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Dr Adam Kaasa

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  • Adam Kaasa's work moves between urban theory, facilitation and performance. As an interdisciplinary scholar he specialises in the intersection of culture, history and inequality in the city, foregrounding the role of architecture and design. 

  • Biography

  • Dr Kaasa holds a PhD in Cities from the London School of Economics and worked for a decade at LSE Cities. He is the Co-Founder and former Director (2015–17) of Theatrum Mundi, an international urban research centre on the culture of cities, and a Senior Tutor at the Royal College of Art where he leads the Master's of Research Programme in the School of Architecture. He was Visiting Professor at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto (2016). Uncommon Building (Spirit Duplicator, 2017), Kaasa's most recent book, documents a collaborative exercise in speculative fiction as a methodology for thinking critically and across disciplines about space, site and the urban. He is co-author of Making Cultural Infrastructure (2017), a two-year long investigation into the spaces of cultural production in London. Between 2014–17, he led the international urban ideas challenges 'Designing Politics' in New York, London and Rio de Janeiro (focussing on ‘free speech’, the ‘urban commons’, and ‘respect’ as design parameters), and organised symposia with weareherevenice on cultural infrastructure at the Venice Biennale (2012, 2014 and 2016). He is a contributing author to The Quito Papers (Routledge, 2018), a joint project between New York University and UN Habitat for Habitat III, and co-developed the subsequent short film with the Kaifeng Foundation (Beijing) with screenings and roundtables in Paris, London, Beijing and Edinburgh (2016–17). 

    He has collaborated with the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Akademie der Kunst (Berlin), the Weltkulturen Museum (Frankfurt), the Museu Oscar Niemeyer (Curitiba), the Museu de Arte do Rio and Museu do Amanhã (Rio de Janeiro), the University of São Paulo, New York University, Columbia University, MIT, Harvard GSD, the Southbank Centre, the Young Vic Theatre, the RIBA, the Greater London Authority, the Museum of London and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

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  • External collaborations

  • Adam is the Co-founder and former Director of Theatrum Mundi, a Board Member of IXIA Public Art Think Tank and a Founding Member of When We Build Again. Collaborations include the Venice Biennale of Architecture; Haus der Kulturen der Welt; Tate Britain; Tate Modern; Whitechapel Gallery; Architectural Association; LSE Cities / Urban Age; RIBA; Southbank Centre; MIT; Harvard Graduate School of Design; University of Sao Paulo; São Paulo Biennial of Architecture; Museu Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba; Goldsmiths University; CRASSH, Cambridge; Aldeburgh Music, Snape; Dome of Visions, Copenhagen; Institute of Public Knowledge, New York University; Columbia University; Akademie der Kunst (Berlin); London Legacy Development Corporation (Olympicopolis); Sadlers Wells; Siobhan Davies Dance; The Young Vic; weareherevenice; muf architecture/art; Assemble; Haworth Tompkins; Make City Festival (Berlin); London Festival of Architecture; Edinburgh International Book Festival; Museum of London; Greater London Authority; Royal Academy; New River Studios (London); Contour Biennial 9 (Mechelen); Spectaculu (Rio); Casa Rio; Museu do Amanhã; Museu da Arte do Rio; Studio X (Rio); Hong Kong University; École européenne supérieure d’art de Bretagne, Rennes; École de recherche graphique, Brussels; Academy of Arts, HISK, Ghent; Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp; St Lucas Academy, Antwerp; Thomas More University of Applied Sciences, Mechelen, Open Design Course. 

  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • PUBLICATIONS

    BOOKS
    Kaasa, A. and Gavin, H. (2017) Uncommon Building: A Collective Excavation of a Fictional Structure, Spirit Duplicator Press, Sheffield.

    Gassner, G., Kaasa, A., Robinson, K. (eds.) (2012) Writing Cities 2., London School of Economics and Political Science, in collaboration with the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Harvard Graduate School of Design and Harvard Law School: London.

    ARTICLES AND CHAPTERS

    Kaasa, A. (in review 2020) ‘Gentrification as a Hate Crime: Riots, Rents and Anger in North London’ in eds. Katie Barclay and Jade Riddle Urban Emotions and the Making of the City: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Routledge, London. 

    Kaasa, A. (in review 2020) ‘Domestic Monumentality: Scale and Affect in the Modern City’. in eds. Michal Murawski and Jonathan Bach The Centre Cannot Hold’? New Monumentality, Neo-Modernism and Other Zombie Urban Utopias. UCL Press, London. 

