The Archive of Uncertainty
Social theory surrounding the ever-increasing control attained by governments, city councils and private companies has created an atmosphere of pessimism for the future of our cities. The correlation between the theory of the city and the theory of capitalism is the fear of failure. This fear is what dictates public policy in the age of the consumer, setting out rigid opinions about what should and should not be displayed in the city’s public matrix.
The structured attempt to control the chaos of the city creates residual and ambiguous land within the edges of its boundaries. And whether the land presents itself as derelict sites, or unkempt border areas, these spaces of uncertainty provide the modern citizen a perspective outside the commodified, controlled, and privatised ‘open’ urban spaces. Creating potential outlets for unexpected or spontaneous encounters, informal events, and alterative activities, where people can cross back and forth between the known and the unknown.
However, a dualism exists between the spaces of uncertainty and certainty in the city, with certainty existing as anthropological place. Anthropological place has at least three characteristics in common, they want to be – people want them to be – places of identity, of relations and of history. An archive is a public institution whose main source of information is derived from those three characteristics. However, these institutions possess systems of control, steeped in bureaucracy, which makes it impossible to navigate the knowledge they possess. Despondency and fear set in.
My response to the ethical city is questioning who controls the information within its boundaries, utilising the themes of uncertainty to imagine the antithesis of an archive. The thesis explores how a building, which has the capacity to archive everything, manifests itself within the context of Brussels.