Studio René Boer

René Boer (1986, he/him) is a queer organizer, researcher and critic with a focus on spatial justice, urban imaginations and radical heritage, based between Amsterdam and Cairo. He is managing editor at Failed Architecture, part of the Non-fiction collective and involved in various urban social movements. He has recently taught at the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture, Design Academy Eindhoven and the Gerrit Rietveld Academie.

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