An international competition is being held to masterplan a new utopian city state inspired by ZHA principal Patrik Schumacher’s vision for an Anarcho-Capitalist society
The Liberland Design Competition 2020 invites architects, urbanists, interior designers and students to draw up ‘radically-creative, yet mature’ proposals for a fledgling 7km² country which has yet to be recognised by any United Nations state.
Founded five years ago by Czech politician Vít Jedlička as an experiment in Libertarian and Anarcho-Capitalist values, the Free Republic of Liberland claims to occupy an uninhabited disputed parcel of land between Croatia and Serbia on the Western bank of the Danube.
Schumacher announced the creation of Liberland on his Twitter and Facebook accounts in 2015 and is one of the key strategists behind the project, which aims to create a society where individual liberty, unregulated free markets and peer-to-peer networks such as blockchain can flourish.
RAW-NYC Architects won an earlier contest for the micronation’s masterplan held in 2015 with a vision for a vertically stacked city fuelled and fed by algae urban farming (pictured). The latest competition invites participants to dream up a ‘multi-authored, fluid built environment’ where ‘light touch’ rules facilitate a ‘fertile, high-density city-nation of the 21st century, responsive to its advanced contemporary network society’.
Participants are invited to draw inspiration from a theoretical essay by Schumacher published in February, which calls for a plurality of planning controls including wild zones with minimal building restrictions where ‘creative entrepreneurial energies’ are unleashed.
Proposals should include a masterplan for the microstate, which includes a vision for Napredak, a 5ha gateway development located 10km downstream in Apatin, where visitors to Liberland will board transit boats to the former island. Winners will receive fictional tokens which may be exchanged for citizenship and the opportunity to negotiate design contracts.
According to the brief: ‘In this unprecedented moment of global crisis, we have the opportunity to collectively rethink the values, agendas and practices guiding the design of our built environments. There is a newfound urgency to activate novel agendas to counteract this new normal. Liberland’s agenda is an ideal contender.’
The document continued: ‘Liberland invites you to challenge the contemporary urban and architectural design status quo by responding to Liberland’s fundamental values and to envision the full design potential for this new micronation.
‘Your proposed design must be agile and highly responsive to free market forces that are open to perpetual evolution. Your proposal must also include design scenarios that creatively engage the theoretical, social, and technological implications of distributed intelligence systems, such as Blockchain.
‘On a functional level, Liberland has no zoning regulations nor municipal restrictions. It has no pre-established design culture. The field is wide open for innovation on every scale. Liberland’s new architecture will be absolutely vital to its survival, success and advancement towards its aspirations.’
Around 600,000 applications for Liberland citizenship have so far been received however access to the largely forested territory is currently limited. Jedlička has previously been held by border guards for entering the site.
Four years ago, Schumacher courted criticism from London mayor Sadiq Khan for describing social housing tenants as ‘freeriders’ and suggesting Hyde Park could be privatised as a new city quarter. In 2018, he penned a polemical essay for the libertarian Adam Smith Institute titled ‘Only Capitalism Can Solve The Housing Crisis’.
It is understood Schumacher is still involved in a headline-grabbing High Court bid to oust and replace the late Zaha Hadid’s friends Peter Palumbo and Brian Clarke and her niece Rana Hadid as executors of the architect’s £67.2 million estate.
Liberland was founded five years ago by Czech politician Vít Jedlička as an experiment in Libertarian and Anarcho-Capitalist values
Source: Image by Elevatorrailfan
The registration fee for the Liberland contest is $60 for professionals and $30 for students. Anonymous submissions should include up to five digital posters, a 500-word description and an optional video.
Judges will include Schumacher; Jedlička; blockchain advocate Jillian Godsil; Bruno Juricic, founder of Croatian practice Atelier Bruno Juricic; Raya Ani, founder and design director of RAW-NYC Architects; and Vera Kichanova, a researcher at ZHA and former member of the Municipal Council in Moscow.
The overall contest winner will be invited to negotiate a design contract for the first phase of Liberland’s Napredak satellite development, which next year will host a ‘Floating Man’ festival inspired by Nevada’s Burming Man festival.
The winner will also receive a sum of ‘10,000 merits’, enough to qualify two team members for Liberland citizenship, which currently requires 5,000 merits per person. A second prize of 9,000 merits, third prize of 8,000 merits, fourth prize of 5,000 merits and fifth prize of 4,000 merits will also be awarded.
The registration deadline is 16 August and submissions must be completed by 16 October.
How to apply
Visit the competition website for more information