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Here, in Srbia, were very few professionals in the domestic architectural practice - architects who constantly and qualitatively wrote about architecture, urbanism, urban culture. Actually, there was hardly anyone. And that is quite a problem when trying to adequately research or authoritatively document any of these subjects. Thus, we decided to create original educative program for training young future experts (students of architecture and of similar domains: landscape design, design, history of art etc.) to find, study and create texts of architecture in its broadest sense. As well as incurably 'infect' them with this trick at the end of the process. It was almost immediately clear that Public Art and Public Space (PaPs) Program was extraordinary spawninig place. Considering interdisciplinary character of the Program students of various disciplines were already available - being directly included in paralel projects. It turned out that finding and including those especialy in...terested and talented for working with the text was not so hard work as we ment at the begining. The harder thing was to initiate them to sail over unknown, rough sea... Under some lucky circumstances that happened in the meantime and under our quiet, unintrusive persistence, great results were achieved – some of them decided to depart to high seas with us. There were different sorts of people - adventures (that might almost cost as life) to very serious, complete personalities (that brought this project to the end). Considering the fact that the youth possesses its own personal, unique originality, even stubbornness, each of these young people got the opportunity to express themselves and its own originality; each of them got the right to have their own opinion and to fight for it; each of them could count on the fact that the time he or she was ready to spend on this work would be appreciated and that he or she would not be too much rushed. Consequently, this was occasionally a reason for cacophony, occasionally delayed the deadlines. This was the reason of faster, or sometimes slower shipping, but the crew was always satisfied and happy and the ship has never stopped. The next phase was a careful search of desirable topics and persons that this work might be started with followed. After some attempts, attractive, but not available enough (Vienna, Chicago, Rem Koolhaas etc) we decided to try to get Darko Radovic, professor of Urban Design and Architecture at the University of Tokyo's Centre for Sustainable Urban Regeneration (cSUR). We counted on his great, intriguing personality. For he was a prolific writer, exquisite thinker, rare expert in urban culture, internationally known and established as expert, but unrecognized in Serbia despite originated here, friendly, kind, hardworking, communicative ... it seemed that there were enough reasons for proposing 'Him' as a field of research. Thus, Darko become 'a donor, a voluntary donor of organs - of his texts', while the students were the Author – sort of 'Dr Frankenstein', who choosed appropriate parts, tied them to each other and combine in a new kind of orcestrated personality – the book. This book is a team work. The best team products come form synergies. The synergy is a mysterious quality that one can only hope for. The book was to be a by-product of a complex research and design project, co-owned by a number of stakeholders. As such, this book is many things to many of its creators. The production of Urbophilia was an innovative research and research-led educational process. What matters is the process of creating a book; the result we obtain is only the consequence of this process. Its complexity goes beyond our original intention, and even further beyond the sum of fragments of used works, which are its basic constituent parts. Those elements are the transcript of lectures, interviews, a collection of edited and updated essays, and several analytical cross-sections through that material. They make a network of readings, a body of a text which can be experienced in various ways and paths, not only through used writings, but through the fields which we aspired to address. In a way, we wanted this book to be designed as a piece of architecture or, even more so, like a piece of the city. To expand the analogy - if Darko was the architects of its individual blocks, the other team members were urban designers and engineers. They designed all vital connections, managed life at critical, vital interstitious spaces and cared for its rhythms. We believe that their common effort made multiple readings of this volume not only possible but (in a way which is similar to the multitude of paths through a good urban space) even inevitable.
Keywords:urban study / cultural study / eco-urbanity / diversity / complexity / context / place / otherness
- University of Belgrade, Faculty of Architecture