M HKA gaat digitaal

Met M HKA Ensembles zetten we onze eerste échte stappen in het digitale landschap. Ons doel is met behulp van nieuwe media de kunstwerken nog beter te kaderen dan we tot nu toe hebben kunnen doen.

We geven momenteel prioriteit aan smartphones en tablets, m.a.w. de in-museum-ervaring. Maar we zijn evenzeer hard aan het werk aan een veelzijdige desktop-versie. Tot het zover is vind je hier deze tussenversie.

M HKA goes digital

Embracing the possibilities of new media, M HKA is making a particular effort to share its knowledge and give art the framework it deserves.

We are currently focusing on the experience in the museum with this application for smartphones and tablets. In the future this will also lead to a versatile desktop version, which is now still in its construction phase.

Yona Friedman

©image: Jean -Baptiste Decavèle

1923 - 2020

Born in Boedapest (HU), lives in Paris (FR).

Yona Friedman was a Hungarian-born French architect, urban planner and artist. He was raised in Hungary in a Jewish intellectual milieu. A lecturer noticed his talent and arranged for him to stay at the university despite the anti-Semitic quota laws. At the end of the war, he went into hiding and joined the resistance. This period laid a blueprint for the young Friedman, who would develop themes such as individual freedom of choice and full citizenship. His later ideas regarding the survival strategies of the urban wanderer also originated in these experiences. Friedman survived the war, moving to Haifa in Israel, where he lived in a kibbutz, worked as a construction worker, and was able to finish his studies and teach. He started experimenting with habitable cylindrical living units (Cylindrical Shelters, 1953-58), containers that could be stacked on and next to each other (Stacked concrete boxes, 1958), walls (Panel Chains, 1945) that could be linked into a shape appropriate to the environment, or rooms that became movable furniture, or temporary or permanent living quarters (Cabins for the Sahara, 1958), constructed from materials and elements found in the environment. Gradually, Friedman whittled down architecture to its purest distillation. Instead of a defined mechanism, it was a process as arbitrary as life itself. This arbitrariness in process and structures required clear communication between all stakeholders, the need for what Friedman called self-planning, and a substantial simplification of construction techniques. This also had social implications: less-educated construction workers with unsophisticated tools also needed to be able to build.

In 1957, Friedman moved to Paris permanently. He presented his ideas (La ville Spatiale (1957) and L'architecture mobile (1958)) in Europe for the first time at the Xth International Congress of Modern Architecture (ICAM) in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Urban megastructures were in high demand in the late 1950s. Unlike his colleagues, Friedman proposed a three-dimensional superstructure instead of a new-build: an open lattice to be filled in, that could be wrapped around or attached to existing buildings in the form of a skeleton of modules. This would allow occupants to inhabit a space of their own making, adapted to their evolving needs. Instead of conceiving new buildings or imposing their own design, architects must devise spaces and expand existing infrastructure without building. The structures had to touch the ground over a minimum area, as in Friedman's design for a bridge city over the river (1963) or much later in Venice with the Ponte della Libertà (2000). According to Friedman, the future of the metropolis lay in the almost endless possibilities of this three-dimensional superstructure.

Notwithstanding the city's continuous growth, the available area for building was already limited back then. The world was already 'overbuilt'. Friedman believed that you could make nature habitable by using it without destroying it. His starting premise was also radically democratic and participatory; instead of an architect, he was more like a humanist or sociologist who looked at the world from an architect's, from an artist's perspective. To re-imagine what a city can become, the focus should be on the relationship between people and their environment. After the fiasco of WWII and the rebuilding of Europe, many felt the need to emphasise the humanitarian considerations. Looking back was a horror story. 

Thus, Friedman returned to what he considered man's greatest invention: the door, an opening between two spaces, leading to a complex system of openings and obstacles. It heralded the beginning of architecture. 

"But architects think in terms of monuments. Everything they do is all about monuments. Their Monuments. For eternity". 

As such, he was diametrically opposed to modernism and Le Corbusier, although the latter did endorse the young architect's views. The architect's job was to outsource a design and production process rather than develop his own, well-defined design. The architect of the future thinks in terms of urban structures, guiding future inhabitants in their design and construction process. Improvisation, self-planning, transparent communication, and freedom in the limitation of materials became the mottoes that Friedman distilled during his lifetime.

The CIAM reorganised itself, and Friedman's ideas found little resonance. In 1957, he founded the Groupe d'Etudes d'Architecture Mobile (GEAM) with Jan Trapman. The publication of an article on Friedman's work led to an introduction to the German architect Frei Otto and later to the Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld and the Polish architect Jerzy Soltan. In 1960, the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and other members of the Japanese Metabolist movement that linked architecture and spatial planning to the cyclical renewal of a metabolism discovered his work. They also had to contend with the total destruction of Japan's infrastructure.

