Splendidly Fantastic: Architecture and Power Games in China

Contributor Julia Lovell
Mao once called the Chinese “a blank sheet of paper”, and the modernising that came with the Cultural Revolution treated cities much the same. But Mao’s destructive impulses were as nothing compared to the liberalised policies of his recent successors. China has undergone urbanisation on a scale never seen before – much of it speculative, some of it a brazen display of power. In this incisive analysis by the acclaimed Sinologist Julia Lovell, we get inside the politics of architecture and city-making in China. There is a colourful cast, from the Western starchitects rushing into the land of opportunity, to political ...

Counter-Narrative/Counter-Surveillance: Documenting the Repression of Public Assembly

Screenings with researcher Bora Erden of SITU Research followed by a discussion focusing on liberatory applications of forensic spatial technology to counter the repression of public assembly. Drawing from three recent projects, the screenings include research on the death of a protestor (‘Euromaidan Event Reconstruction – I.F. Dmytriv case’, Ukraine 2014), dangers and police abuse of tear gas weapons (‘Choking Dissent’ commissioned by Amnesty International), and reconstruction of police violence against BLM protestors at Barclays Center in June. Bora Erden Bora Erden is a spatial researcher with a background in computer vision. At SITU Research, he applies architectural, geospatial and computational techniques to ...

Modernity Unbound

For almost 20 years, Detlef Mertins has been a critical voice in renewing our understanding of architectural modernity. Architect, historian, professor, his essays have often taken up familiar themes in order to redress inaccuracies and release energies that we were unaware of. These essays elaborate on such key modernist tropes as transparency, glass architecture, organicism, life and event, sameness and difference. Previously published in a variety of different venues, from journals to anthologies – including such noted books as Lars Spuybroek’s NOX: Machining Architecture and FOA’s Phylogenesis – they are now assembled for the first time in this volume.

Eyebeam Atelier Museum

Greg Lynn and Preston Scott Cohen discuss the Eyebeam Atelier Museum, a project for an art space in New York developed through 3D modelling to define a structure based on tensegrity. The project was developed for a competition in 2001 and was intended as a space for exhibition, education, and design in the domain of digital art. Preston Scott Cohen’s design defines distinct planes, chords, and stacked toroidal volumes in a segmented structural system that nevertheless allows for continuous and non-repeating circulation. Cohen’s use of digital technology for the Eyebeam project originated in his formal interests—specifically in geometry that could not ...

The Slum Outside: Elusive Dharavi

Dharavi has achieved mythical status. Commonly, and mistakenly, cited as Asia’s largest slum, it is a symbol of Mumbai’s inability to meet the needs of its population, and the ability of Mumbaikars to meet those needs on their own. Commentaries usually fall back on the slum narrative, which sees Dharavi as resilient but backward, and in need of radical intervention. Matias Echanove and Rahul Srivastava of Urbz argue that it is time for this narrative to be rewritten. Dharavi residents do not recognise their home as a slum – the slum is always somewhere else, a few blocks away perhaps. ...

African Cities Reader 1

Pick up any academic or popular publication that deals with urban life in Africa and be prepared to be overrun by caricature, hyperbole, stereotypes and moralistic hogwash. Urban Africans are either bravely en route to empowering themselves to attain sustainable livelihoods or the debased perpetrators of the most unimaginable acts of misanthropy. Explanations for these one-dimensional distortions vary from historical path dependency perspectives, to the vagaries of the peddlers of neoliberal globalisation agendas, or to the glorious agency of digni ed actors who persist with their backs straight, chin up despite the cruelties bestowed by governmental neglect and economic malice. ...

African Cities Reader 2: Mobilities & Fixtures

The aim of this second instalment of the African Cities Reader is to provide a space to illuminate emergent urbanisms of Africa in its continental and diasporic richness. The leitmotif of the contemporary globalising era is mobility, which references the incessant circulation of goods, services, ideas, technologies, imaginaries and money. African cities are uniquely marked by disjunctive ows and circuits, but in ways that amplify both the intensity of mobility, and its shadow, xity. The violent reverberations of colonialism in the processes of city living and building ensure that most urban dwellers are entangled in relationships of movement – as protagonists ...

African Cities Reader 3: Land, Property and Value

The third African Cities Reader explores the unholy trinity of land, property and value – the life force of cities everywhere. In an era of late modernity marked by a speculative compulsion that takes on a spectral character as it instigates adventures of city imagineering, deal-making and symbolic reinvestment, the material effects are often displacement, violence, daylight robbery and yet another round of elite seduction. The incessant (re) making of the African city is a game that leaves few untouched or unmoved and literally prepares the ground for the inhabitation of another 400 million urban dwellers over the next two ...