    Kaasa, A. (in review 2020) ‘The materiality of erasure: tabula rasa urbanism in post-war Mexico City’ in eds. Philipp Schorch and Martin Saxer Material Connectivities / Connecting Materialities, UCL Press, London.

     Bingham-Hall, J. and Kaasa, A (in review 2020) ‘Designing for production: cultural infrastructure as the right to the city’ arq: Architecture Research Quarterly (Cambridge University Press).

    Kaasa, A. (accepted 2019) ‘Unequal ideas: Reflections on Designing Politics, an urban ideas competition in Rio de Janeiro’ Design Issues (MIT Press).

    Kaasa, A. (2019) ‘The Ethic of Cohabitation: Towards a non-binary interior’ in eds. Harriet Harris, Graeme Brooker and Kevin Walker, Interior Futures, Crucible Press, London. 

    Kaasa, A. (2018) ‘Frames of Love, or, Love’s Perspective’ in eds. Yoke-Sum Wong and Karen Engle Feelings of Structure: Explorations in Affect, University of McGill Press, Montreal: pp. 86–98. 

    Kaasa A. (2018) 'Cohabitation: Against the Tabula Rasa and Towards a New Ethic for Cohabitation', in ed. UN Habitat, The Quito Papers and the New Urban Agenda, Routledge, New York: pp. 78–83.

    Kaasa, A. (2016) ‘Walking Against the Crowd: Towards a Spatially Complex City’ in eds. Jaspar Joseph-Lester and Roberto Bottazzi Walking Cities: London, Camberwell Press, London, pp, 49–60.

    Kaasa, A. (2014) ‘Finding Lost Newness: Archiving the Architecture of Eileen Gray’s E.1027’ Drain: A Journal of Art and Culture 11(2).

    Kaasa, A. (2014) ‘Revolutionary Affect: Feeling Modern in Mexico City’ in eds. Emma Jackson and Hannah Jones Stories of cosmopolitan belonging: Emotion and Location, Routledge: London, pp. 183-195. 

    Kaasa, A. with Shankar, P. and Rosa, M. (2011) ‘On the ground’ in eds. Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic Living in the Endless City, Phaidon: London, pp. 396–411.

    Burdett, R. and Kaasa, A. (2011) ‘Governing Change: The Metropolitan Revolution in Latin America’ Architectural Design (Special Issue: Latin America at the Crossroads), 81(3) May/June 2011, pp. 42–51.

    Tanner, D. and Kaasa A. (2011) ‘Thinking anew every time: An encounter with Judith Butler’, The Graduate Journal of Social Sciences, 8(1), pp. 30–36.

    Burdett, R. and Kaasa, A. (2010) ‘Color and the City’ in ed. Gareth Doherty New Geographies 3: Urbanisms of Color, Harvard University Press: Cambridge MA, pp. 54–63.

    BOOK REVIEWS

    Kaasa, A. (2015) ‘Review of Cityscapes in History: Creating the Urban Experience edited by Katrina Gullier and Heléna Tóth’, Planning Perspectives, 30(3), pp. 478–480.

    Kaasa, A. (2014) ‘Review of Team 10: An Archival History by Anne Pedret’, Planning Perspectives, 29(4), pp. 477–479.

    Kaasa, A. (2008) ‘Newness and Responsibility: Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine’ Static: The Journal of the London Consortium, Issue 07.

    PUBLICATIONS (OTHER)

    Bingham-Hall, J. and Kaasa, A. (2017) 'New Cultural Infrastructure: Can we design the conditions for culture?' Theatrum Mundi Working Papers. London School of Economics: London.

    Kaasa, A., Bingham-Hall, J. and Pietrostefani, E. (eds.) (2016) 'Designing Politics: The Limits of Design' Theatrum Mundi Working Papers. London School of Economics and Political Science: London. 

    Kaasa, A. (2016) ‘Aesthetic Infrastructures: 9 Photographs, São Paulo (2015)’, When We Build Again, London

    Kaasa, A. and Blakey, K. (eds.) (2014) 'Beyond the Public', Theatrum Mundi Working Papers. London School of Economics and Political Science: London.

    Blakey, K. and Kaasa, A. (eds.) (2014) 'Music and Architecture', Theatrum Mundi Working Papers. London School of Economics and Political Science: London.

    Kaasa, A. (2012) ‘The Importance of Being Seen: Surrealism and mimesis in Mexican modern architecture’ All That Is Common, 1, pp. 15–19.

    Kaasa, A. (2012) ‘Appearing In or Out of Time: Temporal Rhetoric in Mexico City Modern’ Working Paper in eds. Gunter Gassner, Adam Kaasa and Katherine Robinson Writing Cities 2., London School of Economics and Political Science: London, pp.74–87. 

