Yona Friedman, Cities

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The aesthetic of inexactitude

I am not really a professional artist, just an architect who tries to imagine new approaches to architecture, looking at it as the random accumulation of irregularly shaped individual living and working spaces, which should actually be conceived by the individual inhabitants themselves. It is quite difficult to visualize this kind of randomly unplanned architecture other than through models.
Architectural models can eventually become works of art and I generally make use of all kinds of materials not originally intended for modelmaking: corks, boxes, mosaic, paper rolls, lampshade-rings, etc. It is their assembly that makes the models.
I was naturally delighted when I was asked to try using ceramics. My models of cities in ceramics are very far from realistic representations (in the sense of mainstream architecture). Clay as a material, its versatility, its heaviness suggested new forms to me; forms that were very different to the drawings of the project they were due to represent. The accent here lies more on the ideas.
The compositions in space I happened to shape in clay led me to improved shapes in architecture, breaking away from regular forms and industrial precision towards an aesthetic of inexactitude, of the irregular. The difference is similar to that of vernacular buildings in clay, in dry mud compared with industrialized “prefabs.”
I do not know whether the objects I made in clay are beautiful or not (how does one define “beauty?”). What I hope is that they might encourage a few people (even some architects) to continue this line of thought, discovering new potentials for the man-made environment.

Yona Friedman

Cities by Yona Friedman was made in Albisola in 2003 during the 2nd Biennial of Ceramics in Contemporary Art.