Territories of Power: “Conflict Urbanism & Politics”One Day Colloquium: DSD
Date: Friday 5 November 2010
Venue: Berlagezaal, Faculty of Architecture TU Delft
Participants:TU Delft: DSD Urban Asymmetries (Architecture), The ? Factory (Urbanism), Border Conditions (Public Building/Architecture), Spatial Planning & Strategy (Urbanism).
Bezalel Academy of Arts, Faculty of Architecture
Yaarah Bar On, Yuval Yaski, Senan Abdelqader
Dessau Institute of Architecture (DIA/Anhalt Hochschule)
Deborah Hauptmann (Dir. DSD)
The DSD Curriculum.
Arie Graafland (Antoni v Leeuwenhoek Prof , DSD)
Topic: As anyone dealing with the spatial disciplines will know, one of the most difficult enterprises of carrying out research and study in these fields is to find an appropriate interpretation of the notion of space. The different and not unproblematic understandings of this word -one of the most complicated in our language - are context-specific and generally require a particular discursive framework to become operative.
Yuval Yaski (Department Head Bezalel Architecture faculty)
Curator - The Israeli Pavilion Venice
12th International Architecture Exhibition
"The Department aspires to develop an effective academic model that is measured not only by its scholarly standards and the quality of its students' projects, but also by its broader impact on the culture, public debate and architectural discourse in Israel. Bezalel's specific commitment to active involvement in Israeli culture and politics serves as a platform for ongoing communication and collaborations with academic and professional institutions around the world." (website Bezalel Academy of Arts, Faculty of Architecture)
Topic: "The Return of the Real" - I would like to discuss, briefly, the recent changes in architectural culture in the light of the economic meltdown of the last couple of years - namely the shift from the Extravagance architecture (see Dubai etc) to burning issues of sustainability (both social and environmental), social equity, localism and other related issues. I would like to demonstrate it through the recent Architecture Biennale which I took part in and discuss the way we are framing these issues in the architecture department at Bezalel.
Yaarah Bar On (prof Bezalel Architecture faculty)
Topic: The Social Context of Space: Unfashionable backyards in Israel
The lecture seeks to understand the social meaning of the unseen, unfashionable backyards in the Israeli society (Bedouins, work- immigrants, Ultra orthodox and kibbutz communities, Ethiopian immigrants, refugees). People in the margins design their objects and environment without knowing the canons of formal design, or disregarding the rules of fashion and trends. The way they shape space, both reflect and produce their sense of community, ideology, and identity. In this research I consider nothing obvious. What is for me self evident: meaning of signs, icons, symbols and concepts, might have a radically different meaning for them. I decontextualize myself and suspend cultural pre-judgments, alienated from my own preconceived world.
I look for the way those communities use self-design and spontaneous architecture in rejection of the political, ethic and aesthetic values of the hegemonic society, creating a strong presence of unique symbols and concepts. They reject, for example, any western ideas of leisure. They do have a lot of free time but they arrange their time and space differently, as they relate differently to demarcation lines, fences and borders, trying to keep themselves apart and well-defined.
Marginal groups in Israel consider the state's public spheres, the "agora" as enemy territory. It is not a space to be shared and respected, but infringed upon. You annex parts of it, vandalize it, you create safe passages in it. Even when the state tries to serve the community in the public sphere it is seen as enemy's locus property.
Senan Abdelqader (prof Bezalel Architecture faculty)
Topic: Architecture of (in)Dependency, Urban Planning in the Suburban Context of East-Jerusalem:
The purpose of this presentation is to suggest the reality of Jerusalem as a laboratory for innovative strategies in urban analysis and planning, which would result in a liberation from the conventional formalities which have shaped the process of urban planning until today.
Taking as a case study the experience of a family in East Jerusalem wishing to build and expand, this presentation will concentrate on the complexities of this informal individual initiative, facing the formal dominating and discriminating powers. Such processes, which compose the informal urban development, are tangled within the formalities and informalities of West Jerusalem, and East Jerusalem. This silently hybrid reality could be given a voice into the act of urban planning in East-Jerusalem specifically, but also in general, as a tool adaptive to complex environments rather than a blind imposing one.
The statement will be followed by the description of a few projects (urban+private) which examine this theory and intend to realize it on the ground.
