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.
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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.
GROUNDING ARCHITECTURE IN PLACE
Many architects in the United States and elsewhere have mobilized in the past decades to combat rising social inequality, yielding the disciplinary tools of architecture, and focusing on spatial injustice. Their motivations developed in response to broad political stagnation in academia, the mixed history of modernism, the abstraction of postmodernism and deconstruction, and the continued legacy of architecture as artistic object. The political architectural trend has gained significant traction at all levels of architectural production; design-build architecture education has been highlighted as the most admired in the country; their projects have received world-wide recognition; their instructors have won national design awards and the TED prize; they have taught studios from the Ivy League to the unconventional schools; and they build between the global center and the periphery.
I aim neither to celebrate the projects, nor to denigrate them, but to try and interpret the extreme ends of practice, between political idealism and police regulation or said in a new way — between “political architectures” and “police architectures.” The wide range of architectural activities demonstrates how this field is mobilizing in new ways, across scales, across social divides, and with new methodologies. Following actor-network theory (ANT), it is imperative to try and understand that any political project in architecture is inherently a controversy, and should be dissected as controversial and build upon with blocks of controversies. The jury is not out. Critical discourse must feed from within and from the outside of the field, and between disciplinary proximity and distance. The architects that will be analyzed here build projects in the United States, in the center’s periphery, for marginalized Americans.
While ANT warns against “giving context,” I will briefly outline some of David Harvey’s ideas about urbanization in order to slide between the critical distance of an architect and the critical proximity of a sociologist to sociological concepts. Harvey argues that capital investment in the city has corroded democratic processes, which will be revealed later in the ethnography. Harvey's claim allows us to understand how architects interpret their role within broader structures. Expanding upon Henri Lefebvre, Harvey argues, in his article “The Right to the City,” that huge investment of capital has flowed from free market profits into the urbanization of our cities. The surplus values have been reinvested into office buildings, housing developments, and malls, as a safe investment. The urban investments merged over time corporate interests with governmental policies, to a position that have been labeled “post-democratic,”  because political decisions are transforming the urbanization process from being “cities for people” to “cities for profit.” The logic of endless growth within free market capitalism has been most visible and physical in urbanization. Architects usually provide the service of designing structures, within systems of capital exchange, for clients, in representative, capitalist democracies. I will present architects that step outside the boundaries of their general specialization, who aspire to build structures that challenge society’s unequal distribution of wealth.
GROUNDING INQUIRY IN PLACE
‘Social architecture’ is a convoluted category in which publications, self-representations, and critical perspectives each contradict each another. I will continue applying Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory to the topic while introducing the politics of Jacques Rancière into the discourse. ANT confronts the ambiguity of social categories to retool sociology, suggesting to begin inquiry from empirical contact, instead of building on previously constructed knowledge. Would architects build upon flimsy foundations? We ought to also, in our inquiries, not build on flimsy concepts. Previous categories might be considered “concepts,” but only alongside other agents and objects that are on the ground, in the local, and in motion. By walking on the earth we can “munch our way through” tiny components of a place and extend “the list of actors and agencies” beyond the abstract “social forces,” while all along recognizing that philosophers, sociologists, and architects are “on par with those they study.” Knowledge can be open, theories shared, and living actors can collectively reflect.
The voice of people living inside local sites must be heard. Who are the clients? What do the architects say? Who questions the projects? “Collecting statements not only traces new connections but also offers new highly elaborated theories of what it is to connect.” People can “rank themselves as well as the objects in dispute,” however the inquiry should not end there, and result in a vernacular celebration or redistribution roles from the professional to the people.
Objects also must be gathered because they are the physical component of our societies that often lay silent and unrecognized as making an impact. The objects provide a unique opportunity to trace a “material network” where there is “no interruption, no break, no gap, and no uncertainty along any point of the transmission.” When objects “modify a state of affairs,” we ought to consider that “the intermediaries mutates into a mediator.” Objects should not be viewed as passive, silent, or forgotten, but impactful, what Latour calls an actant. Objects allow us to “extend the list” of components beyond concepts and social forces, whereby we can “follow the trails left behind.”
