The Building

2 June 2014, from 10am to 6pm, 33FFF

Architectural Association, 36 Bedford Square, WC1B 3ES

Ever since the theoretical turn of the 1960s, right through to the present, the status of the architectural object in the sphere of history, theory and criticism keeps taking on more and more forms. Whether as the reification of power structures, as a facilitator of participatory processes, as the locus of phenomenological content, as the hypostatization of terms pertaining to other systems of thought, as a vehicle to reflect upon unmediated practices, as a catalyst to investigate the psychology of perception, as amenable to mirror processes in the natural world—its increasing epistemological diversification is an index for the growing sophistication of our field. Within this tendency, however, the object emerges more often as a medium through which to tap into another domain—if not as altogether absent—than it does as the ultimate realm of research in its own right.

This event poses the question whether discussions that take the object as their primary concern can today themselves extend the bounds of possibility for the production of discursive knowledge in a substantial fashion. In order to do so, we invoked the architectural object par excellence—the building. Participants were asked to put forward a 7- to 10-minute set of arguments about a building of their choice, after which a debate would follow. The event was thus structured around the table discussion format, with discussants grouped into three conversations, but allowing for crossovers and interventions. The main focus was to investigate, on the one hand, the processes whereby the different components making up a building—as well as the relations between them—are conceptualized and materialized, and, on the other, the building as a self-contained reality, whether in regard to such processes or independently of them.

With Mark Cousins (AA), Francisco Gonzalez de Canales (AA), Mark Cambpell (AA), Thomas Weaver (AA), Marina Lathouri (AA), Adrian Forty (UCL), John McMorrough (U. Michigan), Rafi Segal (Columbia), Penelope Dean (UIC), Mario Carpo (Yale), AA PhD candidates Aldo Urbinati, Manolis Stavrakakis, Alexandra Vougia, Costandis Kizis and Gabriela García de Cortázar, and US PhD candidates Aaron White (Columbia), Bryan Norwood and Etien Santiago (Harvard) and José Aragüez (Princeton).

Open event. With the support of the AA PhD Programme. Organised by Jose Araguez and Gabriela Garcia de Cortazar.