Network Architecture Lab

Research Labs + Centers

Fall 2012 + Spring 2013

Kazys Varnelis, director, Leigha Dennis, coordinator

The Network Architecture Lab investigates the impact of changing technological and social networks on architecture and the city. As technology, economics, the public sphere, culture, urbanism—even subjectivity—have mutated, the network has emerged as our dominant cultural logic. The Netlab seeks to understand the consequences of these changes and develop appropriate critical responses.

2012-2013 Programs and Initiatives

Fast Flux
The Network Architecture Lab hosts “Fast Flux,” an exhibit and residency by visiting Lithuanian artists at Studio-X New York in September 2013. Fast Flux explores transactions between Lithuania artists and New York’s Soho neighborhood. In the 1960s, George Maciunas and Jonas Mekas proposed a Kolhkoz, a Fluxshop, and a cinema on Greene Street near the Holland Tunnel, previously Manhattan’s Lithuanian-American neighborhood. Although this project failed, these efforts, and Maciunas’s development of lofts in Soho created an unprecedented juncture of art and lifestyle. Fast Flex explores how art in Soho is subject to the dispersed networks of globalized society and four decades of radical intensity. Fast Flux is sponsored by the International Culture and Art Dissemination Fund of the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture.

Building Megalopolis
Throughout Fall 2012 and Spring 2013, the Netlab collaborated with Dean Mark Wigley, Professor David King, C-Lab, and History-Theory Ph.D. student James Graham on the Extreme Cities project. In Building Megalopolis, the Netlab sought to understand the history and future of the urban corridor between Boston and Washington, (BosWash) identified by Jean Gottmann in his 1961 book Megalopolis as “the cradle of a new order in the organization of inhabited space.” Since then, BosWash has been a site for speculation and a generator of new architectural typologies. For a timeline designed by Graham, Neil Donnelley and the Extreme Cities team, the Netlab collected architectural works that rethought the late modern city, engaged the region, and sought to anticipate the future of architecture and the city in a changing sociocultural landscape.

In the timeline, our hope is to create an open framework for gathering and relating disparate kinds of information so that scholars and the public can contribute their understanding of how architectural, cultural, political and intellectual currents gave rise to the megalopolitan imagination.

Networked Futures
The Network Architecture Lab is undertaking a long-term project exploring the future of human interaction and technological networks in urban life. Drawing on a history of architectural anticipations of networked life in the future–such as Archigram, Superstudio, Archizoom and the Architecture Machine Group—the Netlab seeks to critically understand the future and its threats.

Network Culture
Director Kazys Varnelis continues to work on a book-length research project to explore how new sociotechnical conditions frame our world. This ambitious project sets out to historicize contemporary culture, understanding it within the broader framework of modernity. Excerpts are published in Networked: A (Networked) Book on (Networked) Art, in Central Line Series, Domus and in Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture and the Future of Urban Space, edited by Mark Shepard (AAD 1996).

Extreme Cities A/B/C