The Image of Promises (2017)

The Image of Promises
rotative research
‘rotate and change the perspective’

Since the beginning of rotative studio we reflect and react on contemporary issues and personal fascinations, in parallel to our design practice. It is our way to explore a selected topic from various perspectives, to develop experimental and interdisciplinary approaches to architecture (our architectural and urban practice), and to stimulate a fresh and critical attitude to our role as architects today.
In each rotative research project we focus on both topic as well as method. Findings are accumulated and transferred from one project to another. Dialogues play a central role: always departing a project from a dialogue between the two of us, we extend it by engaging emerging and distinct voices from multidisciplinary groups, and stimulate the involvement of a wider audience than the architectural community.

The Image of Promises (2017)


In this fast-paced moment of transformations and homogenisation taking place in the world, we felt it was urgent to forge another consciousness about the impact of this rapid process of transformation on our cities, that affects how we know them, both their physical and cultural presence.

Ever more technically advanced renderings make the architectural images representing the envisioned end-result increasingly realistic. Paradoxically, however, the resulting visuals also become more and more alike, exposing a constantly returning same-like smoothed colour scheme, ever returning stereotyped figures draw to inhabit the space, gleaming surfaces of buildings and streets, and standardized accompanying texts.

For as much as the architectural structure is presented as a promise, its semi-utopian image contains the features of a non-space, of the ever-the-same or radical interchangeability that also characterizes much of our current global system. Especially at the moment when such images are confronted with the reality of a present context that not by far resembles the vision presented, the disconnection turns them into nothing more than a scenography or ‘Potemkin village’ - empty, and even absurd.

How do corporate aesthetics relate to local specific contexts and what is their impact on architecture and the appearance and identity of our cities? Whose dreams, whose and what kind of ‘utopian vision’, is actually presented? And for whom?

In March 2017 we opened up a dialogue with various residents in Belgrade about the ‘Belgrade Waterfront’ project, an ongoing large scale urban transformation project. The construction site with its semi-utopian billboard images, texts and publications and an exploration of the city 360° around the site, revealed a huge disconnection of the new developments in relation to the existing context and the city’s identity.

We interacted with the life-size billboards that surround the construction site, in order to open up a dialogue on the development, as well as to emphasize the absurdity of the ‘reality’ that is projected, in this development and in similar developments in other European cities (and even on a global scale). 

Research (self-initiated) 




Belgrade, Barcelona, Rotterdam, Zürich

Dialogues with
Scapes:Lab (Marco Macura, Pavle Stamenovic, Ljuba Slavkovic, Dunja Peric), TUDelft Complex Projects and Milan, Nikola, Sanja and Veljko

Photos and Video
rotative studio

rotative studio, Noortje de Leij

Cover image (thumbnail)
Belgrade Waterfront, with the old city in the background (March 2017) ©rotative studio