News!

THE REALM OF COMFORT is out now!Become a Pen Pal!
!

January 2024

The Realm of Comfort

57/02

The Realm of Comfort

Whether you want to make a chair, a building or a city, satisfying the given needs is broadly regarded as an inherent part of designing. Objects mould themselves into asatisfactory form, to comfort the user. This aspect of design regards ergonomics, like a wavy keyboard, but also temperature in buildings, or accessibility to amenities. Over time we have learned to pamper ourselves to great extent, to the point even where comfort is taken for granted.

In this issue we explore the position that comfort occupies towards us. As we naturally desire more and more of it, we numb ourselves to a state of sensory deprivation. Sometimes the search for comfort achieves the complete opposite. The designed world, catered to our will, betrays us sometimes. We know comfort to serve us, but with soaring numbers for depression, obesity and loneliness, and with architecture contributing to that, haven't we started to serve comfort? The question remains: how to cope with this terrible revelation? The challenge for designers is to know where to let go, where to induce, and where to rule. The realm of comfort questions the authority of the designer.

Editorial team

Tuyen Le, Nathan Döding, Stefan Gzyl, Karolina Krajčíková, Sem Verwey

With contributions from

Jesper Harrington, Jeremy Hill, Ricardo Avella

Cover design by

Editorial Team

Editorial

Whether you want to make a chair, a building or a city, satisfying the given needs is broadly regarded as an inherent part of designing. Objects mould themselves into asatisfactory form, to comfort the user. This aspect of design regards ergonomics, like a wavy keyboard, but also temperature in buildings, or accessibility to amenities. Over time we have learned to pamper ourselves to great extent, to the point even where comfort is taken for granted.

In this issue we explore the position that comfort occupies towards us. As we naturally desire more and more of it, we numb ourselves to a state of sensory deprivation. Sometimes the search for comfort achieves the complete opposite. The designed world, catered to our will, betrays us sometimes. We know comfort to serve us, but with soaring numbers for depression, obesity and loneliness, and with architecture contributing to that, haven't we started to serve comfort? The question remains: how to cope with this terrible revelation? The challenge for designers is to know where to let go, where to induce, and where to rule. The realm of comfort questions the authority of the designer.

In the scope of authority, 57/02 is introduced with an in depth interview conducted by Stefan Gzyl with René Boer, about his new book Smooth City (page 4). In the newlypublished book, Boer addresses the topic of the contemporary obsession with efficiency and functionality, creating sterile cities that leave no room for spontaneity. These new ideas are thereafter fortified by Nathan Döding's short story about Indonesia (page 10), where uncontrolled urban chaos opened his eyes to true spontaneity. Let Sem Verweyinspire you again, with an immersive story about a prisoner of the physical, mental and social (page 14). In it, the prisoner portrays our relationship to these boundaries, ourcomfort with staying in line, and the importance of deviating.

For her last contribution to Bnieuws, Tuyen Le addresses designers' unjustifiable neglect of the least comfortable part of our faculty: the lavatory (page 18). The human need topoop is clouded in embarrassment. With architects refusing to give public bathrooms the love they deserve, they have now become the battlefield of political gibberish. We have a special collaboration for this issue. Jesper Herrington, editor-in-chief for Paperspace at the University of Bath, reached out for an article exchange. With the Smithsons' Upper Lawn Pavilion, he portrays the importance of discomfort, arguing that a return to the essential makes us conscious beings of space (page 22). Jeremy Hill relates his philosophical findings to our profession, and argues that the building must also facilitate the comfort of the psychological (page 26). To conclude, we invite Ricardo Avella to review The Game (page 30), an essay about humanity in the digital age.

Winter is here. Cuddle up. Get comfortable with Bnieuws.

Contents

Smooth City

From the editors

4 - 9

pg.

Frictionless, homogeneous, efficient. Sterile, predictable, controlled. These are some of the conditions that define the Smooth City, a concept developed by critic and author René Boer to describe the contemporary city’s pursuit of perfection. Along the way, he argues, an environment that is no longer a city may be emerging. What is the Smooth City and how does it operate? What is at stake? What is the role of architects and designers in countering smoothification?
BNieuws spoke with René Boer about his recent book Smooth City: Against Urban Perfection, Towards Collective Alternatives, a timely reflection at a moment when our cities must remain open to friction and discomfort.

Comfort in chaos

From the editors

10 - 13

pg.

What follows is a photo collage and notes from my diary about the local day to day life in Malang, Java. I spent one month on the island. An island where, besides that half my family lives there, I know nothing. I can spoil that it was a fruitful trip, there is no surprise in that. The biggest lessons were however learned upon landing in the Netherlands. This is no vacation diary.

Between Struggle and Comfort

From the editors

14 - 17

pg.

Imagine a man partaking in a protest. What feeling may have caused an uproar in this man? Is it anger? Dissent? Fear? Agony? The cause of an uprise often lies in these kind of feelings. Leaving these feelings unresolved will eventually turn them into burdens too big to endure on a daily basis. But in this hardship, an enormous amount of strength seems to be nested. The man expresses so much power when he takes to the streets and makes clear his objections. He appears to have gained the ability to break all boundaries. And whatever the reason for any protest may be – however peaceful or violent – the commonality in all of them lies in what is collectively expressed amidst the uproar: “I can do whatever I want to do.”
But can you?

The Realm of Toilets of the Bouwkunde

From the editors

18 - 21

pg.

Here at the Bouwkunde, can you imagine spending your time in a 2 m2 space not only once but 5 times a day? Yes, you can. I am talking about our bathrooms. With the increasing dependency on our phones, we spend even more time in these closets, from 5 to 20 minutes of personal respite between classes and meetings. At an institution that strives for architectural innovation at multiple scales, are you aware of the toilet blocks you have in your design? When you take a piss, do you question beyond the norms of where you're sitting/standing? It is time to put on our forensic lens and enter the realm of toilets at our faculty.

On Discomfort

Pen Pal

22 - 25

pg.

“But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin." - Aldous Huxley

Promoting a positive Relation-to-Self through Recognition in Architectural Design

Pen Pal

26 - 29

pg.

To exist as a human being in the world means: to perceive the world. However, since the world is not inhabited by one human being but by many, it also means: to be perceived by the world. When we interact socially, we are conscious not only as beings that perceive, but also as beings that are perceived by others. By interacting with others – by perceiving how we are perceived by the other – we are able to grasp how we ourselves are perceived by the world. We are able, so to speak, to see ourselves from a third-person perspective.

The Game

What are you reading right now?

30 - 31

pg.

Return to top ↑