The year 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Museum Of Modern and Contemporary Art MMCA, coincides with the centennial birth of an ongoing revolution: the establishment of the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai April 11, 1919. Architecture and Heritage: Unearthing Future connects outdoor spaces at the heart of the city’s center and provides a platform for commissioned architects to reflect upon Seoul’s modern heritage while highlighting issues facing urban life today and the future. Obra Architects was commissioned in early 2019 and conceived of Perpetual Spring Pavilion to occupy the museum’s front courtyard from September to April 2020. The accompanying website platform is ongoing.
The Climate-Correcting Machine: Architectural Prototype of Urban Community Gathering The Perpetual Spring Pavilion serves as a one-of-a-kind prototype showcasing the functional aspects of urban community gathering: a building as an artificially-controlled greenhouse machine to address and bring attention to a pressing global issue of our time: climate change. Combining form and destination with function, the Pavilion is proposed as a “Climate-Correcting Machine,” a platform for awareness and an invitation to action, both physical and virtual.
Perpetual Stream, a real-time display and view of Perpetual Spring from the museum lobby cam, visible at www.perpetualspring.org, was launched upon the physical opening in Seoul, and archived viewing continues online despite the early closure of the pavilion interior to the public due to covid, although the open public space of the courtyard enabled visitors to the installation’s exterior throughout its physical life until it was dismantled in April of 2020. Offering a place of comfort during days of severe weather, the Pavilion is a free open access venue for a variety of public uses including public lectures, poetry readings, theater, music, dance performances, discussion groups of all kinds, book club sessions, etc. All who are interested are invited to sign up online to use the space during open museum hours at www.perpetualspring.org.
Special guests are invited to talk about issues related to the intersection between the emergency global climate crisis and the prospects for the unlikely rise of authentic democratic rule and universal justice. Perpetual Spring is an installation that aspires to artificially perpetuate, into the fall and winter, the climatic conditions propitious to progressive social change, artificially creating the kind of weather that invites to human interaction, community organization, and the debate of ideas: clear skies, pleasant temperatures, and abundant flowering greenery.
And so it is by way of a machine that we can then attempt to prefigure both, some kind of future and its denial at the same time. If the prevalent economic system has provided storage of the efforts of the many for the benefit of the few, the machine is both empowerment and substitute of human agency towards the transformation of the world into a home.
It should come as no surprise then, that the anticipated fundamental presence in the coming city of impersonalized artificial intelligence is still that of the machine. The unfulfilled promise of modernity in general, and of the Modern Movement in architecture in particular, is that of finally gaining control over the time of our lives, freedom from labor, and the possibility to pursue our self-realization and finally attempt to become who we really should have been. The machine is the preeminent tool in that struggle.
Perpetual Spring is then intended as both concrete and the abstract machine, as a place where the very real parameters of weather gone awry can be rudimentarily tweaked both as modest example and proposed symbolic ritual, and as the repository collective efforts towards a meta-technology, if the rightful owner of people’s machines has been confiscated in obsessive fixation with individualism—the antidote for fear—, new machines shall be invented through a popular effort towards an alternative technology.