It’s Simple: Histories of Architecture and/for the Environment

Friday, October 19, 2018  1:00pm Avery Hall, Room 114

Participants include Daniel Barber, University of Pennsylvania, Aleksandr Bierig, Harvard University, Nerea Calvillo, Warwick University, Jiat-Hwee Chang, National University of Singapore, Isabelle Doucet, University of Manchester, Hannah le Roux, University of the Witwatersrand, Kiel Moe, McGill University, and Paulo Tavares, Universidade de Brasília.

Response by Meredith TenHoor, Pratt Institute; Panel moderated by Meredith TenHoor and Kim Förster, CCA

Some profit from climate change, but many more suffer its consequences. It’s that simple; any history of anthropogenic planetary transformation is therefore also a history of inequality, injustice, and struggle. 

Arguing that architecture needs an environmental history, the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) has organized, with generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the multidisciplinary, collaborative research project ”Architecture and/for the Environment.” But what should this history look like? Around whose priorities should its objects of inquiry be defined and assembled? What truths should it seek?

As a part of the CCA’s research project and in conjunction with the Buell Center’s “Power: Infrastructure in America” research initiative, this afternoon event will offer new directions and agendas for environmental histories of architecture that combine a planetary perspective with an assertion that national centers of power, particularly those in the United States, continue to hold outsize influence and responsibility. 

This event follows the CCA public seminar on 9 June, “It’s Complicated,” during which Mellon researchers and invited scholars interrogated paired concepts of Energy/Power, Control/Systems, Body/Exposure, and Post-human/Nature. 

With “It’s Simple,” the CCA and the Buell Center propose that there are few winners and mostly losers in the Anthropocene, and that architectural—indeed environmental—historiography must begin by acknowledging this fact. Though the narratives might be complex, the imperative is simple. 

Join us on Friday, 19 October for an afternoon of public presentations by the CCA’s Mellon Researchers on their projects, followed by a discussion.

This afternoon event is preceded by a pop-up display organized by the CCA on the fourth floor of Avery Hall entitled ”‘You Must Choose Between Oxygen or Wealth.’“ Shown from October 8–19, it will highlight the CCA’s recent efforts to examine environmental issues through distinct, yet interlinked curatorial approaches. The display’s title is taken from the artist Douglas Copeland’s Slogans for the Twenty-First Century.

Image credit: Lynne Cohen. Spa, 2003. Chromogenic color print. PH2017:0051. Canadian Centre for Architecture. Gift of Andrew Lugg © Lynne Cohen

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