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Fig. 01: My Visit to the “Cloud City” exhibition by Tomas Saraceno, Berlin 2011, Author’s own

Tomas Saraceno, an Argentinian contemporary artist has used his artistic work to expand the concepts of radical architecture of the 1960s. His art is very architectural, taking inspiration from Buckminster Fuller he creates unusual spaces and explores futuristic scenarios at a 1:1 and inhabitable scale. When I was younger, I visited one of Saraceno’s exhibitions in Berlin (2011) called “Cloud City” (Fig. 01).[2] The project challenged the concept of human interaction with their surroundings. A fictional city that picks up on the work of Superstudio,[3] Saraceno used the “Cloud City” project to explore the close relation between humans and nature. The work made visible the fact that everything we humans do has an impact on our surroundings, including on the people around us. Proposing futuristic architecture/art based on utopian/dystopian scenarios as a means of social critique is the forerunner to designing and building architecture with social implications.

In the face of the world's current climate crisis, the creative and architectural scene could benefit from some additional radicality today. Many architecture practices are already putting forward such ideas, for example the offices of Austrian architect, Chris Precht, or of Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels.

Austrian architect, Chris Precht, and his practice are working on a modular timber tower called “The Farmhouse”. It proposes a refreshing perspective on how we approach tower construction in combination with urban, vertical farming: “In the next 50 years more food will be consumed than in the last 10,000 years combined and 80% of this will be eaten in cities. It is clear that we need to find an ecological alternative to our current food system.”[4] The approach of bringing back fresh food into cities is vital when considering the climate crisis. Locally-sourced food will allow for better quality, greener environments, shorter transportation distances and fewer carbon emissions.

Danish architect, Bjarke Ingels, has designed a concept for a floating city: “OCEANIX”.[5] In collaboration with the UN and other groups, it presents a vision of culturally rich communities and sustainable cities taking shape on water.[6] This project addresses the issue of global warming and rising sea levels. A floating city would not be dependent on its location and would be suited to be built in any waters.

The architectural journalist, Niall Walsh, summarises this well, “‘Oceanix City’ is a response to the prediction that by 2050, 90% of the world’s largest cities will be exposed to rising seas, resulting in mass displacement, and the destruction of homes and infrastructure. [...] All communities [within the project] regardless of size will prioritize locally sourced materials for building construction, including fast-growing bamboo that has six times the tensile strength of steel, a negative carbon footprint, and can be grown on the neighborhoods themselves.”[7]

For me, the projects proposed by these practices seem as if they could have been put forward by the radical architects of the 1960s. For example, in the article by Superstudio “Twelve cautionary tales for Christmas: premonitions of the mystical rebirth of urbanism”[8] published in 1971, the group showcased twelve different approaches of different radical city designs. The designs were never intended to be built, but the idea stuck in people's minds.

The architecture envisioned by radical architecture groups such as Archigram, Archizoom and Superstudio may have never been realized, but it still had a substantial impact on how we perceive architecture today. Within the profession of architecture, thinking far outside the box, just as the radicals did, should be normalised, reaching over multiple other fields such as politics, economics and sustainablílity, with an increasing awareness towards spatial agency.

In the face of a global climate emergency, affecting all aspects of our lives and each one of us, radical designs and ideas are desperately needed. Within the next few years our environment and all of our lives will experience immense change. It is essential to build a network of support and creativity. Within this network we must actively participate, put forward ideas and make sure our voices are heard. The way forward is an open mind and discussion of topics, issues and problems. Everyone is of importance and carries an equal responsibility, including the responsibility to act.




Oscar Goeger, 21 years old, grew up in Berlin and is currently in his second year of Architecture in Newcastle upon Tyne. He is a founding member of the Northumbria University Climate Action Network, which lobbies for a more sustainable focus in architectural education.



[1] Moore, R., 2018. The world according to Archigram. The Guardian, [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 January 2021]. [2] STUDIO TOMÁS SARACENO. n.d. Stillness In Motion — Cloud Cities · STUDIO TOMÁS SARACENO. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 14 January 2021]. See also "Tomás Saraceno: Cloud Cities At Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin". 2011. Designboom | Architecture & Design Magazine. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 14 January 2021]. [3] SUPERSTUDIO.1971. "Twelve Cautionary Tales For Christmas: Premonitions Of The Mystical Rebirth Of Urbanism". Architectural Design. [4] "The Farmhouse". 2020. Studio Precht. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 January 2021]. [5] Ingels, Bjarke. 2019. "TED Talks, Floating Cities, The LEGO House And Other Architectural Forms Of The Future". Speech, Vancouver , 2019. [6] "Oceanix | Leading The Next Frontier For Human Habitation". 2018. Oceanix.Org. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 14 January 2021]. [7] Walsh, Niall Patrick. 2019. "BIG And UN Collaborate On Floating, Modular Eco-City". Archdaily. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 14 January 2021]. [8] SUPERSTUDIO. 1971. "Twelve Cautionary Tales For Christmas: Premonitions Of The Mystical Rebirth Of Urbanism". Architectural Design.


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