Another day, another Urbania update from Harold.

Four of us Helen, Harun, Oko and me meet in the swedish sauna style board room at the Rochelle. It my last meeting of the year - i heading to the big apple this week, we've been given the focus of a deadline by Michael, who wants to what the hll were gonna do. Good question! With that in mind, we discussed the 2 main areas of the project that need to resolved, creating a physical/architectural environment for us to inhabit and devising a manifesto or structure for the overall project. No mean task then.

In note form here are some of our musings.

With regard to social/architectural environments we talked about

Cloisters, cells inhabited by Monks and Nuns. Smaller spaces surrounding a open central space.

JG Ballard, gated communities, suburbia. Looking and isolated communities sealing themselves off, could we lock ourselves away? Creating physical structure like a door or employing guards to regulate access to our space. Helen uses the great phrase "Future Fugitives".

As a reference i recommend Todd Haynes great film SAFE starring Julianne Moore a LA housewife who gradully becomes allergic to everything, eventually having to find an isolated retreat to heel herself. This raised the idea of
Healing retreats
Hermits, Monks/Nuns and specific religous orders

we talked about the power of language to bind a group. One suggestion was to create. a group language or specific words we all use. This lead to discussion about Hybrid Models. Creating a structure that features elementsof all the group and perhaps blending them together.

Oko who's working with Abake brought in some info on DROP CITY (see the link below)
Drop city was an artists community set up Colorado, USA in 1965, its founders being particularly inspired by Buckminster Fuller.

To sum up we've reached a critical point in the project, where we have to make choices and decisions in order to fully realize the project. So following the meeting on the 13th December we should have a better sense of what Urbania is.

Harold x

Safe, by Todd Haynes
Drop City
More Drop City info


Hi Everyone

It's Harold posting some notes up from fridays Ubania meeting at the Rochelle. Firstly, we managed it get 6 out of the 7 Urbanians at this meeting, which was great. The background to the meeting was the good news (for us anyway) that the dates for the Agri- project had been postponed till March.

So on friday night we met up at the space in Club Row that might becuase the site of our residency during the broadcast week. In the previous meeting we'd dicussed the idea of building a modular structure that would act as a base for the collective. Much of the meeting was spent discussing how this might be realized in that space.

Maki made some suggestions about building a structure that took advantage of the height of the room but also linked through the windows and doors the outside space, creating an outside platform or space that engaged with local audience of Arnold circus. Essentially its sounds like something that could be architectually playful, taking advantage of upstairs and outside spaces.

Harun talked about the idea of creating communal behavourial traits, through language and movement, but emblems like badges.

Other points of reference

*Creating elongated narratives/ durational performances.

*Specifying the audience, creating specific streams of communiaction for that audience, ie net geeks

*Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer, who made several expeditions, with various multi national crews. The Kon-Tiki being the most famous.
(check out the link below)

*Islands as a site and context for living and working, can be both paradise and hell. We talked a London's islands and the possibility of visiting some.

*Social housing projects, architecture and social planning. We've agreed to have day out for the group in January, which will included a visit to Thamesmead, the southeast London housing project made famous in A Clockwork Orange.
(see the Link for more info)

* Exploring the idea of time saving or sharing. one suggestion was to pre-record our 7 day residency at double or triple speed and then broadcast over the 7 day period in order to gain time.

* Create decoys and twins to allow more time to do what we really wanted to do.

There was of course more, but i think those were the main points. At a post meeting session at thee The George pub in Dalston. Maki, Patrick and I discussed the idea of setting ourselves some homework for the next meeting.

Our suggestion to the group is to bring in a visual realisation, drawing, map, photo of what we indiviually imagine the Urbania base in Club Row to look like. This will allow us to reach some firm discisions at the next meeting.

We also talked about group manifestos and maybe bringing in examples of those.

Lastly just remind Maki, you also mentioned a woman you know called Leila, who has a shop just off Arnold circus. You thought she might be a good person to meet.

Your comments and feedback are welcome, cheers.
Harold x

Thor Heyerdahl


Hi It' s Harold

I'm writing up some notes from the last Urbania meeting on wed 14th November. Three of us, Iris, Helen and myself met up at the Poetry Cafe in Covent garden, which is a great cafe, a real find!

Our discussions began with a look at images from the "Exit to Tomorrow" book , which looks at the golden age of world's fairs and Expos, I've already put some images up in previous blogs. In particular we looked at Moshe Safdie's 'Habitat 67' housing project for the Montreal 67 Expo. The project see's an extraordinary arrangement of apartment blocks, that create the impression of a modular concreate landscape.

