Greenwich Park with view over Canary Wharf, Source: Wikipedia
ADS 2 looks at the multi-temporal and trans–border implications that shape the life of our global cities. London is the site of imperial, colonial and financial conquests where myriad time systems play out simultaneously, sometimes on repeat. The global city has become the central nod of the time-binding network of global finance. It regulates temporal disparities and links geographically disparate localities across the planet through extractive logistical infrastructures and the financialized machine.
In response to this chrono–spatial condition, ADS2 will craft hypothetical, yet restorative, architectural interventions that will serve as destabilising and regenerative forces within the global city. The studio will foster students to develop spatial propositions that disentangle and reconfigure these assemblages of time, power, and geography. These projects might encompass speculative policies, building designs, virtual environments, community-led interventions, or other creative forms. Students will be asked to integrate the temporal, ephemeral, futuristic, speculative, occasionally decrepit, and geospatially–sensitive features of these project sites. While centring London as the primary location of investigation, the studio recognises that the translocal character of architecture also facilitates engagements and invites design interventions in distant, yet connected geographies. Through this exposure to the spatial genealogies and futurities of the metropolis–site, our ADS2 architectural projects will seek to reimagine and dismantle imperial aspirations of world-making by operating at the scale of the collective and the multitudinal.
Chrono–Metro–Politics: Time and the Metropolis
Bahar Noorizadeh, Teslaism: Economics After the End of the End of the Future (Film Still, 2022)
Speculative finance constantly reshuffles the metropole’s own temporal order, projecting its own image of the future – enacted through concepts like ‘value metrics’ – to displace and socially cleanse neighbourhoods to allow for more profitable forms of investment. Such urban regenerative models are symptomatic of wider, more pernicious, and extensive financial policies that work to realise a ‘speculative image’ of development, which displaces and substitutes the living human bodies and social entities that do not conform to the parameters of this image.
At the same time, institutions such as natural archives, seed banks, and museums serve as epicentres for the taxonomical and temporal indexing of life–worlds within this global–imperial project. The rendering of multiple, divergent worlds into a single, unilinear ideal of progress is made possible by these institutions. This is where and how the colonial project originates, renews its aspirations, and even endures today in prototypical concepts of the future in the face of climate change.
In the metropolis–site these various chrono–logics collapse. In this turmoil, London becomes a technologically–enabled condensement of endless despoiled places, ecologies, and peoples. As a city, it sheds light on a non-chronological unfolding of time, suggesting possibilities for alternative socio–ecological configurations to emerge. In response, our projects and spatial interventions will no longer need to be localised and restricted within the geographic confines of the metropolis–site, instead they will have repercussions that cross temporal borders.
Contemporary architectural and material articulations can play a significant role in accelerating the collapses of these chrono–logics. Our architectures must adapt to these trans–localities and trans–temporalities, while also acknowledging the potential for intervening as more disruptive forces. Architectural morphologies should become more fluid in order to challenge their integration within the surrounding context of the city. Following this view, ADS2 will interpret the geography of the metropolis–site as a dynamic, in–flux entity that also includes those zones of extraction within past, present, and potential colonies.
Lodovica Guarnieri, When I Breathe, I Swallow The Lagoon (2022). Commissioned by TBA21 with the support of S+T+ARTS
By taking a chrono–political view on architecture, ADS2 will seek to unpack the manifold temporalities of the empire and critically engage with the possibilities of resistance and decolonial imaginaries that are opened through critical spatial practices. In this way, the studio will consider architectures as carriers of: ecological, political, social and economic histories; myths; and infrastructures of relations, which stretch from the past into the future.
ADS2 will revolve around the exploration of the metropolis–site as the focal point for analysing how temporal politics are manifest across various scales of difference. These scales encompass a wide range of phenomena: spanning from interactions between minerals within building materials; to financial speculations affecting the urban fabric; extending out toward the social interactions that reflect colonial stratifications and power structures.
Our investigation is organised around three main strands: a) Beyond Ruination, b) Urban Regeneration, and c) Translocality.
