PARTICIPATE! (What does Europe look like?)

Heather Ring
Alongside our feature interview with Markus Miessen Archinect has been invited to participate in spatializing Europe.

On March 25th 2007, the European Union celebrated its 50th birthday. Unfortunately, Millions of Europeans did not share Rem Koolhaas' enthusiasm for Europe. Europeans lacked belief. While the AMO-designed flags were waiving throughout Vienna's city centre, Europe's constitution failed. The decision by French voters to reject the proposed constitution presented a first knockout blow. But when the Dutch voted down the constitution by nearly a 2-1 margin, it was as if the voice in the wind blowing off those windmills was shouting in Dutch ears, "Kick 'em again!" In it's most crucial phase, conflicts were understood as problems rather than opportunities. Might this be due to a lack of spatial imagination? What does Europe inscribe? How is it delineated? What constitutes a European space?

What does Europe look like?

Is Europe a place, a space, or a temporary community of shared interests? Europe as a political space is as conflictual as its constitution. It needs to be designed and negotiated.
Archinect is invited to participate in visualizing what a European shared space could potentially be.

1. Post text or image (whether something you've made or found) of your spatial perception of Europe, OR
2. Take someone else's spatial perception of Europe and superimpose your opinion. (Hack it).

May 4, 08 4:29 pm

is europe, OR near portland?

May 4, 08 8:16 pm  · 

forget europe, fear the awesome unification of Normerica!

May 4, 08 8:38 pm  · 

These are some of my favorite photos I've taken of Europe. Not terribly creative of me to just post pictures that I took but I thought it might help get things started....

May 4, 08 11:43 pm  · 

Europe looks expensive.

May 4, 08 11:53 pm  · 


May 5, 08 12:40 am  · 

i sent this link to my friend in istanbul and this is what he sent me back three hours ago when it was 4;00 am there. he said, "call this triptych "Union of Pistachio" and post it before it is too late..."
i asked, "wtf?"
he said, "each baklava represents 1 tooth"
i asked, "biting cotton candy?"
he said, "what!? biting itself! it is baklava day in other others' space... romance my friend, it ain't 'cake' walk."

you be the judge... i am still thinking about it.

May 5, 08 1:11 am  · 

wk, i've got that some photo, taken @ the hirshhorn gallery in DC...

May 5, 08 4:09 am  · 

[img] width=418[/url]

a survey of trabants - 'where are they now?'-style - would make a great portrait of contemporary europe. some cool pix here, some of which i couldn't lift:

May 5, 08 8:12 am  · 
May 5, 08 8:12 am  · 

[url=]pimp my trabant[url]

May 5, 08 8:13 am  · 
pimp my trabant
May 5, 08 8:14 am  · 
May 5, 08 8:16 am  · 
brian buchalski

maybe it's jsut me...but why the need to define "europe" at all? why contribute to the centraliztion of power when it only benefits the largest of corporate & political interests?

May 5, 08 8:27 am  · 

so help develop a definition that begins to allow for changes in those conditions, puddles. since when is a discussion of meaning only favorable to the powerful/wealthy?

how can description of european space change public perception and wrest ownership/control of that space out of the hands of corporations and politicians and hand it back to europeans-at-large?

May 5, 08 8:32 am  · 

just as long as there remains over 3000 cheeses, 1000 types of wine, and 700 different sausages, Europe will be fine. the problem is the enforcement of trademarks and mass market standards that are destroying the terroir of the continent. damn bureaucrats in brussels!

May 5, 08 10:14 am  · 
May 5, 08 10:46 am  · 

in 10 years, that kid is going to play w/ a pipe bomb

May 5, 08 11:08 am  · 

which one?

May 5, 08 1:01 pm  · 


May 5, 08 1:05 pm  · 
Slow down


May 5, 08 1:55 pm  · 

italy looks like a boot

May 5, 08 5:37 pm  · 

A bunch of washed-up ex-superpowers desperate to get back to relevance?

