Foto: Bas Princen, Incidental Space by Christian Kerez
ARCH+ features

Whole Cities and Divisible Countries,

or speculative Thoughts on a New Mereo(to)politics for the Twenty-First Century


English Version of the ARCH+ features 61 by Armen Avanessian on the New Rurbanism

ARCH+ 228: Stadtland – Der neue Rurbanismus


ARCH+ features 61: Armen Avanessian. In: ARCH+ 228: Stadtland – Der neue Rurbanismus, Cover
ARCH+ features 61: Armen Avanessian. In: ARCH+ 228: Stadtland – Der neue Rurbanismus, Cover

1. Prefatory Remark on Methodology: The Recursion of Part and Whole

Architectural theory usually treats the phenomena of city and countryside as questions of (a theory of) space. Going beyond that approach, I am interested here, first, in their temporal relationship and, second, in the logic that governs it, which is both a political logic of governance and a mereo-logic (mereology being the theory of parts and wholes developed since the Middle Ages). Do cities and countries, capitals and small towns, regions and member states belong to different orders or are they dialectically connected? Or do we have to employ a different logical operator to think the complex relationships they entertain today, think them not in terms of (dyadic and dialectical) reflection but as an instance of (triadic) recursion, that is, in terms of a recursive integration of parts and wholes that always contains an irreducible remainder, always produces a difference? The integration of a part (individual, particular, city) into a whole (general, universal, country)—or its detachment from it—changes both the part and the whole. At times, parts may even be “greater,” more significant, more influential than the whole. 

2. Temporalities

A common thesis states that, historically, the principle “city” develops after the principle “countryside” the way “culture” follows on “nature.” Similarly, the development that leads from rural agrarian societies to an urban industrial and service-oriented society is said to have historical necessity. The spatial either/or of city/countryside is joined, via a temporal analogy, by a before/after. According to a different theory, cities and countries, that is, urban and territorial logics always already influence one another and historically produce different configurations of cities and states. Examples include empires organized on different models of sovereignty or nation states governed from capital cities whose geometro-political logic is to be thought on the pattern of concentric circles.

Yet it might well be the case that we are witnessing a comprehensive technological and social revolution that challenges us to radically rethink the relationship between city and countryside as well. Given the deceleration and musealization of both urban and rural forms of life being propagated epidemically and symptomatically today, only one thing is certain: we do not yet know how we are to live in our city-countries in the future—in a future that has of course already begun. The algorithmically computer-based future has arrived in the present, and we can no longer flee from it into the past. Attempts to fully embrace the present—the petty bourgeois presentism of “contemporary art” and of large parts of contemporary culture—may very well be attended by a liberal or leftist self-perception; psychologically, however, they are no less problematic than the regressive attitudes of rightwing contemporaries fixated on the past. A truly timely contemporaneity with the future has yet to be invented and constructed.

3. Post-, Trans-, and Inhumanism: Back to Nature, Ahead into the Past

Debates about city and countryside are always also debates about the “essence” of the human: (a) In nature, human beings find rest, return to themselves, become one with the force they (always already) belong to—or so the biohumanist diktat, focusing on the past, would have it. (b) We have stopped being human; the boundaries that separate us, biologically, from plants and animals and, technologically, from cyborgs are permeable. In fact, we might never really have been human at all—or so the posthumanist farewell to humanism would have it. (c) We must transform our human nature and perfect it using the most recent technologies—or so the transhumanist immortality fantasy with its focus on infinity would have it. (d) In contrast, recent speculative philosophical and accelerationist circles propagate the notion of an inhumanism that has taken up the cause of rationality, without, however, seeing in reason—or in any other human property—the essential core, situated in an eternal past, of the human being: “Inhumanism is the labor of rational agency on the human. But there is one caveat here: rational agency is not personal, individual or even necessarily biological.”[1]

“Use weapons” or “use your tools” is the gist of the messages issued by the aliens that arrive in an aesthetically unremarkable spaceship in Denis Villeneuve’s 2016 film, Arrival. Only a linguist, that is, an expert on the human tool that, like no other, has separated humankind from everything natural, is able to understand the new language of the extraterrestrials and learns to perceive the future. Becoming a contemporary of the future means, first of all, understanding what data we consist of. It means becoming the information we have been secreting since the beginning of digitization or, more precisely, the beginning of our digitization and algorithmitization a few decades ago, which is responsible for the fact that our future is already known to the algorithms, to the supposed aliens, to all those who have learned the new language of data. “Heptapods,” we read about these extraterrestrial and extrachronological beings in Ted Chiang’s short story “Story of Your Life,” on which the film is based (and which is partly written in the future tense) had developed a simultaneous mode of awareness. We experienced events in an order, and perceived their relationship as cause and effect. They experienced all events at once, and perceived a purpose underlying them all. . . . What distinguishes the heptapods’ mode of awareness is not just that their actions coincide with history’s events; it is also that their motives coincide with history’s purposes. They act to create the future, to enact chronology. 