    Gassner, G., Kaasa, A., Robinson, K. (2012) ‘Introduction: The Process of Writing Cities 2011’ in eds. Gunter Gassner, Adam Kaasa and Katherine Robinson Writing Cities 2., London School of Economics and Political Science: London, pp. 12–15.

    Burdett, R., Taylor, M., Kaasa, A. (eds.) (2011) Cities, Health and Well-being, Urban Age publication, LSE Cities, London School of Economics and Political Science, London. 

    EXHIBITIONS

    After the Creative City, New River Studios, London, 20–27 April 2018
    Faculty organiser for student-led MRes Exhibition.

    Brave Old World: Modernist Public Space Design in London and São Paulo. Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA), London, 6 June – 9 July 2017
    Lead Researcher on AHRC project for the exhibition

    (Co-curator) Designing Respect. Co-organised by Theatrum Mundi and São Paulo Biennial of Architecture, São Paulo, November 2017

    (Co-curator) Designing Politics. Co-organised by Theatrum Mundi and LSE Arts. London School of Economics and Political Science, London, 9 May – 9 June 2017

    (Co-curator) Designing Respect. Co-organised by Theatrum Mundi, Museu do Amanhã and Museu do Arte do Rio. Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow), Rio de Janeiro, 4–23 October 2016

    (Co-curator) Structures of Feelings, Structures of Revenge. Co-organised by Onassis Cultural Centre and Theatrum Mundi. Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens, 7 June 2016

    (Co-curator) Students, Patients, Paupers: The St Philips. St Philips Building, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, 5–13 May 2011  

    CONFERENCE AND SYMPOSIA ORGANISATION AND CONVENING

    ‘We Cannot Work Like This: Practices of Decolonisation and Degrowth’, Conference organised in partnership with the Contour Biennial 9 at Royal College of Art, London 31 January – 2 February 2019. Organiser and chair of transnational seminar on decolonisation and degrowth.

    ‘On Balance’, Graduate Student Colloquium, School of Architecture, Royal College of Art, London, 22 June 2018. Faculty co-organiser with Dr Harriet Harriss.

    ‘Design/ing Inequality Initiative’, Research Initiative Symposium, School of Architecture, Royal College of Art, 8 March 2018. Co-organiser with Dr Mona Sloane (NYU), with Nell Beecham and Harriet Harriss.

    ‘Writing the City’, Theatrum Mundi and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh, 14–15 August 2017. Organiser and presenter of four-part event series examining the relationship between writing and the city.

    ‘Uncommon Building: Collective Assemblage of a Speculative Archive,’ Theatrum Mundi and Eastside Projects Artists House, Birmingham, 9 June 2017. Co-organiser with Dr Honor Gavin of day-long research and art seminar.

    ‘Rio in Paris: Ideas from the Designing Respect competition,’ Theatrum Mundi with Plateau Urbain, Paris, 21 April 2017. Organiser and chair of research seminar.

    ‘Cultural Infrastructure Research Roundtables’, Theatrum Mundi with Siobhan Davies Dance, SPACE Studios and the Trampery, London, October 2016 – May 2017.

    Co-Organiser with Dr John Bingham-Hall of three expert roundtables with thought and practice leaders around London on the future of cultural infrastructure; and co-organiser of design charette with Assemble, Haworth Tompkins, DSDHA and We Made That. 

    Quito Papers Roundtable, Genesis, Beijing, 25 February 2017 (Expert Roundtable Organiser and Convenor, in collaboration with Theatrum Mundi, Genesis, Tsinghua University and the Kaifeng Foundation)

    Quito Papers Roundtable, London School of Economics, London, 31 January 2017 (Expert Roundtable Organiser and Convenor, in collaboration with Theatrum Mundi, LSE Cities and the Kaifeng Foundation)

    Quito Papers Roundtable, Pavillon de l’Arsenal, Paris, 7 December 2016 (Expert Roundtable Organiser and Convenor, in collaboration with Theatrum Mundi, Pavillon de l’Arsenal, Mairie de Paris, Fondation maison des sciences de l’homme, and the Kaifeng Foundation)

    ‘Culture Beyond Tourism’, Theatrum Mundi and weareherevenice Research Seminar, Venice, 12–13 July 2016 (Organiser, presenter and convenor of ‘Culture Beyond Tourism’, international research seminar)

    ‘Structures of Feeling: The Structure of Revenge’, Theatrum Mundi and Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens, 4–7 June 2016 (Co-organiser with Dr Yoke Sum Wong, Aristide Antonas and Christos Carras of research and art seminar on revenge and the city, and co-curator of exhibition.)

