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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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 ...

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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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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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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PublisherThe Funambulist2018
This conversation with Francesca Russello Ammon is built around her book, Bulldozer: Demolition and Clearance of the Postwar Landscape (2016), which retraces the political history of the bulldozer by the United States during World War II (used in the Pacific War by the SeaBees) and immediately following it in the massive engineering of the U.S. territory in cities and between them. This discussion can act as an addition to the contents featured in The Funambulist 17 (May-June 2018) Weaponized Infrastructure. Francesca Russello Ammon is a cultural historian of urban planning and the built environment. Her research focuses on the social, material, and cultural life ...

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PublisherThe Funambulist2016
This second conversation of the series complementing the latest issue of The Funambulist Magazine dedicated to Design & Racism borrows its title from Audre Lorde’s words cited by Mabel O. Wilson at the beginning of the “Critical Dialogues on Race and Modern Architecture” that she organized at Columbia University in February 2016. Throughout this discussion, we talk about architecture’s historical and contemporary contribution to the American structural racism against Black bodies. Professor Mabel O. Wilson teaches architectural design and history/theory courses at Columbia University’s GSAPP. She is also appointed as a Research Fellow at the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) ...

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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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