Architecture+Gender Autumn 2016

Architecture and Feminisms: Ecologies, Economies, Technologies

Architecture and Gender A42SEH/A52SEH  4HT 3.0 credits
CONTACT: Karin Reisinger karin.reisinger[AT]arch.kth.se

gaellivare_karin
(image by Karin)

This KTH Architecture elective seminar course Architecture and Gender: Ecologies, Economies, Technologies offers students the unique chance to participate in a forthcoming research event, the 13th international annual conference of the Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA), 17-19 November 2016 (www.architecturefeminisms.org). AHRA 2016, with the title, Architecture and Feminisms: Ecologies, Economies, Technologies, will be hosted by Critical Studies in Architecture, KTH School of Architecture, whose researchers will also curate this seminar course. The AHRA 2016 conference in Stockholm creates a gathering place for 150 international delegates engaged in the relationship between the three key themes of economies, ecologies and technologies in the practice and culture of architecture. The ambition is to investigate the role architecture plays in an age of political, economic and environmental transformation, with a focus on the reengagement of feminist theories and practices in order to offer alternative approaches to our contemporary global matters of concern.

Critical Studies further situates this conference on architecture and feminisms amidst what has come to be known as the Anthropocene, a controversial term that calls for the recognition of the formation of a geologic age in which global environmental conditions have been radically altered by accelerating processes of human driven industrialization. Architecture, its economies, technologies, and also its ecologies of practice, has fully participated in these processes. We propose that an exploration of feminist, critical, and radical methodologies and epistemologies in architecture – especially in light of the rise of practice-based research – might enable us to shift the values and habits that produce our near exhausted material and existential territories.

Architecture is understood not only as a built artefact or environment, but also as a set of diverse social and cultural practices, political relations and values. These practices, which impact on both the formation of architectural knowledge, and on the social impact of architecture, can be called an “ecology of practices”. This is a formulation we borrow from the feminist philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers (2011), who suggests that when we conceptualise our practices amidst a dynamic ecology of relations, and complex feedback loops, what we also come to recognise is the necessity of constantly learning about what we are in the midst of doing. Placed in “ecological” relation, these key terms, ecologies, economies, technologies, can assist us to draw attention to the kinds of practices that result in worlds that are inclusive and nurturing, and ways in which we might reduce the scale of worlds that are exclusive and destructive, and how much more we need to learn from the often unspoken relations between ecologies, economies and technologies.

Students will be required to attend the AHRA conference in the KTH School of Architecture as part of their course commitments. They will also be able to gain insight into the organisational strategies that are used to convene a large international conference. In preparation for attending the conference the seminar course will frame relevant theoretical concepts and perspectives including “situated knowledge” (Donna Haraway); “cosmopolitics” (Isabelle Stengers); and “moments of disorientation” (Sarah Ahmed). Students will be introduced to contemporary discourse in architecture and related fields relevant to the main conference themes: economies, ecologies and technologies. In addition the course will engage in discussions on creative practices, domesticities and the architectural profession, all of which will be further addressed in relation to the research presented by delegates at the AHRA conference in Stockholm.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

_ Overview of relevant discussions in feminist discourse in relation to the critical discussion of architecture – with special regard to connections between ecologies, economies, technologies.

_ Ability to analyse and situate specific positions within the context of architecture and feminisms and to describe the relation.

_ Understanding processes of an international academic conference, including organizational processes.

_ Ability to work with different text formats in the realm of an academic conference, specifically with academic abstracts and papers.

_ Ability to analyse and critically reflect a series of academic presentations in the format of keynote lectures, round tables and panels. These findings will be argued in text and within in class discussions.

_ Ability to work with and critically reflect formats of reporting, together with the ability to present and argue these reflections.