    ‘Uncommon Building: A Collective Excavation of a Fictional Building,’ Theatrum Mundi and University of Sheffield, Sheffield, 26 April 2016 (Co-organiser with Dr Honor Gavin of day-long research and art seminar)

    Structures of Feelings Research Symposium, Royal College of Art, 15 May 2015 (Co-organiser with Dr Yoke-Sum Wong, and presenter)

    Cities, Religion, Capitalism: Turning Points for Civilization, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2–5 October 2014 (Co-organiser, and chair of artist and academic workshops) 

    ‘Kapital Architecture: Circulation, Labour, Commodity, Accumulation’, School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art with When We Build Again and Legion TV, part of the London Festival of Architecture, London, June 2014 (Organiser and convener of four-part public lecture series)

    Cities, Religion, Capitalism: Turning Points for Civilization, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 3–6 April 2014 (Co-organiser, speaker on ‘Cities’, and chair of emerging scholar workshops) 

    CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS

    ‘Art Festivals and the City’, Urban Salon, London School of Economics, London, 17 May 2018 (Invited speaker ‘Culture Beyond Tourism’)

    First Years Visiting Lecturer, Architectural Association, London, 3 May 2018 (Invited Guest Lecturer ‘Subcultures and the City’)

    ‘Fundamentals: The Way We Work (LABOUR)’, Symposium at Central St Martins UAL, London, 2-3 March 2018 (Invited lecture ‘Unequal Labour: Gentrification as a Hate Crime’)

    ‘Humanities Lecture on the City’, School of Humanities, Royal College of Art, 6 November 2017 (Invited lecture ‘Narrative’) 

    ‘Homeless by Design’, Theatrum Mundi and the School of Architecture at the Royal College of Art, London, 22 March 2017 (Organiser and chair of lecture and panel debate with Professor Craig Wilse (George Mason University))

    ‘Connecting Materialities / Material Connectivities’, International Symposium, Center for Advanced Studies, LMU Munich, 9–11 February 2017 (Paper presentation, ‘The Materiality of Erasure: Circulations of tabula rasa urbanism in the 20th Century’)

    'Design and "the Social": Mapping new Approaches to Inequality in Design', British Sociological Association Seminar, LSE International Inequalities Institute, London, 7 February 2017 (Invited speaker, ‘The Politics of Design’)

    TECHNE Congress, Royal College of Art, London, 11–12 January 2017 (Invited panelist, ‘Cities as Research Method’)

    ‘The Centre Cannot Hold? New Monumentality, Neo-Modernism and Other Zombie Urban Utopias’, UCL, FRINGE Centre and Calvert 22, London, 10–11 June 2016 (Paper presentation, ‘Domestic monumentality: Scale and affect in the modern city’) 

    Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) International Meeting, Pasadena, 7–10 April 2016 (Paper presentation, ‘Blurring Boundaries of Inside and Out: Public Space design in the British Library’, in ‘Public Spaces and the Role of the Architect’ session)

    American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting, San Francisco, 29 March–2 April 2016 (Session organiser ‘The Architecture of Capital: Rethinking the Geographies of Design in a Planetary Moment’ (five panels, 21 papers))

    Cities, Space and Development Seminar, Department of Geography, LSE, 23 February 2016 (Invited paper, ‘On Architecture's Nationality: Geographies of Knowledge, Style & Practice’)

    Future Cities Seminar, University of Oxford, 9 February 2016 (Invited paper, ‘Locating Architecture: Writing, Drawing, Building’) 

    American Sociological Association (ASA) Annual Meeting, Chicago, 22–25 August 2015 (Paper presentation, ‘Future Perfect: Visualising the Urban in Time’ in ‘Urban Theory’ panel)

    Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, University of São Paulo, 5 May 2015 (Paper presentation: ‘Sociology, Design and Public Space: The role of the architect in the production of public space’)

    American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting, Chicago, 21–25 April 2015 (Paper presentation, ‘Concrete Publics: Architecture and the Imagined Geographies of Post-war London’ in ‘Geography and Design’ panel)

    Urban Encounters: Movements/Mobilities/Migrations, Tate Britain, London, 24–25 October 2014 (Paper: 'Migrating Architecture: the politics of difference and repetition’)

    American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, 9–13 April 2013 (Paper presentation, ‘The Architecture of Legitimacy: Transnational circulation and the making of Mexico City Modern, 1947–64’)

    Workshop on Time and Globalization, Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition, McMaster University, 19–20 October 2012 (Paper presentation, ‘Building an urban future: Temporal rhetoric in Mexico City modern’)

