Collective City

Alexander Eisenschmidt | Visionary Cities Project

Designer & Curator: Alexander Eisenschmidt.
Team: Matthew Busscher, Daisey Martinez, Pedro Medrano, Paul Mosely, Isabela Rolim, Janina Sanchez, Anton Tonchev, Surama Viera.
Material © 2016 Visionary Cities Project. All rights reserved.
Exhibition at the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture, Shenzhen, China, December 4, 2015 - March 1, 2016.

Cultivating an ability to detect potentials in the contemporary city becomes paramount in our world of extreme urbanization. Therefore, “Collective City”  explores spatial, organizational, and material ingenuities born out of the forces and pressures of the contemporary city, answered by the architectural amateur, and used by everyone.

As Eisenschmidt explains: “We are interested in how the dynamics of global urbanization effectively influence architecture; or to put it more bluntly, how the intelligences of the existing city can be engaged architecturally. From a streetrunway intersection in Gibraltar, via the Osaka baseball stadium turned- model village, to stilt houses in international waters at Biscayne Bay, the project understands these conditions as saturated with potential for a new kind of architectural urbanism.”



The exhibition documents, organizes, and projects a catalogue of existing inventions and tactics found across the globe (often outrageous, sometimes humorous, but always embedded in the here and now) with the ambition to establish a dictionary of ideas that can act simultaneously as a reality-check and sourcebook.







It is organized in three parts: A catalogue of urban inventions that is structured according to 26 keywords (from advertisement and camouflage to quicksand and zoning). A panorama that weaves these examples of essential ingenuities – seemingly ‘primitive’ but saturated with intelligences – into a massive drawing of a city in which the individual fragments find new relationships. And, a media platform that encourages everyone to add to the collection by sharing images and locations with #CollectiveCity.


Format: 26’x9’ panorama drawing on vinyl, 16’x9’ grid of mounted photographs.
Support: Frank O. Carlson & Co.; and College of Architecture, Design and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Related Publication: Alexander Eisenschmidt, City Catalyst: Architecture in the Age of Extreme Urbanization (London: Architectural Design # 219, 2012).