The current social, political, and economic irrelevance of architecture contrasts its radical ubiquity. Never before have architects been so present in the media and so close to power; never has architecture seemed so socially awkward. Relegated to be a fundamental but helpless commodity behind the 2008 credit crisis, it has missed the revolutionary events in Northern Africa, the social movements in Southern Europe, the Occupy Wall Street, and other global protests. The schizophrenic alternation between escapist claims of autonomy (the unlikely marriage of the Berlague Institute offspring and the East Coast Whites) and disciplinary-less activism (the Lisbon Triennial and other Adhocisms) does not help. Disciplinary discourse and social engagement, once isolated, become histrionic caricatures of the fundamental constituents of architecture, enjoyable but dysfunctional. Fake Industries Architectural Agonism's (FKAA) expertise emerges in the intersection of the two. It operates in a semi-autonomous and/or semi-engaged mode—between internal cultures and being-in-the-world—and its practice acknowledges how architecture's robust disciplinary knowledge mirrors its ability to haveag effects in the world. Thus, it advocates for the recuperation of the architect as public intellectual which implies the conceptual redefinition as the figure of the recognized expert as someone that is not solely political but has political and ethical principles—someone able to construct an active public by providing tools to understand architectural concerns and ultimately contest them. In brief, FKAA mobilizes agency using architectural knowledge, agonistically.
Urtzi Grau is an architect, Director of the Master of Architectural Research at UTS, and co-founder of Fake Industries Architectural Agonism—an architectural office of diffuse boundaries and questionable taste distributed between Sydney, New York, and Barcelona that is currently building the new Velodrome in Medellin. Grau graduated from the School of Architecture of Barcelona in 2000; was awarded Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design by the Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, Columbia University (GSAPP) in 2004; and is currently completing his Ph.D. at Princeton University School of Architecture, his dissertation focusing on the 1970s urban renewal of Barcelona. Grau has previously taught at Cooper Union, Princeton University, Columbia University, and Cornell University. His work and writings have been published in various international journals such as AV, Bawelt, Domus, Kerb, Log, Plot, Praxis, Spam, Volume, and White Zinfandel; he has exhibited his work in the Buenos Aires Biennale, P!Gallery, Shenzhen Biennale, Storefront, the Venice Biennale, and 0047.
This lecture is presented with the Architecture and Design Society, Art Institute of Chicago and made possible by the William Bronson and Grayce Slovet Mitchell Lectureship.
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