    5th Annual Writing Cities Conference, MIT-LSE-Harvard Graduate Students Conference, Harvard GSD and MIT, Boston, 10–12 May 2012 (Paper presentation, ‘The idioms of architecture: a method to read the limits between texts and buildings’)

    11th Annual NYLON Project Conference, Graduate School of Social Sciences, Berlin, 12–14 March 2012 (Co-organiser and Invited Respondent) 

    4th Annual Writing Cities Conference, MIT-LSE-Harvard Graduate Students Conference, LSE with Chisendale Gallery and Zaha Hadid Architects, 19–21 May 2011 (Co-organiser and Paper presentation, ‘Distance in time: Temporal rhetoric in Mexico City modernism’)

    Cultures of Circulation, International Workshop, Carleton University, Ottawa, 15–17 April 2011 (Invited Respondent) 

    10th Annual NYLON Project Conference, LSE and Goldsmiths, 1–3 April 2011 (Co-organiser and Paper presentation, ‘The Politics of Appearing: Temporality of modern architecture in Mexico City, 1949’)

    LSE Sociology Annual Conference, Cumberland Lodge, 21–23 January 2011 (Paper presentation, ‘The Ontology of a Public Sociologist’)

    3rd Annual Writing Cities Conference, MIT-LSE-Harvard Graduate Students Conference, MIT and Harvard GSD, 30 September–2 October 2010 (Paper presentation, ‘Finding Lost Newness: A subject in search of the archive’)

    Living in the Urban Modernity, Eleventh International Docomomo Conference, UNAM, Mexico City,  24–27 August 2010 (Presentation, ‘Modern Movement, Movement Modern: The case of Melchor O’Campo’)

    Living in the Urban Modernity, Eleventh International Docomomo Conference, Mexico City,  19–24 August 2010 (Invited Postgraduate Architecture Charette Participant, ‘Glorieta Melchor O’Campo and Docomomo Mexico’)

    Urban@LSE Graduate Students Workshop, London School of Economics, 12 May 2010 (Co-organiser and Moderator of the Built Environment panel)

    9th Annual NYLON Project Conference, Institute of Public Knowledge, New York University, 19–21 March 2010 (Invited Respondent)

    Visuality / Materiality: Reviewing Theory, Method and Practice, The Royal Institute for British Architects, 9–11 July 2009 (Invited Panel Member, Object-ing Memory and the Visuals of Objectivity I & II, Paper: ‘Nothingness and Post-Revolutionary Mexico City’)

    Objects of Knowledge/Objects of Exchange: Contours of (Inter)disciplinarily, Mellon Graduate Student Conference, Humanities Center, Harvard University, 3–4 April 2009 (Paper presentation, ‘The Architecture of ‘lo mexicano’: Mario Pani’s Multifamiliare Miguel Alemán and transnational modernism’)

    8th Annual NYLON Project Conference, Cambridge University, 13 – 15 March 2009 (Invited Respondent) 

    Citizenship and governance at the margins of state: Latin America between post-conflict and neo-populism, Roskilde University, Denmark, 2 – 5 September 2008 (Paper Presentation, ‘Transatlantic Dialogues: The Architecture of Citizenship in Mexico’)

    44th Annual Conference of the Society for Latin American Studies, University of Liverpool, 28–30 March 2008 (Place and Cultural Practices in Latin America Panel, invited paper presentation, ‘Multifamiliares: Locating Practice in Mexican Architecture’)

    7th Annual NYLON Project Conference, New York University, New York, 14–16 March 2008 (Paper presentation, ‘The little strip club that could: geographies of sexual citizenship in London Bridge’)

    Cultural Studies Now – An International Conference, University of East London, Docklands Campus, 19–22 July 2007 (Paper Co-Presentation with Debra Rolfe, ‘Embodiment and the City Farm: Potentials of cultural studies for the analysis and influence of urban environmental behaviour’)

    3rd Global Conference – Exploring Critical Issues of Sex and Sexuality, Cracow, Poland, 29 November – 2 December 2006 (Paper presentation, ‘Alberta Paints the Small Town Pink: Rural sexualities in the wake of Brokeback Mountain’)

    Return to Gender Conference, University of Glasgow, 25 November 2006 (Paper presentation, ‘The Queer Frontier: An analysis of Travel Alberta’s marketing strategies and their effects on the sexual geography of Alberta’ )

    'Without Let or Hindrance': Inclusion and its Subversion from the Medieval to the Modern, University of Lancaster, 7–9 July 2006

