the end of architecture?

Through its commoditization and acquiescence to the demands of the market, architecture has increasingly become marginalized, if not entirely circumvented, from its role as an aid to humanity and society. If, as both Fredric Jameson (1994) and, more recently, Mark Fisher (2009) have suggested, “it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism”[1][2], then we need to fundamentally rethink the means through which we may achieve effective, adaptive and contingent political mobilization to positively alter the urban landscape. The potentially transformative power of data, ceded to the masses, may provide the necessary impetus toward a substantial restructuring of the city, but only if its systems are capable of negotiating the attendant issues of governance, antitrust policy and security measures. It is these concerns that provided the foundation for the research paper, ‘The End of Architecture? Networked Communities, Urban Transformation and Post-Capitalist Landscapes’ presented by the authors at the recent Spaces and Flows: Third International Conference on Urban and ExtraUrban Studies held at Wayne State University, Detroit, 11-12 October 2012. The paper examined the notion that if we are to consider the future transformation of our cities, then the communities within them must be given priority as stakeholders. If we really are living in the end times of Žižek [3], we need to energetically and openly engage with the provision of a framework to evolve ‘intelligent terrain’ that is participatory and enabling. This idea was further unpacked in the context of Detroit, interrogating the data-driven toolkit currently available there in relation to its governance, communities and the (re)configuration of space [4].

the discarded city, Detroit, 9 October 2012. [photo by author]

[1]. Jameson, F. (1994) The Seeds of Time. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

[2]. Fisher, M. (2009) Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, Ropley: Zero Books.

[3]. Žižek, S. (2011) Living in the End Times, Revised Edition, London: Verso.

[4]. http://datadrivendetroit.org/

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