The impact of actors and objects must be deciphered. The network is what happens “in between” all the components and that which draws connections and reveals the composition of influences. By constructing “strings of mediators,” what was previously an ambiguous society can be reconceptualized as interconnected components of the collective. How can we “make visible” the sociology of architecture? We may to need invent “tricks” to reveal components and interactions. The scale of inquiries must begin at the local, and only through understanding multiple locals, and their connections, can we comprehend the global; therefore, “localizing the global and distributing the local.” Inquiries must develop “point to point connections” between concepts, agents, and objects. Sociologists need to continue to remain scientific by inventing “clamps”  as “checks and balances” to the scientific rigor of studies.
When local contexts are constructed with agent and object assemblages, we can then begin to connect “the assemblies of those assemblages.” ANT warns against generalizing categories, and therefore, from an ANT perspective, we can only get to the heated political contexts (globalization, poverty, capitalism), if we empirically construct analyses at all scales. Then we will be rewarded by the ability to “draw on the potentials lying in wait,” and attempt “another disruption of roles between science and politics.”
RANCIÈRE’S POLITICS AS DISAGREEMENT
While Latour warns against building analysis on flimsy foundations, Jacques Rancière warns against “modesty of philosophy” that can become “modesty at someone else’s expense.” I suggest we consider philosophical ideas as conceptual controversies within the broader network of agents and objects. Rancière has developed an anti-political philosophy, which not only parallels the political architects rejection of conventional architectural practices, but also provides vocabulary for architecture and the assemblage.
In Disagreement, Rancière recounts the history of political philosophy, beginning with Plato and Aristotle, wherein the invention of politics was to resolve the age-old societal conflict, which is between the rich and the poor. Rancière writes that Plato sought to resolve the gap between the rich and the poor through “archipolitics,” the logical solution in which a "hierarchical order of the city where the head rules the stomach" – the philosopher kings or the educated, over the less good. The Republic is governed by divine people who establish laws that are meant not to be restrictive, but to seduce the people with a story for “spiritual nourishment” that creates city order.  The story is a performance that manipulates the assumed “vegetative existence” of the people; it is the resolution to solve democracy’s paradox—How to give part to those with no part?—"by performing an imitation of politics in negating it." The philosopher kings distribute “ways of being and ways of doing, ways of feeling and ways of thinking, with nothing left over." The republican project is the “complete psychologizing and sociologizing of the elements of the political apparatus."
Rancière also examines Aristotle’s “metapolitics,” in which the city is no longer run by the philosopher kings or the most educated, but becomes the institutionalization of conflict between two parties, which Rancière argues is a rearrangement of “the components of the democratic apparatus (the appearance…) in the forms of rationality of the good government.” This “metapolitics” is based on a lie in which “participation” or an “equal lot” for each person becomes the most politics can achieve. Political parties are two faced, acting as “oligarch for oligarchs, democracy for demos;” therein politics becomes theatrical and spectacular. Rancière describes this as a “game of forms (vindication of rights, the battle for representation, etc.), the petty circulation debate between parties and self legitimating functions that keep the real community of the “uncounted” at a distance from themselves.
Due to this bleak rendering of political philosophy, Rancière replaces the common word “politics” with “police,” because what is recognized as politics (such as in our contemporary representative democracies) does not actually confront or resolve the class conflict, but hides conflict. The police order provides an institutionalization and distribution of systems of language, systems of behavior, and systems of hierarchy, that are constantly self-legitimating entities. The police order is based on stability, as a spectacle that manipulates the people, not because of the aestheticization of politics, but because “politics is aesthetic in principle.”