To become alien, then, is to become a contemporary of the future and to affirm the radical uprooting and estrangement this implies, namely an alienation and othering both of subjects and of the landscapes they inhabit. What we see in Arrival is no charming, flourishing landscape but a nature that has become alien to itself, a xenoscape. Xenophobia or xenophilia? The question that comes from the future is whether we can develop new forms of opening up to what is foreign and other for us and develop, first among these forms, a xeno-architecture opening up to what is other and foreign for it.

4. Biofarms

Yet what are the—entirely terrestrial—temporalities that clash in the countryside? We are used to thinking about tensions between different rural population groups in terms of their “problematic” geographic proximity. Yet aside from all spatial proximity, their difference might primarily lie in wholly different temporal logics. What we find in the countryside, between solar and wind energy installations, next to industrial and increasingly monopolistic agrobusinesses, are very differing models of life, diverging generational models and temporal logics: the so-called natives, or those who stayed behind in the countryside, who are afraid of extinction or feel threatened by overpopulation; creative types, who in their forties or fifties “flee” rising city rents to the countryside, their late-born children in tow; and real refugees, who in their country of origin would be, or are, at that age, grandparents. 

Now, we know that for Germany with its aging population, a state of Brandenburg, say, filled with globalized villages populated by former refugees could only be advantageous economically—provided the newcomers felt welcome in their new homeBut what dominates, officially and unofficially, is a crude mixture of self-confident provincialism and structural racism that is ultimately based on nothing but a desperate, illusory struggle to keep one’s “own” genepool from mixing with others. Obviously the idea of a (rural) nature that includes the German natives afraid of being colonized by foreigners (by aliens or other others) is unnatural in every conceivable way.

When will we abandon the traditional notions of human reproduction in a well-behaved and somehow “natural” rhythm of generations? Conceptions that live up to contemporary technologies of knowledge do think reproduction in terms of genetic recombination—and they do so beyond natural birth and progeny, as Laboria Cuboniks have most recently reminded us in their xenofeminist manifesto.[2] After all, the kind of genetic recombination that in the case of plants and animals stopped being sacrilegious a long time ago has its place in a countryside allegedly reserved for nature, too. Moreover, as Wendy Chun has shown, current in/human biology has undergone a transformation in line with the new epistemic paradigm of computer technology: “This logic of programmability is not limited to computer technology; it also stems from and bleeds elsewhere, in particular modern genetics, with its conceptualization of codes and of programs as central to inheritance . . . Information displaced older visions of chemical and biological specificity and DNA was articulated as a programmed text.”[3]

5. Server Farms

In the countryside of the future, which has already begun, we also find the server farms that have recently prompted Rem Koolhaas to think about a “posthuman countryside” and an “architecture without human occupancy.” Beyond questions concerning the aesthetics of posthuman architecture, I am interested in the effects server farms have on the countryside or, in more precise and metonymic rather than metaphorical terms: I am interested in how a new paradigm of computation does not simply change living and thinking in our software society but affects the “smart” cities and countrysides themselves where we live and work. This concerns not only the expansion of such intelligent cities and countrysides, which has increasingly become a matter of controversy. The first correlate of the “new technological a priori of digitization” (Friedrich Kittler) is a new political geography, a new understanding of what a computational landscape means for both city and countryside in the twenty-first century.

The task—for architecture as for the theory of architecture, for politics as for philosophy—is to live up to the challenge of this spatially and temporally complex social landscape where the human can no longer claim epistemic primacy over against computers or algorithms. For that reason and because algorithms have no present—neither an aesthetic nor any other kind of presence—it is nostalgic and regressive to posit the living present of human beings, their aisthetic presence and aesthetic concerns, as the exclusive criterion for thinking architecturally about city and countryside. 

