Cornelia Escher: Mobile architectures. From the G.E.A.M to contemporary projects

In 1957, Yona Friedman initiated the Groupe d’étude d’architecture mobile (G.E.A.M.) to promote the idea of a mobile architecture which is to be open to continuous transformation. According to this concept, the building is conceived as adapting to the changing desires of the inhabitant and to the general acceleration of society assumed by the architects.

On the one hand, the issue of mobility brought forward by the G.E.A.M. can be seen as a critique of the rigid practice of mass housing projects in the 1950s and early 1960s, based on the premises of CIAM modernism. But it also leads to a critique of the means of representation that were used in contemporary architecture, proposing the architectonic image as a medium in which the conceptual strain and an approach to artistic practice become more relevant.

Today, the ideal of ‘mobility’ and ‘participation’ has become a wide-spread issue in architectural discourse. However, contemporary projects focus on different aspects: while some refer to the more explicitly architectonic idea behind it by trying to create a space of influence for the future inhabitant, others can be related to the aesthetic and the conceptual imaging emerging with the G.E.A.M. designs.