TASKS

Besides gaining insights into the coming into being of an international academic conference, with its valuable intermediate stages, critically sensing the bio-politics of such a large event of academic exchange, students will be involved in the conference process in two ways:

  1. Becoming part of this environment of exchange by co-shaping one of its settings. Through discussion we will determine one part of the conference, most likely the moment of the arrival of delegates, which will be co-shaped by the students – according to critical reflection and spatial opportunities of a gathering together. This task requires engagement on an organizational level.
  1. Reflecting upon and documenting the research presentations you find most interesting at the AHRA conference, and delivering important impressions of the event, so that it can endure beyond the final applause. Thus, ways of documenting will be reflected, feminist strategies of the keynote speakers from Parlour: Women, Equity, Architecture as well as Eva Hayward´s blog will be analysed in order to determine the appropriate format. Finally students will take part in the conference and document a combination of panels / keynote lectures / round tables – according to their specific interests.

In combination both of the tasks display the daily balancing acts of researchers and practitioners engaged in feminist thinking.

Both tasks count for 40% each, 20% will be allocated to active participation in the seminars. To pass this seminar you are obliged to attend 80% of the course.

READINGS will be made available at this link: https://archandphil.wordpress.com/category/01_readings/

SEMINAR SCHEDULE: 

Meeting 1
September 30, 13.00-15.00
KTH School of Architecture, A608
1/ Hélène Frichot will introduce the aims of the conference Architecture and Feminisms: Ecologies, Economies, Technologies and talk about its coming into being – with a focus on New material feminism and what that has to do with architecture.
2/ Group work about the scenographies of the conference (practices, technologies, ecologies).
3/ Sharing elaborated scenographies.

Meeting 2
October 7, 13.00-15.00
KTH School of Architecture, A334
1/ The format of this specific academic conference will be explained, and critically reflected.
2/ Brady Burroughs will give an input about feminist practices between writing and design as well as she will introduce some of her projects on architecture as staging of feminist exchange.
3/ This will directly lead into the discussion and organization of “task 1”, your participation in one of the settings of the conference.

Meeting 3
October 14, 13.00-15.00
1/ Basic readings (Haraway, Bennett, Stengers, Ahmed) helpful for understanding the pluralist approach towards architecture and feminisms will be discussed.
2/ Helen Runting and Rutger Sjögrim will give an input about architecture in the light of economics and feminisms: “Images of Desire: Architecture, Gender and the Politics of the Visualisation”.
3/ Discussion of “task 1”.

Meeting 4
November 11, 13.00-15.00
KTH School of Architecture, A334
1/ Forms of communicating science, see for example Parlour’s website: http://archiparlour.org
2/ Organisation of the reports and its representation online.
3/ Organisation of the 2 working groups orientation and necklace, as well as general organisation.

CONFERENCE
November 17-19

Meeting 5
December 2, 10.00-12.00 (!!!)
We will meet at 10.00 in the entry level. Please mount your posters beforehand. (Julio has a staple gun.)

 

About the guest lecturers: 

Brady Burroughs is a teacher and researcher in Critical Studies in Architecture at the School of Architecture, KTH, Stockholm, Sweden. My forthcoming dissertation, Architectural Flirtations: A Love Storey, is written as an architectural pulp fiction and focuses on design education in intersections of gender, race and sexuality. The work engages with the overlap between the centers of research, pedagogy and the profession, from an academic position, where the culture of architecture is fostered, along with its sense of social and ethical responsibility. It explores improper and unserious practices to unsettle habitual modes of criticism and relocate and reimagine a serious and privileged discipline.

Helen Runting is a PhD student within Critical Studies in Architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. She holds qualifications in both urban planning (University of Melbourne) and urban design (University of Melbourne; Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm) and has worked on a range of international masterplanning projects. Drawing on the tools of criticism, theory and performance within architecture, and working the disciplinary boundaries between planning, architecture and marketing, her PhD research focuses on the architectural aesthetics of Swedish neoliberalism in the opening decades of the twenty-first century. Helen is the co-editor of the journal LO-RES.

Rutger Sjögrim is a practising architect and teacher at the KTH School of Architecture, where he leads a first-year studio. His practice primarily focuses on concept development and architectural competitions, with a particular emphasis on the craft and theory of image production and visualisation. Rutger is also  co-founder of Svensk Standard, an art and architecture practice which has exhibited in Stockholm, Beijing, and at the International Architecture Biennale in Venice.

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