6. A Speculation Concerning the History of Architecture

Just like practically all our political philosophy, modern architectural theory has for a long time mostly been articulated with reference to the city. I won’t list here the refutations, deconstructions, and condemnations of such conceptions. Naturally, the argumentum e contrario—Make nature great again?—does not yield the solution either. Architecture has for quite some time struggled with a lack of aim and orientation as to its social or political goals and possibilities. Architecture, too, has lost sight of its future. 

Today, indeed even less so than ever before, there can be no question of dismissing or permanently ignoring the opposing side, city or countryside (as if this separation had ever existed as such).[1] What is needed, rather, is something like a new architectural Enlightenment that picks up on the progressive and emancipatory aspects of modernity beyond the paralyzing incessant repetition of modernism’s formal vocabulary in ever the same glass boxes occupying our gentrified city centers. Is it possible for us to take on the intentions of modernism in the form of an altering, alienating alter-modernism or altermodernist architecture?[4]

Although parametricism—the most recent trend to be heralded as a new style, as the first real answer to modernism and a new paradigm—has embraced the technological progress of digitization and “recursive material computation,” it in no way offers a solution. The “continual development of computation,” Patrik Schumacher writes, is the basis of aesthetic building understood as the “elegance of organized complexity.”[5] The theoretical claim of parametricism is to have achieved the dialectical sublation of the opposition between Cartesian ratio—Le Corbusier’s “limited concept of order as conceived of in classic geometry”—and morphogenetically elegant nature. All too often, however, the practical result is merely a seamless “aesthetics of parametricism” that is obsessed with elegance and conceals questions of political responsibility behind a quasi-formalistic “landscapification” of entire neighborhoods. The refusal to resolve such questions corresponds just as much to the antidemocratic attitude of many of those who initiate such megaprojects; the grandiose seamless surfaces are in line with the general tendency toward postcybernetic control in our ever more intelligent cities: “Topological aesthetics has become a form of speculative control: a preemptive integration of differential relations”[6]



7. Incidental, Post-Aesthetic, and Mereotopological Architecture

To have a “future” again, architecture might have to open itself up to speculation and contingency beyond the familiar parametricist forms. Luciana Parisi has suggested a third option for thinking extension beyond “striated (metric) and smooth (topological) spaces”: “This approach is defined by mereotopology: the study of the relation between parts, of that between parts and wholes, and of the boundaries between parts.”[7] Her approach and the concept of mereotopology articulated by the mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead make it possible to think architecture otherwise than according to aesthetic criteria, i.e., to go beyond its formal language. What they foreground instead are recursive phenomena such as the integration or re-entry of parts into a whole that can itself be part of another whole:

In contrast to blob architectures, which have given rise to a computational aesthetics expressed by the topological surface or the smooth plane of total connection, mereotopological architecture reveals that infinity is intrinsic to parts, unities, and discrete objects. From this standpoint, infinity does not coincide with the total fusion of spatiotemporal dimensions into one deforming surface, but instead can be explained by how wholes (continuities) become parts (discontinuities), and how parts can be bigger than wholes.[8]

The idea of an Incidental Space (as one might say pointedly with a view to Christian Kerez’s project for the Biennale)[9] is not to even out surfaces and to construct a space as smooth as possible, but rather to think the whole starting with its hole—and that means starting with its parts—as something that is perforated, discontinuous. What begins to emerge here are no longer aesthetic but (xeno)poetic, simultaneously contingent and materially contagious spaces, incidental spaces and incidental landscapes. Yet what might at first seem “incidental” to us might have a (mereotopo)logical consistency of its own. Thought in the terms proposed by Luciana Parisi, the spaces or “holes” between parts are themselves parts; they are not random but potentially trace out the structure of a new whole:

For me, the contagion of infinities or contingencies or randomness is not to take over formal logic of algorithm, but to show that logic itself is invested by contingency and what appears as incidental or a break down into logic is instead logic understood in terms of complexity, or mereo-topology, i.e., a becoming of parts.[10]