    Boundaries: Aesthetics and Archeologies Panel, paper presentation ‘Born of the Fence: Materiality and the Good Neighbour’ 

    PUBLIC EVENTS

    Organiser and chair of lecture and panel debate with Justice for Grenfell and Justice for Workers (Goldsmiths), ‘Justice in the City’, School of Architecture, Royal College of Art, 31 January 2019

    Invited chair, ‘Working in the Urban Periphery’, Public Lecture at the Royal Academy, London, 19 September 2018

    Invited chair for discussion ‘Art and Inequality’, Public Seminar at Tate Modern, London, 20 June 2018

    Invited discussant ‘Book Launch: The Divided City and the Grassroots. The (un)making of ethnic divisions in Mostar’, Development Planning Unit, Bartlett UCL, London, 30 May 2018

    Invited panelist ‘City Design for Diversity’, Stance Podcast Public Event at Tate Exchange, Tate Modern, London, 26 May 2018

    Invited lecturer, ‘Cohabitation as a Common Urban Ethic’ Designing Cultural Commons: City as Commons’, Lecture Series at The Cass – London Metropolitan Museum, London, 26 April 2018

    Invited Speaker and panelist ‘Future of the Car’ Symposium at the Design Museum, London, 17 March 2018

    Invited panelist for discussion with Dr Lauren Elkin and Amy Lamé ‘Building and Bodies in Paris and London’, Salon at Tate Britain, London, 19 January 2018

    Invited speaker, ‘A One Year Moratorium on Programming Public Space’  ‘Ten Ideas for London’s Public Space Charter’, Architecture Foundation, London, 16 January 2018

    Invited speaker ‘Making Cultural Infrastructure’ ‘Cultural Infrastructure in the City’, Salon at the Museum of London organised with Theatrum Mundi, 14 November 2017

    Co-presented book launch with Dr Honor Gavin (University of Manchester) and Matthew Cheeseman (Spirit Duplicator Press, Sheffield) ‘Uncommon Building: A Collective Excavation of a Fictional Structure’ Book Launch, The Mayday Rooms, London, 20 October 2017

    Invited author and panel contributor with Honor Gavin and Ishbel McFarlane to launch Uncommon Building (2017) ‘Cities of Our Dreams’, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh, 15 August 2017

    Invited keynote speaker and panelist. ‘Still the Town of Tomorrow’, Reimagination: Cumbernauld, Booked! Edinburgh International Book Festival On the Road, Cumbernauld, 20–21 May 2017

    Invited speaker ‘The Civic and the City’ at The Art of Being Civic, TATE Exchange, London, 6 April 2017

    Invited respondent ‘The Future of Art Pedagogy’, Roundtable organised by Assemble and The Art Academy, London, 15 February 2017

    Invited speaker ‘The Architecture of Citizenship: Design, Dialogue, Democracy’, The Museum of Architecture, London 30 January 2017

    Invited chair ‘Making of Siobhan Davies Studios’, Siobhan Davies Studios and the London Festival of Architecture, 28 June 2016

    Invited speaker, ‘Can we design the commons?’ ‘Forms of Commoning in London’, Tenderpixel Gallery, London, 22 April 2016

    Invited panel discussant ‘Smart Spaces: What is a Connected City?’ The CUBE London and the RCA, 21 April 2016

    Panel discussant ‘Defining Commons, Designing Commons’, MakeCity Festival, Berlin, 11 June 2015

    ‘Merely’, When We Build Again Assembly III, London, 21 May 2015

    Presenter, ‘Aesthetic Infrastructure: Nine photos of São Paulo’

    ‘Public Spaces and the Role of the Architect’, Royal College of Art, 4 December 2014

    Co-organiser and speaker of public research presentation for AHRC project 

    ‘Haworth Tompkins’ Everyman Theatre’, Royal College of Art, 27 November 2014

    Co-organiser and chair of public lecture with Steven Tompkins, Gemma Bodinetz and Ricky Burdett

    AcrossRCA co-organised with RCA Sculpture, Royal College of Art, 28 October 2014

    ‘The Beautiful and the New’, joint seminar on public space, commons, and political art/architectural practice, with Sarah Stanton and Melanie Jordan 

    Urban Encounters: Movements/Mobilities/Migrations, Tate Britain, London, 24–25 October 2014

    Invited Seminar Leader: 'Migrating Architecture: Visual Cultures of Contemporary Urbanism’ 

    Invited chair and respondent ‘The Architecture of David Lynch’, Book Launch, Architectural Association, London, 23 October 2014

    ‘Stories of Cosmopolitan Belonging’, Book Launch, Goldsmiths College, University of London, London 23 September 2014

