- Gibson_affordances: how it is that some situations and objects seen to present themselves to us as things we can use
- Wittgenstein_language games: in which we share common attitudes towards the world and what it presents to us (constructivist view where we make an interpretation of the world that facilitates certain interactions and limits others) Questioning is a kind of malady, a disquiet that can only be satisfied by an answer that makes the question go away.” Our questions occur in a context.
- Scientific worldview contrasts the constructivist one as “everything about the real world lies out there to be discovered.”
- Popper_Science is as speculative as other disciplines
- Feyerabend_ science is much more creative than is stereo-typically assumed
- Latour & Woolgar_have exposed the the human, interested, motivated world of the science laboratory that is usually excluded from accounts of scientific inquiry
- Bloor: all kinds of knowledge is motivated and arises in a context of values and beliefs. Many scientific or sociological advances are themselves based on ungrounded assumptions, or on a persuasive narrative, in favor of a particular position at the expense of the alternatives. “Unmotivated decisions are impossible”
ACTIVITY THEORY: An activity is an organized set of actions that combine together to construct our reality; activities are central to our knowledge production; activities are considered as corresponding methods in research and the worldview within which these activities are perceived as meaningful by the actors who deploy them, as methodologies. Methodologies are value and belief sets that provide an interpretative framework for understanding the impact and significance of those activities.
Activity situated in a social context and in an interpretative community of users provides us with evaluative tools, not only for assessing the appropriateness of the proposed methods, but also of assessing the appropriateness of data (…) one can use an activity-theoretic account to explain why an architectural activity is appropriate in response to an architectural question, i.e. a question posed in the context of architecture; or one can use it to identify the architectural worldview and values within which a response is perceived as meaningful by the interpretative community of architects (..) it is false to assume that data alone, or evidence-based assessment, has the potential to point us towards a single narrative or argument leading to an incontrovertible conclusion in research.
By legitimizing alternative ways of interpreting data, and indeed what we might accept as data, the field of architectural research is given a voice with which to express alternative socio-cultural values and to describe how these values give rise to alternative, productive insights and understandings to traditional models of academic research, i.e. significant research outcomes, based in professional practices, which have potential impact.
Science tries to make claims about an external world that exists independently of the observer/ The sociologist is interested in the social interaction of human beings that includes the opinions and personalities of the individuals concerned, it is essentially a science of the social world rather than a science of the material world
Biggs, M.A.R., 2014. An Activity theory of research methods in architecture and urbanism. In City, Territory and Architecture 2014, 1:16, http://www.cityterritoryarchitecture.com/content/1/1/16
Image available here
Twitter Chat with Roberto Rocco/ Tuesday 30.01, 14:00-15:00 (GMT +3). Extract from the brief:
The way in which planning and design are generally taught does not cater for the need to create sustainable, fair and inclusive cities. Many planning and design schools follow an old paradigm of architectural education that privileges individual genius and design creativity and do not prepare students to understand the implications of social, economic and environmental sustainability, spatial justice and the right to the city (…) This poses the question: what can spatial planning and design schools actually DO in order to help deliver the city we need? What do we need to teach, and how, in order to be able to deliver enlightened professionals who are able to work in a transdisciplinary way, incorporating grassroots participation and multiple stakeholders in planning and design processes that embrace complexity and are embedded in local social, political, economic and cultural landscapes?
Organization: The World Urban Campaign/ Image available here
It presents a shared vision/ a paradigm shift based on the science of cities (…) The following articles are indicative of the document’s content:
- 10. culture and cultural diversity are sources of enrichment for humankind and provide an important contribution to the sustainable development of cities, human settlements and citizens, empowering them to play an active and unique role in development initiatives.
- 11. equal use of cities/ promotion of inclusivity/ no discriminations
- 13. toward cities that: a. fulfill their social function/ b. promote civic engagement/ c. achieve gender equality/ d. meet the challenges of economic growth/ e. fulfill their territorial functions. f. promote age and gender responsive planning/ g. adopt and implement disaster risk reduction/ h. protect, conserve, restore and promote their ecosystems
- 14. Leave no one behind/ ensure sustainable economies/ environmental sustainability
- 15. readdress the way we plan/ recognize the leading role of local governments/ adopt sustainable, people-centered integrated approaches to urban development
New Urban Agenda, 2017. United Nations, Habitat III Secretariat
The Habitat III Conference and the city of Quito welcomed 30,000 participants from 167 countries, with online platforms and tools that enabled people all over the world to follow principal events online
Image available here
In the context of increasing pressure on public administrations to become entrepreneurial, financial capital has had a growing role in shaping cities across the world (…) In the financialised city, buildings are “no longer something to use, but to own (with the hope of increased asset-value, rather than use-value, over time).” When the exchange-value of buildings gains prominence over their use-value, they lose all relationship with actual needs and become acting “similarly to how financial products are being created and sold that have lost any connection with real production or a real economy” (…) In the context of the crisis, many local and cultural communities witnessed their spatial and economic resources diminishing with the drainage of funding and the withdrawal of institutional support (…) as a response, many of these communities set themselves to create spaces and services on their own (…) These new forms of governance contributed to the formal or informal extension of the field of actors in urban development and to the outsourcing of “former public tasks and services to volunteer organisations, community associations, non-profit corporations, foundations, and private firms” (…) The engagement of non-institutional and non-profit actors in renovating, operating and managing civic spaces brought participation to a new level: instead of expressing consent or dissent related to a planned development project, or even contributing to the program or design of a new urban area, many communities took the initiative into their own hands and became developers – urban pioneers, spatial entrepreneurs or city makers – themselves.
