At the western end of a dead-end park-slot

Abstract: For the purposes of anonymity the name of the park will not be disclosed. The name of the city, as well as the country will remain unidentified here. It is a park. It is classified as park-area by the planning authorities. It is a dead-end of an otherwise popular park. It is badly integrated with the urban fabric (they say). It is topographically difficult, dominated by a steep slope facing north. It is a park located in a region which is not warm. It sees autumns, winters, springs and summers. It offers a dog resting area and a derelict football field (one of the two goals is gone after a puff of wind fell fifteen trees just west of the kindergarten which is located on its periphery). Eastwards: Two kindergarten. One of them has up until now been more permanent than the other. Now they are both going to be gone. 2014. Southwards: Up on the hill a towering housing block dating from the late 1960’s. Northwards: Transition homes for recently homeless men and women. Westwards: A rugged edge, large and small trees, bushes, and beyond housing, a community hospital, more housing. The end (a steep staircase). This is now. What is being planned is a new housing block. Owner apartments. Expensive. A new street disconnects the children, that is. Adults can deal with car-traffic. A presentation of the current conditions will be made in the form of photographs, maps and a descriptive voice. It will report from the growing resistance to the plans and the responses from the planners in charge. This is a new project which is in an early stage, however the author has previously written extensively on the park in question, though from another perpective.

Bio: Katja Grillner is professor of Critical Studies in Architecture at the KTH School of Architecture and the Built Environment. She is the director of the strong research environment Architecture in Effect, funded by Formas 2011-2016. She is co-founder of FATALE, a feminist architecture teaching and research group based at KTH. She was the president of the Nordic Association for Architectural Research 2000-2002, director of architecture research at KTH from 2005-2008, and has directed large research projects such as AKAD (2003-2007); Architecture and Authorship (2003-2007); The Poetics of Critical Writing (2007-2009).

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Urban Biopower Stockholm and the Biopolitics of Creative Resistance

Abstract: The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has argued that the ‘camp’ conceived as the paradoxical space of permanent exception designed to exclude the non-citizen, has now entered the centre of the contemporary city where every citizen risks being unmasked as a stranger, or perhaps a worker who has lost his or her working visa. The biopower that organizes the invisible city-camp does so through the administration of the lives and deaths of its population, through subtle shifts in the social atmospheres of belonging and exclusion, and through the ubiquitous use of electronic pass codes, which determine access to both physical sites as well as sites of information. This presentation will address key concepts such as biopolitics, biopower, and also noopolitics in order to collaboratively present work in progress being undertaken by students in Critical Studies in Architecture, KTH Architecture.

Bio:  Dr Hélène Frichot is an Assistant Professor in Critical Studies in Architecture, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, KTH, Stockholm. While her first discipline is architecture she completed a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Sydney (2004). Hélène edited, with Stephen Loo, Deleuze and Architecture, Edinburgh University Press, (2013). Since 2005, with Esther Anatolitis, she has co-curated the public lecture series Architecture+Philosophy (www.architecture.testpattern.com.au/).

Operating in and/or emancipating the interstice

Abstract: In response to the conference’s theme “urban blind spots”, this paper introduces Isabelle Stengers’s use of “interstice”. Stengers uses the interstice as a conceptual category for reading what emerges form the margins (of space), found within peripheral as much as central locations. Interstices are those places where events emerge, where previously illegible, and thus unnoticed, activities become articulate. As such they allow for the possibility of alternative futures. Stengers’s “plea for a slow science” is to be read within her conceptualisation of the interstice. I will confront such reading of the interstice with the urban and architectural critical practices that emerged in Brussels throughout the 1990s and, in many cases, are still operative today. These practices showcase the potential of the interstice as “cracks” within the system, and, so I will argue, they allow for a critical position. Namely a criticality “from within” that questions enforced choices such as between opposition and appeasement.

Bio: Dr. Isabelle Doucet is a Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Manchester, School of Environment and Development / Manchester Architecture Research Centre. Her research centres on transformations in architecture’s critical project at the intersections of social critique, politics and aesthetics. Relevant publications include the special issue Agency in Architecture: Reframing Criticality in Theory and Practice (Footprint, 2009, with K. Cupers); the edited volume Transdisciplinary Knowledge Production: Towards Hybrid Modes of Inquiry in Architecture and Urbanism (Springer, 2011, with N. Janssens); and “Making a city with words: Understanding Brussels through its urban heroes and villains” (City, Culture and Society, 2012).

Spike – The fragile essence of a place – Ghent, Exhibition Presentation

Abstract: The aim of last years design studio SPIKE was to go deep into the specific charactaristics of a place. What makes a specific place the way it is and how can we understand the fragile balance between social, economic and ecological systems. How can the relationship between the context and the possible architectural program lead to a simple and obvious architectural project that fortifies the specific spot?