M. Christine Boyer, Princeton University, USA
Topic: Urbicide: a spatial analysis of its many definitions
The crises of war and terrorism, the killing of cities and space, begin with a map on which lines are drawn and boundaries erected. Geography is about power: it is literally ‘the writing of the earth' no better seen than in the process of map-making and the struggle over borders. Space about us ripples with borders and boundaries, buffer zones and control systems, protected and excluded areas. The overt policy of urban spatial destruction is called ‘urbicide'. The term refers to three different forms of spatial destruction. It means the physical destruction of urban neighborhoods or terrain during peacetime, which is believed to ‘kill the city' in some form. An example of this can be found in Jane Jacobs' Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961). Second it means the destruction of the concept of a city as a totality due to the effects of urban exclusion, an example of this occurs in the Banlieues in France. Third it means the deliberate destruction of cities during war, such as the fire-bombing of Dresden in WWII, or dropping the Atomic Bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. This talk will explore the different acts of marking borders and implementing urbicide in contemporary cities experiencing the crises of war and terrorism.
Heidi Sohn/Tahl Kaminer (Urban Asymmetries Studio DSD)
Topic: The focus of Urban Asymmetries research is placed on the relationship that contemporary cities hold to their geopolitical position, contextualizing them as part of larger systems beyond the merely spatial. It considers political economy as the determinant force behind contemporary urban development; a force that without a doubt is largely responsible for the generation and intensification of urban (and other) asymmetries, differential growth, and other forms of unequal or uneven development.
Marc Schoonderbeek (Border Conditions)
Topic: Border Conditions is a research and design group engaged in experimental projects based investigations of socio-political contexts by tracing contemporary spatial phenomena and conditions in cities, and charting the specific characteristics of the built environment. In an attempt to understand the contemporary workings of architecture, Border Conditions focuses special attention on mapping as a tool to register and interpret these urban processes, and to turn these findings into the guiding principles for spatial interventions. This presentation will focus on the issue of the border within the contemporary architectural discourse, ranging from the considerations of spatial objects that enforce segregation and division to the idea of the border as a 'space of encounter', as well as propose a focus on spatio-temporal conditions as the means through which a proper understanding of architectural space within temporal constraints can be understood. A condition, in this respect, is not only a field with spatial characteristics (a set of circumstantial characteristics indicative of a state of affairs or state of being), but also incorporates both a sense of time (as a temporary consolidation of forces within a spatial field); a framework of boundaries (as a spatial and temporal limitation); and a prerequisite (as both the unexpected situated in the future and the fundamental uncertainty embedded within contemporary disciplinary knowledge).
Tihamer Salij (The ? Factory, No Man's Land, Rebuilding Famagusta, Cyprus, with Christos Passas/DIA/Anhalt Hochschule)
Diego Sepulveda (SP&S, Complex Cities, Territories Studio's)
Spatial planning and strategy is a core chair in the Faculty of Architecture of the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). It is concerned with knowledge about the formulation, implementation and evaluation of strategic and urban planning tools - visions, strategies, plans and programmes. We are particularly interested in how intervention through spatial planning can meet the challenge of territorial management in the context of the growing complexity of networked urban regions. We undertake international case studies and cross-national research on globalizing cities and the planning tools they use.
Alfred Jacoby, Dir. Dessau Institute of Architecture (DIA),
The DIA Program on the Damascus Gate, an opening for discussion.
Panel discussion: (moderator: Deborah Hauptmann), Christine Boyer, Alfred Jacoby, Arie Graafland, Yaarah Bar On, Yuval Yaski, Senan Abdelqader, Heidi Sohn, Tahl Kaminer, Winy Maas, Tihamer Salij, Marc Schoonderbeek, Diego Sepulveda.
