Architectural criticism

PublisherRework2019
DE(WORK) is an installation on the Degrowth of Work. Technological development and globalisation have created an apparent decoupling of economic growth from material resource extraction. This has only been made possible by the increased abstraction of labour, and the spatial distance between sites of production and consumption. The installation, (DE)WORK, exposes the interdependencies between processes of material extraction, productive labour, and growth within the globalised economy. It presents raw data on economic and financial, environmental, and political metrics driving complex processes of deforestation as an example of material extraction – in an abstract and continuous flow, manicured live by an ...
PublisherNEWPALMYRA2015
NEWPALMYRA is: A Digital Archaeology project, collecting data from international partners, analyzing it, creating a reconstruction of Palmyra in virtual space, and sharing the models and data in the public domain. We are using digital tools to preserve the heritage sites being actively deleted by ISIS. A Cultural Development project, hosting live workshops and building a network of artists, technologists, archaeologists, architects, and others to research, construct models, and create artistic works. A Curatorial project, creating exhibitions and experiences in museums and institutions globally, celebrating the cultural heritage of Syria and the world through the lens of architecture embodying culture and power. Together with ...
PublisherThe Funambulist2017
Editor’s Note: This entry has been altered to honor a ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ request by one of the work’s contributors. The associated audio file is no longer available. This conversation with [Anonymous], Nathalie Muchamad, Miki Nitadori & Ayomih intends to examine the specificity of anti-Asian in France. Although it was recorded in January 2017, it resonates with a particularly urgent echo today as, a few day ago, the French police killed Liu Shaoyo, a 56-year-old Chinese Parisian, in his own apartment, in front of his four (French) children. Far from the ‘simple’ observations of biased prejudices that characterize many conversations about ...
PublisherThe Funambulist2015
This conversation with two members of a relatively new whistleblowing platform — we called them Sarah and Cleo to preserve their anonymity — intends to present the latter. It allows people working on development projects in London to leak information that can be used by local inhabitant associations to organize in time their defense against their planned eviction. We discuss the platform both theoretically — the conceptual approach to disobedience will be presented in the next conversation with Elena Loizidou — and practically, through the perspective of (often young) architects working in development projects, and the ones of local associations through the workshops organized ...
PublisherFall Semester2014
Clouds It was the year 1954 when the “Department of Tropical Architecture“ was founded at the Architectural Association (AA) London, by Maxwell Fry, Jane Drew and their colleague James Cubbitt. Tropical architecture had been a topic before the study programs foundation, large conferences like the “Conference on tropical architecture” March 1953 at University College, London or two years before in Venezuela had established the issue internationally. The AA Tropical Architecture study program ran till 1971 and was afterwards transferred to the University of London and proceeded there as the “Development Planning Unit” that is active till today. The AA program included lectures ...
A New Theory of Love — A table left in the middle of a dinner. The tablecloth wrinkled with scattered toy blocks. Fragments of a facade can be seen — interrupted, cut open and penetrated. Lampposts dot the surface — reminders of a street now emptied of cars. At the edge, a stairway is inhabited anew: a bathtub hangs from a landing, sofas are built onto a flight of steps, a television flickers. Underneath, a re- furbished entrance frays the threshold to an apartment. — Who has inhabited this common infrastructure ? What has happened to the stairway as we know ...
In the last five years, the urban computing field has featured an impressive emphasis on the so-called “real-time, database-enabled city” with its synchronized Internet of Things. Julian Bleecker and Nicholas Nova argue to invert this common perspective and speculate on the existence of an “asynchronous city”. Through a discussion of objects that blog, they forecast situated technologies based on weak signals that show the importance of time on human practices. They imagine the emergence of truly social technologies that through thoughtful provocation can invert and disrupt common perspectives.
PublisherStrelka Press2012
There are few things in urbanism today so unfashionable as the ceremonial public square. The vast, proverbially windswept plazas built under “really existing socialism” from the 1920s to the 1980s are widely considered to be useless spaces, designed to intimidate or at least impress. Yet if they are only of use to those in power, why is it they have been used so successfully in protest? From Petrograd in 1917 to Independence Square in Kiev during the Orange Revolution, these spaces have become focuses for mass protest. Beginning in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, and taking in Warsaw, Ljubljana, Kharkov and Moscow, Owen ...
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. ...
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 ...
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 ...
Publisheryyyy-mm-dd2019
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 ...
