Radical Pedagogies at Venice Architecture Biennale

RADICAL PEDAGOGIES website Architectural Education in a Time of Disciplinary Instability Radical pedagogies played a crucial role in shaping architectural discourse and practice in the second half of the twentieth century. As challenge to normative thinking, they questioned, redefined, and reshaped the postwar field of architecture. We read them as radical in the literal meaning from the Latin radice, something belonging to the root, to the basis or foundation of something. These new modes of teaching shook foundations and disturbed assumptions, rather than reinforcing and disseminating them. They operated as small endeavors on the fringes of institutions but had long-lasting impact. Much of architectural teaching today still rests on the paradigms they introduced. This was a period of collective defiance against the authority of institutional, bureaucratic, and capitalist structures. The world as it was known underwent drastic transformations on all scales. The geopolitical landscape was completely reshaped by the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and the Space Race, while the domestic environment was refurnished with consumable plastics and objects of mass-produced desire. Utopian technological prophecies, foretold in science fiction tales, now manifested in a brave new world of computation, gadgets, and spaceships. Architecture was not impervious to such shifts. Highly self-conscious, the architectural radicalism of this era revealed the anxieties caused by the discipline’s uncertainty about its identity in a transformed world. The question of architecture’s sociopolitical value, in light of its evident complicity with capital, repeatedly came to the fore. No aspect of architecture could be taken for granted. Architecture was forced to examine its own disciplinary protocols. While some forms of radical practice celebrated architecture’s integration into a larger cultural milieu, others responded with a retreat to an investigation of abstract form. The education of the architect became the test bed for this disciplinary self-analysis, generating alternative intellectual, political, technical, and aesthetic visions for architecture. Some of these progressive pedagogical initiatives culminated in radical upheavals when clashing with the inertia of traditional institutions. Radical pedagogies challenged conventions at different scales. They relentlessly questioned the institutions of education and aimed to disturb architecture’s inherited relation to social, political, and economic processes. RADICAL PEDAGOGIES brings together a selection of 33 projects that reframed architecture, its teaching, and its engagement with society. Tracing those radical moments together, these seemingly short-lived, widely dispersed experiments do not remain insular incidents: ideas, people, and methods travelled, were spread, and caught on in a shrinking world. Despite their distant locations, the different case studies can be connected to form a spatial epidemiology, with each of them acting as hubs of contagion. We continue to look for these hubs and their experiments, “failures,” and dispersal. RADICAL PEDAGOGIES inhabits a world that was being re-presented, an unstable disciplinary edifice, and an educational landscape under reconfiguration; it looks for traces of experiments that had a huge impact on the field but also for those experiments that remained unfinished yet may have almost urgent relevance today. The discipline could be once again be in need of a shake-up. RADICAL PEDAGOGIES is an ongoing multiyear collaborative research project by Beatriz Colomina with the PhD students at Princeton University School of Architecture. It has so far involved three years of seminars, interviews, archival research, guest lectures, and contributions by protagonists and scholars around the world. Architecture history and theory is taught and practiced as an experiment in itself, exploring the potential of collaboration—in what is often taught to be an individual field—and addressing the challenges and opportunities of new media.

Beatriz Colomina, Britt Eversole, Ignacio G. Galán, Evangelos Kotsioris, Anna-Maria Meister, Federica Vannucchi (research) Cristóbal Amunátegui and Alejandro Valdés, Amunátegui Valdés architects (design and construction) Pablo González, Smog (graphic design) Ethel Baraona and César Reyes, dpr-barcelona (multiplatform publishing concept)

Monditalia Weekend Specials event with manifestos on architectural pedagogy by panelists: Stefano Boeri, Andrea Branzi, Beatriz Colomina, Paolo Deganello, Marco De Michelis, Francois Dallegret, Hal Foster, Joseph Grima, Rem Koolhaas, Gabriele Mastrigli, William Menking, Luca Molinari, Gianni Pettena, Alessandra Ponte, Cristiano Toraldo Di Francia. Saturday, June 7, 2014