Blog from Festarch festival: The Stargate machine - revolt!

“Vomit the space out of your mind”, insightful parting words on the last day of the Festarch festival.

“Vomit the space out of your mind”- Francois Roche

Yesterday was the last day of the Festarch festival, the international architecture festival in Perugia, Italy. The morning started with a peaceful discussion between Stefano Boeri, Yuri Grigoryan professor at the Moscow Institute of Architecture, and Mohsen Mostafavi, dean of the Harvard Design graduate school, about teaching architecture. But it was the presentation of French architect Francois Roche that stood out.

“Academy should be outside of the city, this facilitates the strategy for protest. Education should encourage frictions, revolts. Being outside of the city means that you can make the conspiracy.”

This is how Roche made a remarkable entry in the Teatro Pavone, at the Festarch festival. In a presentation called Machine (VS) Eros, which stressed the need to produce knowledge and not to only transmit it, he demonstrated how fiction and speculation are two essential components in the production of “a topia” (as he called it, a word mixing utopia and dystopia). - Francois Roche: Architect and pataphysicist, for the “science of imaginary solutions”.

The city’s concepts are driven by the power of control, usually predictable and quantitative (concept inspired by philosopher Michel Foucault) and by what Roche called “the sponge” or the permanent “renew”. The rebirth of the city, the fact that it is growing.

Both concepts are driven by geometry. Roche emphasised the need to renovate our relationship to mechanisms. He argued that our relationship with machines are as formulated by writers such as Franz Kafka: “We are suffering from guiltiness, we are producing the torture, we want to die through the machine, we want to suffer with pleasure.” This was Roche’s vision of Eros and Thanatos. “This is the finish and the unfinished”.

Roche wants to carry the knowledge without carrying the design, he wants to experience the process without envisaging the master plan - just like assembling a medieval cathedral. He questioned “how to produce structural randomness”.

Roche also developed a unique extruding system for concrete, which extrudes without z framework and releases the shape without a definite process. It is an “architecture produced without control”.

Working with mathematicians, nanotechnologist in Grenoble, and really all around the world, Roche developed a series of “hypnosis chambers”. He also developed a series of “Stargate machine” in collaboration with hypnotiser and philosopher Francois Roustang.

Roche wanted the audience to “vomit the space out of our mind”! He also “expressed the vulgarity of production, the pulsion of life and death, the cannibalism, mechanism relationships we have with space”.

A city is not about master planning - it is all about speculation and protest

With Roche’s rockn’rolling the Festarch festival, and with Peter Eisenman, legendary American architect, affirming that “architecture matters” (but why?!) I wondered: “When are we going to finally go through walls, over space and time to visit the string of the 11th dimension?”

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