies, dystopias and utopias, our strengths and weaknesses; a mirror of our society that becomes clearer for being at the edge of the frame.

The entries should aim to envision a critical and formal proposal that engages the present territorial normative and navigates between the strict environmental policy and the growing tourist industry, together with the constant scientific presence.

How can these seemingly antagonistic fields of action and clear political strategies be engaged via a clear design proposal? In communites where everything except fish, has to be flown or shipped in, what alternatives can be devised to cut down on subsidy dependence? Is there a strategy that can circumnavigate natural resource exploitation, alternate sea routes to the economic advantage of each of the Arctic lands? In a land where 65% of the territory is protected, who owns the territory, polar bears, scientists or other future tenants?

KeywordsHeavily subsidised, Flag under the North Pole, Frontier, Tourism, Science and exploration/exploitation, Northern passage



by Pedro Gadanho

There is currently a need for a redefinition of architectural practice insofar as the financial crisis has had an effect of leading us in general to question our approach to social and cultural positions. Architects, designers and artists are conscious again of the political implication of their activity, and how they can use their specific knowledge to create a disruptive new reality, far away from the one established in the past recent years. The subversion of market values and the renewed interest in the raison d'être of different cultural projects can be helpful to define new viewpoints based in our current social contradictions. At the same time, these involve the fascinating possibility of [re]constructing the system from its basis. How does this change affect daily cultural life in our cities? How are cities and citizens adapting to these new economic models and reacting to the constant changes we’re living through?

MONEY deals with society by transforming the notion of collectivity and connectivity, among other issues. The relationship between money and society is strong; and clearly it also has implications on education and on the way we exchange knowledge. The emergence of new education tools as MOOCs, on-line courses, etc. allow free access to education in order to produce so-called “better societies”, but what do we have when these new ways of learning and exchanging are also part of a bigger monopoly? Are we repeating the same old models with new names?

Keywords social money, culture, bitcoin, education, informal exchange, technology.


Building Without Money Create a Space for Cultural Exchange

Con dinero y sin dinero... yo hago siempre lo que quiero...*

 El Rey, popular Mexican song.


Are we able to design without money as we know it? Can we envisage a practice of architecture that finds its rewards through unconventional forms of compensation? As other cultural producers, can architects be seen as initiators of communal projects for which, besides contributing the design skills and problem-solving capacities, they can also research and concoct alternative sources of funding?

In the past years, we have witnessed the emergence of experimental currencies such as the bitcoin, as well as new forms of economical exchange and trade, such as crowdfunding, social moneymicropayments, or time banks, all of them based on the trust and support of a given network. Coming from the fields of design and urban transformation, can thesecurrency experiments and moneyless service exchanges be harnessed as catalysts for change? Can they be envisaged as an integral part of new forms of practice?

The way we interact as citizens in this potentially new economic scenario is transforming how we use public space, how we make use of digital tools, and how we create new physical and virtual territories for our own activities and aspirations. Simultaneously, these new forms of interaction can also lead us to explore different forms of compensation for design labor, just as they allow us to find new funding sources for initiating specific architectural projects or broader radical urban interventions.

Given these ideas, the competition asks for conceptual strategies and architectural expressions that may represent a new space for cultural exchange that can be built without money. Proposals are to be design-based and conceived for a location chosen by participants. Proposals must devise innovative financing models supporting the conception and construction of programs that, while based on prototypes of the urban market – from flea markets to produce exchange sites, from specialized bazaars to hacker’s forums –, can also be understood as promoters of cultural exchange.


by Keller Easterling

Alain Pilote wrote on an article published in 1994 that reality – the environment – is sacrificed for the symbol – money. And what about all the artificial needs created for the sole purpose of keeping people employed? What about all the paper work and red tape that requires the need for a lot of people, packed in office buildings? What about goods manufactured in order to last as short as possible, in the aim of selling more of them? All that leads to the useless waste and destruction of the natural environment.


Searching alternatives to the ongoing capitalist system, it’s impossible no to think on how it leads and affects environmental issues. Oil energy, water and waste are conducted by economical forces beyond its geopolitical, social, economic and infrastructural implications. The cycle of extraction, production and recycling has demonstrated to be a failed system and some of the worst environmental disasters in the past years are related with industrial models and the micro-politics of economic power. At this point and with the access to information and digital tools, the response to environmental issues have reached the masses to enable new models, ideas and innovative proposals. Thus, it’s worth to think which can be the architectural response to the emerging conditions presented by climate-changed terrains?

Keywords: Wastewaterships graveyards, environment, post-oil cityenvironmental disasters.

Keller Easterling juror of the Environment competition in Think Space MONEY Cycle from Think Space on Vimeo.