Daniela Patti & Levente Polyak (eds.), 2017. Funding the Cooperative City: Community Finance and the Economy of Civic Spaces, Vienna: Cooperative City Books
Funding the Cooperative City is a research and advocacy project initiated by the Rome- Vienna-Budapest-based organisation Eutropian.
Image available here
This report contains the final results of a study on Buiksloterham’s potential to
become a leading example of Circular City development in Amsterdam. The study was commissioned and executed by a consortium of local stakeholders who are active in the area of Buiksloterham and see its potential as a global example for a new kind of sustainable urban development (…) Though Buiksloterham is unique in Amsterdam, it also has many features that make it a good case study for the transformation of other post-industrial neighborhoods in cities around the world (…) Its polluted lands and open spaces can become the center of the implementation of new clean technologies and a hub for the closure of urban material cycles. The activities needed to close these local material flows can be used as a driver for local industry and the strengthening of local social networks.
- Designate Buiksloterham as an official experimental zone or Living Lab
- Develop an inclusive governance and management structure for Buiksloterham
- Create new incentive structures and financial vehicles
- Build capacity for urban sensing and open data
- Implement a Circular Neighborhood Action Plan
- Fully Renewable Energy Supply
- Water Innovation
- Alternative Mobility
- Soil as Natural Capital
- Close the Loop
Full Report and Image available here
Arrow Factory founders Pauline Yao, Rania Ho and Wang Wei standing in their space, mid-bricking, August 2017.
Introduction by Livia Alexander
Art and artists today are identified as a key instrument in urban development and community planning (…) Artists are being invited to engage in the most unexpected corporate settings, recognized as critical, outside-the-box thinkers as business entrepreneurs are enlisting their services to propel innovation and growth. Government officials and departments are deploying artists to address pressing problems of public policy and governance. These developing practices frequently take the form of artists working in newly formed residencies situated in communities, business places, government offices and a wide range of other settings (…) Are there ways for art programs to build the communities, and wealth for the people already living in them?
The article sets out to respond via five examples:
- Community-Based Artist Residencies in China, by Kira Simon Kennedy
- The African Artists’ Foundation, by Azu Nwagbogu
- The Sharing Economy that Keeps Brooklyn Artists Going, by Livia Alexande
- Social Drawing as a Model for Community-First Engagement, by Francesca Fiore &
- Amsterdam: Counting our Precarious Blessings?, by Nat Muller
Full article available here
I am very pleased to see our article ‘Pedagogical approaches to embodied topography: a workshop that unravels the hidden and imaginary landscapes of Elaionas,‘ get published in ZARCH Journal and I am also very happy to share this with you. It is based on a collaborative project that began in 2015 with Prof. Nelly Marda and Christos Kakalis from the University of Newcastle along with the students of our postgraduate course in NTUA.
The article highlights the importance of mapping in urban design and uses the concept of embodied topography to describe how activating the human body through a series of sensory motor tasks can help individuals immerse themselves in the landscape to acquire a better understanding of the urban phenomena. This process is presented here as a tool of mapping and managing the complexity of the urban landscape as it enables the individuals to recover the more hidden or even imaginary aspects of the city and their own relation to it.
As this is an ongoing research I hope that there will be plenty of opportunities to discuss what we are doing with more people involved in this kind of research in urban design. So, feel free to comment and write back your own experiences on the matter.
ZARCH: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Architecture and Urbanism, Num. 8, image available here
Architectuur Lokaal along with A10 new european architecture cooperative have published their latest results of an EU Survey regarding architectural competitions in Europe. This issue constitutes their primary contribution to the discourse and is presented in this international conference in Amsterdam today. I am very happy to be part of this audience and share insights with the rest of the team. This volume is a valuable tool in understanding how the competition system works in Europe and I look forward to the next phase!
The research is an ongoing project of Architectuur Lokaal and is programmed to be implemented over a period of four years with the aim to improve access to competitions, to analyze procedures, to establish a network of organizations and to collect case studies of good and bad practice.
Images (c) Indira Van’t Klooster
Teddy Cruz has spent a number of years studying the growing divisions and inequalities evident in the neighboring communities of Tijuana and San Diego in the region spanning the US/mexico border. He claims:
It is, in fact, in the most depressed, disenfranchised and underrepresented neighborhoods that some of the more interesting social and political agendas have begun to emerge (…) In slums and other informal spaces, there are certain procedures— social, political, and economic actions, exchanges, and transactions —that suggest an alternative political economy (…) The notion of the neighborhood as a site of experimentation is fundamental to rethinking our institutions in the wake of the economic crisis (…) This is what I consider to be the political in art or architecture: not the production of political architecture, but the construction of the political itself, towards an architecture of social relevance (…) I’m not interested in the image of the informal, but rather what’s behind it: the procedural, political, social, and economic characteristics of a place, and the process of translating them into operational devices that enable us to rethink urbanization
Link 01/ Link 02/ Link 03/ Link 04/ Link 05/ Image
NYPL Labs’ work provide a new, and deeper, understanding of city streets, buildings, and society, over centuries of change (…) Turning vast collections into usable data, connecting maps, photographs, menus and community memories, NYPL Labs created a series of multilayered projects that point the way to a new information ecosystem.
Full article available here/ Image available here