    Invited speaker, ‘Unpacking my Library: On Feeling Modern in Mexico City’

    ‘Lighting the Local’, Configuring Light Programme, LSE Cities, London School of Economics, London, 22 September 2014

    Invited speaker, ‘When Modern was Local’

    ‘Ordinary Venice’, Venice Biennale for Architecture, 6 June 2014

    Co-organiser of a seminar bringing together activists and artists working on the future of urban life in Venice, with ‘weareherevenice’

    Organiser and Chair ‘Between Curatorial and Urban Practice’, Theatrum Mundi, LSE Literary Festival, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, 2 March 2013

    ‘Lighting the Future’, Southbank Centre, London, 27 February 2013

    Invited speaker ‘Why are we Lighting the Future?’ 

    Invited Chair ‘Chromazone: Colour and the City’, Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), London, 27 November 2012

    Co-organiser of the Meeting on Architecture as part of the Finissage of the Venice Biennale for Architecture with ‘weareherevenice’ ‘Common Ground: Salutiamo Venezia II’ Venice Biennale for Architecture, 24 November 2012

    Speaker, ‘Urban elegy in two parts: How we learned to hate the recent past, or, Mourning as community organising’ 

    Organiser of the Meeting on Architecture, developing panels ‘Designing for Politics’ and ‘Rethinking the Cultural Centre’, and Chair for ‘Designing for Politics’.  ‘Common Ground: between Art and Urban Practice’, Venice Biennale for Architecture, 3 November 2012

    Invited speaker  ‘Reflections on Living in the Endless City’, Museu Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba, 29 November 2011

    Invited speaker ‘Theatrum Mundi: Bridging Stage and Street’, Bienal de São Paulo, OCA – Ibirapuera Park São Paulo, 27 November 2011

    Invited speaker  ‘Reflections on Living in the Endless City’, Bienal de São Paulo, OCA – Ibirapuera Park São Paulo, 26 November 2011

    Invited lecturer ‘The Architecture of Citizenship: Mexico City in the 20th Century’, Architectural Association, London, 15 October 2011

    Exhibition Curator, organiser and chair of public symposium, Modern Ruin: Destruction and Creativity in the City, St Philips Exhibition Public Symposium, 11 May 2011

    Organiser and Chair of Director’s Q&A, Utopia London, Film Screening and Public Lecture, Urban@LSE, 4 March 2011

    Invited Panel Member to lead architectural discussion of student projects, Peru: Exploring Three Current Realities, London Festival of Architecture, 19 June 2010

    Invited Panel Member, Elastic Spaces, Decolonizing Architecture, The Delfina Foundation, 27 May 2010

    Chair, Urban Planning in Jerusalem, This Is Not A Gateway Festival, 27 October 2009

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  • Awards and Grants

  • Doctoral Fellowship, Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada (2009–11)

    This fellowship partially funded my doctoral work on the Cities Programme at the London School of Economics.

Selected work

Research

Research interests

My research is guided by post and de-colonial theories, feminist and queer theories that work against prevailing Eurocentric histories of architecture and those legacies in pedagogy and practice. My work aims to ask questions about the role of architecture and design in an era of acute global inequality, superdiversity and migration, and endemic neoliberal structures of life. I divest from the myopia of disciplines and feel grounded across multiple forms of thought, methods and inquiries. I am particularly invested in collaboration and co-authorship as an intellectual ethic, and in exploring the possibilities of radical facilitation for collective thought and action. 

Current and recent research


Writing Building: The Architecture of Mario Pani in Mexico
Writing Building makes the argument that architecture and the urban is not just built, it is written. In a time where more people than not on the planet live in some nationally defined version of urbanised land, what gets built matters. And yet what matters to get built is being decided in texts written and spoken by those in power. Through a detailed archival study of the architecture and urban planning of Mexican architect Mario Pani between 1938–64, this book examines modern architecture as the co-constitution of writing, drawing and building.


Against the Tabula Rasa: Towards an Urban Ethic of Coexistence
This project considers the history of demolition and destruction in urbanism, particularly in relationship to post-war urban planning and contemporary financialised urban form. It asks if tabula-rasa urbanism is possible, both in terms of the possibility of every starting from ‘nothing’, and in terms of a fascist anticipatory desire for purity and newness. Alongside historic excavations, the project works to develop a design ethic of coexistence learning from decolonial, queer, feminist and ecological theory.


