Architectural criticism

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 ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2017
This conversation with Myriam Dao, 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 racism deployed against Asian bodies, this conversation examines how this racism in France finds its roots deep into colonialism, in French “Indochina” (Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos) of ...

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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 ...

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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.

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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 ...

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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. ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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.

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

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PublisherStylus2017
This unspeakable horror was prepared by Stylus, a “global innovation research and advisory firm, which works with businesses to stimulate innovation and growth”. Full of quotes like “Globally, 69% of UHNWIs have become more conscious about displaying their wealth in public over the past decade,” it’s a guide to trends in maintaining wealth and well-being while assuring nobody resents you for it. There are suggestions for how luxury brands can stand out through charity or “meaningful minimalism” and coerce the desired UHNWI’s to their brands. Also included are tips for where and how to hide when society crumbles. In times ...

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PublisherStrelka Press2014
A nuclear facility in Iran before and after an explosion, a village in Pakistan before and after a drone attack, a Cambodian river valley before and after a flood. The before-and-after image has become the tool of choice for analysing events. Satellite photography allows us to scrutinise the impact of war or climate change, from the safe distance of orbit. But one thing is rarely captured: the event itself. All we can read is its effect on a space, and that’s where the architectural expert is required, to fill the gap with a narrative. In this groundbreaking essay, Eyal and Ines ...

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PublisherStrelka Press2013
Preservation is ordinarily reserved for architecture that is unique. So how would we go about preserving buildings that are utterly generic? Such is the case with Belyayevo, an ordinary residential district in Moscow. Belyayevo is a classic microrayon, the standardised neighbourhood system that successive Soviet regimes laid out across the USSR in what was the most expansive programme of industrialised construction the world has ever seen. Belyayevo’s buildings, and the desolate spaces between them, are identical to thousands of others, but is it different? Kuba Snopek argues that is. Home to many of the artists of the Moscow Conceptualism school, the ...

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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.

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PublisherFall Semester2014
The Stack we have means: borderlines are rewritten, dashed, curved, erased, automated; algorithms count as continental divides; the opposition of chthonic versus geometric territory is collapsed by computation; interfaces upon interfaces accumulate into networks, which accumulate into territories, which accumulate into geoscapes (territories comprising territories, made and so entered into, not entered into and so made); the embedded is mobilized and the liquid is tethered down into shelter and infrastructure; the flat, looping planes of jurisdiction multiply and overlap into towered, interwoven stacks; the opaque is transcribed and the transparent is staged, dramatized, and artificialized; irregular allegiances are formalized (the enclave and ...

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PublisherBedford Press2013
Global cities (and their designs in particular) have rested on the paradigm of market-driven development, and have been interpreted as strategic spaces of neoliberal restructuring. Whilst they are now hit by the crisis of this ideology, the situation also offers the opportunity and necessity to imagine another, more social city. Yet designers continue to hold back criticism and proposals. It is, however, time to redefine the role of design for a social city and take action. What is the role of design in the production of urban space? Is it merely an element in the commodified colonisation of social spaces? ...

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PublisherFall Semester2014
In this brief essay I reflect on the interactions between the real and the unreal, with a particular emphasis on comics and the city. Comics originate in the emerging city of modernity, and are shot through with both actual cities (in their sites of production and, often, consumption) and virtual ones. Further, few media are as useful for considering the role of the unreal, the held back, the around-the-corner-but-never-in-view, as comics. This reticence is productive, not only of narratives but also of the subjects who read them. Practices of reading comics, when applied to the city itself, highlight the unreal ...

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Publisherdpr-barcelona2012
First published in English as “Four Regimes of Entropy: For an Ecology of Genetics and Biomorphic Media Theory”, Fibreculture #17: Unnatural ecologies, special issue on media ecology. 2011. Vivimos en red. En los últimos años hemos visto y participado maravillados en la construcción de una “network society”. Un proceso de urbanización digital de la aldea global revelada por McLuhan. La imagen de rizoma asociada al trabajo en redes digitales y a la nueva forma de producción e intercambio de conocimiento ha alimentado el entusiasmo de los activistas y académicos de los nuevos media. De aquí a entender esta red como una suerte ...

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Publisherdpr-barcelona2013
Have you ever wondered how one can get up in the middle of the night and move in a pitch-dark room? What makes such nightly excursions possible is the development of a mental image of one’s home that tightly corresponds to the surrounding physical space. But what if one could transfer this awareness from the domestic to the urban sphere? We might then be able to navigate the city with the same confidence that characterizes our domestic movements. While checking-in, liking, sharing and going through Augmented Reality experiences we might be unconsciously contributing to the construction of a nomadic, collective awareness. Simone ...

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Publisherdpr-barcelona2014
This essay looks at the case of Collective Towns in Iraqi Kurdistan as an example of how State interventions on the ground are often instruments utilised to implement broader political plans. Throughout the 1970s and the 1980s the Iraqi government made full use of spatial planning as a constitutive part of the strategy of “dealing with the Kurdish problem”. Recchia’s argument is that the Ba’ath regime adopted urban planning and space design as social engineering devices in its larger scheme of shaping society into a more homogenous and simplified form. The Iraqi government used the combination of ethnopolitics and a centralised ideology ...

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What is the impact of demolition on those who witness it not through the media but in situ? Does living through the destruction of one’s built environment produce a kind of post traumatic stress disorder? Do buildings deserve the same protections as people? How might we develop strategies to prevent further damage and to treat already-damaged people and buildings?

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Publisherdpr-barcelona2016
DRONE is the first issue to be published from the Unmanned, Architecture and Security Series research project and publication series. Drones are unmanned vehicles [UAV]. They are either remotely controlled or, increasingly, autonomously following a pre-programmed mission. Initially, they were developed for use in conflict situations, but the technology also lends itself to a variety of civic purposes, from urban surveillance to monitoring agricultural fields and poaching. UAVs can transport objects, from bombs to books and pizza boxes. In conflict situations they can be used for targeting and killing individuals, but also for providing medical assistance. Drones are cheap to produce and have ...

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Publishere-flux2015
More than ever, architects today are called upon to build gestural landmarks and grandiose signature buildings. But architecture was never only about building. It is also about the flows of people, information, and resources that shape space. Today, the practice of architecture often confronts situations where these flows cannot be reduced to modernist managerial approaches to systematizing, structuring, and mastering the potentials of space. In a two-part “Architecture as Intangible Infrastructure” issue of e-flux journal edited together with Nikolaus Hirsch, the intangible and immaterial flows that today appear to exceed the language of building proper are shown by a number of ...

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PublisherStrelka Press2012
This is the account of a 14-hour drive around the perimeter of the largest city in South America. Exploring the edge condition of São Paulo, Justin McGuirk investigates the different forms of dwelling available to its would-be citizens, and meets some of the people carving a life for themselves on the verge of this unforgiving metropolis. Driving anti-clockwise, we take a journey backwards in time, moving from cardboard favelas and hastily built tower blocks, back to modernist social housing and the factory towns built early in the last century. Is this a tale, as the Brazilian flag attests, of “Order and ...

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The e-book series The Emancipatory Space is a collection of writings that intends to challenge conventional relations between politics, economy, law and architecture. As in Rancière’s The Ignorant Schoolmaster, the authors in this series propose ideas outside their academic framework, often ideas subjected to slow and restrictive publishing regimes. With this emancipatory attitude, attempting to decolonize the mind from learned frameworks, instruction becomes freedom: something which is not taught but claims to be taken. In the Emancipatory Space, equality is not an end… it is the very starting point.

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