Yearly Archives: 2014

Mapping the London Left

Mapping the Line

The People of the Community of Hackney wish to propose vast amendments to the appeal for redevelopment of the Boris Limited Warehouse standing at 87-95 Hertford Road, N1 5AG. What is slated by the developer, Serdnol Properties SA, is quoted as “1,858 square meters of commercial space and nine new build terraced houses”, offering a sea of sameness to the area. Hackney is often described as an up-and-coming neighborhood. Rather, it is in a constant state of flux, and the building in question deserves to be a practical part of its current transition. As the facade stands, a boarded up boundary, somewhat dilapidated with rotting wood and rusted sign, one could imagine a city of squatters, as in the old New York tenements or East London slums, or more historically accurate, the tenants of the adjacent workhouse or personnel of this warehouse. This building has watched with its countenance the transformation of Hackney and the story of the politics of labour through central London which laid the foundation for its construction as an integral part not only of London’s history but of the lineage of western socialism. Boris Limited is not an icon, no great architect conceived its structure, no famous author resided there, and no great political movement hatched from an embryo within its walls. But what it stands for, the historic web which emanates from it and what its face has subsequently witnessed is the narrative of the development of socialism and modernity in the post-Eurocentric city. The people of the community of Hackney propose that 87-95 Hertford Road is worth saving… continue reading

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Ground Zeros

 

Memorial site plann (c) SDL_four to five tosite 30 SMAKopie van Kopie van scan003

 

In a time where urbanization takes command, it is the plinth which becomes the critical line on the battleground.
The city exists under a constant state of attack, from all directions, and this has not resulted in one Ground Zero,
but multiple ground zeros. We should therefore know that a certain ground zero is not only to be understood as the
point of detonation, but also as the center of rapid, intense, even violent activity or change. So, what kind of
architecture can exist on such a site? And how can the plinth, as essential joint with the ground, still manifest
itself? Therefore, in this short investigation, the central question is asked: where has the plinth gone? By looking
into the relation between building and site in three recent projects (Ground Zero Master Plan – Studio Daniel
Libeskind; 30 St Mary Axe – Foster+Partners; Shenzhen Stock Exchange – OMA), it becomes apparent that
the plinth, or at least that what it symbolizes, still plays a crucial role. Moreover, we could go as far as to say that
it is the plinth which might soon take back the command…

Buildings seem to solidly touch the ground, or at least this is what appears to be happening in and through the plinth.
We should take a deeper to look, though, to understand what this means, seeing that the plinth is an entirely ambiguous
element of architecture. The plinth represents a solidity in that it is the base, the substance on which all loads of
construction rest. It is understood as the foundation anchored to the bedrock, and thus the lay-out of the plan; literally
the footprint of the building on the ground. But it is also that what appears to be the base (the original crepidoma),
in so far that it represents “the symbolic possibility of confrontation[1]”. In a typical urban context, it is therefore the
boundary on ground level, the critical line in between public and private space, where the subject constitutes its image
of place.

As a result, the plinth always exist in between  a set of dialectics. It lives in between interior and exterior, private and
public, security and risk, control and freedom, substance and image, performance and representation. In this sense,
the plinth belongs as a means of what Foucault describes as “the apparatuses of security” through which a milieu is
produced out of the multiplicity[2]. This means that out of a set of natural and artificial givens, a plan should be generated
in which uncertainty can be given a specific place, namely the place of security. In this sense, the plinth constitutes an
artificial hold on life as it happens through architecture. It therefore does not only impose a boundary on the inside of the
building, but it will also be used to extend the conditions of that inside (the interiority) outside itself.

As we take Sloterdijk’s allegorical image of the exclusive neo-liberal party that was happening throughout the last two
decades, we should also not forget that this party implies a guest list[3]. The invitations are limited and selection is based
on cultural realities which determine in a very strict and specific manner the place of security. We should therefore realize
how far not only the form but certainly also the image of the plinth extends in space, setting up an architectural frame
within the city which organizes both exchange and containment of those who live within. How the plinth appears, i.e. the
conditions of its apparition, therefore has a profound influence on how the subject, in this case the passerby on ground
floor, constitutes a specific context out of the multipli-city.

Read more→ 


[1] P.V. Aureli (2009) More and More about Less and Less: Notes Towards a History of Nonfigurative Architecture In: Log, no. 16, p. 18.

