22 February

Raymond Quek: The Fermented City

A session, part of the series of talks on “The Living Memory of Cities”, convened on 22 February 2023 in a collaboration with Eric Parry Architects and the Centre for Urban and Built Ecologies (CUBE), London Metropolitan University. With a keynote presentation by Raymond Quek entitled “The Fermented City”.

00:00:00 José de Paiva
00:02:01 Matthew Barac
00:02:58 Nicholas Temple
00:04:18 Raymond Quek – Keynote presentation
00:38:10 Matthew Barac
00:44:31 Christian Frost
00:50:51 Dagmar Motycka Weston
00:55:10 José de Paiva
01:04:11 David Leatherbarrow
01:13:01 Patrick Lynch
01:19:49 Nicholas Temple
01:20:43 Matthew Barac

It has oft been argued that humanity can be seen in the difference of what Claude Lévi-Strauss called Le Cru et le Cuit, crudely translated as the “Raw and the Cooked”. We might argue that humanity is not so much emergent from the distinction between the raw and cooked, raw and prepared, but perhaps humanity’s sole distinction is to be able to benefit from a seeming alchemic process where something extant is transformed into something more valuable, it is the process of fermentation that strangely, is perhaps what distinguishes our humanity. In cultures across the world, we have this process where cheese is more valuable than the milk that it came from, wine is more valuable than the grape juice, and so on with soy sauce, pickled vegetables, leavened bread, fermented concotions etc. This transformation is herewith described as ‘strange’ – because we seldom think of this process as a form of controlled rot or controlled decay, least of all within the natural environment. Certainly, our cities are in some form or other ‘prepared’: many are palimpsests over prior arrangements and relationships, and most cities are aggregations of something old, something new, and something borrowed. Is it possible to see fermentation in cities? What, if at all, is the idea of the fermented city? Raymond Quek is Professor of Architecture at Norwich University of the Arts.