May 6, 08 1:36 pm  · 

OK - I 100% agree with giving a new concept for what EU is. And for doing that thing like region, autonomy etc. must be the topic. and when talking about space - we should probably talk about mobility,
comunication etc.

UE is not a country nor a typical union - or it should not be.

Anyway, I find quite interesting the topic and the issues this fellow, Markus is doing. - Nice job Heather.

p.s. for those US guys who do not know what EU is:


May 6, 08 4:21 pm  · 
An der schönen blauen Donau.
May 6, 08 4:57 pm  · 
John Clark

I think the work put together in the Participation book is really interesting. Thanks for the interview. But I'm still struggling to see what relevance a few "architectural" thinkers can have in influencing people's view of the EU? Beautiful synthesizing, writing, and photography and I'm sure the discussions within Goldsmiths is really stimulating. That's wonderful that spatial practitioners can engage the institutional system, but what effect can these intellectual tactics have in engaging residents of an applicant country who don't have access to these discussions? I wonder is the work AMO has done has had any implications beyond architecture circles? Maybe there was a picture of the new EU flag in Men's Vogue a couple years ago.

And moreover for me, an American, Europe seems to be a place where a lot of affluent college kids can go for a year to experience the old world. There are not many reasons or American's to worry about the shape of Europe.

This discussion has been fairly blah and maybe that is indicative about how much people care about this relationship between Europe and America.

May 7, 08 11:00 am  · 
won and done williams

good points, johnnystew. you echo my thoughts exactly. i do think this discussion really points to the extent of how much american-european values and relations have eroded. what's ironic is america's indifference to european affairs comes at a time when american global hegemony is starting to wain. perhaps the most important thing the eu can do at this time is recognize its own power and step into a greater leadership role in world affairs. a strong eu can only help the rest of the world.

May 7, 08 12:14 pm  · 

I've gotta say I am suprised and encouraged by the number of posts here critical of the EU.

The competition assumes: "Millions of Europeans did not share Rem Koolhaas' enthusiasm for Europe" because they don't really like the EU, which is an enormous top-down beaurocracy and vehicle for corporate interests and self-glorifying politicians (IMHO...). That's not what the votes mean, neccesarily. Its a big jump.

I think Europeans have a growing enthusiasm as they continue to recover from WWII but their strength comes from themselves and not from regulations.

Europe is a giant, churning mix of political structures & cultures, and stifling that with beaurocracy could have negative consequences.

I think we would benefit from <i>decentralization<i/>, and free association between nations rather than forced.

VIVA LA FRANCE! but not really the EU.

May 7, 08 12:51 pm  · 

i find markus miessen's work creative for the union.
it is like a grass roots start up, but i wouldn't write off some other methods of participation as reactionary.
what is he? soft revolutionary, facilitator, our guy in Dubai, or explorer before the big guns move in? an institutionalized alternative 'go to' person? what and whom is he really working for?

interesting thing is, his audience are already pro EU and participating. so, he is not really being challenged, and he says other opposing views reactionary and ineffective. a little whiff of preemptive strike perhaps?
his problem is mainly of and about being 'not received' by the opposition. because those people might not ever missed any studies except what he is pitching. so the issue is; he will be reactionary to their position. otherwise he only recognizes his cause is being the right one and only willing to work with that.
i don't know if i am clear, but there are some vicious circles apparent in this.

americans see europeans as harmless little family friends about cheese, beer, beef, street festivals and some kodak moments.
and they feel related only to french, german, and british, mainly through similar religious values. and since ww2, have this superior big brother complex toward them. i agree with johhny stew.

how about some thoughts on necessity of expansion of EU or limitations of standing still?
a lot of people in turkey, for example, are 'now' very doubtful of EU's sincerity and neutrality about religion and race.

May 7, 08 1:16 pm  · 

It seems like drawing a hard line around Europe is hard to do and ultimately unprofitable: Turkey is a great example - they are European, but more than that, too, right? and if you don't join the EU are you not European?

May 7, 08 1:23 pm  · 

i am not saying this because i am a turk, but without including turkey, EU will never be a real multi religion, continental superpower (maybe not a good choice of a definition) and only a limited number of europeans see that.
i am not necessarily pro EU anymore. a series display of double standards by EU played a role in changing my opinion.
it turned into an enormous bureaucratic piece of machinery that its rules are stronger than its benefits.

May 7, 08 1:38 pm  · 

not that I care too much about this macropolitics discussions but Orhan, most europeans (and I'm talkin' about the southeuropeans, where we have a higher ratio of subsaharian immigrants, you can imagine how it is in the north) think that turksih people are as Europeans as the Chinese or the Egyptians...

some think that because of the religious contraposition christianism vs. islamism.. but really, I think most of us just can't "understand" what Turkey is all about precisely because religion there is still a strong (? correct me if I'm wrong) social issue... while most europeans don't care about religion anymore ... so to our eyes, and unless we are being fooled by our own media (which is probably part of what's happening), Turkey it's far, far away (less physically than ideologically/socially)

about the traditional condescendence of Americans towards Europeans I think it's more like the teenager son rebelling against their parents.. it's 'cool' -and it's real, especially when it comes to geopolitical strategies and military power- but it goes nowhere, Europe is closer to America (and viceversa) than to Africa or Asia that are just around the corner, like it or not we are the same thing in the end.. in fact 'you' are 'us' (sometimes 'we' are 'you', from Coca-Cola to a guy-doing-a-TV-late-show-with-a-50's-microphone on-the-table-and-a-night-city-pic-behind), or at least 'you' came from 'here'...
in a future world' 'superblocks' division America and Europe (the 'Western world') should go together to discuss with the Chinese and the Indians about what we do with this planet or we will just simply be left behind..

May 7, 08 2:46 pm  · 

never been besides the UK, but hoping to change that...perhaps that is the problem. You-RUP is but a land mass from France across to the former USSR.

and American's view of You-Rup?

a jamaican's view?

May 7, 08 3:11 pm  · 

turkey is not far far away,
europeans buying coastline property in turkey like they used to buy spanish coast, there is a new oil pipeline deals for crude and natural gas every year, istanbul will be cultural capital of europe in 2010 etc, etc. these are some economic and cultural realities.
turkey wants to be a european union member (common market by its original name) since 1963. and is a big participant of customs aggreement which is the real economic power engine of EU.
a full membership of turkey at this point is more of a symbolic acceptance if anything, since the ties between the EU and turkey already very established and entangled.
you have to realize, inclusion of turkey to EU is not like previous expansion of EU. upon entry, turkey would be represented in the union with more representatives in brussels than almost all the nations except germany and england. that is the issue where the real opposition is brewed.
unless europeans break that shortage of opening up to turkey and finding out how much interaction took a place between those entities in last 9-10 centuries, (i am not including endulus civilization in spain proper in this,) this is very mute endeavor.
it is the education system not the media, who are responsible for this lack of information, anything east of roughly budapest. that is where miessen's efforts can be useful.
i would be questioning your assumption that religion is now has a minor role in european minds. maybe yes in church going statistics, but it is a huge influence as soon as you introduce another faith in the equation such as islam. turkey's issues with religious politics are more of an internal socio political issue that is brought forward for popular support of center right AK party. you can imagine that the turkish left is in near bankruptcy and not a viable opposition at the moment.
it is hard to make a lot of people see but recognition of turkey as a EU member have giant remifications of much bigger picture in global scale.
i am sorry that europeans see turkey as far as china but, it is really not something they would benefit from in rapidly changing world.

May 7, 08 3:33 pm  · 

well, I was talking from the point of view of people 'in the street' rather than people who buys properties abroad (who is a minority) or the big guys in Brussels, or people who are aware about gas and oil deals with this or that country...
I didn't even know that Istanbul will be the cultural capital of Europe in 2010, go figure.. (I couldn't even say which has been this year's capital either.. the 'Cultural capital of Europe' is more like an American icon thing -pure marketing- than anything else, it doesn't echo too much through the continent I'm guessing..)