[2] M. Foucault (1978) Spaces of Security: The Example of the Town. In: Political Geography, no. 26, p. 55.

[3] P. Sloterdijk (2009) Tegenlicht Talk: een partijtje vrijheid  On: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yz8cZ9Co5bg (published 02 Sep. 2013)

 

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London’s Index

‘… not far from London Bridge, you will find a towering, and more modern, column, which is simply known as ‘The Monument’. It was designed as a memorial of the Great Fire, which broke out in that neighbourhood in 1666 and destroyed a large part of the city. These monuments, then, resemble hysterical symptoms in being mnemonic symbols ¹.’

The Monument – capitalized – with an emphasis on the the – not the monument, but thee Monument. The one, not just any. One single pillar. A most primordial form of architecture. If even: in a sense it seems closer to the hand of a clock, than to a building. A single line, a vector. An index pointing out something. Where is it pointing to? Well, geometrically it must be close to (0,0,1) – but in terms of the socio-economic, political and technological conditions of its conception, construction and reception? Superficially the Monument is merely a doric column – with no load to bear. Except a golden urn on its top. What is buried inside there? What is entombed in this monument? The full name alone provides clear evidence here: The Monument to the Great Fire of London. The ashes inside this cinerary urn must then be the remains of London, and the Monument thus a tribute to a great loss. Well, in a way, but definitely not through and through ². Commemoration is engraved in the Monument’s inscriptions and ornament, but they also identify it as a symbol for a resurrection. So then, unlike its ancestors which commemorate the victory over another nation, this column monumentalizes the overcoming of a situation – and the constant advancement from thereon. As a marker to the future, a symbol of progress and growth. In this sense it appears almost as the prototype for its phallic epigones (bearing equally concise, though somewhat less dignified, titles: the Gherkin, the Shard, the Walkie-Talkie), in whose shadow it now stands. Usually these more recent exemplars are primarily seen as manifestations of financial and technological progress, while the older, venerable monuments of London appear as celebrations of the Kingdom’s – and later the Empire’s – glory. Although the Monument most definitely is a tribute to the royalty, it concurrently (concealed on the inside) epitomizes technology and science. And there are more ambiguities: the questions about its authorship, about who administered it, et al. Thus while the column appears so pure, it is actually utterly ambivalent – in a constant state of ambiguity: of both … and, neither … nor. But let’s not prejudge – first the stumbling block itself should be observed and forensically analysed. Maybe then one can draw some conclusions on the extraordinary position this structure holds in respect to the emergence of London as a modern metropolis – and as an index to its continuing transformation…³

→ read more: ‘London’s Index’ by Winston Hampel

1.  S. Freud, ‘Five Lectures on Psycho-Analysis’ (1909)

2.  Even though tomb and monument have obviously always had a unique connection: ‘Only a very small part of architecture belongs to art: the tomb and the monument. Everything else that fulfils a function is to be excluded…’ A. Loos, ‘Architecture’ (1910)


londonsIndex_s
3.  
See it surveys the City as its charge,
And seems to scorn
Flames, which lye buried in this flaming urn;
The City’s liberty it doth enlarge,
The Boys could never go
So high Processioning in th’ Air till now.
This is the Planet, which will always tell
The City’s well;
For its Ascendant, it doth London own,
Scarce one degree below the Moon.

Anonymous, LONDON’S INDEX OR Some Reflexions ON THE New built MONUMENT (1776)

theMonument_s2

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The Name of Those Who Travel

to be given a name

 Carnet de circulation A

All the controversies associated with gens du voyage in France are related to the sort of baptism that inevitably comes along with the utterance of that name. Despite the historical efforts of sociologists and anthropologists to find a politically correct, and somewhat accurate denomination for the existing phenomena, problematics arise at the same moment that a term is intended to designate a community that never existed as such. Every now and then, outbursts of impolite sincerity and exasperation make their appearance on media, like the declaration of monsieur le maire of Maine-et-Loire, the MP Gilles Bourdouleix, last month of July; «Perhaps Hitler didn’t kill enough of them.» In France, gens du voyage do not have a straightforward definition; too often they are defined in negative terms, by stating first what they are not, as if they were hunted by clichés, under the shadow of multiple types of discrimination or confusion with someone else. To discriminate is to make a distinction and that is precisely what words are for. The act of coining a term is precisely the genesis of inequality, a declaration of the intention to define a boundary; the multiple claims for the contrary are by all means fallacious.