Book presentation, by Marc Schoonderbeek
Urban Crisis and ResistanceWorkshop/Colloquim, Delft School of Design & The Welsh School of Architecture
Time: 8-10-2010, 10.45
Participants include: Rachel Hurdley (Cardiff University), Robin Smith (Cardiff University), Marga Munar Bauza (WSA), Cristian Suau (WSA), Isabelle Doucet (University of Manchester), Patrick Healy (Delft School of Design), Heidi Sohn (Delft School of Design), Signe Sophie Boggild (Copenhagen), Maros Krivy (University of Helsinki), Andrej Radman (Delft School of Design), Tahl Kaminer (Delft School of Design), Alain Chiaradia (Cardiff University), Alison Brown (Cardiff University)
The city, broadly understood, is not merely a product of society, but also has a specific role in society. Since modernity, the role of the city has become central to society’s transformation and development on multiple levels and in diverse spheres. According to David Harvey, it is a vital organ in capital accumulation via urban development; according to Georg Simmel and Massimo Cacciari, it functions as a social-integration machine. Henri Lefebvre identified the role of the city in the organization – and re-organization- of labour, capital, and everyday life, but also offered the hope of an urban revolution – defining an alternative path to the one taken by middle-class, capitalist society. The city is thus understood as both an expression and producer of social relations, of the organization of economic production, of politics, of ideology, and of culture. Consequently, the study of the problématique urbaineis necessarily also a study of society itself.
The multi-faceted complexity of the city has encouraged a wide-range of disciplines to focus their attention on the urban environment, including urban geography, urban sociology, and urban history. The proposed colloquium / workshop will approach the city through architecture and urbanism, and will attempt to expand the discussion beyond disciplinary limits, while taking advantage of the specific disciplinary knowledge and know-how, allowing architecture and urbanism to engage the social via the city.
The colloquium / workshop will address contemporary urban conditions, defined by the current economic crisis. Economic crisis is felt in cities in the loss of tax revenues by city councils, in the bankruptcy of businesses, in foreclosed properties, in the collapse of real estate and property values, in a rise in homelessness, poverty and crime, and, more generally, in the dilapidation and erosion of the physical environment. Such crises also offer certain opportunities: the red-lining of neighbourhoods and consequently the mass-purchase of cheap properties enabling gentrification at a later stage on the one hand, and a chance to change course, to implement ideas and plans which depart from existing frameworks and are not subjugated to profiteering, on the other. The urgency of a discussion of contemporary urban conditions, and the need for architects and urbanists to address the dire conditions developing in cities – whether via analysis, plan, or project – is the point of departure for the colloquium / workshop. In this context, questions arise regarding the efficacy of architecture, the role of culture in urban transformation, the relation of architecture and urbanism to politics, the diverse roles of the city itself and the manner architecture and urbanism play an affirmative or disruptive part in the process.
’Urban Crisis and Resistance’ will present theoretical papers and design-based works as well as concrete examples and case studies of, for instance, the manner in which urban morphology is itself a social and economical product, or the effects of neoliberal policies on the urban environment. This platform of debate will facilitate the understanding of various urban dynamics and often unmediated interactions among numerous global actors that are creating new levels of complexity for the relationships between planning, research and design practice.
In Search of a Theory for Critical Urban PracticeRoundtable discussion, Delft School of Design
Time: 15-06-2010, 11.00
Participants include: Margaret Crawford (University of California, Berkeley), Erik Swyngedouw (University of Manchester), Jeremy Till (University of Westminster), Pieter Uyttenhove (Universiteit Gent).
Practice-based professions such as architecture and urbanism struggle since long to come to terms with their trans-disciplinary character (in the sense of being both discipline and profession), in particular when it comes to processing and shaping a critical engagement with the world. For long, and not the least within the Critical Theory tradition, critique has been processed primarily in inter-disciplinary terms, namely through an architecture theory that is informed by social, political, and cultural theories. Such critique deploys a distance from practice in order to enable the discerning of large scale processes without the danger of becoming ‘operative criticism’ – the term Tafuri used to describe criticism which legitimates practices – provides a much needed understanding of the world, but falls short of addressing the means for architectural practice to gain critical agency. Along such suggestions for a different, critical though also more practice-oriented theory, important questions have emerged, such as: How can a practice-oriented theory remain critical and avoid becoming the subterfuge for practice? Can theory and practice develop a dialectical relation, with each adjusting to the demands posed by the other? In particular in the current neoliberal or so-called post-political context, wherein the urban is often engaged in terms of glocal remedies for the city, there is a clear need for the establishment of more appropriate theory-practice relations. Despite the pertinence and wide dissemination of the critiques formulated by urban geographers like David Harvey, architecture and urbanism, as practices, require more than critiques of neoliberal urban policies, if they ever want to act effectively within or against that condition. This search for an operative though critical, practice-engaging theory, and the challenge to gravitate from critique to practice, a move which is less simple than imagined, forms the subject of the Urban Asymmetries studio and of this roundtable discussion.