Wiel Arets, NOWNESS 1 (Chicago: IITAC Press, 2013), 34-36.

Being a stranger is a preferable condition. It enables the relaxing of preconceptions, to absorb, to learn. A stranger’s status is one of freshness, enjoying the privilege of seeing difference within society, where sameness is said to be the current condition. The College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology fosters this status of stranger; it encourages the seeing of differences.

New students and faculty come to this institute from all over the world. They are newcomers, for the most part, to the metropolis of Chicago—our point of reference for investigations into rethinking metropolises and the contemporary issues they face.

Every student carries wisdom from previous generations. Over time, both known and unknown masters developed technological standards. Because of this, we can reflect and build upon the achievements of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as the ideas brought forth by the Renaissance. We can learn from the traditional architecture of Japan, developed during periods of prolonged isolation.

Yet today is a time of monumental change, so we must find the logic belonging to our time.

Our world will only continue to shrink in size.

Architecture today entails entering a dialogue with multiple disciplines. It is related, more than ever before, to technological innovation. Technology today is exposed and presents a certain danger; we believe technology can solve everything, even as larger frameworks are unfocused.

Within such a context, we see that the history of architecture—and that of other, once new fields, such as cinema—is a history of the arbitrary coagulation of thoughts.

When we speak of history, we are not discussing linear events. We are discussing a history of possibilities.

We should instead speak of a dependent reality, dependent upon our angle of approach, as our approach constantly changes. Order, discipline, knowledge, and direction will organize today’s tangled technological confusion.

We must question today’s condition of the nomad.

We must question while also providing stability, as freedom never flourishes without rules.

Freedom without rules implies a lack of freedom. But freedom is only a synonym for emptiness, and emptiness a synonym for potential; potential a synonym for feast of the mind; feast a synonym for dialogue; and dialogue a synonym for asking questions and making choices. Freedom represents the perfect dialogue and never banal luxury.

Potential is the wealth of meaning that architecture offers with each new reading; it is the activity that makes space for the unutterable, the uncertain, and the immaterial, taking the place of beauty in the conventional approach.

The manner in which architecture can be understood as a potential, could also be used to describe a freer architecture; an architecture that’s more open, more prepared for the unexpected, possessing greater purity while submitting itself to painstaking scrutiny.

We no longer see the world, architects, and their creations as an all-embracing whole. This mode of perception has been replaced by the freedom of discourse. This open totality could be understood as a macchina: there is activity—energeia—which attends to the mental and material combinations, as well as the work—or ergon—itself.

Noise versus noiselessness, and imperfection versus perfection, must be accepted as essential elements of today’s technological process. Architecture is only a one of the details that together create disorder.

We should not attempt to define control in an all-encompassing way, but instead make possible an architecture of freedom.

There are no more boundaries, no eternal forms.

We are living in an era of rapid transition.

Information technology today is based on translating codes; electronic impulses are turned into images; magnetic material is decoded into data.

During this transformation of logistics, connections will at times go wrong: we should accept interruptions and welcome conflict as indispensable elements of communication.

Communicable forces create concepts in relation to their context. 

Now is the time to conceive new strategies; now is the time for opportunities of innovation; and now is the time to create new technological products and processes.

Society is progressing faster than ever before, and our relationship to the environment has never been more challenged than it is today.

How to develop new prototypes? How to develop new typologies? And how to challenge our discipline to create a zero-energy metropolis? Architecture, has become a global issue.

All this, while 'Rethinking Metropolis'.

More than ever before, technological developments have reshaped our perception of the world.

How will architecture react to these developments?

We must hypothesize strategies that support the development of a new environment, while surfing on the advancements of other disciplines.

These new strategies will challenge students and faculty, allowing for the discovery of multi-disciplinary crossroads.

'Rethinking Metropolis' will be our strategic device.

We will conduct research; we will analyze existing phenomena; we will learn from new trends. 

We have to find a new order.

We will develop questions about the roles of architecture and urbanism, and our research will speculate on the support that new conditions will require.

How will we invent a new city-type, on a new city-site, with a new idea of living-working-playing-shopping-relaxing-learning-communicating?

In what ways will we deal with making; with the development of new materials; with innovations on many levels that challenge our students and faculty?

What questions can be raised about infrastructure and the connections it enables within our new map of the world?

Our world will become one big city, with individual cities functioning as neighborhoods, each with their own regional identity.

How will this effect the development of the new airplane?

What will be the role of the car—one of the most exciting inventions of the twentieth century—within tomorrow’s metropolis?

What will be—within the 'Rethinking Metropolis'—the role of production?

What will be the role of tourism and the museum?

What will be the role of shopping, and the body hotel?

Will innovation become a major topic of the shrinking local-global world?

Will education, the university, and research become main activities for the future metropolis?

The College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, in Chicago, provides a platform for questioning the architectural discipline at the dawn of a new age, encouraging childlike curiosities to be explored, and, along the way, reshaping, rewriting, and rethinking metropolises.