Continue reading >

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Pandemic of Society

Today the world is consumed by an overwhelming dread; every new threat, danger, and dis-ease is seen and portrayed with the utmost fever and intensity. Media wantonly delights in displaying images from such an uncompromising standpoint that they verge on the hysteric. They scan the airwaves for the most spectacular events in order to bombard their viewers with a series of ever faster, ever more spectacular visions; creating the need, the desire, and the evermore-present institution of fearful reaction to the event.  It this reactionary proliferation of images that has lead to the destruction, and reclassification, of cultural identification. We start to question our own perceptions. How do we look at each other? Where do we stand? In this world inundated with images constantly flipping across every screen, images constantly in motion, how do can we stop and see ourselves?

Pandemic of Society_CaitlinDaly

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Behind the Zoo: Through the Looking Glass

Being put on display, expected to perform, presented as a collective, while ignoring the forced segregation and the invisible barriers, brings us to an interesting question.  What is captivity?

 zoozoo 2

What makes an object worth collecting? Curiosity is an important aspect of collecting. With the spread of colonies, there was an affinity to discover the unknown, or rather, the different. The nineteenth century paved the way for many sponsored expeditions, looking for curios. Found object; vases, pots and pans, tools of everyday use, gained an importance, as curios. Nature has captivated the human cognizance since man first acquired tools, it would only be natural for the curiosity to extend to the subject of new flora and fauna. By means of collecting it is possible to establish a personal identity or characterize the other and often identifying this other as a conquest. This idea of conquest can be analyzed in the manner in which collection is presented, making presenting as important an aspect as the collection itself.

Presentation of a collection in a public forum goes beyond presenting taste, it also becomes a tool to showcase the ‘new’. Any exhibition must have a sense of completeness or at the very least abundance. The nature of the presentation is often not a permanent feature. Initially the Cabinets of Curiosities, which was an established typology, sufficed. However, with growing knowledge came a better understanding of habitat. This knowledge also encourages a shift in the collection itself. With understanding what to reveal, and the quantity to be exhibited the artifacts, a new question emerges. What would be the best way to display the constant influx of new arrivals? Establishing a typology of collecting ultimately leads to the displaying of these artifacts, as we view them now.

Is a presentation of a collection that different from a display of a collection? Once you display an artifact, it can no longer be part of a collection. The display now projects on the object, a different set of characteristics. The Cabinet of Curiosities was a congregation objects, from different, not necessarily connected sources. But by placed on display, the artifacts gain an identity outside the collector. However, this identity is a façade, one which is carefully crafted. While the public animal fights in the menageries were staged, they still lacked the show of a display. Every habitat, provided for the animals is done so in a manner to mislead both the viewer and the displayed animal. The viewer is meant to accept that what being presented is natural, not just in terms of the environment but behaviour as well.

To read the complete text:

Behind the Zoo – Devanshi Shah

 

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(Re)Discovering the Mediterranean

(Re)DtM_Map

(Re)DtM_Alvaro Velasco (Download pdf)

As a kind of ghost ship, Mediterranean-ness, even apparently sunk, seem to reappear persistently in current debates of this latitude of Europe. On the depths of this sea we submerge to look for the wrecks of a glorious past. Its waters conceal a bright heritage in which the idea of human was conceived; the cradle of Western civilization and, for many, the only ship of hope in a tempestuous world. However, the Mar Medi Terraneum—“sea in the middle of the land”—long time ago stopped to be the centre of the World. Europe is found trapped between a glorious past and a decadent present; who can foresee the future? Delphi does not enjoy its best times nowadays. What does it mean to be Mediterranean in the XXI century? Keep talking about the past only perpetuates the interruption of our story —as Matvejevic poses it—; mentally frozen in a status that not always correspond to the present. We still talk about the Mediterranean as our cultural condition while time proceeds stubbornly passing by. In our mind, the waters of this sea are conceived, not only as the demiurge of our past, but also the one who determines our future. Meanwhile, the ports of our cities welcome very different vessels. What has changed? What still remains? In the eyes of Benedetto Gravagnuolo, “apparently nothing!” Does it make sense to keep talking about the Mediterranean as our cultural condition?(…)

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Devanshi Paresh Shah

Devanshi spent most for her childhood lost in worlds built in science fiction, fantasy and graphic novels. After seven years of being confronted with reality, five while studying and two while practicing Architecture, in the city of Mumbai, she chose to escape once again into textually built realities. With this voyage she hopes to be able to merge the worlds she is a part of, while persisting in her extensive use of social media as a means of expression.

