© Aiste Ambrazeviciute

Babylon 3


BArch 2 Studio: Analogue Digital Production

Wolfgang Tschapeller | Werner Skvara | Eva Sommeregger

The Reconstruction of the Future

In 1974, Constant began his retrospective essay “New Babylon, a nomadic town”(1) with an excerpt from an interview(2) in 1963 with Vaida Voivod, the president of the Romany people: “We are the living symbols of a world without frontiers, a world of freedom, without weapons, where each may travel without let or hindrance from the steppes of Central Asia to the Atlantic Coast, from the high plateau of South Africa to the forests of Finland“. By this, Constant set the tone for a city of the future that would span the globe as a network 20 meters above the surface of the Earth, in which all land would be collective property, all work would be done by machines, and people could devote themselves to creative games.
Supposedly, it was Guy Debord who then convinced Constant not to name his great project for a global city of the future “Deriville” (3), the city of drifting, the city of unplanned journeys, as Constant had planned, but instead to baptize it “New Babylon” and – as Henri Lefebvre commented – thus to reference a “figure of evil”; named for a cursed city, it was to transform into the city of the future.(4)

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Babylon 3


BArch 2 Studio: Analogue Digital Production

Wolfgang Tschapeller | Werner Skvara | Eva Sommeregger

If that was really what happened, then Debord arguably anticipated, around 1960, aspects of the film “The society of the spectacle” (1973), in which he used fragments of the movie “The New Babylon” by Kozintsev/Trauberg (1920), which tells a love story against the backdrop of the Paris Commune(5).

In any case, he named Constant’s city of the future, which didn’t even exist yet, for a city that no longer existed, and thus at least indicated that he suspected that Constant’s “New Babylon”, the as yet unbuilt Babylon of the future, was an archeological problem just like the old, buried Babylon and would first have to be unearthed before it could be constructed. In fact, it turned out that despite all models and descriptions, “New Babylon” never really became tangible, and that every new attempt at an elucidation once again led to it being buried.

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Babylon 3


BArch 2 Studio: Analogue Digital Production

Wolfgang Tschapeller | Werner Skvara | Eva Sommeregger

Here, we start our project for the “Reconstruction of the Future”. Constant’s drawings, descriptions and models are to be considered from the perspective of an architect or engineer in training, not from the perspective of a visionary, so as to reconstruct an excerpt of the city of the future’s architecture, a Babylon 3: New Babylon as a shell, a frame, a technological fact, a meteorological continuum, as a framework for infinitely varied environments, and a realm for learning and study.

 

(1) New Babylon, Constant, from 1956 to 1974.
(2) conducted by the Amsterdam-based newspaper Algemeen Handelsblad
(3) Le Jeu de Cartes des Situationnistes, by Thierry Paquot.
(4) Henri Lefebvre on the Situationist International, interview conducted and translated in 1983 by Kristin Ross, printed in October 79, winter 1997.
(5) „The Society of the Spectacle”, book published in 1967 and film with the same name in 1973