The Aesthetics of Civic spaces During times of Protest
[ATOMOSPHERE CONFERENCE - 2015]
This project is part of an ongoing effort to initiate a 'rapid response' design culture whereby current events in politics and culture are reflected in both theory and design projects. It is about engaging with public spaces in the throes of political struggle, and also to politicize everyday architecture by actively engaging with it through architectural response. This idea was appropriated from the exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England titled 'Disobedient Objects'.
The following is an excerpt from a paper that was presented at the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Architecture Atmosphere Symposium - Emergence 2015. [www.atmos.ca]
"Emergence is becoming. It is process, change, evolution. Emergence theory attempts to describe how things and the interactive systems that comprise all things can change and develop. It seeks explanations for the continual creativity of natural systems, social systems, urban systems, that are always surging forward, overcoming disturbance, growing, redistributing their energy, adapting to new circumstances, propelling themselves into the future, becoming more and more complex." [Rod Barnett]
This project interrogates the aesthetic and political transformation of civic spaces during times of citizen protest and civil unrest. When divested from their original designed function, these spaces become disobedient as they are used to advance a particular political platform. Disobedience in this case, emerges with the intersection between activist/policing bodies and the spaces that they occupy and appropriate. The architecture of civic spaces become integrated within a citizen’s struggle for social change, to their benefit or their detriment. These spaces are instrumentalized as political agents either working in favor of social reform, or in favor of the state. The aesthetic change that these spaces take on become a reflection of human and spatial interaction, where the individual or collective lived experience of a space ultimately determines its broader social and political function. In exploring these ideas, this project will use specific instances of recent political protests such as the Arab Spring and Black Lives Matter movements as precedents in the generation of disobedient spaces. It will also interrogate police kettling as a possible reactionary tactic to counter the power and agency of these spaces.
The next step of this project is to conceptualize the ideas and theories explored in this paper into design interventions on the specific sites explored within the paper presentation.