Tyler Seth Collins
Super! Expo Urbanism
This proposal for Beijing urbanizes the expo through a highway-infill strategy that connects the existing fabric with a distributed architecture of variously scaled displays, small shops, workshops and walkable streets. A flexible city, Super! takes advantage of the existing Beijing South Railway Station as a link for regional and national travel suggesting its surroundings as an ideal location for expo facilities that enable both large and small scale gatherings and display. The proposal juxtaposes a variety of scales that have often been separated into discrete entities maintaining little relationship with their context. Through a dense network of tree-lined streets, granular block structure and the blending of seemingly disparate scales of use, Super! argues for the viability of the expo as a diverse and lively urban fabric. The combination of exhibition facilities, shops, residential towers, conference workshops and loft spaces throughout the district reframes commercial activity in Beijing by connecting production, marketing and consumption in a synthetic entangling of uses typically kept separated. By breaking them into workable pieces of urbanism through a variety of scales, the expo’s typical footprint is fractured to produce a series of lively urban spaces in-between that invigorate the district during off-times and takes advantage of temporary visitors.
Slow Death and the Sovereign Apparatus
As an apparatus of death, architecture contains the potential for alternative narratives as suggested by the Buell Hypothesis, but read alongside Mbembe its deployment as a necropolitical tool is worrisome at best. Characterized as a “splintering urbanism” Mbembe observes the similarities between colonial occupations of necropower and the suburban enclaves and gated communities of late modernity. A fantasy and reality the Buell Hypothesis so explicitly tied to nationalist endeavors and which Berlant has argued brings about a slow death to its senseless subjects, the architecture and urbanism of the single-family home finds a comfortable lineage amongst other technologies of death and empire. Space as a “raw material of sovereignty” brings architecture and urbanism directly into the fold as both enablers of destruction and tools for the displacement of this negation of human life. What Mbembe refers to as “death-worlds” might be analogous to the evacuated and senseless subjects of the good life in their monotonous existence. Forgetful, generic in its particularity, and anonymous, these populations conjure the image of the living dead.