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7 March 2014 – HCT Debates / Architecture Politics: Massimiliano Mollona


MA History and Critical Thinking Debates / Architecture Politics

Term 2: Friday 1:00 / 36 Bedford Square, New Soft Room

Massimiliano Mollona
Friday 7 March

Massimiliano Mollona, an anthropologist with his PhD from LSE, sees in the city a magic soil for anthropological studies. Beginning his research of the industrial city at Sheffield, Mollona soon found himself following the obsolete machines on their voyage to Brazil where they were to be used to create a new industrialized city. Traditionally, industrialization has been linked with the notion of moral improvement, with the creation and development of a new economic system that establishes a foundation for societal growth. However, there is always an ambiguity within the concepts, practices and implementation of this economic system. Mollona, using Hannah Arendt’s distinctions between labor and work, draws on parallels between economic value of production and social status. This division is further exasperated by the fact that the industrialization of Brazil was achieved primarily through the utilization of discarded equipment from de-industrialized sites, highlighting the inequity of technological advancements or advantages in the, now, post-industrial era. In fact, industrialization is no longer a simple process of total transformation. The post-industrial economic city now resists the loss of its rural economy, its identity, and instead creates a mixed, informal economy. This new economy has as a by-product created the insecure condition of the flexible worker; the worker that must always redefine their skills, their goals, and reassess the direction that they wish to be moving in. Forming a dual reality that influences over 50% of the population that allows for a degree of freedom through competition, yet never allows for stability or complete fulfilment of life. The question then becomes how you can generate a space of belonging in a society of ephemerality.

Summary by Caitlin Daly and Alvaro Velasco


HCT Debates: Architecture Politics

Organised and hosted by Marina Lathouri, John Palmesino and Douglas Spencer

To enable students to pursue questions and problems in public, yet small-scale sessions, the HCT programme holds a debate series with guest designers, writers, artists, scholars and critics. Each week two people are invited to talk and share their work with the group. The presentations are followed by discussion. Although the sessions are open, the MA students are asked to prepare questions and observations based upon preliminary reading. Also each student is expected to conduct an interview with one of the speakers.

The theme of the discussions this year is architecture politics. Every time brings specific conditions to the manner in which the claims on architecture are made. New technologies and modes of design and production have prompted elaborate arguments on economic policies, new organisational models, environmental strategies and sustainable development patterns. There seems to be, however, a lack of reflection on the fundamental question of architecture as a composite form of knowledge, yet with specific traits, and as a distinct set of practices, yet in difficult connections with cultural territories and material configurations.

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28 February 2014 – HCT Debates / Architecture Politics: Francesco Jodice

MA History and Critical Thinking Debates / Architecture Politics
Term 2: Friday 1:00 / 36 Bedford Square, New Soft Room

Francesco Jodice
Friday 28 February

Francesco Jodice, one of the founders of Multiplicity and professor at NABA (Milan), is one of the most prominent Italian visual artists. He graduated from Politecnico di Milano as an urban planner and remains intrigued by concepts such as ‘public space’ and ‘participation’. Convinced that our cultural behaviour is constantly transferred to what he calls ‘the landscape’, his research looks at territories as a projection of people’s desire. Looking at the viewer/artist interface as a project, his work is more concerned with how the art speaks to the public rather than what the art says. Disgruntled by the elitist subtraction of art from the public sphere, he constantly tries to reverse this condition by creating a form of art interface which is accessible to everyone: ‘double-access’. Aware of the difficulties in defining ‘public’ and ‘inside’ in the contemporary cultural environment, he continues to explore the artist interface as a social canvas.

Summary by Marzia Marzorati and Devanshi Shah

HCT Debates: Architecture Politics
Organised and hosted by Marina Lathouri, John Palmesino and Douglas Spencer

To enable students to pursue questions and problems in public, yet small-scale sessions, the HCT programme holds a debate series with guest designers, writers, artists, scholars and critics. Each week two people are invited to talk and share their work with the group. The presentations are followed by discussion. Although the sessions are open, the MA students are asked to prepare questions and observations based upon preliminary reading. Also each student is expected to conduct an interview with one of the speakers.