I understand that Turkey wants to be a member of the EU -for mutual interests- and while we -people in the street- should learn more about them (the 'typical' idiosincracy of the common turkish people basically) they should also learn how to "sell" their image better because stereotypes travel faster than realities and the main stereotype of Turkey is, still nowadays, a bunch of people wearing turbans and goin' to a mosque.. and if that 'caricature' (as exaggerated as any other caricature) doesn't motivate people who don't care about religion like me, you can imagine what the others say .. their view is that "a guy with a turban is not one of 'us'".

I don't the 'historic' interaction will help much,... we Catalans have had a lot of 'interaction' with the Spaniards and the French in the last 2000 years and still dislike/distrust each other just like 5 or 10 centuries ago... imagine how 'close' an European must feel to Turkey if you don't even trust 'completely' your neighbours..

I personally would welcome Turkey with open arms, that would help to create links with the Middle East I guess.., but the idea of a right-wing government 'controlling' a large population through religious influence, like you present it, doesn't sound very appealing to me.

I'd donate for the turkish left if you give me an account number.. well, not really.. but is a thing to consider.. :p

May 7, 08 4:45 pm  · 

From what I see in the posts here as well as from the recent political discourses is that EU is in a deep sh*t called identity crisis - both for the insiders as for outsiders. And if they (we, anybody) do not take actions it will come nothing good from it at all. And if Turkey will become a member it will only be a greater chaos if nothing change.

I am for EU, I am for a united Europe, but there is an interesting thing, which at some point came up in the interview as well: different europeans see Europe (or the Eu) as different things. For me for example is at firs a some kind of deeper re-linkage to some neighbor country's like Hungary, Austria etc. (I am from Transylvania). It is in part a renaissance of the Austro-Hungarian era (when tings were going much better than now). For a Frenchman is something else, for a German another etc. - This is very important to realize. And nobody really wants to deny his or hers personal view.

Of course EU is at first a union of economical and customs agreements, but for the ordinary people things like history and cultural identities are quite important.

I have read some time ago (don't know where) a kind of definition of Europe that included mostly things like catholic religion, the reformation, enlightenment etc. In some chases this is true. It depends only on the point of view we consider the union must work on: if it is based on a cultural resemblance (on common traits of different cultures) than it is true. if we say EU is a common ground for easier and simpler economical exchanges than it is another thing.

So here is the big problem with EU: it is a complex structure that overlaps many possible point of view. We cannot and should not talk about EU as a state like thing.

As for what Markus Miessen is trying to do (and here I wanted to arrive), I think is to find some alternative ways to build a newer and more complex image of EU. A new kind of map maybe, based of relations, contrasts or things like that.
Working with institutions or governments (administrations) is not an easy thing. making politicians think a bit as architects is a challenge. and for to do that there is need of new kind of tools. and gathering informations on such alternative ways it seems to me that is a good place to start. There is need of a image of Eu that is not a common ground for us all, but an image that can change dramatically for every point of view and at the same time it expresses a common goal or attitude.

May 7, 08 5:52 pm  · 

another point about turkey's positioning;

unlike many EU countries, turkey has few options for economic, strategic and cultural alliances.
they are based on historical, geographic, religious and blood ties (oil rich and turkish speaking central asian nations, for example)
the more europe, their long standing choice for partnership, plays this second class membership game with them, more they are discovering their other options and pursuing them. it is my opinion, if europe keeps falling behind on its promise and commitment to turkey, it is also only natural that turkey cultivates its other options more diligently. one look at a geographic map can explain a lot of my points which are attributed to this part of the world since the bronze age.

medit, i don't think cultural capital program is a big deal either, it was just a case in point. certainly a city like istanbul which has been a capital of several empires, could do without that new invention even though i think it is a nice program, from the point of view that might help bring different cultures together.
it is about a commitment that turks made to europe since 1920's, that is in question here. if the turks stay on their commitment and sit in that board room, they will bring many possibilities, resources and strength with them. of course, europeans have to keep their commitments to turkey as well and not abandon them at the end of the road, when the final negotiations conducted.