Environment Competition Brief

Keller Easterling


Consider the pleasures of building removal. Whatever the prodigious efforts associated with erecting architecture, the art of causing it to disappear can be equally violent, compelling or satisfying.

Methods for demolishing, imploding or otherwise subtracting building material are not among the essential skills imparted to architects in training. Believing building to be the primary constructive activity, the discipline has not institutionalized special studies of subtraction. In fact, for architects, building envelope is almost always the answer to any problem, and subtraction is often understood to be the preparation of a tabula rasa.

In the often indifferent ecologies of building subtraction, marketers, financial experts, planners and politicians man several different kinds of remote controls that can detonate building and landscape creating destruction and political disenfranchisement in ways that are only somewhat slower than warfare. This subtraction generally signals loss while accumulation or accretion generally signals growth.

But every act of building is already an act of subtraction. Most buildings today are designed as repeatable spatial products with rapid cycles of obsolescence. Financial industries surround the seemingly static and durable building with a volatile balloon of inflating and deflating value, be it a small house, a massive sports stadium or a 4000-room casino. Populations migrate into and away from cities causing both rapid growth and rapid decline. Buildings subtract other building because they replace a previous structure but they can also, just by their often toxic presence, cause surrounding buildings and landscapes to tumble to the ground.

In the wake of recent crises, catastrophes and population shifts, as buildings turn over and radiate negativity, a significant portion of the heavy machinery used to construct buildings is also now busy taking them apart. Ruin and decay has its own pornography. Demolition has its own TV shows. Disassembly and teardown are now popular art forms. The newest approaches to building removal even appear to retract skyscrapers into the ground. Finally, it is easy to see, with half closed eyes, an accelerated time lapse, like harvest and cultivation,within which large swaths of building and landscape seem to be simultaneously built and unbuilt—an economy wheresubtraction is the other half of building.

Bringing its own aesthetic pleasures, subtraction tutors an enhanced repertoire of form-making and opens onto a redoubled territory of endeavor. Space making through clearing is one pleasure. Still, subtraction is not simply absence but a moment in a set of exchanges and advances, aggressions and attritions.

Building subtraction, as a heavy industry and a design protocol, is an emergent lucrative enterprise, a source of employment and a political instrument of extrastate governance. A subtraction protocol might be appropriate in many parts of the world where, for instance, sprawling overdevelopment has attracted distended or failed markets, where development confronts environmental issues, where development would be wise to retreat from exhausted land or flood plains, or where special land preserves are valued for attributes that development disrupts.

A subtraction economy may mark the end of an era within which building is treated primarily as financial instrument. While there areelaborate schemes for manipulating the virtual values of buildings and landscapes—in real estate markets or carbon markets—there are fewer spatial variables of value. Materializing risks and rewards in a physical, spatial constructs, shares and mechanisms in an alternative portfolio of values can be traded in an parallel market. Active forms can be designed as spatial levers, ratchets or offsets in this market. These negotiations can stabilize, compete with or even overwhelm financial markets to grow, contract or erase development.

Financial systems are good at haphazardly deleting building and landscape, but since architects have been trained to make the building machine lurch forward, they may know something about how to put it into reverse.



Keller Easterling is an architect and writer from New York City and a professor at Yale University. Her book, Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and its Political Masquerades (MIT, 2005) researches familiar spatial products  in difficult or hyperbolic political situations around the world. A previous book Organization Space: Landscapes, Highways and Houses in America (MIT, 1999) applies network theory to a discussion of American infrastructure and development formats. A forthcoming book, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Matrix Space (Verso, 2014)examines global infrastructure networks as a medium of polity. An excerpt from Extrastatecraft can be found on Design Observer ( An ebook excerpt from ExtrastatecraftThe Action is the Form: Victor Hugo’s TED Talk, was also recently published by Strelka Press. Easterling has lectured, published and exhibited her work in the United States and internationally.


Environment / Subtraction Competition Results Announcement

Dear Think Spacers, 

We are happy to announce the results of the final competition of the MONEY Cycle as announced during a mini.symposium Environment/ Subtraction in Zagreb on May 9th by the juror of the competition - Keller Easterling. 

We sincerely thank all authors who have submitted their proposal and look forward to the next competition!

Think Space



The weak monumental

Aristide Antonas, Katerina Koutsogianni // Greece

Inverting the Periphery

Ryan King, Nikolay Martinov, Betty Chung Lin Fan // USA


Scenarios for A Post-Post Crisis

Dimitris Grozopoulos // Greece

Post Post-War

Byrony Roberts // USA


Jack Morley, Lauren Chapmann // USA

The Great South American Pipeline: A Commons Protection Zone

Godofredo Nobre Pereira, Samaneh Moafi // UK

Trusting Nauru: 14 Deposited Lands

Natalya Egon, Noel Turgeon // USA

Results were announced on May 9th 2014 in Zagreb, Croatia.