Periodically Domus deals with architecture in Asia that goes beyond the mind-numbing childishness of Shanghai=good!!! and manages to make the art of buildings relevant, which is why I’ve been on their mailing list.
Back in June, there was an article on Pyongyang, and also a call for ideas for the reconstruction of the Ryugyong Hotel. Architect Jan Kaplicky wrote a letter in response saying the article and call were North Korean Propaganda. All this culminated on September 30th in an open debate at the Serpentine Gallery.
Kaplicky and Boeri on Pyongyang: open debate at the Serpentine
The article on Pyongyang, published in Domus in June, examined the city’s involuntary status as a test-bed of the modernist dream, exposed as a totalitarian nightmare. They found a city conceived with breathtakingly literal references to the Western paradigms of the early 20th century, obsessively referential to the visionary architecture and town planning of Corbusier, Hilberseimer, Melnikov and Rudolph. A city “delineated by oversized, shopless roads in which citizens take on the appearance of extras on a movie set.”
In the same issue Domus launched a “call for ideas”for the reconstruction of the Ryugyong Hotel, a monolithic concrete pyramid that dominates Pyongyang’s skyline, as a way of opening up a crack in North Korea’s numbing isolation. It remains, however, a delicate topic, and not all interpreted Boeri’s article in the same way.
In September Domus saw the publication of an open letter from architect Jan Kaplicky of Future Sytems: “I always thought that your magazine was about architecture, design, beauty and people…I was shocked, horrified, angry and sad when Domus 882 June 2005 arrived. 22 pages and 3 covers full of North Korean propaganda.”
Should a dictator’s perversely visionary masterplan be examined and discussed in the pages of an international architecture magazine? Can an understanding of architecture’s most nightmarish distorsions, as well as its most beautiful incarnations, be of any use to us today?
On the 30th September (7 pm), Jan Kaplicky and Stefano Boeri meet for an open debate in the Serpentine Pavilion.
Invited speakers include: Amos Gitai, Scott Lash, Armin Linke, Deyan Sudjic, Brett Steele, Eyal Weizman, Julia Peyton-Jones.
London – Great Britain
Jan Kaplicky and Stefano Boeri debate Domus magazine initiative on North Korea
30.9.2005, h. 19
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion