Studio René Boer

René Boer (1986, he/him) works as a critic, curator and organizer in and beyond the fields of architecture, art, design and heritage. He is based between Amsterdam and Cairo and is a driving force behind the Failed Architecture platform. In recent years he developed a wide array of exhibitions, public programmes and research projects, often with a focus on spatial justice, urban imaginations and queer tactics. His current projects include Contemporary Commoning, an experimental exploration of the relation between art and (urban) commons; Terraforming Indonesia, a programme investigating and reimaginging large-scale land reclamations in collaboration with the ruangruapa collective; and Smooth City, a forthcoming publication on the obsession with perfection in cities worldwide.

selected projects
Architecture of Appropriation
Contemporary Commoning
Failed Architecture
Grounded Urban Practices
Post-Fossil City
Reimagining Cairo
Smooth City
Terraforming Indonesia
The Right to Build
Useful Life

Smooth City

The #smoothcity is a new concept and ongoing research with the aim to rethink the current wave of homogenisation happening in cities worldwide. The formative essay has been published in Volume #52 and a book is forthcoming. It also culminated in the Against the Smooth City summer school at the International School for the City in Rotterdam in 2020.

Photo: Deliveroo.

Cities are increasingly becoming smooth, scripted and completed urban landscapes, apparently freed from any kind of imperfection, abnormality or friction. The rise of the ‘smooth city’ is a major shift in the development of the city, and is closely related to similar processes of ‘smoothening’ in other domains, such as fashion or consumer technologies.

Photo: Hypebeast.

The demand for safe, clean and well-functioning urban environments is understandable, but what does the consolidation of the ‘smooth city’ mean for the conflictive, non-normative and subversive side of the 21st century polis? Does the ‘smooth city’ threaten the vitality of the public domain, and even the democratic character of our cities?

Instashots in Amsterdam's Kinkerbuurt