8. Metaphysics of Architectural Time, or Different Forms of Controlling Time: Prevention, Preemption, Prehension

In parametricism the absence of perforations and the fascination with seamlessness[11] have a correlate in an avoidance of time, more precisely, an avoidance of the contingent aspects of the future. The question then is whether and how it is possible to distinguish between different, more or less progressive ways of dealing with the future. How do we confront “future,” that unsettling mode which stands for simultaneous existence and non-existence (of that which is futural)? One familiar way of dealing with it is classic prevention, a nihilistic mode, as it were, of preventing temporality or futurity; another is the preemption that characterizes parametricism. Preemption however is not to be confused with prehension, which characterizes mereotopological extension: a prehensive architecture might be seen as implementing a progressive form of our new speculative temporality in which time itself comes to us from the future (preemptive personality, preemptive warfare or policing, proactive health care, derivative trading, etc.). There are different criteria according to which an engagement with various phenomena of preemption may count as progressive. First, the capacity to integrate the foreign and the other into one’s logic of development. Progressiveness would then be, quite literally, an expansion of time (which comes from the future) in the direction of the past. “Le passé est imprévisible,” as speculative materialist Quentin Meillassoux once put it, “the past is unforeseeable.” That also means that it can be changed and reinvented. The progressiveness of a model of time (including the models of architectural history) would then be signaled by whether it provides richer, more numerous, unforeseeable, contingent pasts, in diametrical opposition to historical fixations or regressive idealizations of the past.

A future is progressive when it offers guidance or parameters for making decisions about the past. That is how its progressiveness is measured. Simply amassing more and ever more data—what Yuval Noah Harari has called “dataism,” which constitutes the dominant ideology today—tends to have the opposite effect, an automatization of the future and a closure of the present (as a space of possible decisions). It is no coincidence that Parisi insists on a mereotopological shift of dominants: the quantitative increase in data and parameters must lead to qualitative changes, to a dominance of data over the way it is programmed. The categorical imperative of progressive data architectures is that, as part of a program, data ought to surpass this program. Here, too, the stark contrast with parametricism, a model based on completeness in which programs dominate, is readily evident. The space and times of mereotopology in turn are infinite in the sense of the set of “irrational numbers” that is greater than the set of rational or whole numbers from which it emerges.[12]

Parts or partitions that are greater than the whole from which they emerge: what does this imply for a (mereo)topological study of cities as parts of (whole) countries?

9. Infinite Territory and ∞-Topology

In Doug Liman’s 2014 military science-fiction film, The Edge of Tomorrow, humanity confronts a spatiotemporally superior being in the year 2020. Biologically, the aliens are a single organism operating a radical mimesis of the earth: the so-called Mimics invade the entire territory (continental Europe to start with). Similar to Arrival, albeit now with belligerent or destructive intentions, the so-called Omega Mimics are capable of resetting time from the future. Under the everyday conditions of warfare, this ability “to start time over again, but remembering what’s going to happen” means that “an enemy that knows the future can’t lose.” Not by chance, “omega” infinities are what mathematician and philosopher Gregory Chaitin calls the infinities at the limit of algorithmic computation or mathematical calculation. They are characteristic of mereological topologies, that is, of transgressive topologies that allow for change.[13] These speculations on mathematical infinity are relevant for architectural theory and the question of a new relationship of city and country because they allow us to approach the paradox, which is a topological, geopolitical, and in the end geotopological paradox, that cities can be part of countries and simultaneously more comprehensive, significant, and influential than these. 

The opposite political orientations of mereotopology and parametricism can thus be further described with regard to a new recursive dynamic of city and country. It is at the transition points between city and country—porous breaking points where they blend and swap their traditional functions—that architecture can aim at producing emancipatory effects in the smooth space of contemporary power. Not in the sense of a one-sided deterritorialization but rather thanks to an insight into particular historical, political, and spatial combinations of de- and reterritorializations. Decades of neoliberal globalization have familiarized us with the “double bind” in which economic and territorial deregulation is tied in with military and political conservatism. But how can we think an economic nationalism à la Steve Bannon or the general trend of renationalization in topological terms? Which topo-logic governs the increasing number of para-legal zones (special economic zones, offshore zones, etc.) by means of which nation states place their territory in a permanent legal, economic, and, ultimately, political state of exception?



10. Extrastatecraft

“Speculative computation” is the opposite pole of a preemptive parametricist “mode of prediction” that amounts to precluding the contingency potential of the present by automatizing the future it projects. Attempts at such a new mode of computation are motivated by more than an aesthetic aversion against the meandering pleasantries of an apolitical parametricism. Their main interest is in concrete legal and always also political frameworks and infrastructures. 

