Towards a Shared Architectural Discipline

Towards A Shared Architectural Discipline

The discipline of architecture often operates under the constructions of modern economy, and is directly influenced by the motives of its structure. Architecture is created by designers who work through the additive process of making things in the world (1), and becomes easily captured (2) by the apparatus of the economy. In the pursuit of profit, property ownership renders architecture into a good that is negotiated upon, and through the work of architects, produces spaces for the facilitation of these exact negotiations. Recurring typologies of architectural space have resulted from the forms of enterprise, transaction, and labour deeply entwined in the economy’s operational cycles. Consequently, the neoliberal pressures shrinking our understanding of the economy (3) also shrinks the field of architecture. The modern city is the concentration of these forces and processes. However, this narrow understanding can be reframed (4) to match the shared diversities of the city.
J.K. Gibson-Graham’s work argues that the capitalist enterprise is only the tip of the iceberg that is the whole economy, and that a diverse network usually not considered part of the economy underpins it (5). This substructure consists of a myriad of submerged but sustaining transactions, labour, and enterprises. Upholding this view allows us to imagine additional possibilities, and interventions of bricolage (6), that can create novel solutions within the already existing organizing structures, rather than sterile and rigid products. These visions of being-in-common, of sharing space, production, and ownership, are possible in a reframed economy, opening up the space needed for intervention within existing circumstances. 

Through spatializing our thinking about the expanded boundary of the economy, architectural discourse can thus also be expanded, to open towards the diversities of the city. The operation in and around architecture is conceivable within a diverse economy as spaces of assemblage, of diverse possibilities, open to change, challenge, and adaptation as the activities and desires of its users shift. This kind of structure of sharing instead of ownership allows for a new discipline of architecture. 

Following in the reframing and broadening shifts in perspective of J.K. Gibson-Graham’s work (7), this article proposes to amend three aspects of architecture – architecture as thing, architecture as making, and architecture as space. What could a fabric of shared ownership in the economy result in the built space of the city? What kind of role does the architect take within a shared making process? What spaces are imaginable to house the possibilities for a new way of operating within alternative economies? The discipline can be unpacked into three interlinked parts re-imaginable within the diverse economy. 

Through assembling and adding to the existing critiques of cities, this article speculates on the built fabric for possible additional diversities of economy within the modern, developed city. It conceptualizes a reconceived architectural discipline that answers beyond efficient, systematic responses, and offers optimistic potentials to generate interdependency within sharing a diverse economy.

Notes & References:
1. Jeremy Till, "Scarcity and Agency," Journal of Architectural Education 68, no. 1 (Jan 2, 2014), 9-11. doi:10.1080/10464883.2014.864894.
2. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, "7000 B.C.: Apparatus of Capture," in A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980), 424-473.
3. Saskia Sassen, "Shrinking Economies, Growing Expulsions," in Expulsions (Cambridge, MA and London, England: Harvard University Press, 2015), 12-79.
4. Kim Trogal, Doina Petrescu and Gibson Katherine, "Diverse Economies, Space and Architecture: An Interview with Katherine Gibson," in Social (Re)Production of Architecture, eds. Kim Trogal and Doina Petrescu (New York: Routledge, 2017), 147-157.
5. J. K. Gibson-Graham, A Postcapitalist Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006).
6. Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Savage Mind (Hertfordshire: The Garden City Press Limited, 1962).
7. Gibson-Graham, A Postcapitalist Politics


Article Outline: 

Part 00: Introduction: Architectural Discipline in a Diverse Economy
Laying out the three parts of architecture in a diverse economy: reimagining architecture as thing (ownership), making (production), and space (use). 

Part 01: Architecture as Thing: 
Explores other ways of owning architecture, such as cohousing, coownership, case studies for different kinds of ownership explored. 

Part 02: Architecture as Making: 
Explores alternative forms of production, examining participation within architectural design, and referencing case studies of participatory processes where architect is positioned as moderator. 

Part 03: Architecture as Space: 
Explores flexible spaces to house sharing activities such as shared making and shared ownership within a diverse economy. 

Part 04: Conclusion: 
Wrapping up and concluding with what the future of the discipline might be within a more shared process of making, ownership, and spacial typologies. 

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