The work of physicist Werner Heisenberg and his uncertainty principle had made an indelible impression on the young Friedman. After 300 years, the cause-and-effect narrative had become too uniform. But objective reality was not only questioned in physics. It gradually became clear that every observation was a selection from various perspectives. Each perspective had different implications, and offered multiple possibilities. Each individual could become his own master builder. The architect's role was to guide him in this and provide the necessary scientific knowledge.

Unlike his colleagues, like Le Corbusier, he saw architecture as an organic process without a fixed end point that should be committed to paper from the outset.

"How can we match the form a resident envisages at a given point in time with the one they may want at a later point in time?"

Friedman developed a lifelong commitment to open and transparent communication, which he felt was missing between the architect and the inhabitant. In response, he developed cartoons, which he used to convey his ideas to a broader audience. Friedman used them in his talks and lectures. The simple stick figures, composed of horizontal and vertical lines, are reminiscent of early writing systems or prehistoric petroglyphs. In his cartoons, the figures are usually depicted as being on a construction site that holds the middle between a lab and a blank page. It shows man in the state of nature. His dog Balkis is also often featured in these cartoons. On this, he noted:

"I wrote about how animals are at the mercy of the laws of nature. But aside from this, they are free. We humans, however, want to circumvent the laws of nature. Animals, on the other hand, do not need to change the world. They change themselves."

Friedman pursued this natural simplicity, much like Jean Jacques Rousseau's Candide. It informed his visual way of thinking as an architect and sociologist. After moving to France, he and his wife, Denise Charvein, made several animated films, adaptations of African sagas, one of which, Annlaya Tou Bari, won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1962.

He also began teaching at Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia (USA), allowing him to develop his ideas further. Friedman authored several self-building manuals for the United Nations and UNESCO so people could build their own homes in countries in Latin America, on the African continent, and in India.

In 1978, he was commissioned to design an extension of the building of the Lycée Bergson in Angers, France. He decided to put the design in the hands of the building's users, namely the teachers, students, their parents and school staff. They decided to add small seating areas or patios in the corridors leading to the classrooms to create more open space in the new building and in the minds of the people walking around in it. The building was completed in 1981. Following this project, Friedman also wrote how-to comics. Here too, he wanted to share the basic skills of architecture, its administration, and urban and self-planning with a lay audience, inspiring people and getting them thinking, like the Socrates of architecture. Individual freedom and a conscious approach to the living environment are the basic principles of his work, which consists mainly of proposals in the form of drawings, models, scale models, ideas and theories. In the 1990s, his work increasingly became a source of inspiration.

Friedman was much more than a utopian, conceptual artist, as evidenced by the flat he and his wife lived in, which, in time, evolved into a gesamtkunstwerk of souvenirs, found objects, arts and crafts, models and scale models, drawings, paintings and rubbish that had been transformed into readymades. From the 1990s, the art world increasingly rediscovered his work, leading to publications with, among others, Hans Ulrich Obrist (The Conversation Series: Volume 7, 2007) and Manuel Orazi(The Dilution of Architecture, 2015).

His work was also shown at the Venice Biennale on several occasions, at Documenta 11 in 2002, and at numerous other venues, galleries, museums and art fairs around the world. At the end of his life, he made proposals to view Europe as one big city, a superstructure shaped by cooperation, the division of roles, and far-reaching integration of the infrastructure of the cities that were part of it.



>Yona Friedman making a model for 'Iconostase en gribouilli', 2013


>Yona Friedman, Hoe leef ik met de anderen zonder baas of slaaf te zijn? Yona Friedman, 1974.Book, ink, paper, 29.7 x 21 cm, language : Dutch, publisher : ICC/Internationaal Cultureel Centrum/C.E.A.-C.E.R.E. Centrum voor Architekturaal Onderzoek en voor Onderzoek van het environment (vzw), Antwerpen.

>Yona Friedman, Ik teken zelf mijn huis (handboek geschreven en getekend door Yona Friedman), 1974.Book, ink, paper, 29.7 x 21 cm, language : Dutch, publisher : ICC/Internationaal Cultureel Centrum/C.E.A.-C.E.R.E. Centrum voor Architekturaal Onderzoek en voor Onderzoek van het environment (vzw), Antwerpen.

>Yona Friedman, De stad is van U. Leer ze! (handboek geschreven en getekend door Yona Friedman), 1974.Book, ink, paper, 29.7 x 21 cm, 38 p., language : Dutch, publisher : ICC/Internationaal Cultureel Centrum/C.E.A.-C.E.R.E. Centrum voor Architekturaal Onderzoek en voor Onderzoek van het environment (vzw), Antwerpen.

>Yona Friedman, Iconostase en gribouilli, 2013.Prototype, scale 1:1000.

Exhibitions & Ensembles

> Exhibition: LATT: MUHKADEMIE 2013. 27 September 2013 - 05 January 2014.