The police order is based upon the distribution of the sensible, which restricts perception to legitimated ways of thinking, ways of speaking, ways of seeing, and ways of being—with nothing left over. The police cannot hear dissenting opinions, but only the official voices of parties, political groups, opinion polls, or the disagreeing experts. The political act occurs when the part with no part can argue and make metaphors. Language can demonstrate that there is a common world between the police logic and the egalitarian logic, and the intertwining of argument (so as to convince) with the poetic metaphor provides vivid articulation to demonstrate voice. When the part with no part speaks the police language, the police order will not want to accept dissenting voice, for the egalitarian language will clash with the distribution of the sensible. The police will consider the utterances as only noise, that of non-speaking bodies: masses, mobs, or undesirables. The people must demonstrate that they are “reasonable speaking beings,” proving their equal thinking capacity, to demand political involvement on their own terms. "Politics exists when the natural order of domination is interrupted by the institution of a part of those who have no part." The language of the political act asserts that a common world exists between the police logic and the egalitarian logic – to reconfigure the distribution of the sensible.
The police order is dependent upon predefined forms. "There are those who play the game of forms (the vindication of rights, the battle for representation, etc.) and those who direct the actions designed to eradicate this play of forms." The political act is about revealing the scandal of the police order—democracy is not political—for “democracy only offers the theatrics of dispute.”  The police order has prescribed instruments of governance—such as expert knowledge and statistical sciences of opinion gathering—judging society as “the sum of its parts with nothing left over,”  and where law and order are divine. "There is politics when there is a part of those who have no part, a part of party for the poor."  "Beyond this set-up there is no politics. There is only the order of domination or the disorder of revolt."
Rancière reserves the word politics for the moment that ruptures the police distribution of order, a juncture that facilitates the “relationships between worlds,” the fundamental occurrence of disagreement. Politics becomes society to be. The political act is disagreement in the public sphere that makes visible, makes heard, and makes understandable the “singularity of the wrong”—there is a gap in society. The political act on the stage for all to see is always local and it is very uncommon, and, for Rancière, there is no science to map its future.
Now we have outlined Rancière’s transformation of the common word politics into the police because of a distribution of the sensible that has created forms that continue to neglect the part of no part. What role might Rancière’s police or political act play in art, aesthetics, or specifically here, architecture? For Rancière, the art project that attempts to be political, through an aspired outcome, most often fails to achieve politics proper; whereas, Rancière has identified some instances where people reimagine their role in society, and reflect through literature, as a “very rare” instance that politics proper and aesthetics collide. Rancière suggests that this is because art projects are unable to develop through a kind of cause-and-effect relationship of political subjectivity.
There is no reason why the sensory strangeness produced by the clash of heterogeneous elements should bring about the understanding of the state of the world, no reason why the comprehension of the state of the world should bring about the decision to change it. There is no straight way from looking at a spectacle to understanding the state of the world, no straight way from intellectual awareness to political action. What occurs is much more the shift from a given sensory world to another sensory world which defines other capacities and incapacities, other forms of tolerance and intolerance. What works out are processes of dissociation: the break in a relation between sense and sense - between what is seen and what is thought, what is thought and what is felt. Such breaks can happen anywhere at any time. But they can never be calculated.
When the architect claims that their project favors political emancipation or proper spatial solutions, we should remain skeptical, especially when they impose those visions on people, under the justification of the people’s ill-informed decisions. If the artist plays into the game of developing forms, then they too become members of the police order. How can architectural processes or forms be opened? While Rancière’s project departs from conventional political philosophy, his aesthetic analysis stays predominantly within the fine arts and the museums, which is “leaving aside architecture, urban planning, public art, design, music, etc.”  Furthermore, while Rancière has developed a bold philosophical strategy, he has not taken the step beyond philosophy, into the dirt of empiricism and experimentation. Gabriel Rockhill suggests such a grounding of Rancière’s politics through a necessary politicity, in which we can interpret the empirical intersection of properly political strategies and art projects—because real life projects are “politicized precisely through their production, circulation, and interpretation in the social field.” Between progressive architects, Latour, and Rancière, there is a threefold parallel between architecture, sociology, and philosophy; architecture is grounding itself in place; sociology is grounding itself in place; and now it is suggested that Rancière’s politics be grounded in place.