Another Column

Material circulation encompasses architectural production and de-production when considered within geological time. Architecture is a fleeting construct—a temporary, unstable container of increasingly-valued minerals that is always in a state of settling. You say to brick, “what do you want, brick?” Brick says to you,”I want to be mud.” Aggregates, especially with the rise of modern concrete, have become our second most-used resource. While sand, gravel, and small rocks account for up to 75% of concrete’s composition, sand alone accounts for over 85% of global mining activity. As a finite resource, aggregates on the market wield consequences from land-reclamation driven conflicts to ...

Architecture in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Design, Deep Time, Science and Philosophy

Architecture in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Design, Deep Time, Science and Philosophy, edited by Etienne Turpin, brings together a provocative series of essays, conversations, and design proposals that attempt to intensify the potential of the multidisciplinary discourse developing in response to the Anthropocene thesis for contemporary architecture scholarship and practice. Research regarding the significance and consequence of anthropogenic transformations of the earth’s land, oceans, biosphere and climate have demonstrated that, from a wide variety of perspectives, it is almost certain that humans have initiated a new geological epoch, their own. First labeled the Anthropocene by the chemist Paul Crutzen, the consideration ...

ARPA Journal 02: The Search Engine

The idea of being online is in danger of extinction from redundancy. The Internet has become the principal site of construction, defense, storage and dissemination of new knowledge and social identity alike. Facebook’s population will soon eclipse that of China, and its holdouts nonetheless have well-formed electric selves in the servers of the NSA. As our physical world is increasingly tapped, scanned, streamed, imaged and mapped in realtime, the province of offline is a shrinking territory. In each wave of digitization—the archival, the social, the physical—the evidence of its arrival and its path to maturity are the same: search. For David Joselit, ...

ARPA Journal 04: Instruments of Service

“Instruments of Service” is a class of legally protected work products defined in the American Institute of Architects’ “A201-2007 General Conditions” as “representations, in any medium of expression now known or later developed, of the tangible and intangible creative work performed by the Architect.” In practice, instruments are any drawing, model, calculation or specification created for a client, copyrighted by the architect as a design “recommendation” and trafficked between intellectual, digital and real property. As research, everyday and experimental instruments are assemblages of tools and materials, allography and autography that move from Skype to ‘the street’ through theaters of peer ...

ARPA Journal 05: Conflicts of Interest

“Conflicts of interest” are said to compromise the impartiality of research, but what would it mean to be disinterested? Ethical codes warn us that researchers’ objectivity can be corrupted by a clashing set of interests—those of funding agencies, clients and publics, as well as researchers’ self-interest in professional advancement or personal gain. If the resolution of such conflicts might typically call for avoidance, recusal or disclosure, what would such strategies mean for the design disciplines and research on the built environment? What varied interests, expressed in the form of money or other manifestations of influence, do designers contend with? Who ...

Banking, Botany, and Bibliothéconomie: On the Science of Keeping the Books

Contributor Edward Eigen
On the ledger and the herbarium: the settling of financial and botanical accounts.

Black Lives Matter

Inspired by the scholars, activists, and everyday citizens who spoke out, marched, and protested against police killings of African-Americans, we present this collection of short essays that put Black lives at the center of our thinking about architecture and its history.

BMW Welt

In this publication, Greg Lynn and Wolf Prix discuss Coop Himmelb(l)au’s BMW Welt, a corporate-event and car-delivery centre whose iconic form was realized with sophisticated structural analysis and visualization software. The project is located on the BMW campus in Munich, near the Olympic Park; among other corporate functions, it offers the opportunity for new BMW owners to learn more about their cars before driving them away from within the building itself. The design extends Prix’s interest in a cloud-like architecture without ties to the ground. Anchored in one corner by a twisting “double cone” made of nearly nine hundred unique steel ...

Chrono-Cartography of the 1871 Paris Commune

Contributor Léopold Lambert
There has been many things written about the urban transformations of Paris orchestrated by Napoleon III’s prefect, the “Baron” Haussmann; many of which address the militarized causes of these transformations, as I often did myself. This aspect of the transformations is admitted by Haussmann himself in his memoirs as part of the strategy. The first part of the 19th-century saw many insurrections and revolutions happening in Paris (1830 revolution, 1832 insurrection, 1848 revolution, etc.) and Napoleon III, after his 1851 coup, was certainly eager to transform Paris to be able to control it. The large avenues and boulevards were thus ...

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