Demanding UTOPIA NOW HERE, we speculate on how design can construct spaces in which difference can be imagined, discussed and lived in the here and now. We ask: “What are understandings and practices of utopics that are relevant today and what roles may design and architecture platforms have in manifesting difference?” U-topia can be defined, quite literally as ‘no-place’ or ‘no where’ – it displaces our normal spaces and times so we can engage radical difference. UTOPIA NOW HERE is developed through reflection on practical cases and theories of utopics. Cases include examples from the previous design, architectural, curatorial, and pedagogic practices of participants as well as new activites. Utopic manifestations, in our previous projects – such as Action Archive, DESIGN ACT, Feminist Design Power Tools, Switch! Energy Futures, and Utopian Talk-Show Line-Up – take the form of public and participatory platforms for practitioners, stakeholders and the public to imagine, discuss and experience alternative practices of design, architecture and urbanism.

UTOPIA NOW HERE started up by manifesting during the 2nd Istanbul Design Biennial 2014 as a temporary platform organizing open dialogs sharing examples and exchanging experiences with local and international practitioners and the public. With the aim of deepening knowledge and expanding networks, we explored together possible forms and politics of utopic practice today. A program detailing a series of open dialogs including a public presentations, open and invited meetings and urban excursions is updated at the project website.

Image (above)
Photo from the Istanbul Design Biennial

My role
I have initiated and managed UTOPIA NOW HERE in collaboration with the participants, including securing its funding, successful application to the Istanbul Design Biennial, establishing its focus and scope, methods of operation, and network. The program at the Istanbul Design Biennial was formulated and carried out as a collaboration among Magnus Ericson, Meike Schalk and myself.

Participants include: Sara Brolund de Carvalho, Magnus Ericson, Hélène Frichot, Maria Hellström Reimer, Helena Mattsson, Ramia Mazé, Meike Schalk, within an expanding network

UTOPIA NOW HERE is partly sponsored between 2014 and 2015 by: Architecture in Effect, a strong research environment in Architecture Theory and Methodology funded by The Swedish Research Council Formas, at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, School of Architecture, and; a planning grant from the Artistic Development Fund at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. Participation in the Istanbul Design Biennial is in collaboration with the Consulate General of Sweden. Activities are also supported 'in kind' by participants through their own research projects, artistic work, and teaching.

More about the project

More about the public program at the Istanbul Design Biennial

Public presentation by Magnus Ericson, Meike Schalk and Ramia Mazé from UTOPIA NOW HERE with guests Cenk Dereli (architect, co-founder Architecture for All and Kontraakt project), Gökhan Karakuş (designer, theorist and critic, curator Hyperarchaic Tectonics) and Meriç Öner (architect and associate director of research and programs, SALT), Nov 4, 2014.

Series of dialogues with Aciliyet Mektebi / Studio of Urgency, Aslı Kıyak İngin (architect, founder In.FORMAL academy and Made in Şişhane), Kadambari Baxi (professor, co-founder WBYA Who Builds Your Architecture?) and Mabel Wilson (associate professor, co-founder WBYA?), Selva Gürdogan (director Studio X Istanbul; architect and co-founder SUPERPOOL) and Gregers Tang Thomsen (architect and co-founder SUPERPOOL), Serkan Taycan (artist), Cenk Dereli and Yelta Köm (architects, co-founder Architecture for All and Kontraakt project), Cem Kozar and Işıl Ünal (architects, co-founders PATTU), Nov 2-6, 2014.

See also

/ Publications / Mazé (2014) 'Forms and Politics of Design Futures'.

/ Publications / Mazé (2014) 'Forms and Politics of Design Futures'.

/ Publications / Mazé (2014) 'The Future is Not Empty: Design imaginaries and design determinisms'.