GROUNDING POLITICAL ARCHITECTURE IN PLACE
In 2008 I conducted ethnographic fieldwork for eight months throughout the United States on university design-build architecture programs working in poor communities. Here, I will present part of my documentation on a project at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) called The Alley Flat Initiative (AFI). I would like to try and assemble the studio in the simplest ANT construction, whereby I start by constructing the concepts, agents, and objects, in order to interpret where their practice sits between the oscillating categories of police-like or ethical architectures—or said in the language of Jacques Rancière: Do progressive architects distribute an architectural sensible or disrupt the distribution of the sensible?
Assembling practices should begin with ideas: What were the professors’ preconceptions of the project? What was their design methodology? What was their pedagogical foundation? These ideas can be revealed through past publications. The two organizing professors of the initiative were Steven Moore and Sergio Palleroni. Moore taught theory; Palleroni taught the design-build studio that took students between the studio—where they designed projects—into the field to meet with clients and construct the building. I first heard about the initiative from a documentary called “Green for All,” in which Palleroni describes the architect’s responsibility as being inclusive about all things in this world—ecological and social—“and that includes all communities.” Palleroni's vision was to integrate everyone, which paralleled the articulation of Rancière’s part with no part.
In his article “Building to Learn/Learning to Build,” Palleroni writes that architectural education is “in crisis,” it is too individualistically organized, and it need instead organize design strategies that practice “group collaboration.” Pedagogically, Palleroni believed that “schools have a responsibility to prepare their students for a changing world and a changing profession,” wherein the classroom is a tool of political mobilization, and community interest should be prioritized over the teaching interest. Moore reiterated this priority, warning against the education platform treating its clients like lab rats for testing new forms. “There is a danger. Not that students fail. But that students fail at the expense of the community. And I find that to be a problem. And if students don’t have the broader perspective that’s needed, it can become experimenting on the poor, which I have a major problem with.” In order to prevent inflicting negative consequences on the community, Moore said, “It’s necessary to give students the broader historical perspective that you sometimes don’t get just by throwing students into a situation.” Moore’s studio attempted to “provide [the community] with the technical knowledge and design capacity to help people in the community realize their definition of what their needs are—not our definition.” Moore’s warning seems to resemble Rancière’s warning against the police imposing a set of forms and inhibitors.
The AFI can be further understood by assembling agents’ perspectives and the objects involved, while remaining ambivalent of any single perspective. Every component must be registered, whether it has influence or not, as single points in a broader matrix. Face-to-face interviews are revealing, yet they should not stand alone to define worlds, but be identified as individual slices of a broader world. “Gentrification is happening in East Austin,” professor Palleroni said, “and there are very few mechanisms by which local people can compete to stay.” Professor Moore said an architectural form, the “alley flat,” could serve as a “tool that will increase [Latino’s] cash flow to the degree that they can also pay increased taxes.” The flip side of this, of course, is a continued dependence on growth economics, because the Latinos would have to grow in order to survive within the growing city and its growing taxes.
When challenged by community members, Palleroni pointed out that the complexity of working — with universities, students, classrooms, Latinos, homes, codes, communities, ex cetera — reveals that “you cannot theorize real life.” There is a kind of departure from concepts, readings, and abstraction once mobilizing inside real societies, Palleroni argued. The project figured out how to combat gentrification, via increasing the Latino’s “cash flow.” Moore said, if Latinos did not grow and increase their wealth then “they’re going to get pushed out.” The architectural projects were built on empty lots to provide additional income for homeowners to pay the rising taxes.
Applied pedagogies that work with communities depart from conventional education platforms, which are usually detached from real life issues and ultimately pigeonhole students to capital-dependent practices in the future. For students in alternative classrooms, it is assumed, that they often leave school with a more critical political perspective that will be applied to new practices. However, as Rancière argues, there is rarely a linear transfer from critical pedagogy into political consciousness. While many students, present and past, seemed inspired by the work of Moore and Palleroni (a few of whom later went into the public service sector), the large majority return to conventional practices when faced with their own bills and economic reality. One student asked: “Can you do that kind of work and make enough income to be happy?” Another myth and complexity is unraveled. The design-build studio exposes students to communities and the physical properties of real life projects; however, the design-build pedagogy works in an economic vacuum for the student, wherein, studios are detached from the funding structure of the projects. The professor as lead architect is not paid for the project, but paid by the university for teaching; the “political architect” is subsidized to practice. Professors mobilized against gentrification, but did not conceptualize new spatial strategies against neoliberal growth, nor locate alternative economic models that might support radical praxis.
