Yona Friedman Pro Domo Yona Friedman
          Review By Chris Warren

        • Yona Friedman became familiar within architectural discourse in the mid-1950's when he began questioning bases of modernism. Since then, and still an innovator, he has been nothing if not prolific. Besides publishing texts on architecture and planning (or lack thereof) Friedman has published volumes of work for agencies such as UNESCO and the United Nations, many of them manuals in the form of comics or pictograms which explain techniques for survival to the world's poorest populations. Friedman's latest effort, published by Actar, compiles texts, comics, drawings, models, and even a 'self-interview' in a beautifully bound and printed package. Through reading Pro Domo, we come to understand, though not chronologically, the evolution of the thoughts of a truly innovative thinker.

          While many architecture monologues attempt to promote new sets of rules or systems by which we (architects) ultimately want the casual user (non-architects) to unwittingly follow, Friedman insists that we should rather lay a framework within which the inhabitants can structure their surroundings however they like. Seemingly counterintuitive, or at least headstrong against the status quo, Friedman's ideas undoubtedly attracted and influenced groups such as Archigram and the Metabolists. His explorations in the realm of infrastructure and its potential are still relevant today, as is obvious while looking through his recent proposals for Paris and Shanghai, as well as by studying projects by contemporary architects such as MVRDV or even Steven Holl.

          Pro Domo does not necessarily track Friedman's popularly recognized milestones, or a concise evolution of his ideology; rather, it is a compilation of projects, thoughts and moments filled with meaning and sentiment. Just as his Mobile Architecture and Spatial Cities were systems of constructions to be invented and manipulated by and around their inhabitants, this book is a construction based, too, on the personal desires of its creator, affording us the opportunity to act as fascinated spectator.


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