Random Flaneur

25/05/19

Emirhan Altuner / Istanbul Technical University / 2016 / 8th Semester/ Graduation Project / Jury; Ayşe Şentürer, Hakan Tüzün Şengün, Pelin Dursun.

      Random Flaneur is an experimental graduation project which was completed in Istanbul Technical University, in 2016. It was created via use of all digital resources such as Google Earth, Google Images, personal blogs and Instagram accounts, and also some detailed websites about Manhattan without physically being there. It is a long distance challenge for the architectural design process.

 

The story is based on both physical and digital strolling of a random New Yorker through different points of view. The project "Random Flaneur" stands at the end of the Highline. In the entire story, Highline promenade depicts the curated path for the users/citizens/New Yorkers, however the "Random Flaneur" always reminds quickness and randomness of the social media.

     Midtown Manhattan, especially Highline Park and Hudson Yards region are in a state of change because of the gentrification in Chelsea District. Both New Yorkers and the tourists influx to area to comsume art, different events or just their times, but they aren’t actual habitants. When someone new comes to the Highline, and starts to experience Manhattan from upper level, finds oneself in a “curated” path that is surrounded by famous buildings, ongoing big projects, Hudson River in some parts or just the sun, and gets excited by that designed nature.

 

    Meanwhile some curious New Yorkers act as a Flaneur, and still discover new places via old railways, sewage systems of the city and buildings, subway tunnels, parks, etc. We know the term Flaneur which depicts a stroller or a person who walks the city in order to experience it. In this context, flaneur is owner of the city and daily user of it, so it is an ordinary New Yorker, not only specific type of an observer.

     As Walter Benjamin says, Flaneur can be a bridge between the modern city and the people. This 20th century expression overlaps with [place] and [bridge] concepts of Heiddeger, and also these terms are familiar with multilayered core of Manhattan. That mentioned core includes all New Yorkers without the need of gentrification.

 

So, how can we find or create a bridge to identify a location as a place, and also is it possible to get rid of curated Manhattan visions of Highline? The answer hides inside the social media, and its randomness.

 

    “Timeline” of any social media application which dominates our age, expose us to non-stop random views. We are always in that digital media even we don’t think of any sharing issue, and city can still need it to get rid of designed environment. But how?

 

    If we turn social media to a physical structure, and strollers start to send images to Random Flaneur from all over Manhattan, the building acts as a web blog or a live broadcast service. When an image, a place, a video or just a writing or feeling status shared by both New Yorker and a tourist, it appears on facade of the building, and every post flows in “timeline” of Manhattan. Besides, each image holds an information and creates a bridge between city, building and other New Yorkers. With accumulating the data of city, Random Flanuer becomes a [ place ], and continues to improve itself.

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