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Somebody asked me to write some notes about the void in architecture (and, why not?, also in the city).

They asked me also to think about my PhD thesis on shapes & monuments in writing those notes.
But somehow my french writers and philosophers (I mean Foucault, Bergson, Deleuze, Bachelard) brought me in an old distopian vision about the super-types of any architecture of the western civilazation: the panopticon and the labyrinth.

Those super-models dealt with the creepy fear of the void, the possibility to think about the void in a completely artificial way. You must be prisoned to understand the void, because prison is the real transposition of a spaced place, totally predictable, with a perfect superimposition of mind-control strategies and space organization.

The counter-super-type of the labyrinth is the trasposition of the possible (for Modernity): you can go where you want, but if you have a purpouse then you must chose the right way. Labyrinth doesn’t deal with freedom, for the fact that you must go or act, you’re not free to stand or rest in a labyrinth.

Panopticon is the super-type of the modern city. Exodus declared it in a pretty ugly way. For the panopticon the void is necessary to see everything. The skyscraper is the place for the guardsman.

Labyrinth is the super-type of the heterotopia, a place without a place, in which you are alone and probably with no specific identity. You can’t say whether you are a guard or a prisoner. The void is the space of this shifting-dualities.

In the late ’90s cinematography has metabolized these two super-type, showing that they weren’t part of our future way of thinking anymore. Two motion-pictures showed that when you loose the words you simply cannot image future anymore (without changing you interpretative tools).

the void of ‘Structure’ – or when you can see your desires outside the panopticon-type
(from The Matrix)
the void inside the labyrinth-type – or when you must have only one desire
(from The Cube) 

Next step is to consider one simple fact: the space is only present. Both The Matrix and The Cube showed that the possibility of escape is in a new time-type. In the Cube you don’t know your past, in the Matrix you don’t know your future.

Perhapes there is (somewhere) a new kind of time-void which can let us understand how we can communicate and design the future.