Unlikely, but Possible

June 3, 2013


Mas issue improbable cover opening

Impossible simply means something can’t happen, doesn’t exist, and won’t ever occur. Yet improbable opens the door a crack. It means something is unlikely to come into being. Unlikely to be seen, built or felt because of the sheer scale of the challenge, or the ruthlessness of opposition or the seeming impossibility. The difficulty and risk often means the improbable evades us.

But the door left open a crack means we can peek in. At ambitious projects by architects who were ahead of their time and context. Remarkable plans to host an International Exposition. Complex communication networks that sustain and supersede the value our cities, both past and future. Engineering marvels and domestic objects that envision a brazen future. Future scenarios built atop existing architectural masterpieces. Streets frozen in time in a political and administrative limbo. Imaginary narratives of cities that might be real. Existing cities with issues that are way too real.

This issue pushes open the door onto a series of contributions that look to our past, present and future. And it’s improbability. Some discuss a series of efforts, desires, and ambitions that either individuals or groups have proposed in the past that are for the most part unrealized, and sometimes little known, but they still carry valuable lessons for our present and future. Others look at the present, one that is at a crossroad between a (presumably) better past and a challenging future. They provide a snapshot of how we face uncertainty and evaluate the obstacles of possibility. They all present scenarios, even “hallucinatory joyrides,” into what we can expect to come into being, or not, in the future.

In the end, this look to the past, present and future aims to be a constructive kick in the what if? To discuss important precedents that might be overlooked, and to speculate on conceivable futures. All of them ideas to help each one of us construct a future that has yet to be defined. And deemed impossible.


Improbable has had invaluable help from: Martin Abbott, Luís Santiago Baptista, Ethel Baraona Pohl, Andrew Clark, André Corrêa, Ali Fard, Jordan Geiger, Renata Graw, Chris Grimley, Evangelina Guerra Luján, Sparkle Hayter, Lisa Hirmer, Tom James, Elina Karanastasi, David Karle, Michael Kubo, Stéphane Massa-Bidal, Julie Michiels, Paul Mougey, Eva Papamargariti, Mark Pasnik, Mike Peart, Vassiliki Maria Plavou, Mark Scott, Theo Simpson, Nikos Skoutelis, and Alexander Trevi.

MAS Context is partially supported by a grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.