16-01-06 // BRUTAL URBANISM
“Call for Submissions”- Poster for MONU #5, January 2006
By Bernd Upmeyer and Thomas Söhl
Baron Haussmann in Paris in the 1860’s, Robert Moses in New York in the 1930’s to 50’s, uncountable urban renewal programs across the US and Europe in the 1960’s and 70’s, rampant development and speculation in China since the 1990’s … The list is long of brutal urbanism – the creation of urban fabric knit with the violent destruction of everything that stands in it’s way. Urbanism with a meat-ax.
But ignorance and brutalism are not the exclusive domain of those who draw the plans. Police brutality and violent riots – protests and blockades – bicyclists killed in traffic and cars burning, whether they assume a place in the media spotlight, phenomena like these create the counter-identity of urban- to the false tranquility of rural or exurban life.
The threat of violence and upheaval (real or imagined) whether in the act of building or enlivening the built, are elements of the excitement of urban life in many ways. Think about pre-Disney Times Square swallowing up tourists, drug peddlers and ad men alike. The sense of risk and upheaval amongst the entangled masses of orange-clad citizens in Kiev.