re; rise of dubai/UAE

many people look at dubai as some gluttonous architectural development of rich arab investors of lesser brains, taste etc. someplace to be exploited and used as commercial exchange. western life style for oil in short.
however, in my mind, bigger picture is different as control of non aligned nations and third world markets slowly shifts into previously silent hands. this is the real picture behind recent build up in UAE and the newer market capitals of the future.
this is no secret. but there is this lack of ideas on how to deal with these changes. we can't treat the new and developing conditions with the same models that were fine in 20 th. century.
i think we will more and more see smaller new think tank type of operations dealing with these new developments. because there is much to figure out and re-structure and invent. that is exactly what the interdisciplinary ideas taking a place in global scapes. that is why i am interested in people like miessen and their work (even at a critical level, or call it reactionary if you want, i don't care...) i am interested as long as they retain self critical view for themselves, and don't become a market analysis type of organization without the criticism of the status quo or their own agenda. as long as they represent many or include the previously disadvantaged.

when this way of thinking will mature and take some foothold, we will start to see many rapid changes in the way the wealth is distributed, communities survived and grown etc. (with a generous dose of optimism.) it is really bookful of ideas that are hard to explain in a limited internet forum. but, i think these are some of the bigger pictures i am looking at.

May 7, 08 6:21 pm  · 
brian buchalski

i think that one of the strongest "images" of europe for me was the (now archived) school blog of a romanian architecture student

May 8, 08 1:32 pm  · 

A few points....

Turkey is part of Europe even if only from a techincal (ie: geographic/geologic) point of view. Or at least half of it (including it's main city Istanbul) is..

therefore if the E.U. wants to be able to claim any sort of legitimacy they need to eventually (sooner than leter) allow Turkey entry. This is not only base don the above, but also because of demographic, political and social needs, with regards to where Europe is headed.
Just like USA they need more poeple as birth rates decline.

I thought Orhan's point, that Turkey would have the largest (or at least one of the top 2-3 largest) number of representative very instructive. I knew there was a lack of interest within some quarters of Europe to Turkeys acceptance. In my mind this was always a mainly elite disinterest (at the political level) and that most European populations wouldn't be bothered.. This point only further illustrates the issue for me.

Additionally, regarding what is Europe and where is it's future.
Personally, i have been and remain excited about the "European project". I think the future is bright.. They are a huge economic bloc already and with expansion and modernization (that EU acceptance will bring, via EU subsidies) the countires of Europe will continue to become even more dynamic economically, socially and politically. I think that the strength of the Euro relative to the dollar is already an indication of this. Just look at the difference between how the European central bank and the US federal reserve system have approached the recent/current financial crisis. Ie; them much more sanely....

May 8, 08 2:18 pm  · 

Yea, nam, look at the Euro. I love how this thread has statements like "A bunch of washed-up ex-superpowers desperate to get back to relevance?", when the Euro is making the dollar their bitch...

May 8, 08 3:37 pm  · 

Eurasia. Eurasia!

When did we all get dumber???

May 9, 08 3:43 am  · 

Exchange rates are carefully crafted things. The British pound has always been worth more than a dollar, not because the British economy is stronger but because they worked hard to be sure of that; non-industrial countries need to have high currency values, industrial countries (and the us is still industrial) need their currencies to be a little lower so they can sell stuff abroad.

If anyone really cared to force the dollar above the euro it could be done, it's just not really worth it.

the strength of the dollar came largely from the fact that the US was the only superpower not economically undermined by war or politics in the last century; the resurgence of other currencies is a wonderful thing even if it means Americans can't stay in fancy hotels for $25.

May 9, 08 8:31 am  · 
brian buchalski

the american dollar is becoming worthless because some very nasty/greedy people have succeeded in centralizing power between wall street & washington dc and are using that to push the nation near bankruptcy.

given enough time, the european union will also succeed in consolidating power...mostly for the benefit of some wealthy crooks while reducing the population to a bunch of drug-addicted zombies.

