Total Space explores interdisciplinary exchanges between the fields of architecture, urban planning, anthropology and systems theory. The core premise is that architecture and urban planning can be understood as ecological systems. The point of departure becomes interactive networks, rather than discrete objects and domains. From the first propositions for networked cities and megastructures in the 1950s and 60s, up to developments such as smart cities and virtual territories today, the concept of a total, all-encompassing space remains a recurrent motif.
The term ‘total space’ was coined by Jaap Bakema. For him, the concept signified a relational approach to humans and their environment, implying an almost cosmological understanding of space. Among the inspirations behind total space were the aesthetic-spatial concepts of the De Stijl movement, as well as the work of thinkers such as Henri Bergson and Ruth Benedict. Bakema regarded it as the task of the architect-urbanist to ensure that people can experience, navigate and appropriate this total space in order to render it habitable.
This relational and ecological understanding of architecture and urban planning meant – and still means – a radical redefinition of these disciplines and their tools in a technological and epistemological, but most of all cultural, sense. In line with early 20th-century avant-gardes, permanence and monumentality are eschewed while notions of process, growth and chance take centre stage.
Total Space explores these far-reaching changes through recent historical material as found in the archive of Het Nieuwe Insituut. The project locates and investigates important moments of cross-pollination and redefinition, questioning the nature of their epistemological and social-cultural repercussions.
Volume #50, December 2016
This insert is based on two research workshops organized by the Jaap Bakema Study Centre in 2015. Total Space investigates the international dimensions of Structuralism, cross-disciplinary exchange, and aims to connect recent history with speculations on the future of our lifestyles. With contributions by Tom Avermaete, M. Christine Boyer, Benjamin H. Bratton, Femke Herregraven, Ellen Smit, Laurent Stalder, Richard Vijgen, Victor M. Sanz and Dirk van den Heuvel.
Jaap Bakema Study Centre
Total Space is a programme by the Jaap Bakema Study Centre. Research projects initiated and carried out at the Jaap Bakema Study Centre can lead to exhibitions, publications, discussions and specific partial studies related to the activities of Het Nieuwe Instituut and the research programme of Faculty of Architecture at the Delft University of Technology. The activities of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre are socially relevant and generate discussion of current issues. It also contributes to fundamental research and knowledge development on the creative industry, design, culture and society.