A site located in the core of a housing block. Behind a church, behind houses, behind a school building hidden for everyone that never tried to get acces to it. Although the place is alive! A small nursery school gives rythm to the site and a small urban farm attracts people living in the surrounding houses. How can we contribute here? Which kind of architectural intervention can give this place the possibilities it deserves? Those were some of the questions that we couldn’t answer.

Bio: The team met within the context of the international Master program at Sint- Lucas Ghent (Belgium). Ane, Marie, Pavol and Thomas. Spain, Belgium, Slovakia, Belgium. For the firs time all of them had to work in a international group. A group of people with a different background, but with a high interest in architecture and urban planning. Spending a lot of time together while working on the design, as well as spending some time in one of the nice bars in Ghent, they became a close team which helped the evolution of the project. Now about 5 months later, they will meet again for the first time since everybody returned to his/her home country. Looking forward to meet you all and to explain what they learned about ‘The Fragile Essence of a Place’.

Rent: The Apartment and its Uses

Abstract: In 1974, pursuing his interest in the infra-ordinary – ‘the banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the back-ground noise, the habitual’ – Georges Perec wrote about an idea for a novel: ‘I imagine a Parisian apartment building whose façade has been removed … so that all the rooms in the front, from the ground floor up to the attics, are instantly and simultaneously visible’.

In Life A User’s Manual (1978) the consummation of this precis, patterns of existence are measured within architectural space with an archaeological sensibility that sifts through narrative and décor, structure and history, services and emotion, the personal and the system, ascribing commensurate value to each. Borrowing methods from Perec, to move somewhere between conjecture, analysis and other documentation and tracing relationships between form, structure, materiality, technology, organisation, tenure and narrative use, this paper interrogates the late twentieth-century speculative apartment block in Britain and Ireland arguing that its speculative and commodified purpose often allows a series of lives that are less than ordinary to inhabit its spaces.

Bio: Dr Gary A. Boyd is senior lecturer in architecture at University College Cork and the CCAE: Cork School of Architecture. His first book Dublin 1745-1922: Hospitals, Spectacle and Vice (Four Courts: 2006) examines connections between medical institutions and the city’s urban and social development. Current research activities include systems, military and manufactured landscapes, and housing design and its histories. He is co-editor of the forthcoming book Ordnance: War + Architecture & Space (Ashgate: 2013).

Framed Time: the waning of the cinematic city

Abstract: This paper will examine the relationship between film (making) and the city, suggesting that as a tool, film can provide architects with a means of observing aspects of the urban that remain invisible to more conventional architectural techniques.

Bio: M. Christine Boyer is the William R. Kenan Jr. professor of architecture and urbanism Princeton University, USA, where she has been part of the faculty since 1991. She is an urban historian whose interests include the history of the city, city planning, preservation planning, and computer science. Before coming to Princeton, she was professor and chair of the City and Regional Planning Program at Pratt Institute and she has taught at Cooper Union, Columbia University and Harvard University.

Her publications include Dreaming the Rational City: The Myth of American City Planning 1890-1945 (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1983), Manhattan Manners: Architecture and Style 1850-1900 (New York: Rizzoli, 1985), The City of Collective Memory (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1994), and CyberCities (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996), and more recently Le Corbusier: homme de letters (1910- 1947) (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010).

In/visible Inscriptions: A photographic Workshop, exhibition presentation

Abstract: A battle for visibility takes place every day on the surfaces of the city. Drawing strongly from the materiality of those surfaces, inscriptions of various kinds struggle to make their way into our field of vision, by employing different tactics of placement and form. And while some might succeed through size, legibility or crispness, others tend to fall behind in their own urban blind spots, existing in a state of low visibility.

This one day photography workshop is aimed at capturing these inscriptive blind spots and bringing them back to the centre of the frame, through an exercise in observation and selection. Together with a group of students, we will attempt to make photographic sense of the spatial logic of different types of signage, from commercial posters to tagging and from street art to traffic signs. The one day field work will be followed by an exhibition with selected images from all participating students

Bio: Sabina is a doctoral researcher at The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. With a continuous interest in street art, graffiti and other forms of independent inscriptions that shape our city surfaces, she is now focusing on the site specificity of these inscriptions and their connection to the materiality of the built environment.

A background in literature and visual culture keeps Sabina fascinated by the language/image dynamics, which gets reflected in her practices as a copywriter and urban surface photographer.

Sabina is also in charge of I Know What I Like, a London based organisation that handles urban & street art education through in situ activities like customised tours, debates and gallery visits.