Riots, Crisis, Architecture and Cities: Damon Rich & Wouter Vanstiphout at the AA

I’m please to be hosting two of the sharpest and smartest people in urban design next week at the AA in what seems accidently to have become a micro-symposium:

Damon Rich of CUP and Urban Designer for the City of Newark on Tuesday 1st Feb and Wouter Vanstiphout of Crimson Architectural Historians / Professor of Design and Politics TU Delft on Thursday 3rd Feb

It’s great to have both over here in London and would be fabulous to see you there!

Damon Rich:

Cities Destroyed for Cash

Date: 01.02.2011

Time: 18:00:00

The Great Recession has produced a new theory of architecture; per US Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, ‘The built environment helped create the economic crisis.’ Recognizing the built environment as protagonist to, or at least accomplice of, financial catastrophe underlines the urgency of designing for the possibilities and pitfalls of American democratic capitalism. By way of a post-apocalyptic settlement in Montréal, a public learning centre about finance and architecture in New York City, and a plan for the riverfront of Newark, New Jersey, this lecture will explore how tools of design might help reform relationships between people and their living environments.

Damon Rich currently serves as the Urban Designer for the City of Newark, New Jersey. His design work has been exhibited at venues including the 2008 Venice Biennale, Storefront for Art and Architecture, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, and Netherlands Architecture Institute. In 1997, he founded the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), a New York City non-profit organisation that uses the power of design and art to increase the impact of public participation in urban planning and community development, where he was the Creative Director for ten years.

Wouter Vanstiphout:

Blame the Architect: On the relationship between urban planning, architecture, culture and urban violence

Date: 03.02.2011

Time: 18:00:00

After the riots in the French banlieues of 2005, fingers were pointed at the architects and planners responsible for the high-rise suburbs as the culprits behind the alienation, the poverty and ultimately the violence erupting around French cities. Just as 20 years earlier in Broadwater Farm, even Le Corbusier himself was blamed for the street fights that took place. Does architectural form have the power to change people’s behaviour in such violent ways as some critics would have you believe? Are these riots insurrections against oppression, or are they part of a culture of violence, that uses modern urban spaces as its theatrical backdrop? Who is to blame? The system, the rioter, the architect?

Wouter Vanstiphout is part of Crimson Architectural Historians. He is professor of Design and Politics at the Faculty of Architecture at Delft Technical University. He has (co)authored books including Mart Stams Trousers, Stories from behind the scenes of Dutch Moral Modernism (Rotterdam 1999), Too Blessed to Be Depressed Crimson Architectural Historians 1994–2002 and The Big WiMBY! Book Future , Past and Present of a New Town (Rotterdam 2007). From 2000 to 2007 he and Crimson directed the urban transformation project of the Dutch New Town of Hoogvliet.

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