Lodovica Guarnieri, Amphibious Geologies, 2022
Beyond Ruination – examines London’s built environment as an archive/proxy of ecological and social infrastructures. Through a series of site visits and conversations with scientists, archivists, and curators of natural collections, this section will engage with the colonial legacies of material knowledge. Delving into the interplay between matter and temporality, our conversations will probe spatial subjects such as minerals, fibres, molecules, and toxins to unearth their entanglements with contemporary extractive politics and more–than–human temporalities.
Urban Regeneration – looks at the relationship between the city and time as it is manifest in gentrification produced by financial speculation. This strand will tap into counter–speculative strategies for financial activism, allowing us to reconsider urban policy frameworks that enable the refashioning of urban geographies. We will also reflect on critical practices that challenge the financialization of living space. We will conduct fieldwork on London’s colossal programme of urban regeneration, collaborating with an anti-gentrification campaign to envision methods for enacting social and financial justice for London’s disenfranchised communities.
Translocality – discusses the myriad strategies employed by material infrastructures to interact, communicate, and listen both among themselves and with a variety of geographies. In the metropolis, boundaries and privacies become porous. This involves a series of operations that intersect various spatial, legal, technological, logistical, and infrastructural domains. Often these operations take place within spatial realms, where the erosion of sovereignties and dispossession of land rights disproportionately impact marginalised communities. These operations range from airport infrastructures, sewage and pipeline systems, to land acquisitions by overseas governments and transportation initiatives that influence entire regional developments. Using readings, films, and key projects on space, politics and infrastructure, these sessions will expose students to cases that will encourage them to reconsider the transborder implications of their projects.
Inquiries into Surgical Sites
Fitzgerald: Geography of a Revolution (Cambridge, MA. Schenkman Pub. Co., 1971), courtesy of William Bunge
ADS2 will diverge from existing spatial practices that consider the relations between the built environment and its socio–political ramifications. Rather, we will examine how the interweaving of processes such as ruination and speculation can inform our architectural methodologies. To that end, the different seminar sessions, tutorials, site visits and reviews will consider multiple decolonial, speculative, and ecological frameworks within spatial and architectural practice. These sessions will all draw on the centrality of the site as an experimental object. They will consider how colonial legacies reverberate within the spatial, social, and material dynamics of sites that are undergoing change. How can a critical spatial practice challenge and deconstruct the colonialities embedded within sites? In what ways do the trans–local transformations of a site occur across different periods of time and over multiple scales? In what forms do these narratives appear within the peripheries outside the metropolis? How do diasporic and other marginalised groups craft unconventional, yet adaptive spatial means within the current hostile environment? And to what extent do these strategies rely on architectural propositions, or require policy and legal interventions?
Strategies for Representing Time
Bahar Noorizadeh, The Red City of the Planet of Capitalism (Film Still, 2021)
The studio’s conceptual and design discussions will be augmented with workshops on representation and aesthetic methodologies. Students will be encouraged to develop their digital representation skills and adjust these techniques to the scale of the metropolis–site, which can range from microscopic material elements to large-scale urban landscapes. These techniques might include moving imagery, animation, or bespoke individually–developed site documentation.
ADS2 will explore the complexities of representing architecture in its diverse scales, temporalities, and geographic peculiarities. As such, we will discuss the use of Geographic Information Systems, 3D modelling tools, computer–generated imagery for natural and fictional environments, photogrammetry, video editing tools, game design and animation engines, sound production software, performance, script-writing and speculative fiction, and community practice, among others. Students will critically engage with these tools, questioning their impact on the political perception, activation, and chrono–spatiality of the metropolis–site.
Modes of Interaction and Collaborations
United Community Service of Metropolitan Detroit (1971), courtesy of William Bunge
By focusing on the spatial rights of excluded socio–ecological groups and entities, students will employ various forms of field data, including interviews, site visits, community–based activities, and site–sensitive materials. The ADS2 architectural interventions will aim to reconfigure and repurpose the dominant, yet disputed, ethnographic gaze. Our interventions will acknowledge the alienating effect of architecture on specific diasporic and marginalised communities within the metropolis–site. Our designs will be guided by a student–led code of ethics and communication derived from the conceptual and political principles underlying their projects.