This form of logistic or “infrastructural power,” which operates technologically (e.g., via safety standards) and biopolitically (e.g., via health codes), has been studied in detail by Keller Easterling. “Like an operating system, the medium of infrastructure space makes certain things possible and other things impossible. It is not the declared content but rather the content manager dictating the rules of the game in the urban milieu”—yet precisely not just in the urban but in the rural milieu as well, in fact in the entire global village.[14] It is infrastructures that make it possible for city and countryside to connect and determine the ways they do so. What is primary is infrastructural space, not some kind of rural or “natural” nature to be recovered. Accordingly, we encounter the cities in which we live primarily as users of technological and infrastructural architectures; only secondarily are we inhabitants of architecture built in brick or reinforced concrete.

Infrastructures are also interfaces between city and countryside that regulate the transitions between them and control the overlapping territory. This concerns not only the roads, bridges, water pipes, and power lines necessary for a country’s social and economic life but also “pools of microwaves beaming from satellites and populations of atomized electronic devices that we hold in our hands.”[15] Infrastructures and infrastructural spaces also include international technical standards or global computer protocols that make worldwide contacts between once-distinct geographical, political, and economic entities possible:

As a site of multiple, overlapping, or nested forms of sovereignty, where domestic and transnational jurisdictions collide, infrastructure space becomes a medium of what might be called extrastatecraft—a portmanteau describing the often undisclosed activities outside of, in addition to, and sometimes even in partnership with statecraft.[16]

11. Geopoietics: Political Geography and Speculative Geodesign

Benjamin Bratton, proponent of a design theory that is not simply analytical but projective and speculative and aims at “sketching things in advance of their arrival as much as mapping things as they are,” has recently outlined a “nomos of the cloud” to replace Carl Schmitt’s “nomos of the earth.”[17] This new nomos is characterized by its dissolution of the fixed separations of city and country, citizen and use, political entities and territories. These are replaced by overlapping complex megastructures (fiber optic cables, soft/hardware, users, national territories, etc.) that Bratton calls “the Stack.”[18] This new political geo-graphy, which corresponds to the new possibilities of a geo-design, also redefines the challenges of architecture:

What is the architecture of the emergent geopolitics of this software society? What alignments, components, foundations, and apertures? We need ways to account for the intersecting complexities of computational globalization, its thickened geographies, its mysterious weaving of geometries of governance and territory, seen on their own terms, not as transgressions of some other system. The emergence of computation as global infrastructure contributes to an ungluing and delamination of land, governance, and territory, one from another.[19]

Carl Schmitt articulated the continental and territorial logic of a nomos of the earth against the competing English idea of dominating the waters and the dawning American idea of dominating the air. What to do then with the current nomos of the cloud, which is anything but cloud-like. It most certainly no longer obeys any kind of simple territorial logic. Its regularity derives from a complex new topology. The plurality of nomoi no longer function according to the geometrically organized ideal of concentric circles or the metaphoric logic of an inflated oikos (the natural nuclear family inhabiting its organic single family home in its ancestral nation as part of an organized global economy and so on). The laws of today’s finance feudalism, to be sure, often continue to follow in colonialism’s geopolitical footsteps but they act metonymically, on a pattern of contiguity: their nomoi drift from server farms to the cities and are supplied via satellites (hence the misleading cloud metaphor) and, for the greater part, via cables, most of them running along the bottom of the sea. These latter are responsible for an overlapping and overwriting of the formerly opposing logics of city and country.[20] For all the focus on city and country, then, we must not overlook that the new plural legal order is so to speak undermined by the earth underneath the watery sea.  



12. New Nomoi for Architecture

The return to the earth must no longer be practiced in reterritorializing terms as a regressive return to some kind of natural state. Today, city and country(side) must by necessity be thought as technological and computational. We are witnessing the formation of a new nomos or, rather, new nomoi of country and city. To think these nomoi and to work on their infrastructure—which also and above all means to build them!—we need to further reorient not just architecture and architectural theory but philosophy and political theory as well. Their origin and present is urban. The countryside, the rural, the landscape are things they often only know as their other, as symptoms, or as regressive phenomena—and this is as true of particular discourses (the petty bourgeois fantasizing about deceleration, political folklorism, going off the grid 2.0) as it is of their analyses (of the reactionary hinterland, angry white men, their insufficient political education). Yet what if the only path open to us today for thinking the city is by starting with the countryside? What if this countryside is no more “natural” than the rest of nature? Or, to alienate an old metaphysical concept: what if natura naturans has become artificial and technological?

