Seeking to explore power as crucial factor in the design of the built environment, we will look at energy systems and related objects, from sites of generation to spaces of consumption, from distribution networks to control rooms.

Tutors: Filip Geerts and Sanne van den Breemer
Director of Studies: Salomon Frausto

Contributors: Santiago Ardila, Juan Benavides, Daniella Camarena, Stef Dingen, Marco Fusco, Jack Garay Arauzo, Theodora Gelali, Shaiwanti Gupta, Hao Hsu, Marianthi Papangelopoulou, Felipe Quintero, Gent Shehu, Siyuan Wang

Still image/s from “Opération Béton”.
“Opération Béton” by Jean-Luc Godard.

Idealization of a system, Hydro Power, Generation, Metropolitan, Construction, Economy, Infrastructure, Mosaic

Concrete (“béton” in French) is a composite material composed of fine and coarse aggregate bonded together with a fluid cement (cement paste) that hardens (cures) over time. The Miyagase Dam (156 m tall), the largest roller-compacted concrete dam in Japan, on the Nakatsu River, a main tributary of the Sagami River in Aiko District, Kanagawa Prefecture, utilizes 3,500,000 m3 of concrete. Therefore, stating that concrete is the main element when it comes to the construction of such an infrastructure is rather “lapalissiano” (italian term for “self-evident/obvious”).
    The chart below, which can also be called “recipe for a dam”, shows the quantity of concrete components used in the dam and the foundation (case study: Miyagase Dam):

“Ideal concrete”: it is an oxymoronic juxtaposition that undermark energy autarchy from one side, and material autarchy (the one of concrete) from the other, both aiming for consistency, predictability and durability. Concrete is therefore the starting point for a new local economy, as a huge amount of material is needed for the construction of a dam.
    Jean-Luc Godard’s film “Opération béton”1 was a campaign of concrete. Godard saw concrete as a material that is not inert, simple neutral matter molded into shapes by human will, but something that is itself an agents, that the material itself acts. In the film a priest is shown giving a blessing to the first bucket of concrete: there is still this religious idea of man conquering nature but still fearing of overstepping its limits.
    Concrete, an anthropic rock, redefines the environment as something that is also constructed, with all the attended feelings of exuberance, over control and also fear of its consequences.

1. Jean-Luc Godart, “Opération Béton”, 1958.