“What students in this class have to grapple with is [that],” as professor Moore said, “they’re not designers with a kind of capital-D architect hero designer. They’re designers in the broader sense.” Yet students were ambivalent about whether their projects really helped the community, in some emancipatory way, or whether their process also “experimented” on the clients, like lab rats, where architects test spatial justice experiments. When the architect arrives to the junction of uncertainty, wherein they can either fulfill the community’s assumedly ill-informed ideas or their perspective of their own academic critical proximity—Does the architect distribute forms of inhibition? What is the distinction between restricting and emancipating people? Beyond critical reflections, the students also met the clients, designed the spaces, and constructed the buildings. The students were the mediators in the architectural process, molding the spaces into existence, which is animated further by the objects of design.
The client was a young couple with children, who would rent the new alley flat to the husband’s brother to earn additional income. The clients were very grateful for the project because the material costs were heavily subsidized, and the design costs were free. However, they were unconvinced about the viability for implementing the broader vision of the Alley Flat Initiative because other families would not receive as much financial assistance. In this case, the client felt their “pilot project” was an outlier, not a model. Their building cost approximately $110,000, at 700 square feet, extra expensive because of many sustainable materials.
The client’s ambivalence toward material choices and the broader vision demonstrated a tension wherein the client challenged the project, which should reveal the possibility that the architects may not be emancipating the people from gentrification, but may be generating new kinds of distinction, new distributions of the sensible. The client also asked questions about some aspects of the construction process. For instance, when a Norwegian rain screen was being installed with irregular spaces between the boards, the client grew uneasy. The students explained that the gaps between the wood sidings provided additional airflow, which the client showed discomfort with. During the construction, the client was uncomfortable with the haphazard student construction process. The client did not understand why salvaged wood was being used instead of conventional purchased materials. How can the architectural processes become a reciprocal learning environment between the students and the client, between the architect and the community, between the specialist and the citizen?
The UT professors partnered with the Guadeloupe Neighborhood Development Corporation (GNDC), which was led by Mark Rodgers. The local non-profit represented the Latino’s interests; non-profits serve as a common mediating tool between educational initiatives and local communities. In this context, Rodgers ensured that the alley flats did not become too expensive, especially when he recognized the housing costs were increasing due to expensive sustainable materials. Rodgers recalled that he had to keep a close eye on the affordability; otherwise GNDC could not approve the project. Rodgers also provided a fascinating perspective on the gap between worlds.
There’s value systems. And there are reasons why your Palleronis and Steven Moores and their students value the stuff that they’re promoting through their design. They might perfectly well understand the values of the communities that they’re working in. But they have their own values. And it’s really hard for someone to give those up if they really believe in them.
Rodgers came to the conclusion that “it's social architecture. It's the idea that you design in a way to transform society into a better society. … If you can do these green sustainable designs you're going to change society for the better.”
A prominent community member, activist, and Latino intellectual, Susana Almanza provided the most critical lens into the Alley Flat Initiative. She founded a local organization called PODER, which stands for People Organized in Defense of Mother Earth and her Resources, and analyzed the community process. She identified that the architects only offered three options to the community members. The community process—meant to democratically empower—became reduced to a formula resembling techniques of democratic representation. The architects suggested that the community chose design A, B, or C— “it’s never, none.” Almanza challenged many other components of the project, always returning to important questions regarding whether the project would or would not absolutely help the community. Ultimately, Almanza's criticism seemed to integrate the AFI—although motivated by "progressive" visions—into the institutionalization of racial and financial discrimination. The capitalist city's growth was disguised by political pedagogies, social consciousness, or sustainable architecture. Almanza reveals David Harvey’s claim that neoliberal urbanization is corroding democratic processes.
