A visionary – Yona Friedman, architect

Yona Friedman was born in Budapest in 1923. He left Hungary in 1945 and went first to Israel, where he studied and worked for almost ten years before settling in Paris, where he still lives today. He also taught for a longer time at universities in the USA, and has participated in the work of humanitarian organisations all over the world. He became internationally known at the end of the 1950s with his radical ideas on mobile architecture and the ‘ville spatiale’ (approximately, the spatial, floating city) and his influential writings. Like many contemporary creators and groups – for example, Archigram, Constant Nieuwenhuis, Cedric Price, the Situationist International or the Japanese Metabolists – he too took an active role in animated international discourses evolving from the end of the 1950s around mobility, networks, opportunities offered by new technologies, the necessities raised by new social movements, and the role of the architect.

Although his plans remained, almost without exception, on paper, over the past twenty years, Friedman’s ideas—thanks to his countless writings and books—have become unavoidable for those engaged with sustainable urban life, architecture of crisis situations or participatory design in the USA, Western Europe and many other parts of the world. Meanwhile in his country of birth, Hungary, and the Central Eastern European region, his work is known only in narrow circles.

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