PublisherThe Funambulist2015
This conversation with Stéphanie Dadour evolves around her doctoral dissertation that studies architectural theory and practice in the end of 20th-century North America. We explore a particular chapter of this dissertation to continue a series started with Olivia Ahn and Karen Tongson, about the gendered spatial paradigm constituted by the American suburbia. Citing the works of Mary McLeod, Beatriz Colomina, Joel Sanders and other feminist/queer thinkers and architects, we address architectural elements proper to this paradigm, such as the lawn, the curtain, or the window as instances of gendered apparatuses. We conclude the conversation by examining anthropometric studies, as well ...
PublisherYujia Bian2019
As a bar of soap, ARCHITECTURE is a communal resource for the Triennale visitors to clean themselves. It also stands in as a symbol for architecture; a coming together of materials in concrete form that facilitates social processes. As it is used, ARCHITECTURE loses its rigid form. Its fixed appearance erodes through use and it is molded by the hands that touch it; a record of the material sociability inherent in its structure and function. ARCHITECTURE pays attention to the material flows that sustain a collective hygiene, while thinking through architecture as a social entity that evolves beyond its original form.
PublisherThe Funambulist2015
This conversation with Fabiola López-Durán is primarily structured around her work exploring Le Corbusier’s eugenic ideology from 1925 Paris to 1941 Vichy. At a moment when many events and debates are organized around his paradigmatic work, the main critiques seem to focus on his personal political engagement and ideology without fully engaging with the work and its consequences. What Fabiola proposes in her work is to take his claims for the orthopedic power of architecture seriously, and look at the vision of society it is therefore promoting. Although Le Corbusier’s example might be canonical, her argument is that the entire modernist ...
PublisherThe Funambulist2014
For Nikolaos Patsopoulos, the current situation in Europe is similar to the one in Russia right before the revolution and so should be the architecture that accompanies these shift of social paradigms. We discuss about the role of the architect in revolutionary movements, as (s)he has probably more to unlearn than to teach in this matter. For Nikolaos however, each body that modifies the way the built environment (in particular the street) operates politically can be called architect. We therefore spend the time to contrast these two figures sharing the same name of architect, one that contributes actively to the production of ...
PublisherThe Funambulist2013
Each architecture that was thought as a physical implementation of private property contains already in itself the potential for containment in a legal situation like the one of quarantine. David Garcia talks about the origins of such a situation, its territorialization (lazaretto, Ellis Island etc.) as well as its application on bodies, but also on entire landscapes like in Chernobyl and Fukushima. We discuss about Michel Foucault’s definition of biopolitics through the historical example of the quarantined city that suffers from the plague, as well as David’s own architectural projects in response to the various problems tackle by quarantine. David Garcia ...
MISSION Research is everywhere. Architects incite action, design materials and archive cities. They capitalize upon the excess energy of practice to launch unsolicited experiments into the world, or sidestep clients by joining forces with government think tanks. Discussions from classrooms have found currency at town halls, and findings from construction sites have migrated into basement laboratories. Yet for all of its vitality, research eludes definition. The term describes everything and nothing, leaving its assumptions–the drive towards innovation, certainty, and influence, for example–unexamined. ARPA Journal is a forum for debates on what is applied research in architecture. We scrutinize techniques of inquiry to ...
PublisherArpa Journal2014
Architects experiment upon the world. Researchers extend outside the laboratory by co-opting existing structures of influence and crafting new techniques of engagement. Even the effects of proving grounds–from Coney Island to emergency drills–leak beyond their boundaries without any official sanction. Impacts are often unpredictable, but no less powerful. The practice of human subject research has yielded the benefits of the polio vaccine and the horrors of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, reminding us that, as a former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency once remarked, “When we fail, we fail big.” ‘Test Subjects’ focuses on the contended nature of application ...
PublisherArpa Journal2014
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, ...
PublisherARPA Journal2015
Performance is enhanced, targeted, tested, specified, reviewed and applauded. In each case, the design of performance is the orchestration of results. Architects might guarantee water resistance, for example, and calibrate this objective against cost, labor or the desire for exposure. Performance frames decision-making by metrics of efficiency, optimization and sacrifice (or yes, satisficing). In this familiar logic of technocratic governance, criteria are also codified in legal terms and challenged by architects who exceed lax building codes or undermine excessive ones. Beyond the technological, as argued in Perform or Else: from Discipline to Performance, engineered performance generates productive friction with that of corporate ...
PublisherARPA Journal2016
“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 ...
PublisherARPA Journal2018
“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 ...
Napoléon was the first conqueror to “legalize” looting by forcing the vanquished to sign contracts surrendering historic art objects. The recent selling off and dispersal of the collection of Iraq Museum, was presented as the simple work of market forces, but it continues and extends Napoleonic forms of looting.
On the ledger and the herbarium: the settling of financial and botanical accounts.

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