The ethical considerations become multi–modal and dynamic as the target of these spatial expansions extends beyond humans to encompass other–than–human life, objects, and machines. The critical lens on field practice will inform the different constraints, contingencies, and imaginaries, which might unfold during the design evolution of the studio projects. Students will rely on their bespoke codes of ethics to guide their field practice. This includes design constraints, material choice, as well as the various technologies employed to represent the project. Students will learn to communicate complex architectural and spatial concepts with groups that might be directly affected by the already–built or to–be–built environments. We will operate in collaborations, employing unique communication strategies — whether through participant information sheets, or on–site meetings with user groups — students will cultivate methods that prioritise politically–engaged, community–led architectural interventions.
Individual Project Interventions
Mhamad Safa, To Fold a Ruin (2015)
YR1 and YR2 students are required to conceive and develop a design project comprising a site-sensitive spatial intervention, which encompasses speculative policies, performance, building designs, and other creative forms. This intervention must: a) address the complexities arising from the stratification of multiple temporal and spatial scales within the chosen site; and b) examine them through the lens of the three distinct strands: Beyond Ruination, Urban Regeneration, and Translocality. While the project brief remains similar for both YR1 and YR2 students, the nature of their design interventions will differ, guided by the specific set of skills and research interests they will acquire throughout the studio.
ADS2 places considerable emphasis on the collective dimension of the studio. Alongside the development of individual interventions and project materials, students are expected to actively engage in various aspects of the studio, including: facilitating readings during seminar sessions; actively participating in constructive discussions during critiques and collective conversations; and actively participating in collective site visits.
Bahar Noorizadeh, Installation view from The Red City of the Planet of Capitalism (2021), Museum Folkwang, Essen. Photo by Michael Paul Romstöck
Bahar Noorizadeh looks at the relationship between art and capitalism. In her practice as an artist, writer and filmmaker, she examines the conflictual and contradictory notions of imagination and speculation as they suffuse one another. Her research investigates the histories of economics, cybernetic socialism, and activist strategies against the financialization of life and the living space, asking what redistributive historical justice might look like for the present. Noorizadeh is the founder of Weird Economies, a co-authored and socially-connected project that traces economic imaginaries extraordinary to financial arrangements of our time. Her work has appeared at the German Pavilion, Venice Architecture Biennial 2021, Taipei Biennial 2023, Tate Modern Artists’ Cinema Program, Transmediale Festival, DIS Art platform, Berlinale Forum Expanded, and Geneva Biennale of Moving Images among others. Noorizadeh has contributed essays to e-flux Architecture, Journal of Visual Culture, and Sternberg Press; and forthcoming anthologies from Duke University Press and MIT Press. She completed a PhD in Art at Goldsmiths, University of London where she held a SSHRC doctoral fellowship.
Lodovica Guarnieri is an Italian-born researcher and designer based in London. Her practice grapples with technoscience as it relates to colonialism, extractivism, and their enduring toxic legacies in the environments. She uses performance and scriptwriting as counter-pedagogical tools to address colonialism’s long-standing impact and uncover new material imaginaries for socio-environmental justice. Over the years, Lodovica has held curatorial research positions at Van Abbemuseum (NL) and at Manifesta 12 (NL/IT) and collaborated on the projects “Hostile Environment(s)” by Border Forensis and "Non-Extractive Architecture" publication and exhibition. She developed performances, public programmes, and lectures for TBA21, Stroom Den Haag, Lisbon Architecture Triennial, Bureau Europa, Bozar, and The Anthropocene Campus/HKW among others. Currently, she is part of The Tidal Garden, a research agency based in Venice (IT) that explores the edible potential of salt-tolerant plants as a tool for cultural adaptation to climate change. She holds an MA with distinction from the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University of London.
Mhamad Safa is a sound artist, architect, and researcher, based between London and Beirut. His work focuses on multi-scalar spatial conditions and their sonic make-ups. He explores their intersections with the aural legacies of traditional and subcultural practices as well as environments of conflict and violence. He graduated from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths University and is currently a PhD researcher in International Law at the University of Westminster. He is an Associate Lecturer in Media Studies and Architecture at the Royal College of Art. Safa had shown individual and collaborative artwork and performances at the Bergen Assembly 2022 (Norway), Goteborg Biennial 2021 (Sweden), Sharjah Architecture Triennial 2019 and Alserkal Arts Foundation (UAE), Sursock Museum and Goethe Institute (Lebanon), Showroom Gallery and The Institute of Contemporary Arts (United Kingdom), among others.