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.

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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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