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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