"Politics & the Political"

Here is a brief clip from an interview with Erik Swyngedouw. I am exceedingly interested in connecting architectural practices with the evolving field of critical geography.


Masters Thesis Abstract + Film Preview

Below is the abstract and film preview from my masters thesis. I will try to put a few dozen interviews online soon with links to films that I am developing that analyze variations in Berlin's collective housing: between privately owned (Baugruppen), demands for resocialization (Kotti & Co), and commons models of cooperative duel ownership (Mietshäuser Syndikat). 

- - -


Towards a conceptualization of critical urban praxis (theory/proposition/physical activity) as a strategy of architectural commoning analyzed through the Baugruppe and Mietshäuser Syndikat in Berlin

This project develops a critique of architecture and suggests that local architectural strategies can forge alliances with social movements to produce material critique of society. First, the critique of architecture can reveal contradictions in how we conceptualize architecture in order to suggest a balance between critical proximity and critical distance – the actor-network assemblage and the forces of planetary urbanization. Second, I ask specific questions regarding new collective housing strategies in Berlin, whether material form or economic contracts adequately accommodate various visions of a collective society. Third, I will extrapolate upon a critical urban praxis, which identifies three parts: (1) theory/research, (2) propositions/models, and (3) physical activity/embodied action, each of which must retain the three fundamentals of critical theory (1) reflexivity, (2) critique of instrumental reason, (3) illuminate pathways from the actual to the possible. Fourth, the project is then localized in Berlin by analyzing the cycles of history, divided city, restructuring of the post-1989 economy and scales of neoliberal urbanization. The state has rolled back state programs, such as social housing, while rolling out new incentives for private housing (such as giving tax refunds for Baugruppen projects). Fifth, the comparison between Baugruppe and Mietshäuser Syndikat illustrates similarities in material form, and differences in ownership: the Baugruppe have private individual and the Mietshäuser Syndikat have dual ownership. The positive narrative inaccurately deceives the professional architecture community and the broader public of the community value of new social architectural models, while tenant resistance continues and housing is needed for those without capital. 

Film preview:


Film: "Creativity and the Capitalist City"

I am sorry for not to blog in the last months. I have been very busy and stressed with my masters thesis. I will post some of that online soon. Also, I am working on a new film regarding various collective housing models in Berlin: (1) market rate, sustainable, participatory, and common space  building groups (in German Baugruppen), (2) cooperatively financed housing (in German Genossenschaften), and even strategies that develop duel ownership to permanently remove the property form the real-estate market (especially here the Mietshäser Syndikat).

Below is an interesting film that I watched last night that reveals through a documentary film perhaps the most prevalent and pervasive term in contemporary city development throughout the world — creativity. The film was made by urban sociologist Tino Buchholz and is called "Creativity and the Capitalist City: The Struggle for Affordable Space in Amsterdam." It presents many scales of creative activity: squats, anti-squats, city branding, resistance, and the right to the city. Website for the film here. It also has interesting interviews from activists, business leaders, branding organizations, artists, citizens, and political geographer Jamie Peck.



full film in english:


The Architect in the Neoliberal City

What is the role of the architect in the neoliberal city?

I am interested in pursing this question during the next five months in Berlin while completing my masters thesis, which I will document on this blog. The project will be both research and practice in attempt to articulate strategies of critical spatial praxis.


Political or police architects?

Below is a draft of the paper I presented at the conference "Architecture and the Political," Beirut, Lebanon, where I try to construct an ethnography using Bruno Latour's actor-network theory, while trying to compare progressive architectural strategies to Jacques Ranciére's concept of politics. If you have any feedback, please leave it below or in an email. Thanks.
- - - - - - - - - - -

POLITICAL OR POLICE ARCHITECTS? interpreting architecture in place

Architects have mobilized in increasing numbers over the past decades to confront rising inequality. Paralleling architecture’s potentially political project, Jacques Rancière has developed a new conception of politics as “disagreement” that confronts our representative democracies’ “police order.” I will approach both topics—new socially-conscious/public-interest architectures and Rancière's politics—as sets of controversies, as advised by Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory (ANT), and try to make them visible. An ethnographic construction will present architecture and politics in the making between concepts, agents, and objects. The Alley Flat Initiative at the University of Texas will perform the controversies in a real place, at which point we can begin to trace the projectile of categories such as Rancière's politics and “political architecture.”  Once the measurements are documented, new projectiles can be proposed in between Rancière's police order (as “police architectures”) and political emancipation (as “political architectures”), between restriction and openness. New experimental practices must build on top of the solid foundations of ANT assemblages with malleable disciplinary specificities, oscillating between critical distance and proximity, while advocating for continued experimentation in the field, placing bricks in time and space.


What is the architect without money?

Cities are in crisis. People are mobilizing dissent in public squares. Professions must reimagine their role, or in this case, architects must reconsider their role.

Sociologist John Holloway recognizes the problem of protest is that capitalism integrates cultures of dissent into the profit making mechanisms. Holloway suggests that the only thing capitalism cannot dismiss is capital itself. Therefore, we might encourage proper resistance strategies to begin by subverting the use of money. Then we can ask our architects...


5 points to an "ethical" architecture

Here is an interesting, very brief, documentary that introduces a few contrasting perspectives on Le Corbusier's architecture and the role of the architect in society.


striking at the root of the problem

‎"Only 11% of Americans have confidence in congress." The Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig argues that forming genuine democracy begins by taking the money out of politics. A simple concept. How can it be mobilized? Join today at RootStrikers.