Chronicle | Who’s afraid of new utopias?

In the face of environmental urgency, ‘ recessionary ‘, ‘ revisionist ‘ or ‘ revolutionary ‘ utopias are Flores today. Whatever the future they are destined for, these systems of thought imply that a transformation of the living environment will take place. But which one? Prospective chronicle signed by Jean Magerand.

Article published in the architect’s Mail (07-09-2011): better understand the signs of the ‘ modern-complex ‘ mutation in order to better meet urban, landscape and architectural expectations of our contemporary societies. This is the line that follows the heading forwards. In the wake of the ‘ sciences of complexity ‘, the objective is to reflect and reflect on plausible paths for the development of the planet according to rules that make compatible human presence, modernity and sustainability of the environments. We say ‘ landscaping ‘ and not just ‘ preserving ‘, because today we are doomed to ‘ re-construct ‘ any part of the dynamic balances for the macro-ecosystem of the planet Earth; This is a real act of ‘ projétation ‘. In order to better understand the current mutation and the modalities of adaptation of our know-how, it is necessary to gradually highlight the programmatic and societal context of the city of the future. In this context, understanding the “nature of Nature”, in the sense of Edgar Morin, is paramount. Before being able to draw a path towards planetary equilibrium, it is essential to resolve the contradictions of contemporary societal challenges and constraints. Important sectors include agriculture, which must be nurtured and non-suicidal. To achieve this vital goal, one needs to look at, among other things, the new knowledge of the living world and nature, the limits of the production of the planet, the potential of the technical avant-garde. Today, “Natural nature” and “Artificial nature” (the cultivated Territories) are in the line of sight of political observers, scientists, sociological, ‘ sociétologiques ‘. In fact, in the 18th and 19th centuries, we formed the fantasy of a “romantic-rousseauist” nature. In the 20th century, the wager of our modernity, the one that forged the essence of our cultures, was to use all the contemporary substance of our most powerful technical and scientific knowledge to consume ever more this nature that we thought Inexhaustible. Today we are in the presence of a nature pending total destabilization. We are entering into a nature of preservation, of safeguarding, even of ‘ saving-who-can ‘. This new nature leads us to wonder about how we will be able to hybridize with it by making, by doing so, changing our cultures and our know-how. We must move from the stage of interference of nature to the stage of life in symbiosis with it. The new challenge is to synergize all of our phenomenal avant-garde knowledge about biological. Fortunately, we benefit from new consciences of the world and of man. We have at our disposal new philosophies, new cultures. We now possess, obviously, potentially, the means to de-construct this ‘ leak-in-front ‘ and to re-build dynamic balances that are useful to the planet. Agriculture, ecosystems, conservation of agricultural land, rescue of the planet, activation of biodiversity, reduction of ecological footprint, preservation of large ecosystems, fight against global warming… Are all problems to be resolved collectively and in the urgency. No one (except exception), neither the majority of specialists nor that of public opinion, calls into question this vital obligation. If the objectives are clear, it is not the same when it comes to designing the means to achieve it. In this case, logically, in history, it is the utopias that rise in the front line against the habits. They are the spearhead of a new societal organization and generally foreshadow a new modernity. Today, we are not escaping this rule, despite the efforts of the ‘ dream Killers ‘ whose writings have flourished in recent decades. Beautiful fantasies of naturalistic character begin to bloom. They all gather around a philosophical position with a focus on nature, even if they do not have the same vision of nature, or even of society, quite the opposite. 02 (@DavidJos) _ S. jpg Some utopian advocate zero growth or even degrowth associated with lifestyles based on the return to simple values, each, ‘ eco-citizen-activist ‘, participating in a user-friendly, daily basis to the tasks necessary to constitute a Modern society and compatible with the respect of the great planetary balances. They imagine a reasonable man, eating little or no meat, performing himself essential vital tasks, bartering, sorting his waste, composting, gardening, circulating and hiking on foot, by bicycle or by public transport, not travelling by plane That in case of absolute necessity, living in soft energies, in its environmentally-isolated housing cell, all in order to generously diminish its ecological footprint. This is partly a return to nutrient self-sufficiency. This model is not without bearing some contradictions. It implies a partial but massive abandonment of the professional characteristics of the population, in order to satisfy the vital domestic tasks. He reflated the organization of the production and asked about the possibility of a company of this type to maintain the vital production circuits such as comfort, health, hygiene, economy, social acquis. This utopia also questions the type of living environment and occupation of the territories it can produce. From an urban point of view, a somewhat monastic and Autarkic life, toured around Domesticity, implies a plot of land in the vicinity of the housing cell. We are here in a pattern of city hybridized with the countryside. This model constrains models of low-rise buildings and involves low-density urban fabrics and therefore large consumers of agricultural land. However, this ‘ baba-cool ‘ utopia has the advantage of getting us to question the merits of our current lifestyles. Other thinkers advocate a more revisionist utopia that is now becoming consensual. They want to live like today, in a