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Eliza CULEA , Virtual textures as the mark of the emerging digital culture

Virtual textures as the mark of the emerging digital culture

Spring 2010
Arhitext Essay Competition, Bucharest, Romania 
Published July 2010 in Arhitext magazine
1st prize
This essay, winner of the 1st prize in the ‘Architextures’ competition organized in spring 2011 by a prestigious specialized magazine in Bucharest, investigates how our every day space is being invaded by temporary, virtual textures, created by ad agencies instead of architecture offices. Below is a translated extract, while the entire article is available in Romanian.

Arhitext Magazine July 2010 Cover

Original article in Romanian


(…)And there is no other domain that translates so honestly the defining fibers of the community we inhabit as architecture does. Besides the masterpieces every age produces, an entire array of everyday buildings were erected and stood testament of the values, social strata, level of culture, religion, community spirit and so many more traits despite coming out of architecture offices or DIY stores. It is not only up to the exceptional to tell the story of our world, but it more frequently lies in the grouping of the anonymity to offer just as precious inside information.  

We build what represents us as a moment in time, we inhabit it, we change, we move on. We transform much faster than our buildings are capable of. We reconvert them time and time again and in the end we let go and tear them down as it is time for the new. And the pace of this renewal was never so accelerated like it is today. This talks about our perpetual quest for the new, our hunger for the next big thing, our discontent with the world as it is today and how we constantly strive to make it not necessarily better, but different. And the rapid rate of globalization stands testament of that. We are animals of rapid change, cursed with an attention deficit disorder as we will long for the past and dream of the future while being trapped in a constantly unsatisfying present.

While looking to see what this behavior might bring to our society and our cities in the future, there has always been one city to incite both dreams and fears regarding a potential direction of development. Tokyo, since long before the days of ‘Blade Runner’ has stood as the possible future for us all. Going back there today, we find a city that beside its many particularities from transportation to cuisine, has chucked one of the most elementary western love affairs of architecture. It has forgotten shape. The immense pressure of the real estate on land prices combined with a continuous fragmentation of private lots due to high taxes of succession translated into a simple fact: the land is simply too small and too expensive to perform any sculptural experiment on a building that would cause the loss of square meters. The answer is the simple vertical extrusion of the plots outline till the maximum allowed height by the sketchy urban planning laws. Urban space no longer gets defined by intricate well thought articulation of volumes but by boxes covered in continuous walls of advertising. The anonymity of the building is however balanced by a texture of commercial information, leaving it up to with its colors and moving graphics to define the world around. The city has become a giant, confusing, billboard of signs, an all-surrounding TV advertisement that Venturi’s Las Vegas can only dream of. And the strange thing is that in this saturated world of the commercial reign, we find ourselves rather than overwhelmed by the continuous bombarding of information, in a delighted childlike glee. This texture of information, with its specific sale generating goal, through endless multiplication becomes a city scale decoration, but one which has found purpose in this capitalist world.(…)