“But I also start here…: we are now beyond utopia; beyond Le Corbusier’s utopia, to be sure, but beyond the very idea of utopia itself. We can no longer share the fundamental assumption that lies behind this image: that it is both possible and desirable to completely rebuild our cities and our societies according to some new and better model…
“If we are “beyond utopia”, we have also reached the end of cities. I do not mean here that all cities are now fated to decay. I mean that we have reached the end of a whole era in history where the dynamism of civilizations was tied up with their capacity to focus their energies in great cities.” – Robert Fishman
The work of the iconoclastic Belgian architect Luc Schuiten (Brussels, 1944) brings in a visionary glance that parallels a certain secularization of the “green” approach to the city. Educated as an architect in the 60s, Schuiten has developed, in the last 30 years, a work that ranges from the hyperrealistic approach to architecture given by autoconstruction and the pursue of energetic efficiency, to the utopian urbanism of megastructures, from the field of comics and science fiction to the construction of ecological buildings, and from a démodé revision of Art Nouveau to the most recent theories of “biomimicry”.
Schuiten understands architecture as an organism, a living system where the logics of the element (the cell) are translated, in a net of growing complexity, to the design of the house, and of the very city. Starting with his early concept of the habitarbre (“inhabitree”), he has explored for over thirty years new ways to reformulate the relationship between man and dwelling, building and environment, city and landscape.
Through his concept of archiborescence, his early projects for maisons biosolaires (bio-solar houses) and habitarbres (inhabitrees) led him to the design of the “archiborescent cities”, utopian projects where the vegetalistic style of his houses evolved into a reflection on the possibilities of the fusion between city and natural ecosystems.
“The cities should be built in the countryside. The air is purer there.” – Alphonse Allais