One thing we all zoned in on was this modular arrangement played out in Safdie's architecture. Various parts linked and connnected to form a unit. We thought of various examples of modular structures, the international space station was one example, there you see NASA and the Russian space programme combined to form new entity.

We've been trying to resolve the problem of how get a group of individuals to come together and collective. What are the rules? How do we communicate? The idea of modular structure might offer us a tangiable answer. One of our central ideas for Agri project has been the notion that we will inhabit a particular area of Rochelle for the 7 days of live broadcast. Recently Michael Smythe (Agri project manager) suggested we use a space ajacent to where the main studios will be in Club Row.

I showed Iris and Helen some photo's of the space(i'll also post some on the blog), they were immediately struck by the possiblity of buliding a physical structure within that space which would take advantage of its height. We started to talk about the possibility of creating some kind of modular structure with separate pods for each of the members of the collective. The pod Units would be part of a larger structure and provide a base for the indiviaulas and the collective.

I think this proposal is very similar to the structure of the space station, with various pods allowing various autonomous activities to happen. But the physical structure would inform a working method that would allow members of the collective during the 7 day residency to explore iindivaually and collectively. Perhaps built into the strcuture would be a forum to showacse and feedback to the collective, invite guests, speakers, do workshops, experiments etc.

To use the space reference again, its a base station within planet Agri, the Urbanians become urban explorers going out examining and collecting, before bring that back to the base to share with the collective and Agri audience. I think Helen made some usefuil references to Ants and Bee hives as models of collective organisation.

Anyway, we felt it was a really enjoyable and productive discussion(which i haven't done justice with my babble)

What we wanted to do was to set out some points to the other Urbanians who couldn't attend. Get some feedback and reach a concensus to move forward.

so to sketcgh out some points;

* How do we feel about the proposal to create a physical modular structure within a space at the Rochelle? It would act as a base for the collective.

* Will we all work collectively all the time or will we have individual projects in addition to the collective's project? Do we have to set these ideas out now or leave it open?

* will we all live and work in the space? If so, how do we negotiate this?

* Do you have any suggestions for how this structure might operate or be organised?

* With regards to final Agri TV presentation, How do you feel about the idea of a series of short Broadcast interventions, like bulletins to punctuate the overall Agri project as opposed to a single broadcast presentation.

These were some of the main points for discussion, i may have missed some out. Iris or Helen please feel free to add and edit this section.

Hopefully at the next meeting we can can reach some conclusions.

Cheers Harold xx


Moshe Safdie's habitat 67 was a grand social housing project for Montreal Expo 67. Containing a 158 seemingly randomly arranged apartment blocks build on a man- made island in downtown Montreal. Originally deeply unpopular, its now a sought after address.

The sheer crazyness of the structure is strangly appealing, although from a distance looks like a brazilian favela (slum).


1 Comment


More images from 20th century Expos.

A coloured Op art installation from Lausanne, '64

I love the Afro aliens from the Textile pavilion of Osaka '70

Other worldly creatures explore Expo Lausanne, '64



While in Germany a few months ago, i picked up this great book, 'Exit to Tomorrow: World's Fair Architecture, Design, Fashion 1933 to 2005' ed by Andrew Garn it a survey of the hey day of world's fair and expos.

Above are some images a poster advertising the 1933 Chicago World's fair 'A century of Progress'

2 future fashion designs from the 1939/40 New York world's fair

A model of 'The City of tomorrow' from 1964 New York, World's Fair.

This period of world fairs provided an ideological platform for propaganda by nations and various companies, a means of selling and competing on grand scale. Very different from the modern, scaled down, thematics expos of today.

Expo 2008 is in the spanish city of Zaragoza.



hi you all, it's iris with greeting from sunny italia. just gotta try this...

talking about urban environments, i am currently experiencing one located on a very pretty beach. the city (pescara) itself is a bombed out affair with plenty of 1950/60 rebuilt.

not sure if it's all that relevant but personally speaking meetings point for cities and nature are fascinating places!



NB: This was originally sent as an e-mail

Hi Everyone, Its Harold.

