The connection between theories which challenge the status quo and the accepted wisdom of established architectural practice are explored. These are used as a basis to develop a critical spatial practice where the social production of space is key to understanding and creating new spaces of action.

architectural-history-theory

Starting with the views of Tafuri; architecture is a battle between its artistic nature and the functional and technical requirements. These roles are always at odds (and as such, create divergent views on what architecture is. As such he saw architectural history (and thus our understanding) as an arena for contemporary debate. As such, this relates to the way in which Bernard Tschumi and Hannah Arendt establish (through the development of different theoretical approaches) the disconnect between the spaces that we imagine, design and build; in comparison to the way in which they are encountered.

Similarly, Ronald Barthes pursuit of “linguistic hedonism” by developing methods to liberate both the writer and reader to greater plurality of meaning as a method to facilitating creativity; is explored in a more figurative guise in the writing of Tschumi (Advertisements for Architecture 1978) and subsequently a number of his buildings (most influentially Parc de la Villette 1982-1998). In a similar theoretical connection, the way in which the Situationists explore the notion of “eventments” (happenings) which emerge from the illustrative tools that Guy Debord presents in his Pychogéographique de Paris (1957), share a theoretical lineage to George Bataille’s identification of language as an always compromised medium of exploring emancipation (and set about developing rules to destroy the inherent structure of discourse). This back and forth between different tools of cultural expression and spaces of identity (both internally and externally) provides an operational pivot to inform an evaluative oppositional theory on the use of space.

Understanding these activities as a connected series or body of responses to political decision making; creates the potential for observing the embryonic stages of alternative spatial practices, as they aim to shape the environs which we frequent. Thus my aim would be to have an understanding of the diverse strategies developed within a particular knowledge base, so that conceptual approaches could be developed which are independent of said observed practices, with the aim of developing an independent theory on activist alternative practice.

 

Resarch which maps some of the defining aspects of the social life within the Arts Tower. The information for these maps will be collected through a series of observational studies, documented initially through sketches and later through interviews with individuals who help define and explore the nature of different categories of social life within the Arts Tower and its immediate surroundings.

Mapping the informal social spaces which exist as a result of the formalised ones; and as a consequence, the transformation of physical spaces which occurs as a result of these informal interactions. The activities which I wish to map are not the a-typical greetings at the foyer, coffee or vending machine; but informal social activity which changes the designated use of the space. Exchanges of social commodities.

Similarly, spaces which are designated and operate specifically for social or productive activity are used as a starting point for observational studies. As such, some of these spaces will facilitate both social and productive use of space; where the boundary between the two is integrated.


Comission for a small research project into the social life of the newly renovated Arts Tower, Sheffield (Circa 2013)

the “protest Contingencies Timeline” which looks at the social, political and economic structures on which the act of protest is contingent. Protest occurs at the dis-junction between citizen expectation and the action (or inaction) of their representatives or key stake holders in the development of their life conditions. This mapping charts the instigation of protest action since 1381 to the present day – with the aim of understanding the act of protest as a practice representing alternative methods of constructing daily lives and challenging the existing power structures throughout history.

There are over 30 physical barriers operating as a blunt and often ineffective tool to addressing the issue of disputed territories, the movement of goods and the migration of people.

Global Separation Barriers.png

Throughout history, artificially created physical barriers have been the imbedded visual representation of social and political impasse. As a method of creating obstruction to waring faction; or military ingress, the wall has a place in our violent history.  However, in contemporary society, this spatial approach and thus manifestation of the barriers can be seen as a physical embodiment of the limited ideologies which facilitate their creation. The construction, stated reason and operational mandates all relate to the political philosophy which spawned and validates the financing of their creation, despite their limited operational effectiveness.

This blunt tool received a powerful endorsement from candidate and then president Donald Trump. The support that he received for the proposal of a wall… where there is already a wall… to overt a problem which would be almost completely unaffected by the upgrade of a wall… is a bizarre but prescient segway into the problematic politics of the situation, as opposed to even the most conservative notion of necessity.

As such, these walls are the embodiment of statement. Literally a message from the incumbent (state) management authority… from one side of the barrier to the other. Once erected, they are hard to remove as they become the de facto physical condition and once erected social, political and economic decisions operate around them, always making them much harder to remove than erect in the initial flurry to overt the unknown or outsider.

 

Click on the image below for interactive map…

Everyday there are new revelations from the Trump White House. In an attempt to establish some understanding of what all the words means, I have created a filter that looks at specific actions, Departures. People leave their posts for a number of different stated and suspected reasons. However, when seen together, the departures themselves start to tell us a story of the direction in which the presidency is being taken, which often contradicts the publicly stated position at the time. 

This project is a timeline mapping of people who have departed during the turbulent presidency of Donald Trump, and the reasons why. For more information please use this link.