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Existential Territories: Architecture and Subjectivity

16 November 2017 to 17 November 2017 | 9am – 6.30pm


£20 for the 2-day Symposium

Are alternative modes of existence possible?

What form will they take?

Every architectural proposition embodies a form of sociality. Architecture is nothing if not a set of proposals for organising human attention, habit and ritual. Far from being a mere response to pragmatic needs, architecture is – and perhaps has always been – a tool for the construction of subjectivity.

An architectural project implies a model of the human character, a specific distribution of the innate and the cultivated, the desirable and undesirable, the normal and the pathological. At the same time, the relationship between subjectification and architecture is neither straightforward nor mechanical. The future’s infrastructure is a site of political conflict between financial, legal and semiotic forces. Today, the attempt to secure the fruition and dominance of certain models of human character through disciplinary institutions - the school, the hospital, the asylum, the barracks – has been supplemented by diffuse systems of control that act at scales that we do not recognize as architecture. And yet, as many have argued, contemporary forms of power have never been more impersonal, infrastructural and architectural.

Existential Territories is a series of events that will explore architectures capacity to propose alternative forms of existence. Territory is a term that refers to the exercise of power over a defined space. The existential aspect refers to way that the abstraction of design enters into a relationship with affective micro-political investments and semiotic processes. An existential territory is what binds a power over territory to a power over the soul while also pointing to the excess of life that resides within and beyond any system of power.

If the emergence of capitalism has charged architecture with the task of naturalizing social asymmetries, the existential territories series sets out to challenge existing models of human character and sociality including the normativity of gender roles, class construction, and labour exploitation, and perhaps rethink our agency as writers and architects.

Our first event will reconsider territories of different scales through a series of case studies: domestic apartments, colonies, therapeutic settings, workplaces. Beyond their differences, we look to projects that embody an ambition for alternative modes of human existence, a specific attempt to shape the subjectivity of their inhabitants in order to produce other kinds of desires, rituals and habits.


Michel Feher (Zone Books), Felicity D Scott (GSAPP), Pier Vittorio Aureli (AA), Mark Wasiuta (GSAPP), Susana Caló (NUC), Ross Exo Adams (Iowa State), Samaneh Moafi (AA), Hamed Khosravi (TU Delft), Anna Puigjaner (RCA), Platon Issaias (RCA), Maria Sheherazade Giudici (RCA/AA), Godofredo Pereira (RCA), Marina Otero Verzier (RCA),Tarsha Finney (RCA), Adrian Lahoud (RCA)

Abstracts and Bios are available to view here.

This event has limited ticket availability and will take place in a seminar room. Guests should attend for both days, unfortunately we are unable to make single-day tickets available. Click here to book.