One of the great, if seldom realized, promises of architecture is its capacity to affect change. The best architects seem to have this potential in mind constantly as they structure career-length narratives around the social impact that good design can achieve. While this is often hyperbole, and most projects are driven by functional or economic considerations, there is the occasional opportunity for artists and architects to create purely speculative work, where radical departures from established typologies suggest alternatives to the status quo. In these rare cases, novelty is embraced not for its own sake, but for its potential to generate new archetypes, to provide a glimpse into a parallel world where architecture truly has agency: where design can change society for the better.
Jinhua Architecture Park, China.
16 architects from all over the world, brought together by artist, designer and curator Ai Wei Wei, have built a micro-city of pavilions scattered along the banks of the river Yiwu.
For Domus magazine 894, July 2006
Text by Hans Ulrich Obrist. Photography by Iwan Baan. Edited by Rita Capezzuto, Joseph Grima.