A Stone from the Moon
The project A Stone from the Moon investigates historical, contemporary and future geopolitical power struggles and ideologies, and the role of architecture and urban planning in this context. A Stone from the Moon consists of two works, Ecumenopolis and Capital City (in progress). Both works investigate blueprints for a city of the future - in and outside the context of a geopolitical and ideological power struggle.
A Stone from the Moon departs from the city of Berlin, as frontline city of the Cold War, and in particular from an East-West Berlin urban design competition. In 1957/58, in West Berlin, an international urban design competition for the future capital city of Berlin (East ánd West) was initiated. This competition, Hauptstadt Berlin, resulted in a series of blueprints by international, modernist architects, amongst others Le Corbusier, Hans Scharoun, and Alison and Peter Smithson. In East Berlin, Hauptstadt Berlin was interpreted as a Western act of power and propaganda, and was followed in 1959 by an Eastern counter-competition with counterproposals for the Berlin city centre. Both the East and West urban design competitions can be viewed as Cold War weapons in the so-called battle of ideologies, the ideological and geopolitical battle between East and West.
Ecumenopolis departs from the so-called Cultural Cold War, in which East and West tried to extend their spheres of influence by means of art and culture. Within this framework, in America, modernist art - as a counterpart of Soviet social realism - was considered to be a powerful instrument in Cold War politics. In 1967 it was revealed that many western Cultural Cold War activities were funded by the CIA.
A similar Cultural Cold War battle took place in the field of architecture, in which East and West tried to extend their spheres of influence by means of export-urbanism. Within this framework, in America, modernist architecture and urban planning - as a counterpart of Soviet social realism - were considered to be a powerful instrument in Cold War politics, to fight the War on Communism and to spread the American values of freedom and democracy.
An important figure in this context was the Greek architect and urban planner Constantinos Doxiadis (1913-1975). Doxiadis planned and built many cities throughout the world. Besides playing a large role within the American export urbanism, Doxiadis worked on his own mission. This so-called ekistic mission was based on his scientific theory Ekistics, was eventually to evolve into a blueprint for Ecumenopolis, a world-encompassing city of the future. Greek antiquity and the ancient Greek city were to be at the basis of Ecumenopolis.
The work Ecumenopolis is an investigation into intermingling truths and realities around Doxiadis’ ekistic mission, his city of the future Ecumenopolis, and an ambiguous network of 262 Delians traveling the Aegean Sea (an international, interdisciplinary network from the highbrow architecture scene to the American intelligence world). The work reflects on historical, contemporary and future ideological and geo-political realities, and the role of architecture and urban planning in this context.
The work in progress Capital City studies historical, contemporary and future Eurasia as a cultural, ideological and geo-political space, and the foundation of the Eurasian Union in this context.
Since the foundation of the Eurasian (Economic) Union in 2015, some speculation has taken place about a future capital of the Eurasian Union. One of the options suggested was Astana (Capital City in English), the futuristic capital of Kazakhstan. Astana has been built from scratch since the early 2000s. Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of Kazakhstan (1991-2019) and Leader of the nation - who initially invented the idea for the Eurasian Union in 1994 - took the role of the founder and architect of Astana. He did not only envision Astana to become the heart of Kazakhstan, but the heart of a larger area as well: Eurasia.
The work Capital City is not about Astana as the capital city of Kazakhstan; it is about a city of the future in the heart of Eurasia, with name equivalent Capital City and the abstract, futuristic, urban setting as its departure points. Intention is, by means of intermingling realities and truths around Eurasian histories, theories and experiments, and in particular Nazarbayev’s city of the future, to critically reflect on historical, contemporary and future Eurasia as a cultural, ideological and geo-political space.
The work A Stone from the Moon is generously supported by the Mondriaan Fund and CBK Rotterdam