They give it this new term about sustainable development. And I just look at them: Let me correct you right away. We had those communities. You destroyed them. You let a slum like come in. You took away our emergency services. You took away our police service. You let crime and everything come in. And then you say, we're going to do economic development in your community. All it meant was, You're getting the hell out of there. All it meant was, We're going to displace you.
How can architects change their processes when confronted by criticism from the community?
Now we must consider the objects involved in the project: roads, homes, design tools, construction tools, construction materials, and structures. The AFI focused on East Austin, which is distinguished by the highway that slices through the center of the city, dividing space and distinguishing identities.
After an urban analysis, the professors decided that the alleys would be suitable for building houses. In the alley, the students met with the clients. They presented their designs, which had been at first produced through schemes on paper, then translated into graphic renderings on the computer. The expansion of Computer Aided Design has transitioned architects from the draft table to the computer. Students create images that imitate real life photographs based on their designs, called renderings. In the street the students presented final drawings and renderings to the community, which while posted on the fence in the alley, transformed the imagination of space, both positive and negative.
On the construction site, architecture students jumble together all of their tools together; they place computers on worktables, and they juggle between hammers, nails, and saws. The materials used to construct a building are becoming more important with the recent emphasis on environmental sustainability. In the case of the first AFI house, the client thought that the materials chosen were too expensive—for instance, using blow-in-soy insulation—while even some of the materials were salvaged. This balance between high-tech and low-tech salvaged materials provides a huge range of experimentation for the students where they can see the newest and oldest methods of building. This has even promoted a salvaged construction material economy, where used materials can be purchased at warehouses across the country, stepping outside the corporate economy.
On the other hand, the physical shapes that the projects took were objects as well, and everyone could not agree upon the aesthetics. In one case, a community member argued that the AFI's proposals resembled the architectural aesthetic of gentrification.
Off-centered architecture. It’s just like eh [crisscrossing her arms]. I feel crooked. This is not my mentality. My mentality is linear things. … And they drive me a little bit crazy because those designs do not fit in with the fabric of the neighborhood's architecture.
The classroom is another object. In the university, the classroom is a place of classical knowledge and digital connection to social networks: books, laptops, models, and design tools, were scattered over the studio tables, which is juxtaposed to their on-site carpentry. While design-build architectural pedagogy stepped out of the standard routines of the architectural education, it still included the classical methods of drawing, group presentation, and final renderings.
GROUNDING NEW ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICES IN PHILOSPHY, SOCIOLOGY AND PLACE
Did the architects politically emancipate or police restrict people?
If architects continue to mobilize political projects, they ought to continue reevaluating their own processes, tools, and impact. In the face of controversy or the warning of paradoxical practices, some architects continued to justify their practices. Moore commented that if the Latinos do not respond they will become "victims of history." And Palleroni said that studies cannot be assembled forever, which is perhaps what Latour would like to see, but instead: "there's always a point where you can say: 'Okay. I have done enough research. It's time for action.'" In this, the political architect violates Rancière's insistence of indetermination; but, as others have argued, indetermination or endless abstraction can be more dangerous than non-rigorous political projects. The architect motivated by a political cause has to take the risk of change through progressive decisions and actions. Otherwise, the ambiguous terrain of indifference, indecision, and inaction, would result in a continuation of rising property values and Latino gentrification, just as it happened to previous generations.
Still, the architects violated the Latino community, while certainly not as potently as capital-motivated development projects; it still provides a vivid example of Harvey’s undemocratic urbanization and Swyngedouw’s post-political city. As actor-network theory attempts to reveal a network between the concepts, agents, and objects, I hope here to have made visible many of the controversies with a renewed rhetoric in Rancière's politics.
