I’ll be giving a talk at the AA School of Architecture next week (March 1st, 6:30PM, more info here), in the context of the PhD programme coordinated by Maria S. Giudici and Pier Vittorio Aureli. As I mentioned in a previous post they are doing amazing work with their students on the topics of territory, original accumulation and dispossession, which resonates with my own research in the last few years.
My talk is entitled ‘Planning the dispossession of centrality: design, community, representation’, and focuses on the ticklish subject of the articulation between displacement and representational regimes in the context of early Modernist urban design and architecture. Here is the abstract:
Between the late 1800s and the 1930s architecture, planning and other design and welfare agencies became involved in struggles to reshape urban centrality and the social space of the poor. In this endeavor, design techniques were captured by a broader governmental apparatus, aimed at mobilizing both material and representational productions of space to the advantage of nascent configurations of organized capitalism. The process secured a place for architecture and planning in the emerging state-form, but it ultimately marred their political project in a lasting fashion. In fact, many of the current social challenges in our cities and the very position of designers in contemporary ideologies surrounding urbanization and the built environment are better understood by tracing the aspirations, contradictions and failures of this period, particularly as regards the re-imagination of working-class communities. The talk will frame this episode in a longer genealogy of spatial strategies of dispossession, and explore the articulation of design to visual, regulatory and discursive practices of topocide through a number of historical vignettes including social housing, collective facilities, urban renewal, and city marketing experiences from Germany and the US.