Housing and the Grassroots: Rethinking Production and Agency in the Architecture of Dwelling

Tom Avermaete (Speaker), Amorim Mota, N. (Speaker)

    Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a workshop, seminar, course or other meeting


    Introductory lecture at the 4th International Conference European Architectural History Network, Dublin, Ireland.
    In the introduction to The City and the Grassroots, published in 1983, Manuel Castells pointed out that there was an increasing gap between urban research and urban problems. According to Castells, this gap resulted from an intellectual failure to account for the spatial agencies of citizens, social movements and community organizations. The last three decades of architectural discourse have further emphasized the need to reconceptualize architecture and urban design as “relational” disciplines, as Nicholas Bourriard put it.
    Throughout the last century there have been many initiatives to promote architecture as part of the social fabric, calling for a socially engaged and democratic architecture. Citizens’ participation has been praised as part and parcel of the rituals, pleasures and politics of co-operation as Richard Sennett put it in Together (2012). Housing has been arguably the prime site for the definition and redefinition of the states of encounter between the agency of the architect and that of the inhabitants.
    In the context of these attempts to define inter-subjectivity as the substratum of architecture, this session welcomes papers that address the relation between architectural expertise and the grassroots as coproducers of housing. The session aims to contribute to bridge the gap between urban research and urban problems, examining concepts, perspective and approaches that were developed to re-articulate the ways of doing of the architect. Among these, we would like to focus especially, but not exclusively, on processes related to citizens’ participation in the production of dwelling spaces, particularly those exploring concepts such as assisted self-help, open form, and incremental housing.
    Period3 Jun 2016
    Event titleEAHN2016: 4th International Conference of the European Architectural History Network
    Event typeConference
    LocationDublin, Ireland