2016 Master of Architecture Graduation Catalogue

2016 Master of Architecture Graduation Catalogue

 Utopia Redux

“The metamodern figure of utopia, as it appeared across the arts in the 2000s, represents, then, at least two aspects of the metamodern structure of feeling. We hope to have shown, first, that we witness a utopian turn in the arts that stands for the re-emergence and multiplication of utopian desires of all sorts in contemporary culture. To our mind, artists today are once more taking to reimagining utopia primarily because they are faced with a radically unstable and uncertain world, where political systems and power relations are diffuse and unpredictable, financial security a rare privilege and ecological problems sometimes quite literally clog the horizon.”

Van Der Akker & Vermeulen

“Utopia, Sort of: A Case Study in Metamodernism”


Dutch theorists Van der Akker and Vermeulen argue that trope of utopia has re-emerged across the contemporary arts in recent years, in tandem with a reinvigorated sense of empathy, constructive engagement and a renewed appreciation of narrative.  The utopian turn it is argued, is an integral component of the millennium shift from postmodernism to “metamodernism”, a sensibility marked by a pragmatic idealism situated in societal responses to global warming, political upheaval and violence and the digital revolution.

Derived from the Greek ou-topos meaning “not place” or literally “nowhere”, the term utopia was first coined by writer Thomas More in 1516 to describe an imaginary island characterized by the greatest degree of perfection in its social, legal and political structures and systems.  The concept of utopia has been a recurring theme in architecture since this time, marked by experimentation and interrogation of architecture’s ideological and societal purpose.  In the late 1970s however, utopia as a focus of architectural discourse and practice was relegated to the margins of history in the wake of the extended critiques of the utopian character of modern architecture by leading theorists including Tafuri, Jameson and Jencks.

In recent years however, a number of architectural critics have contributed to a growing interest in postwar utopian movements and their legacy, including the radical propositions of the Japanese Metabolists, Archigram and Superstudio.  These movements established an agenda that still endures to this day through their redefinition of architecture’s relationship with technology, politics and economics.

The 2016 Master of Architecture Graduation Studio is situated within this context and explicitly seeks a reassessment, reconceptualization and critique of utopian desires, focusing on architecture and its relationship with the spatial and material dimensions of food, hyperdensity, resilience and dwelling.