May 9, 08 1:58 pm  · 
the righteous fist

i'm glad i'm not the only one finding mr. miessen a little opaque, i find the whole problematisation of europe a little directionless, someone above said we're in a 'deep shit called identity crisis' which i find a bit laughable. any such crisis would seem to have the nation state as it's epicentre, not the supranational structure of the EU and trying to reposition the problem of identity at that level seems more like an attempt to graft an existential crisis (and the compelling rhetoric to address it (our duty to a union defined only by our capacity for it)) onto what is ultimately a problem of administration, a series of arranged marriages at the continental level.

in the similar way that the speculative consultancy of think tanks remains within the echo chamber of press releases, NGOs, quangoes, so the idea of europe's spectre does the rounds in the media ecology, something to read about on the tube, good intentions being worried about far away.

i imagine what identity problems the EU is undergoing to be similar to a proto global government come the secession of mars. think about the sudden duty of affiliation we'd have to confront when the marsians are all like, "oh those poor earthlings, they're in one deep shit identity crisis", yeah right whatever

May 9, 08 6:03 pm  · 

As usual, I'm not completely following the argumentation of Medit... but find it interesting that EU tries to find its identity from what it's not - by the borders to Eurasia, something that probably would have amused Edward Saïd. I was almost hoping for a long vacation for the wise men of Sarkozy, if just Article 301 had been a little more softened up recently. Sometimes it just seems that european politicians need Turkey more than the other way around... probably it's us Europeans that only care about european politics when it comes to excluding other nations? Still I love Europe...

May 9, 08 6:55 pm  · 

... and regarding AK, Orhan, wouldn't europeans be thrown into complete confusion if we knew they are members of the European's People Party, alongside Forza Italia, CDU, UMP and the Democratic Union of Catalonia?

May 9, 08 7:04 pm  · 

Guys, I think the point was that you were supposed to express these opinions/views through images/hacked images...? Follow the brief!

I'm proud of the EU, I believe it's one of the few good things the world has got going for it. It's peace and prosperity, not through armed threat, but through economic incentives...It makes sense to everyone.
When something doesn't make sense...The EU is a master of the compromise.
I love the impotence of its massive bureaucracy...Of endless referendums and setbacks and leaps...
I don't think people remember what it was like even just a couple of decades ago - I mean, I can now go and study, work, receive social benefits, health care ANYWHERE in the EU...Just like that. That's an amazing thing...

However...I cannot forgive that when we had the war in the Balkans and people knew that mass-killings were taking place just round the corner - that the EU did so very little...I breaks my heart. To see Dutch soldiers being forced to retreat and let a slaughter commence...To see German troops taking snapshots as they were firing for the first time on foreign soil as they were evacuating their own...The fact that we had to let the Americans to the dirty work...Granted, I don't know "the whole story"...But I don't feel I need to. The EU in my mind, despite all the other issues we may have for or against their institutions and treaties, utterly failed to justify its own existence by this blatant lack of...I hate violence in any shape or form, but what happened in former Yugo - or rather what we as Europeans allowed to happen, I feel, should haunt us for a very very long time.

May 9, 08 8:10 pm  · 

well, a-f, if Unió Democristiana de Catalunya (their real name) is in the same boat as the turkish AF, then it all makes sense... my repulse to the right-wing turkish gov't would be the same I feel to 'our' UDC (which is in fact the small brother of a coalition called CiU, being Convergencia Democratica, center (or 'moderate right'), the one with most votes)... so, again, it's a religious thing: if there's anything resembling christian fundamentalists in Catalonia, that's the UDC. Fortunately, and unlike Turkey, the UDC represent a small minority of Catalans.

May 9, 08 10:12 pm  · 

trying to follow the brief here...

Corriette Schoenaerts

May 10, 08 9:02 am  · 


May 10, 08 9:03 am  · 

once more...

May 10, 08 9:07 am  · 

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