Dangerous Idea: A Palace of Unbuilt Roads

February 1, 2015

My name is Hans Ulrich Obrist, we’re on the twenty-seventh day of the first month of the fifteenth year of the second decade of the first century of the third millennium in London, and I’m going to talk about the idea of a “palace of unbuilt roads.” In 1850, the Crystal Palace happened, in the 1960s Cedric Price and Joan Littlewood came up with the idea of the Fun Palace, and my idea was always to actually build a palace of unbuilt roads. The are many many reasons why projects can be unrealized, and very often the most exciting projects—which actually have the biggest transformatory potential to change society—remain unrealized.

The reasons for a project to be unrealized can be that it’s too big to be realized, that it’s too small to be realized, that it’s actually forgotten, that it’s too dangerous to be realized. It can also be censored—if you think about all the projects in the world which every day are censored. And then, as Doris Lessing once pointed out to me, while we were discussing this idea of a palace of unbuilt roads, she says we should never forget about the unrealized projects which are too dangerous. Projects that we actually don’t dare to do, so projects which we self-censor.

So my idea—and I though that could be a contribution to your ever-growing archive of dangerous ideas—is to commission an architect to actually built a building in which we would house all of the unrealized projects of artists, architects, scientists, poets, etc., from all over the world. I believe believe something amazing would happen if you gather them all in one space and have them somehow reunited.