I hope you've all had a good weekend. I just wanted to update
everyone following last nights meeting with me, Iris and Patrick(Abake) in
the Hanoi cafe on Kingsland Road. (21/10/07)

Firstly, most people have responded positively to my last e-mail
regarding the budget. But, some people have outstanding concerns
about the amount time the can give to the project in the immediate
and period leading up to the broadcast in January. This is in due in
part to busy schedules we all have. Jessica in particular has
expressed the difficultly she will have in fully engaging with the
project till the end of january and i know other people have other
major commitments between now and january. However, for me
this is one of the challenges of trying to formulate a project like this
which involves various practitioners, with busy and challenging
professional lives. I very keen to make sure the project is an
enjoyable experience and not a drag. Perhaps in light of the very
short time frame we have 2 months!, it might be realistic to restrict
or contain production or to the the broadcast week in January. (?)

Once again this maybe comes to finding effective means of
communication,  perhaps mirroring contemporary urban life, i think
it will be increasingly difficult for us all to meet regularly in the
period leading up to the broadcast week in january, as 8 individuals
i don't think we've manage to it yet! I think i would be interesting to
embrace these problems as part of the project. Something we
talked about last night was using the blog available to us on the
Agrifastionistas website as a central point for communicating and
diseminating information. I know at the previous meeting several
people highlight the shortcomings of blogs, but i think its an
immediate way of sharing ideas and information and may provide a
focus, allowing us to upload video, audio and provide links. In
addition it does offer the possibly of documenting this discussion
process. My aim this week is to facilitate our access to the blogs.
Comments? Feedback?

to save time and open out the many things we discussed last night,
i' ve listed some topics and provided some links ( Iris and Patrick
feel free to add or amend my notes)

To drive things forward it might be useful to ask some questions?
What is Urbania?
What are our visions of the future? etc

We talked about the nature and function of collectives/teams and
organisations. We discussion one collective, 1980s TV series, The A
Team. A group of vigilante, vietnam vets with a mission for social
justice. Each episode was structured in a way where they would
practically plan, build or construct something to aid their overall

80s nostalgia aside, i think the model of a team with a mission and
social purpose is really useful

This come up as a possible focus for the project the construction/
or realization of monument. We trying examine how you me re-
imagine a monument, using symbols of the past, connected to war,
death or victory. trying to imagine a futurist monument. This
connects to a project i' ve asked to develop in peckham. which is
research and consultation excercise using the mothership as
platform to develop a futurist monument for peckham sq.

What or how you could develop as monument was opened out,
references to Swiss artists Thomas Hirschhorn projects. In particular
his Georges Bataille monument (2002, Kassel, Documenta 11) where he
set up monument (involving a library, community TV station, cafe
and large sculture) to writer bataille in the midst of a estate in
Kassel, Germany.

There was also the memorial to the Iraq War at the ICA this year,
artists were asked to propose a memorial to the ongoing conflict in

Other points in brief

Iris mentioned the idea of using TV formats like news Bulletins or
smaller regular slots, perhaps as interventions within the overall
Agrifastionistas project

Extending this by creating a local news gathering network for a
specific communities

Using the structure and form of Algorithms ( as a methodology?)

Looking at the business of predicting the future, Fashion, design
trends. In business and economics forecasting. Technoolgy+
science who why and what set the agenda.
How does the future become the future?

BBC TV show, Tomorrow's world looked at future developments in
Science and technology made for a prime time audience's_World

Positions and differing view points  Creating debate between guest
Post human developments (body enhancements) VS natural, eco

Asking the elderly about their ideas of the future. How did they view
the future? What was their future, that is our present?

School Forum
Using the site, history and legacy of the Rochelle school, with
regards to creating workshops

TEDS (Patrick what does that stand for again?)
Corporate presentations where speakers are given a set amount of
time to deliver messages, often using multimedia presentations Ref
Al Gore's  'An Inconvenient Truth'

Urban planning models
Milton Keynes, new york, cities of the future
Arnold circus as an example of urban regeneration.

I also made reference before to futurist cults and organisations one
such is Unarius, see the link for info and video clips

AS you can see there is a lot here, i hope some of it will connect to
other ideas people have. IT might be useful to try an set another
date to meet, Is the week beginning 29th Oct good for anyone? i
know a few people are away but, as last night showed even a small
group can be productive. Now the blog is set up we can post ideas thoughts etc and keep everyone in the loop.

I look forward to the discussions.
Harold xx

Tomorrow's World
The A Team


Hello. Its Harold. Firstly this marks a significant point in my life, my first blog entry! The Urbanian's  have had few meetings, but one of our overriding problems is find an effective way to communicate. Its proved extremely difficult to get us all in the same room at the same time. And in our first meeting we discussed how might find means to communicate effectively. Although some of us have reservations (i'm, aware that i'm speaking for the group without permission) it is an opportunity provided by Agri to link us up and get our ideas out there, to who i don't know.

