Urbanity / Urbanism
It is remarkable how many architects and architecture critics sought intellectual proximity to Vilém Flusser. Admittedly, the subject of Brazil’s cities had already captivated Flusser as evidenced by an early article he wrote for the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (“Brasilianische Städte” , in: Brasilien oder die Suche nach dem neuen Menschen, 1994). In its effort to make overwhelming nature habitable, the Brazilian metropolis grew out of “vanquished nature.” It overcame its natural origins. The planned city of Brasília, which Flusser believed realized the “beauty of the mind” (ibid., p. 265; translated from the German), is an example of this. Four months after he died, the influential journal ARCH+ dedicated an entire issue to Flusser’s urbanist and urban thinking (ARCH+, no. 111, 1992).
In the early 1990s, Flusser was primarily concerned with quantum space, to which innovative, contemporary urbanization and architecture have to respond. For Flusser, this quantum space replaces the living space determined by the past and the current cosmic space. As virtual space or cyberspace, it penetrates familiar living space and sucks up everything entropically. How do we live in it? The architect and urbanist are trained to design relationships: “…one designs topoi; one designs places. […] Rather than thinking geometrically, the architect has to design networks of equations.” (ibid., p. 49; translated from the German).
Flusser, who could become intoxicated by his own stream of speech, was nevertheless also a listener and observer. What he saw in the background of his lectures did not by any means escape him. He intensified this to the extreme, to a point of maximum negentropy. For a younger generation of designers in urbanism and architecture, he was defining a potential, a potentiality, an objective. It was and is up to this generation to take up the challenge.