The theme of the discussions this year is architecture politics. Every time brings specific conditions to the manner in which the claims on architecture are made. New technologies and modes of design and production have prompted elaborate arguments on economic policies, new organisational models, environmental strategies and sustainable development patterns. There seems to be, however, a lack of reflection on the fundamental question of architecture as a composite form of knowledge, yet with specific traits, and as a distinct set of practices, yet in difficult connections with cultural territories and material configurations.

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21 February 2014 – HCT Debates / Architecture Politics: David Knight

MA History and Critical Thinking Debates / Architecture Politics
Term 2: Friday 1:00 / 36 Bedford Square, New Soft Room

David Knight – Planning is Frozen Politics
Friday 21 February

For David Knight, architect and PhD by practice candidate at the Royal College of Art, the essence of planning lies in its definition, “the tool we collectively use to design the future”. The description implies that complex planning legislation needs to become openly accessible to the public and suggests wider participation can open up greater potential for innovative growth. Therefor a large part of his work focuses on demystifying the code used by the planning bureaucracy. An example from Knight’s self-made planning manual shows how slight differentiations in distance from existing structures, width of intervention, and roof types can prevent simple annex projects, yet permit elaborate backyard cinemas. Knight’s latest project, www.buildingrights.org focuses on sustaining this kind of productive misinterpretation. The wiki site aims at growing a community of experts and layman expected to open up discussion and provide resources and advice for planning. Knight is taking on a challenge imbedded deep within the phenomenon of continuously accelerating information and shifting power structures, which has proven tremendously emblematic of our time.

20140221_143237_Richtone(HDR)subplan6

 

HCT Debates: Architecture Politics Organised and hosted by Marina Lathouri, John Palmesino and Douglas Spencer To enable students to pursue questions and problems in public, yet small-scale sessions, the HCT programme holds a debate series with guest designers, writers, artists, scholars and critics. Each week two people are invited to talk and share their work with the group. The presentations are followed by discussion. Although the sessions are open, the MA students are asked to prepare questions and observations based upon preliminary reading. Also each student is expected to conduct an interview with one of the speakers. The theme of the discussions this year is architecture politics. Every time brings specific conditions to the manner in which the claims on architecture are made. New technologies and modes of design and production have prompted elaborate arguments on economic policies, new organisational models, environmental strategies and sustainable development patterns. There seems to be, however, a lack of reflection on the fundamental question of architecture as a composite form of knowledge, yet with specific traits, and as a distinct set of practices, yet in difficult connections with cultural territories and material configurations.

building rights homepagebuilding rights needs yousubplan5

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Matilda Audisio

Matilda Audisio

Matilda Audisio is a History of Art & Design graduate from MMU (2013) who is interested in contemporary visual culture and its various effects on society. She is preoccupied with the everyday, is often consumed by attention to detail and generally fascinated with the process of living itself, past and present. She is also interested in all things space, place, and non-place and all of the blurred trajectories laced in between.
During her BA Matilda focused mainly on the correlation between British Post-War suburban housing as a means of self-representation and the orchestrated creation of ‘the self’ through mass consumption and DIY within the home. In her spare time she’s an avid rider, illustrator and crafter who is always drawn back to the sea (especially the North-West coast’s desolate beaches) and generally captivated by anything that is as devastating as it is beautiful.

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10-13 February 2014 – Design by Words: Laboratory on Writing

MA History and Critical Thinking Laboratory on Writing with Fabrizio Gallanti and Marina Lathouri

10-13 February, 10:00a.m., 37 FFF

Friday 14 February, 10:00a.m., 33 FFB

In this one-week intensive workshop, writing is considered as a tool to communicate ideas in a clear and direct way, moving away from the complexities of architectural jargon and academic writing. Each day consists of the introduction of a writing example, the discussion of it, and then the writing and reading in public of a short piece. There will be a final presentation at the end of the week.

The two main references are:

Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millenium, 1988

David Foster Wallace, Authority and the American Usage, in: Consider the Lobster and Other Essays, 2005

The five exercises are:

1. Description I

Example: Restaurant reviews from the New Yorker magazine

Exercise: Write about the physical, sensorial, emotional experience of a specific location (restaurant, bar, club, art gallery, theatre, etc.)