So let me try and set the context. Ok, here goes. Following my invitation to take part in the Agrifashionista project, i  decided to use the opportunity pick up on some themes i'd explored before.

A previous project called The Mothership Collective, realized at the South London Gallery in August 2006 was my starting point. The opportunity to create a broadcast content for this event was and is very daunting. My aim in picking up the strands of the previous project was to continue to explore the idea of peoples perceptions of the future through conventions like Sci-fi. I have to confess i'm not a huge expert, but i'm interested in how the process of trying to image and realize the future seems to hightlight and project the contemporary.

Anyway the basic premise of Urbania, is to invite a group of practitioners to form a collective and develop and present an imagining of a future world. So i' ve taken it upon myself to invite the following people:

Jessica Antwi Boasiako
Martino Gamper
Iris Garrelfs
Helen Walker & Harun Morrison

My starting point was the proposal below, but i see it only as a starting point. And from our initial discussions the eventual outcome will be quite different to what is set out here.

The Mothership Collective Presents:
Urbania: Future World Visions

The Aim
The aim of the project is create a core collective of artists, designers and
musicians who will over the course of 7 days develop and present sounds,
visions and experiences of a future urban landscape called: Urbania. The
Mothership (at Rochelle School) becomes a production site, an open studio for
the development of Urbania.

The Mothership at Rochelle School
The Mothership will represent the hub or site of the activities that will unfold over
5 days. Ideally to be located on the enclosed rooftop space at Rochelle, the
Mothership will initially be a contained, specifically designed flexible environment
catering for multiple uses including production of work, talks,
presentations/performances and workshops as well as a social hang out space.
As the project develops Urbania will be created around the Mothership in other
areas of the rooftop space.

Core Collective - Think Tank
Members of the core collective will instigate, develop, structure and produce the
final presentation. During the 5-day residency period they will be on site at the
Mothership for programme of discussions, invited guests presentations, talks,
workshops, construction and rehearsals and final showcase.

Proposed Core Collective members are
Åbäke: Design Collective

Martino Gamper: Artist/Designer

Jessica Antwi Boasiako: Graphic designer/Filmmaker   

Iris Garrelfs: Audio artist

Harun Morrison & Helen Walker:
Theatre/Live Art/Film

Harold Offeh: Artist/Video/ Performance

The Chorus – Focus Groups
The chorus represents another key element of the project. The Chorus will be
made up of one or more schools, community or social groups, who will
participate in research, production and final presentation of the Urbania project.
Working closely with members of the core collective, their role is to be a focus
group reflecting, interpreting and communicating various aspects of the project
through, art, design and performance.

Max of 3 groups engaged with specific aspects of the project.
Suggested groups:     Future - Primary schools group
            Present - Youth group (Whitechapel Project 18 –24)   
            Past – Pensioners, Elderly Club/Society group

Consultants – Plug In sessions
Consultants are guests – artists designers, architects, scientists, spiritual
speakers who will input into the project through one-off events, talks,
performances, workshops etc adding to the research and knowledge bank being
built up by the Core Collective and Chorus.
During the 5 day residency there will be a daily programme of Plug In sessions.
Hopefully this will include many artists taking part in the wider Agrifashionistas

Documentation – Mothership Sojournal
Over the residency period the Mothership will be a hive of activity, with daily plug
in sessions, workshops, construction and rehearsals. Most of this activity will be
documented through video, with additional stills photography and audio. Each
day the Mothership will produce and broadcast a Mothership Sojournal, which
will be an account of the previous days activities leading up to the final Urbania
presentation. At a later stage the entire Mothership Sojournal will be published as
a DVD.

Outcomes – Urbania Live
The conclusion of the Mothership residency will see a live presentation of the
collectives’ vision of Urbania. The programme will showcase the multi-media
installation, with performances and demonstrations that will act as a Guide to this
vision of the future. The Structure, length and content of this final outcome will be
pre determined by the group, but it make take the form of a Holiday guide, TV
Drama or series of TV postcards. Presented live from the Rochelle site.

Mothership at Rochelle
Basic Construction materials: Large chip/MDF boards, lengths of wood. Tables,
chairs. Comfortable furniture, old scrap sofa, cushions etc. Fridge, Lamps and
additional Lighting. Scrap materials, fabric, paper, and pens.

Video projectors, DVD players, Monitors, audio equipment. Video/ digital
cameras. Lighting, speakers.

Mothership at SLG