13. Westphalia and West Failure: On- and Offshore

What if the future of our liberal democracies tends toward the model of neocameralist city states governed like businesses (Singapore; Dubai; beside Hong Kong as a part, China as a whole; and after Russia, increasingly the United States of Trump and Goldman Sachs, too)? It seems that more and more often, the electorate values personal liberties and halfway secure economic growth more highly than political freedom. That is why our political reflections must not again be organized into a chronology (before/after) according to which the idea of democratic identities, for example, is said to have developed from city alliances to nation states only to be threatened today by the disintegration of the system of nation states developed in the wake of the Peace of Westphalia of 1648. Nation states are and have always been a territorial fantasy or cartographic illusion; above all, they are definitely a historical anomaly.[21] Fixed territories and monopolies on the use of force are exceptions, and in a postcolonial and postimperial age, they are ultimately nothing but ideological anachronisms. Accordingly, “sovereign” nation states have for decades been eagerly spinning off (territorial) parts in order to parasitically benefit from these parasites. Free zones (Special Economic Zones, Economic and Technological Development Zones, Science Industrial Parks, etc.) and offshore areas are para-sitos in the literal sense of lateral places.[22] The integration (and disintegration) of parts into a whole, of cities and countries into this extrastatecraft follows a logic we have not yet fully grasped, a political mereologic or mereopolitics yet to be articulated. 

14. Mereotopolitics

Such an architectural mereopolitics or mereotopolitics cannot, however, be developed reflexively, in philosophizing about politics or as a theory of architecture. Rather, that is the practical task of an architectural poiesis (pro-duction), a geo-poetics that understands how geopolitical entities such as cities and countries connect and combine via complex infrastructures and norms. This recursive integration of parts into a whole that transforms both the parts and the whole also requires a new integration of practice into theory into practice. It requires a speculative xeno-architecture that goes beyond critical spatial strategies, a catalyst for exchanges with what is foreign and alien. For a politically self-confident architecture this would imply an increasing focalization on its most intimate other, on the structures that, not by chance, are referred to as architectures of knowledge. The new topological city/country(side) structures are constructed via inhuman infrastructures; these, however, have until now far too often been excluded from architecture’s self-conception.

A politically active “public” is always also a product of architecture. This will be particularly true for the public spheres yet to be produced, the city-countries and country-cities (or state-cities) of the future. The formation of new and different digital publics must be actively brought about by architectures. Only then can new publics emerge. Passive and merely aesthetic architecture always comes too late; it might never advance beyond post-facto aesthetization, beyond designing surfaces. An architecture that is actually architecture of the future will intervene in the mereotopological matter of the new territories itself. It is such a nanoarchitecture of knowledge—not academia, not art (and most certainly not contemporary art)—that has the greatest potential for actively confronting the new sovereignties currently emerging. Mereotopolitics.


Translated by Nils F. Schott


[1] See for example the studies by Neil Brenner and Raymond Williams; On this topic I am grateful to the residents of Strelka Institute, especially Francesco Sebregondi and Christian Lavista, for their critical feedback after a recent talk of mine on the topic.

[1] “The revision of the alleged portrait of the human implies that the construction of the human in whatever context can be exercised without recourse to a constitutive foundation, a fundamental identity, an immaculate nature, a given meaning or a prior state. In short, revision is a license for further construction.” (Reza Negarestani, “The Labor of the Inhuman,” in Robin Mackay and Armen Avanessian, eds., #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader, 425–66 [Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2014], 446).

[2] See http://www.laboriacuboniks.net, last accessed 6 March 2017.

[3] Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011), 9 and 128.

[4] Compare Armen Avanessian, “Altermodern Architectures,” in Matthias Böttger, Stefan Carsten, and Ludwig Engel, eds., Speculations Transformations: Thoughts on the Future of Germany’s Cities and Regions (Zurich: Lars Müller Publishers, 2016), 187–88.

[5] “Parametricism is the great new style after modernism. It succeeds modernism as a new long wave of systematic innovation. The style finally closes the transitional period of uncertainty that was engendered by the crisis of modernism and that was marked by a series of short lived episodes including Postmodernism, Deconstructivism, and Minimalism.” Patrik Schumacher, “Parametrismus – Der neue International Style,” in ARCH+ 195, “Istanbul wird grün” (November 2009): 107.