2. Description II

Example: Georges Perec, An attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris

Exercise: Note during a period of 5 hours and then edit the time spent in a public space (the same for all of the students) in London.

3. Cause and effect

Example: Jonathan Massey, Risk Design, 2013

Exercise: Identify a building in London and speculate about the political, socio-economical and technological conditions that informed and possibly determined its design.

4. Translation

Example: Toyo Ito, Tarzans in the Media Forest, 2011

Exercise: Select a brief text in a foreign language and then translate it into English, highlighting the words, themes or concepts which meaning does not properly transfer through translation.

5. Summary

Example: Colm Tóibín; Callil, Carmel (editors), The Modern Library: The Two Hundred Best Novels in English Since 1950, 1999

Exercise: Summarise an assigned architectural essay in 300-500 words

Fabrizio Gallanti is the Associate Director Programs at the Canadian Centre of Architecture in Montreal. He has wide-ranging and international experience in architectural design, education, publication, and exhibitions.

Marina Lathouri is the Director of the MA History and Critical Thinking programme at the AA.

Levinson-PrintPixel-3_525

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Lindsey Stamps

AA profile

Lindsey Stamps is a Master Student in the History and Critical Thinking programme at the Architectural Association. She has lived, studied, and worked in fashion, architecture, and design in London, Denmark, and the United States. She enjoys long walks on the beach, cooking for friends, and describing situations in triplicate. Lindsey thrives in the summer sunshine, but settles for the decadence of Bailey’s and baklava to counter the dreary London weather. Her favorite past-times include playing hide-and-go-seek, cuddling with her cat Maleficent, and writing creatively.

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Matilda Audisio

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Alvaro Velasco Perez

Alvaro300
In 2012, Alvaro obtained his degree on Architecture by the University of Navarre, Spain. During his degree, he took part as intern in an environmental consulting company(Israel Berger & Associates) for high-rise buildings in New York City. During the last year of his degree, he combined the design of his dissertation project with the collaboration on a research innovation project on Dwelling with the Design Department of the school.
Alvaro believes that, in a society of information that is continuously being bombarded with data—treating all as being of equal importance—, Architecture runs the risk of remaining in superficiality. In response, he bets for an education based on critical thinking, and so, he decided to enrol in the AA´s theory masters programme.

Publications:

• The Post-Eurocentric City. Term 2.

E(Re)DM_Cover3

(Re)descovering the Mediterranean. On its current conditions concerning Architecture.

Mediterranean-ness seems to appear and re-appear stubbornly in the architectonic debates of Southern Europe removing the waters of a glorious past to find a recycled lexicon. However, the Mar Medi Terraneum—”sea in the middle of the land”—long time ago stopped to be the centre of the World. What remains of this culture in a globalized society? Is Mediterranean-ness our cultural condition?
Setting sail in the limits of the Old World—the Non-Plus Ultra—I want to perambulate in the coast of Spain revisiting the lands that once were Mediterranean, looking for plans that modify the present territory and, most likely, our future.
Can we say that the Mediterranean still exists?(…)

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Yanisa Niennattrakul

Born, grew up, and persistently continued her bachelor degree in Bangkok, Thailand at the International Program in Design and Architecture (INDA), Chulalongkorn University. Right after her graduation with a full-hearted fascination in travelling, documenting, and participating with the local ‘vernacular’, certainly started practicing in five governmental socially-engaged community development and planning projects in Konkaen, a northeastern province of the country with the Community Organizations Development Institute (CODI), together with heritage building conservation projects for the Crown Property Bureau. Promptly, she decided to come to the AA for studying European architectural history and theory, and aimed to combine with her interests as a medium to pursue a provocative voice for current architectural situations in her home country.

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Winston Hampel

Winston Hampel studied in a number of places and worked with different practices and various academic, cultural and social institutions, before enrolling in the History and Critical Thinking programme. While his general interest is in the interrelation between cultural artifacts and conditions, ideas and narratives, he most currently focuses on referring to himself in the third person.

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María José Orihuela

mj_MAbio-up

María José Orihuela. Architect. MA History & Critical Thinking at AA School of Architecture. Lived in Shanghai, Paris, Rotterdam, Bilbao and currently in London. Born in Pamplona, Spain. Since her third year of studies, she was invited to join the Design Department and became involved in teaching. The cliché proved true and she learnt much more than what she was able to teach. María accompanied the Museum of her University during its first year of life; since then, she became interested in how museums of art can be the place where to establish a dialogue between disciplines. Her research interests also include an inquiry into the tools that ease the process of design, relating it to the ever lasting controversy on the role of history. She enjoys pretending to read Le Monde in the Swiss Pavillion at the Cité Universitaire de Paris.

