[ CITY IN A ROOM ] ‘Cooking with John Frazer’ Exploring evolutionary architecture techniques in a 24 hr pressure-cooker.

In a 24 hr multimedia Jam, shifts of multi-disciplinary teams were invited to think, build and translate; together seeking to express Frazer’s thought experiment, “computing without computers” in real time, engaging all senses.
In this steaming pot we collected ingredients for an evolutionary city which were passed by Chinese whispers; and then stirred to taste. This experiment didn’t aim for an utopian image; it sought to bring together the dynamic powers that are at work in cities and reflected on the unpredictable outcome.
The process aimed to built a city in which, to speak with Frazer “…. the symbiotic behavior and metabolic balance that are characteristic of the natural environment…” were at work.
This [City in a room] was to be built, live and vanish in 24 hrs….


WHY is it today that cities continue to get stuck in formal planning processes that so often fail? They don’t seem able to tap into so many available alternative or informal resources of the people or place for which they are intended. Is it not time to think outside convention, to think sideways, to tap the energy and creativity that this could offer?
[City in a Room] was an event intended to do just this, to explore new creative tools beyond convention, to engage in spontaneous ways of imagining cities. To discover clues that such a multimedia jam might reveal…


WHO IS PROF. JOHN FRAZER? He has been a pioneer in the development of intelligent and evolutionary design computation for over 30 years, at the AA in London, Cambridge University, the University of Ulster and, most recently, Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He has lead the experiment supported by teams of artists, thinkers, builders, musicians, architects, inventors, chefs, scientists, students….


THE SCHEME consisted of 5 shifts, each of 5 hours, with an overlap of one hour with the former and/or the following shift. Shift 1 was a diner/brainstorm with John Frazer. Thoughts and ideas were formulated on the tablecloth; its scribbles, drawings, words and lines to be read for inspiration by the following shifts. Shift 2/3/4/5 were building shifts wherein ideas and concepts were materialized. After this there was a final gathering of all participants reflecting on [City in a room] with John Frazer.


INITIATORS of this project were 3 independent Art- and Architecture studios including S333 Architecture + Urbanism (Amsterdam), Pavlov Medialab and Onix Architecten (Groningen). Additional support from Peter de Kan Graphic design.