[6] Luciana Parisi, Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013), 109. She also writes: “The topological ontology of parametricism describes the operations of preemption as the moment at which the event is programmed before it can happen, thus flattening control and novelty (or event) onto a topological matrix of continual coevolution, reciprocal presupposition, or structural coupling” (92).

[7] Parisi, xi.

[8] Parisi, xii.

[9] Compare ARCH+ 224, “Release Architecture: Christian Kerez’s Incidental Space.”

[10] Luciana Parisi, Email to the author, 4 March 2017. I would also like to thank Alice Haddad, Anke Hennig, Victoria Ivanova, Anh-Linh Ngo, and Nils F. Schott, my translator, for valuable criticism and helpful comments.

[11] Since Schiller at the latest, the absence of pores has been the signature of all intentional classicism.

[12] This insight into the “irrational” dimension of rationality could also serve as a starting point for going beyond the philosophical rationalism recently propagated in some art circles to conceive of a prehensive model of inhumanism. How might we think a prehensive human being?

[13] This in contrast to (parametricist) attempts at configuring contingency by deriving it from a set of mathematical axioms, that is, at measuring holes or contingency holes in surfaces while at the same time filling them.

[14] Keller Easterling, Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space (London and New York: Verso 2014), 14; “Infrastructure is then not the urban substructure, but the urban structure itself—the very parameters of global urbanism” (12).

[15] Easterling, 11.

[16]  Easterling, 15: “Having swallowed the city whole, the zone is now the germ of a city-building epidemic that reproduces glittering mimics of Dubai, Singapore, and Hong Kong. . . .  The zone as corporate enclave is the most popular model for the contemporary global city, offering a ‘clean slate’ and a ‘one-stop’ entry into the economy of a foreign country.”

[17] Benjamin H. Bratton, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015), xix.

[18] “The Stack we have means: borderlines are rewritten, dashed, curved, erased, automated; algorithms count as continental divides; the opposition of chthonic versus geometric territory is collapsed by computation; interfaces upon interfaces accumulate into networks, which accumulate into territories, which accumulate into geoscapes (territories comprising territories, made and so entered into, not entered into and so made)” (Bratton, 293).

[19] Bratton, 13–14.

[20] “Today, the lines along which the Internet flows evidence a similar push and pull: deregulation and privatization have helped pioneer a new cable geography, which nonetheless is layered into a geopolitical matrix of preexisting colonial and national routes.” Starosielski also argues against a purely urbanistic explanation: “Although it is true that many cables do connect urban centers remains true that many cables do connect urban centers (which remain significant endpoints for data flows), landing points are rarely established in the heart of cities” (Nicole Starosielski, The Undersea Network [Durham: Duke UP, 2015], 29–30).

[21] “Only with the demise of the imperial European state, over the course of the twentieth century, has the ‘nation-state’ become a more or less universal political form, spreading first to the rest of Europe, then to what became known as the ‘Third World’, and finally to the remains of the Soviet Union. . . . Very many states are small, weak, with problematic national coherence, and above all minimal capacities to mobilize violence and only limited autonomy in any sense. At the other extreme, many even of the strongest nation-states have lost or given up the capacity to mobilize violence independently of their allies.” (Martin Shaw, “The State of Globalization: Towards a Theory of State Transformation,” in Neil Brenner, Bob Jessop, Martin Jones, and Gordon MacLeod, eds. State/Space, 117–130 [Malden: Blackwell, 2003], 119).

[22] Compare the OECD’s definition of “Offshore”: “The OECD defines offshore financial centers as: ‘Jurisdictions with financial centres that contain financial institutions that deal primarily with nonresidents and/or in foreign currency on a scale out of proportion to the size of the host economy. Nonresident-owned or controlled institutions play a significant role within the centre. The institutions in the centre may well gain from tax benefits not available to those outside the centre.’ This is a broad definition and also captures such jurisdictions as the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore. However, an International Monetary Fund (‘IMF’) working paper suggests that the definition should also include ‘centres which provide some or all of the following services; low or zero taxation; moderate or light financial regulation; banking secrecy and anonymity’ as well as providing services such as banking services, fund management, insurance, trust businesses, tax planning and company incorporation’” (Kristian Wilson: “Seeking Truth from Fact: Rationale and Use of Offshore Jurisdictions in the PRC, www.mondaq.com, last accessed 27 February 2017).