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Maarten Lambrechts received his Master degree in Architecture in 2013 in Antwerp, where he also briefly worked for a small architecture office. In his thesis ‘On Effect in Architecture’ he explored his early interests in architecture theory, and this eventually … Continue reading

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Caitlin Elizabeth Daly

Caitlin_Daly_profilepica

Caitlin Daly is a native of Upstate New York and received her Bachelors of Architecture from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2009. Upon graduating from RPI, Caitlin strove to utilize the theoretical and technical knowledge she acquired to better understanding of architecture’s applied role in our culture. She worked for a couple years as a CAD Designer before transitioning into the role of Project Architect. During this time, Caitlin was involved in the design and construction management of a variety of projects ranging from new construction of public libraries and schools to the renovation of offices and public housing facilities for Newark and New York City. Utilizing the knowledge and insight she has gained from her years of experience in an architectural office Caitlin is pursuing a masters in Architectural History and Critical Thinking with the intention of combining her practical technical experience with theoretical inquiries to pursue an avenue of academic research.

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Marzia Mazorati

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Marzia pursued her higher education in Italy, Israel and United Kingdom. In 2013 she decided to settle in London, where she eventually joined the History and Critical Master at AA.
Her previous research primarily investigated the concept of ‘Italian (after)shock’: by focusing on the promulgation of a number of ‘special’ laws during the aftermath of L’Aquila earthquake (2009), she tried to examine the planned dissolution of concepts such as ‘city’, ‘community’, and ‘public space’ within her native country.
Deeply interested in the relation between architecture and politics, her current explorations span from issues of environmental trauma to the development of contemporary media productions such as journalism and visual artefacts.

 

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31 January 2014 – HCT Debates / Architecture Politics: Orsalia Dimitriou

MA History and Critical Thinking Debates / Architecture Politics
Term 2: Friday 1:00 / 36 Bedford Square, New Soft Room

Orsalia Dimitriou: Common grounds, common practices
Friday 31 January

In the first of this term’s Friday debates, Orsalia Dimitriou introduced an inquiry into the influence of the “commons” in today’s neo-liberalist society. After a brief historical introduction of the practice and the term ‘commons’ in late Middle Ages, she presented it as a threefold phenomenon, consisted in shared resources, the community and the act of ‘commoning’.* She elaborated her take on this concept with reference to three specific case studies: firstly the social processes that encompass the annual influx of temporary residents on the deserted Greek island Gaidouronisi during the summer season. Secondly, the self-organized initiative in the Athens’s quarter of Exarcheia, and their social and spatial implications. Lastly she discussed her first-hand experience in planning, implementing and maintaining a network of commons in the London neighbourhood of New Cross. The subsequent debate made apparent the need to emphasize not the common (as a noun), but to common (as a verb, an active agent). In this sense, Orsalia emphasized that “commons” should not be regarded as end products, but as ongoing processes that act both as references and indices.
* Orsalia handed out the following reading elaborating this: ‘On the Commons: A Public Interview with Massimo de Angelis and Stavros Stavrides.’

Summary by Winston Hampel and Maria Jose Orihuela

HCT Debates: Architecture Politics
Organised and hosted by Marina Lathouri, John Palmesino and Douglas Spencer

To enable students to pursue questions and problems in public, yet small-scale sessions, the HCT programme holds a debate series with guest designers, writers, artists, scholars and critics. Each week two people are invited to talk and share their work with the group. The presentations are followed by discussion. Although the sessions are open, the MA students are asked to prepare questions and observations based upon preliminary reading. Also each student is expected to conduct an interview with one of the speakers.

The theme of the discussions this year is architecture politics. Every time brings specific conditions to the manner in which the claims on architecture are made. New technologies and modes of design and production have prompted elaborate arguments on economic policies, new organisational models, environmental strategies and sustainable development patterns. There seems to be, however, a lack of reflection on the fundamental question of architecture as a composite form of knowledge, yet with specific traits, and as a distinct set of practices, yet in difficult connections with cultural territories and material configurations.

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