I suggest a number of interpretations of art and politics in my future projectile for political architecture. First, as Rockhill has identified, I think we cannot either directly cause or completely remain indeterminate towards political aesthetic strategies, including architectural. I think that we cannot consider politics and aesthetics as separate realities that remain separate. Instead, I think that the continued experimentation and development of new techniques and connections between disciplines—can help experimental practices confront architecture’s aesthetic project to properly political mobilizations. Markus Miessen, an architect and theorist, has considered the category of architects that balance between antagonistic politics and disciplinary specificity as “crossbench practitioners,” which I would like to consider as an oscillation between “critical proximity” and “critical distance.” I agree with Latour and Yaneva that we need a photographic gun to study the animation of buildings, but we need a new micro/macroscopic tool set to interpret and navigate various targets inside the architectural battlefield.
 Kelly Minner, “2011 United States Best Architecture Schools: Architecture Deans Survey,” Architecture Daily, May 26, 2011, http://archrecord.construction.com/features/Americas_Best_Architecture_Schools/2011/schools-1.asp.
 Here, “police architectures” are of a more subtle kind, not of states and institutions, but of the model of imposition, control, restriction, and distribution of an architectural sensible, in Rancière’s terminology — that have persisted, I will argue, even among the most “progressive” practices within our contemporary biopoliticized lives.
 Everyone wants to be critical, but should we be critical in proximity or in distance? Bruno Latour positions both extremes in his article, and I think we would be wise to position praxis between either extreme. “Critical Distance or Critical Proximity,” http://www.bruno-latour.fr/poparticles/poparticle/P-113-HARAWAY.pdf, accessed on 06/11/2011.
 David Harvey, "The Right to the City," New Left Review Sept/Oct 2008.
 Erik Swyngedouw, “The Antinomies of the Postpolitical City: In Search of a Democratic Politics of Environmental Production,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(3), 2009:609.
 Neil Brenner, Peter Marcuse, Margit Mayer, “Cities for People, Not for Profit,” City, Volume 13, Issue 2-3, 2009.
 Paul Jones and Kenton Card, “Constructing ‘Social Architecture’: The Politics of Representing Practice,” Architectural Theory Review, vol 16 issue 3 pp tbc.
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 Latour, 251, emphasis added.
 Jacques Rancière, Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999,136.
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 Rancière, 11.
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 Jacques Rancière, "Aesthetic Separation, Aesthetic Community: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art," Art & Research: A Journal of Ideas, Contexts and Methods, Volume 2, No. 1, Summer 2008, 12, http://www.artandresearch.org.uk/v2n1/ranciere.html, accessed on 12-30-12.
 Gabriel Rockhill, "The Productive Contradictions of Rancière’s Productive Contradictions: From the Politics of Aesthetics to the Social Politicity of Art." Symposium 16:2 (fall 2011): 21.
 Rockhill, 28.
 I have presented the ethnographic findings in two publications and two conferences papers: Jones and Card “Constructing ‘Social Architecture;’” “Democratic social architecture or experimentation on the poor? ethnographic snapshots,’ Design Philosophy Papers, 2011; Death and Life of Social Factors conference, Berkeley, May 2011, “Bridging the Paradox of Public Service Architecture;” and Architecture and the Political conference, Beirut Lebanon, November 2011, “Between ethical and police architectures.”
 ‘Deeper Shades of Green’, PBS-DesignE2, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJX7ejAKsTg &feature=channel, (2-24-10).
 Sergio Palleroni, "Building to Learn/Learning to Build: Collaboration Between a Mexican Community and American Architecture Students," Oz: Beyond Aesthetics, Vol., 28, (2006), 4-7.
 Sergio Palleroni, "Building to Learn/Learning to Build: Collaboration Between a Mexican Community and American Architecture Students," Oz: Beyond Aesthetics, Vol., 28, 2006, 4.
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 Rockhill, 13.
 Markus Miessen, The Nightmare of Participation: Crossbench Praxis as a Mode of Criticality, Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2010.
 Bruno Latour and Albena Yaneva "Give Me a Gun and I Will Make All Buildings Move," in R. Geiser (ed.), Explorations in Architecture: Teaching, Design, Research, Basel: Birkhäuser, 2008.