Floatation: Pleasure and Awe
"The last phase of the evolutionary process that gradually 'lifts up' a city, is its swinging over the nature". [+]
"...but this way and that way at the wind´s good pleasure ceaselessly we swing ´n swivel..." [+]
In Takis Zenetos´ projects, swinging is one of the many factors that compose the final built product. In most of his projects, the architect has taken decisions that reveal a sophisticated relation between architecture and ground. At the house in Kavouri, Athens, the horizontal elements of the structure distance from the ground and extend so that they create spaces open to the horizon. While at the unbuilt hotel complex of Kifissias avenue, Athens, the tension to the building´s vertical axis is a clear reference to the suspension balconies at Mountain Athos, Greece.[+]
This relation becomes even clearer within the of Electronic Urban Planning Utopia
, 1952; a proposal by Zenetos concerning the design of the ideal city. Given that utopia is an opportunity for the architect to express his most subtle architectural desires, Zenetos study allows an access to the privacy of its creator´s architectural obsessions.
Zenetos in his study proposes a city that swings over the ground, suspended by cables pylons. The internal structure is based upon a grid pattern. The main point of his research is the implementation of tele-energies as well as the creation of a flexible urban planning system which can be applied by using prefabricated elements. This system would maintain its interior balance by incorporating up to date digital technologies. The suspended levels consists a coherent whole. The suggested space among them is not everywhere the same, depending on the use. As a result, a city with both flexible limits and many levels of density is created. Zenetos uses the term 'swinging' literally in his proposal, since, both the material part of the city (the built environment) and the immaterial communication networks are floating in the air. Nevertheless, the complete release from the ground comes gradually, since, at first place, certain activities such as sports or cultivation would still take place in the nature, while the cities, after their release, would play the role of keeping the historical memories alive.
Nevertheless, in Zenetos´ utopia, the term 'swinging' has also another more subtle meaning. According to his proposal, the possibility of extending the city does not meet any restrictions and it can even be implemented in the air, depending on the potential needs. This does not only imply the architect´s intention for a permanent release from the solid ground, but also his intention for a permanent release from any built tradition. Any problem of integration just ceases to exist, as the only thing that connects the suspended city to the past is the cable connection. This allows to the city not only to remain in the air without having to ever return back to earth, but also, it allows to continue its development at a higher level. Time stops for anything built, on the ground and the return to the land of origin as expressed by Dimitris Pikionis, becomes the detachment from the ground. The new city may start all over, allowing its architecture to 'swing' over the built tradition, with its eyes off the ground.
Translation: Maria Drossou
Copyediting: Eleni Axioti
Photo: Courtesy Alessandra Mariani,