Punk Buildings

“Punk is unimaginable in London today.”
Mark Fisher (†)
Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London
Author of Capitalist Realism: Is there no Alternative? (Zero Books)

This studio offers the opportunity to explore how architectural design can be exercised as a form of political resistance. Inviting students to engage with the design process through civilised forms of dissent and disobedience, the studio seeks to find if architecture can become a tangible manifestation of counterculture, as well as an effective instrument for political activism.

What’s the point? In a historic time marked by increasing marginalisation and inequality, the studio suggests that architecture, first and foremost, must attend the basic needs of the most vulnerable social groups. These include migrants, the poor, the young, and other segregated minorities, who are more likely to be affected by austerity, deregulation, bigotry, racism, and trickle-down economics.

So, how to do this? Students will be invited to debate their points of view, and discuss the relevance and validity of the studio’s central argument. Then, they will investigate several of the correlations that exist between neoliberal politics and the post-capitalist configuration of public and private space — for instance, did you know that currently in the UK less than 1% of architects work in the public sector, as opposed to 50% in 1970s? We will discuss the implications of this kind of alarming facts, particularly for architecture, the city, and culture at large.

Later, students will analyse examples of spatial segregation in the contemporary city, framed by discussions of texts by people like Mark Fisher, Michel Foucault, Anna Minton, George Monbiot, Alexander Vasudevan, and others.

In parallel, students will learn about vernacular design tactics and how they feed a number of architectural solutions, as precedents for the design of a controlled squatting prototype for a hypothetical abandoned building. Then, students will be asked to transform their prototypes so they can parasitize a specific conflicting spatial situation found in Melbourne, determined through their own particular investigation.

This studio is expected to provide students with skills to respond to a number of important questions, including:

* What is the role of disobedience in architectural practice?
* Should architecture contribute to the production of countercultural manifestations in society?
* Can architecture be an instrument to simultaneously raise awareness and provide potential solutions?
* If so, what does the discipline of architecture becomes then?

Punk Buildings is a Master of Architecture Design Studio offered by Eduardo Kairuz, based on his ongoing investigations around crisis and its dislocating effects in architecture and the city. It will run in Semester 2/2017, every Wednesday starting at 10 am, in a studio space still TBD. If needed, please send questions to eduardo.kairuz@monash.edu