The Laboratory of Ciro Najle

Iñaki Abalos

Recent attempts to address the urgencies of the great contemporary metropolis frequently dissolve into the domains of urban geography, urban sociology, or urban ecology: so much so, that one begins to wonder if the discipline that Ildefonso Cerdá opened upurbanismexists beyond the limitations of the ethical or social contingencies specific to each urban formation. In Ciro Najle’s investigations, in contrast, we find no trace of this type of approach: instead, we find a resolute pursuit of a revision of the technical instrumentality and methodologies of modernity. Najle’s work is notable for its surprising and rigorous formalism. The architecture, the landscape, and the urbanism of modernity are sieved through the formal logics of process-driven informational and mathematical protocols, providing a response to the most decisive problem that the city presents to us today: that of providing consistent forms to contemporary urbanization as it unfolds before us on a brutal scale and at an explosive velocity.

We are generally accustomed to experiencing two types of approximations within schools of architecture: those concerned with the self-centeredness of the embellished architectural building, regarded as a recognizable and measurable object of scale, and those attempting the nostalgic and improbable exercise of controlling the urban by means of disciplinary resources of the most diverse affiliation. The laboratory that Najle has been directing for many years positions itself, with a particularly unusual stubbornness, beyond the limitations of both of these groups, largely as a result of what at first appears to be an impulsive conviction: that a projective methodology of the metropolis should be constructed with neither moral commentaries nor disciplinary debts but rather through the systematicity of the lab.

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Extract from

[1] Bruno Latour, “Give Me a Laboratory and I Will Raise the World,” in Science Observed: Perspectives on the Social Study of Science, ed. K. Knorr-Cetina and M. Mulkay (London: Sage, 1983), 141–70.
[2] “Languages of inscription” involve the idea of acting formulations, which are not merely inclusive but are predisposed to and induce action. J. L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words, ed. J. O. Urmson and Marina Sbisà, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1975).