Industrialisation in the early 1900 brings the biggest changes in the way of living and the

form of the city in general. This exponential growth due to capitalism gave birth to a new type of city, a city in which not only the environment but also human behaviour has been transformed: the generic city.

In 1933 Walter Benjamin exposed this problematic in his book “Experience and poverty” in which he denounces the city as an environment that impoverishes human experience. The alienation and indifference that human beings experience in the modern city is actually considered as a decline in human evolution by Benjamin and is something that must be stopped. At the same moment artists such as Manet or Caillebotte started to depict those changes, in the Rue de Paris, temps de pluie painting the idea of indifference and loss of individuality are quite striking in the mise-en-scène…

Rue de Paris, temps de pluie, Caillebotte
vorschlag zur bebauung der Berliner City, Hilberseimer

Hilberseimer was perhaps the most extreme case of this new architecture for a generic and capitalistic society. In his projects and writings, architecture and arts are reduced not only as an aesthetic but also as a social form. In his view the general and typical constituted the only valid architectural criteria of the modern metropolis, however it was not an appeal for standardisation but simply showing that he had a very deep understanding of the social situation at the time. In projects of a big urban scale like Vorschlag zur city-Bebauung the lack of any specificity is also responding to the fact that the power of the city was coming exclusively from labour and capitalist production. In that sense the city is organized so as to put the body and mind of the inhabitants to work. In the study of inhabiting the platform we wish to demonstrate that a generic structure doesn’t necessarily imply a generic lifestyle. On the contrary it can be used to enhance and develop cultural identity and the sense of community.  Using the ruined city as a starting point, the platform offers a new beginning for life in the city. It is here to influence and generate a lifestyle that is disappearing from the metropolis. As the behaviour of the people changed unconsciously in the capitalist generic city, the platform will influence its inhabitants unconsciously in the same way. Its internal structure has the role regulating the “urban fabric” of its programs as well as providing a canevas for the people arriving to colonize it. The social construct in the platform is based on human relations and the development of an identity. By framing the development of the housing and communal spaces within the platform with litteral frames that can be filled and arranged by the inhabitants themselves, the sense of identity and belonging to the community will be greatly enhanced. Instead of being put in an environment that animates competition in order to maximise profit, people will create their environment together, favorising exchange and cooperation. 

The flexibility that the free plan and the structure offer guarantees the variation of the program layouts as well as the multiple cultures populating the platform. This enables each individual to occupate space as he/she wishes during the undetermined time of his/her stay.

To achieve all of this it is necessary for the structure to be as light as possible, modular, easy to dismantle and probably prefabricated.

Steps/process

  1. Keeping the monuments. In the ruined city, not everything is destroyed, some structures have withstood the elements and are remaining as strong figures in the devastated landscape. By keeping and including them within the platform they become the starting point for reconstruction may they be still functional or not. 
rotterdam after bombing in 1945

2. Flexibility. Most obvious point, the evolutive aspect of the structure and its ability to be changed or moved without being destroyed. Necessary for any developpement of any community.

3. The people as settlers. Let the people colonise the structure by providing the means of construction but not the design. They will build and design their community together.

Of course the structure will indirectly influence how the new society will organise, depending on the access to light, water electricity outlets etc…Encourage intercommunal exchange. Most of the common structures within the platform will be accessible by anyone and will need the participation of several communities to operate efficiently. 

4. Allow growth. In this kind of context it seems logical that some communities will be more successful than others in their internal organization meaning that they might attract more people or replicate. Others will disappear, it is this uncertainty that guarantees the versatility of the platform.