We Cannot Work Like This: Practices of Decolonisation and Degrowth

2018–19 (Funded by the Contour Biennial 9, Mechelen, Belgium and School of Architecture, RCA)

This transnational alliance of artists, architects, scholars and activists asks what does a charter for decolonisation and degrowth look like in cultural and academic institutions? Starting from an anti-racist, anti-capitalist perspective, the alliance confronts questions of labour, of mobility and migration, of language and privilege, and enables students to work together on a proposal for new ways of working. 


Uncommon Building

2016–17 (Funded by Theatrum Mundi and HEIF Fellowship, University of Sheffield)

This is both a guidebook to the excavation of a fictional building and a manual towards holding further excavations. It is edited by Honor Gavin and Adam Kaasa and published in partnership with Theatrum Mundi.

Uncommon Building has its provenance in a workshop in Sheffield which brought together a group of creative practitioners, scholars, and theorists and invited them to excavate a nonexistent building, a lost structure or structure of loss of which virtually nothing was known.

Effectively a collective exercise in speculative fiction, the workshop generated the findings archived here. It also elicited a series of conversations between participants on themes such as the following: the relationship between the real and the fictive and the material and the imaginary, cultural value in the context of the built environment, time and the urban, media archaeology, dissociation as creative process and the possibilities of speculative fiction as a form of cross-disciplinary methodology.

Contributors include Fabienne Collignon, Paul Bareham, Matt Westbrook, Sam Ladkin, Stephen Walker, Alexander Marsh, Manca Bajec, Linda Kemp, Jon Orlek, Vicky Illott, Matthew Cheeseman, Rosa Ainley and Miranda Iossifidis.


Feelings of Structure

2015–18 (Funded by Theatrum Mundi and the Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens)

Feelings of Structure is a series of international meetings organised by Dr Yoke-Sum Wong and Dr Karen Engle, and based on Raymond Williams’ classic essay on materiality and feeling. Collaboration began on a symposium at the RCA in 2015. Followed by a meeting co-organised with the OCC in Athens, where explorations of revenge and its entangled emotions formed the central theme. This gathering brought together theoreticians and practitioners: writers, directors, philosophers, academics, artists, architects and political thinkers. An edited volume is now out: Karen Engle and Yoke-Sum Wong eds. Feelings of Structure: Explorations in Affect (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2018) 


Designing Politics

2014 – present (Funded by Theatrum Mundi and the Fondation Maison des Sciences de ‘Homme, Paris)

Designing Politics was a series of annual design challenges addressing the potentials and the limits of design in thinking critical questions about the politics of urban culture in different cities.

In New York, London, and Rio de Janeiro respectively it asked to how design could engender ideals of free speech, commonality, and respect. Artists, activists, architects, and performers proposed spatial interventions that would stimulate or uphold these political values. Together, the designs and thinking the project has generated are a catalogue of reflections on the way that urban space produces political cultures.

Alongside the three online competitions, the project has consisted of workshops, public lectures, exchanges, and exhibitions in London, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Berlin. A full archive of briefs and outcomes can be found here http://designingpolitics.org/

The project is currently being developed into an edited volume in collaboration with Dr John Bingham-Hall, Theatrum Mundi, and has an article forthcoming in a special issue on Design Inequality in Design Issues (MIT Press).


Making Cultural Infrastructure

Dates: 2015 – present (Theatrum Mundi funded; MRes Group Projects)

In London and elsewhere, the term “cultural infrastructure” is becoming prevalent in discourses around creativity in cities. However, there has been almost no critical analysis of what an infrastructural approach to planning for culture means, what strategies for city-making it implies, and its implications for the role artistic labour plays in cities.

This project investigates what conditions of urbanity constitute the infrastructures for cultural production – the backstage of public cultural life. How do different configurations of this infrastructure shape the cultures of cities, and can they be consciously designed and planned?


‘Public Spaces and the role of the Architect - a comparative study of influential Modernist and contemporary examples in London and Sao Paulo’

Dates: 2014–15 (AHRC-FAPESP funded)

As a research fellow on this AHRC-FAPESP project my work involved primary research into the architectural archives of 1960s and 1970s British modernism and contemporary architectural practice, in part to detail a genealogy of ‘public space’ from an architectural perspective. The work fed into a larger team at the RCA and in São Paulo investigating public spaces and the role of the architect, and an the ‘Building the Old World’ exhibition at the RIBA (2017).


The Architecture of Capital (2014–19)

This research began as a series of four public lectures (‘Kapital Architecture’) as part of the London Festival of Architecture in 2014 in collaboration with When We Build Again, and then developed as a five-part conference series at the American Association of Geographers (AAG) in San Francisco in 2016. Currently outcomes are being developed with co-editor Pushpa Arabindoo (UCL) for a Special Issue of City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action (2019).    

Research students