framework of life similar to ours, by collectively solving, little by little, one by one, the problems that poison the planet and society at all levels and in every sense of the word. They envisage a translation of our model of society and economy into a similar version but rendered totally harmless, ecologically speaking. This median posture does not propose fundamental changes in our living environments, or even our societies. In this option, we are talking about optimizing all our equipments, all the management, all the current productions and all the transport without fundamentally changing our ways of life. It is then the reign of the clean car, the non-polluting sewage treatment plant, the systematic selective sorting of the household refuse, the full recycling, the house with positive energy etc. This family of utopian dreams of an arsenal of societal, regulatory, legal, technical, environmental, aesthetic, national and international devices useful to transform our ‘ City-pumpkin ‘ into ‘ city-coach ‘. They have the will to solve the equation with the tax, the laws and the taking into account of the environment, according to more or less generous or pernickety modalities. This ‘ Bo-Bo ‘ Utopia, consensual, in the air of time, is therefore not intended to change society from the ground up but to find the ecological modalities of the current production processes. In this ideal scheme, low-polluting agriculture would gradually become organic. Biodiversity would be preserved. Short circuits could then be set up between rural and city dwellers. 03 (@CloudSoup) _ S. jpg From an architectural, urban and landscape point of view, this trend brings together almost all of the contemporary dominant speeches, from the most historicists to the most ‘ generic ‘ through the less ‘ standard ‘. At most it would be a matter of slightly elevating the buildings in order to obtain towers not exceeding a certain height. The recommended city would be denser (without knowing exactly what it covers). The continuous or ‘ deconstructed ‘ building would be articulated on the street, thus constituting an ‘ empty-full ‘ system dotted with public spaces, establishing as many biological filters and restoring the great balances with nature. There is also a third way, that of the revolutionary utopia, that of the technophiles, which carry a ‘ scientific-technical-borne vision ‘ and advocate a change from the ground up. This approach is often confused with the ‘ modern positivism-scientism ‘ which prevailed in the 19th and 20th centuries. This utopia assumes that it is our entire societal organization that must be inspired by our most pointed knowledge. The main issue is to use the arsenal of new techniques, thoughts and methods to create a new industrial, financial, social and political order, making possible a new modernity, ‘ liveability ‘ and sustainability of the Planet. It is therefore a question of massively introducing new biological or digital techniques by choosing those that are not penalizing for the environment. In this race of complexity, the most sophisticated techniques are supposed to help identify and solve the complex problems of respect for the dynamic balances of the planet. But it is not only a matter of combating the destructive modes currently being committed by our industrial societies. For these utopian, we are talking about totally questioning our cultures and of revisiting our ways of life, our manners of behaviour, of living together, of managing the planet internationally. This utopia advocates the renewal of social ties and ways of life through the use of information and communication techniques. Its productivist agriculture is both 100% organic and at the same time barded with sensors and robots. It is more megalomaniac and more radical than the previous two. It also advocates the construction of a very high density city based on in situ recycling. It proposes to consider how to install an ‘ intelligent city ‘ capable of automatically desaturating itself, in real time, by optimizing its transport of goods and its releases of CO2. 04 (@mecookie) _ S. jpg These three utopias and their relation to the natural world are accompanied by other alternatives that offer intermediate stages. The choice remains vast and difficult to make between these solutions. The experience of history leads us to believe that neither ‘ recessionary utopias ‘ nor ‘ revisionist utopias ‘ nor ‘ revolutionary utopias ‘ can bear the truth of our future. Each raises legitimate hopes and its procession of enthusiastic and opponents. There is a strong bet that the path that mankind will follow is going to take the elements that seem most interesting to use to each of them. The major issue is not today to make a definitive choice, but it is to join one of the camps according to its affinities and to help it deepen its assumptions in order to determine its merits. They also correspond to the broad categories of the human race, consisting of the fearful who take refuge in the backwardness, cautious ones who want to change only the strict necessary and suicide bombers who want to challenge everything. Perhaps our final utopia will simply be the peaceful coexistence of these different utopias that have become realities. In any event, what is particularly exciting, in the context of a ‘ prospective ‘ section, is the very realization of the effectiveness of these visions of the future. After decades of nanifiées architectural and urban utopias, restricting to an aesthetic exercise attached to social housing and public space, this is finally that thoughts, of a societal nature, turned to the future, surface without complexes. Of course, these utopias were born under the duress of safeguarding the planet, but they testify, by their only existence, of the will that our society once again to carry common projects for mankind. With the errors of the past, we are better able to extract the substantifiques processes more reasonably. It will then be left to us, the women and the men of art, to draw patiently, on new bases, the outlines of our new framework of future life.

John Magerand