Mobility Lab @ International Architecture Biennal

International Architecture Biennial Rotterdam event is held every two years in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, itself recognized worldwide as an architectural trendsetter.

The International Architecture Biennial focuses 2003 entirely on the theme of ‘mobility’, examining the issue of modern-day mobility and the consequences for architecture and urban development.

Architects, civil engineers, urban planners, traffic experts, landscape architects, students, filmmakers and photographers from around the world will spend two months presenting plans and exchanging ideas in the form of exhibitions, lectures, publications, debates, films and excursions.

Lecture & Exhibition @ International Architecture Biennal, Las Palmas, Rotterdam, 7 May-7 July 2003


In Las Palmas, mobility in all its forms and guises will be explored to its fullest. Renowned architects and artists, as well as up-and-coming talent, will be given the space to present and discuss their ideas and visions of the future in the Mobility Laboratory. The exhibition will showcase an international selection of groundbreaking projects in the areas of public transportation, the environment, technical innovations in the automobile, experimental transportation systems, art, architecture and urban planning.

The main conclusion that can be drawn about the use of cars in the 20th century that it became a collective case of a private affair. The subject lives around the world. Architects, filmmakers, photographers and artists from around the world provide their vision of mobility in the Open Biennale of MOb_LAb. Open Biennale was quite open submission. This produced diverse and numerous projects, which all relate to the theme of the biennale, mobility.
Approximately ninety projects by architects, designers and artists selected for the Biennial of the Open MOb_LAb. Utopia and reality change even further apart. When MOb_LAb is the variegated richness of ideas and plans centrally, while others again benefit from participating. It is a subdivision of From here to there? Alongside the route? Panorama from the route? Transfer stopovers? New urban concepts? Route in progress? and Dreams? Deeds ?, from the idea that infrastructure has a look at the surroundings. The themes of the projects are located in a particular place or manner in the mobility network.
MOb_LAb is a laboratory of planning, a fair of ideas. Conclusions do not necessarily have to be drawn, a thread is missing because the nature of MOb_LAb as part of an investigative biennial in the first instance an inventory. But there is a difference in approach to the theme: negative becomes positive and vice versa.

Mobility Challenge to Planners

Urban planners and politicians have long regarded mobility as little more than a necessary evil, a source of noise and filth, and, moreover, damaging to the environment. The automobile and the freeway were singled out as the most blatant offenders. Combating the negative side effects of mobility took center stage and consumed the public resources, while at the same time the freeway was more or less left to fend for itself. But in the end we have paid dearly for this shortsighted approach: the result is a no man’s land, misspent scraps of ground that fall prey to the proliferation of unsightly industrial zones, sound barriers and nondescript office parks. Planners seem to have forgotten that millions of commuters spend a good deal of their daily lives on the freeway. And so it has come that one of our most frequented public spaces is also the most scorned.

The consequences of mass mobility for spatial planning are of a far-reaching, worldwide order. In a relatively short period of time, the complexion of metropolitan areas has changed immeasurably. Cities have crept insidiously into the heart of the transportation network; this phenomenon, often referred to as ‘urban sprawl’, continues unabated. In the Netherlands, green horizons and natural landscapes have been decimated into enclaves or have disappeared altogether. But the realization of a long-term ecological structure is not only undermined by the high price of the land itself. The world can no longer afford to regard mobility and urban infrastructure as a purely technical problem: it has become a social, cultural and ethical question.

Recognizing mobility and the freeway as a collective challenge offers new perspectives for planners and politicians. Can the no man’s land that envelopes the existing roadways be transformed into a space with an identity? Can we find additional uses for the ground upon which the freeway lies? Can roads be turned into architecture and architecture into roads? How can landscape, city and infrastructure be more optimally interwoven? Is the concept of a ‘scenic highway’ possible in the Netherlands?

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