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.

I hope to spend the first two months exploring the following questions: What is neoliberal capitalism? What are its spatial effects or what is neoliberal urbanization? And how has the architect served systems of power by erecting structures that manifest or materialize the values of the powerful? I hope to contextualize my responses in the context of Berlin. As a departure point, I have had interesting conversations with Jesko Fezer (Design for a Post-neoliberal City), Margit Mayer (Cities for People, Not for Profit), Andrej Holm (Gentrification Blog), each of whose work I recommend.

After coming to terms with the previous three questions and articulating them in writing and film-interviews, I will then try and redefine the role of the subversive architect who strives to not serve neoliberalism. Can the architect not build for the rich? Who would pay for projects? If architects and planners are the legitimate spatial thinkers, must they always impose form? What other roles can they have? I will suggest various strategies of knowledge, social, and spatial intervention, conceptualized in the short and long term. 

With a number of friends and with the open knowledge platform of The Public School, Berlin, we tried to establish a site of public pedagogy, wherein we discuss, debate, and reimagine the role of the architect and critic today. We believe there is an inherent disciplinary gap between textual theories of the city, politics, and the urban — and the artists, architects, and developer's strategies of spatial intervention. How can we speak multiple languages? What does it mean to be textually-spatially ambidextrous? We have been trying to facilitate discourse between this gap in imagination. We call our discussion group The City and the Political. 

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