City of Zagreb
City Office for Physical Planning, Construction, Communal Affairs and Traffic
Faculty of Architecture
University of Zagreb
Oris - House of Architecture
City of Zagreb
City Office for Culture, Education and Sport
Republic of Croatia
Ministry of Culture
[The Echo of Nothing]
“Money is any object or record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given socio-economic context.”
Money is no more than a social construction that has its value on the collective agreement to accept certain forms of measurement. Nevertheless, money is an immanent concept in our daily life. Under the capitalist system that leads the world in the current times, we can’t deny that money rules [almost] everything: the way we live, what we eat, where we go andhow we relate with other... As coined by James Carville in 1992, “the economy, stupid.” Thus, if MONEY is only a virtual object and its value depends on the object to exchange, how can we work in a new understanding of the concepts of value, trade and exchange from a different point of view?
Money has been one of the main issues [if not the most important] to define the creation of territories and space. Borders created for economical purposes and financial markets in many ways are guiding how cities evolve. The relationship between countries basically depends on debt:creditor/debtor relation; where debt is not an impediment to growth. According to Maurizio Lazzarato, it represents the economic and subjective engine of the modern-day economy. Even this fact, during the past years we are starting to perceive capitalism as a failed system and probably as not the only option anymore. One of the signs of this failed system can be found on the sovereign debt crises that have placed several Eurozone nations under a situation determined by the European Union’s so-called troika—European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund [IMF]— and not determined by their citizens and inhabitants. For Baudrillard, money is no longer a medium or a means to circulate commodities, it is circulation itself, that is to say, it is the realized form of the system in its twisting abstraction.
But this concept is changing at a rapid rate. Just ayear ago, the Occupy movement used bills as a tool for social protest. The Occupy George movement pointed “Money talks, but not loud enough for the 99%. By circulating dollar bills stamped with fact-based infographics, Occupy George informs the public of America's daunting economic disparity one bill at a time.” As Emily Gilbert points, “currency is not just a neutral economic tool,as the economists would have it, but it embodies cultural, political, and economic values.” Experimental currencies as bitcoin [described asdecentralized digital currency that enables instant payments to anyone, anywhere in the world] is expected to be the next bubble, but at least it opens new ways of thinking about different economic models. In the middle of these experimental processes, there are new tools that more people is using everyday, new forms of economics and trade, such as crowdfunding, social money and micro payments, based on the confidence and support of the network. These tools are here to stay and can be harnessed as catalysts for change. The way we interact as citizens in this new economic scenario is transforming how we use public space, digital tools and create new physical and virtual territories.
How can this flow affect the practice of architecture,and what kind of proposal can come from architecture within this exchange of ideas dealing with the #futureofmoney.
What if our cities were able to evolve without money? How economic flows reflect in the configuration of cities? How it would look like a “right of the city” initiative in a tax haven state? Can we design new territories that operate outside the traditional economic guidelines? Which is the role of the architect within this scenario [if there’s one]?
We’re looking for pioneering works at the intersection of architecture, sociology, economics, programming and marketing that radically challenge the fundamental spatial, social and urban relation based on capitalism.
“People accept capitalism, not because they agree with it, but because it is the only system they know.” —Manuel Castells, in the documentary from VPRoTime For Change
MONEY | Territories
MONEY has been one of the main issues [if not the most important] to define the creation of territories and space. Borders created for economical purposes and financial markets in many ways are guiding how cities evolve. The new virtual territories created by economic exchange between rich and poor countries, creating new economic spaces at the same time than dissolving other ones somehow makes difficult to understand how money moves from one place to another place and envision the currency's relationship to the production of space. In this context we can also mention local exchange trading systems which emerged on the basis “from the community for the community”. As its easy to understand how money and currency drives the expansion of empires and states and how new local currencies are trying to avoid the idea of power and control always related with traditional economic models.
The relationship between countries basically depends on debt: creditor/debtor relation. Territorial claims in the Arctic, invisible economic flows such as immigration, free ports, free economic zones, and tax havens can be part of this topic.
Keywords: Arctic claims, free-ports, borders, currency, space, local currency, unclaimed money, tax havens.
MONEY | Culture
Now, there is a need for a redefinition of the practice insofar as the financial crisis has an effect of questioning our social and cultural approach. Architects, designers and artists are conscious again of their political implication and how they can use this knowledge to create a disruptive new reality, far away from the established in the past recent years. The subversion of market values and the renewed interestin theraison d'être of different cultural projects can be helpful to define a new viewpoint, based in our current social contradictions but at the same time with the fascinating possibility of [re]constructing the system from the basis. How this changes affect daily cultural life in our cities? How are cities and citizens adapting these new economic models and reacting to the constant changes we’re living?
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 deals with education and the way we exchange knowledge. The emergence of new tools as MOOCs, on-line courses, etc. allow free access to education in order to have so-called “better societies”, but what have when also this new ways of learning and exchanging are part of a bigger monopoly? Are we repeating the same old models with new names?
Keywords: Social money, culture, bitcoin, education, informal exchange, technology.
MONEY | Environment
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: Waste, water, ships graveyards, environment, post-oil city, environmental disasters.
Ethel Baraona Pohl is an architect, writer and blogger developing her professional [net]work linked to several architecture publications on projects and theory. She is editor at Quaderns, and contributing editor at Domus and MAS Context, among other blogs and printed magazines and also associate Curator Adhocracy | Istanbul Design Biennial. She is co-founder of the independent publishing house dpr-barcelona.
Cesar Reyes Najera is an architect, PhD in Bio-climatic Construction Systems and Materials and also co-founder of the independent publishing house dpr-barcelona. His work seeks a thermodynamic approach to architecture focusing on social issues. His research deals with the development and application of low-tech biomaterials for architecture.