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Urban Cultures lunch seminars winter ’20 – ’21

Everyone is welcome to join the webinars organised in the frame of the Faculty of Architecture’s ‘Urban Cultures’ engagement. Coordination by Martino Tattara.

All lectures via Zoom. Please find the links below. (Poster, Facebook event)

  • 22 October 2020, 12.00
    JULIO ARROYO (introduction by Martino Tattara & Cecilia Chiappini)
    Contemporary urban processes in Buenos Aires in the context of global investments and emerging urban, environmental, economic and cultural tensions (zoom link)
    Julio Arroyo is full professor at Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanismo, Universidad Nacional del Litoral in Santa Fe, Argentina. He teaches architectural design in the graduate programme in Architecture and Urbanism (BA+MA). Parallel to his interest in the theory and criticisms of architecture, he currently leads seminars on contemporary urban processes, architecture and public spaces in Argentinean cities. He is the director of Arquisur Revista and he is constantly invited to give lectures and evaluate projects in Latin America, Spain and Portugal. Arroyo holds also his private practice and has worked in the public sector, at Municipality of Santa Fe, for many years equipping him with a multidimensional understanding of urban issues.In his lecture, Julio Arroyo will navigate the emerging tensions around the contemporary urban processes of Buenos Aires. His starting point is the current status of Argentinean cities, where urbs, civitas and polis seem to be drifting away from each other. From this, he will explore some of the contradictions, fragments and disjunctions taking place, and outline their impact on the narratives of everyday life, the understanding of public spaces and the definitions of architecture. After a quick overview of recent urban development, anchored in forms, practices and meanings, he will round up his presentation with a series of architectural interventions.
  •  29 October 2020, 12.00
    MANOEL RODRIGUES ALVES (introduction by Cecilia Chiappini)
    The production of cities and public spaces in the context of financial capitalism and global culture (zoom link)
    Edgar Morin has stated in the ’70s that the notion of complexity, in its scientific and technical foundations, submitted to temporal widening and spatial dilatations and facilitated by technologies, encompasses a new topos: one that implies not only the abandoning of the attempt to reconstruct an organism from fragments of reality and to establish topological connections and analogies, but also the conditioning of the place of things to be understood. This topos, in architectural and urban terms, has been defined since Hegel by its objectual presence within the terms of reality, dedicated since then to symbolise its functioning as a donor of a refuge and as an enclosure. Today, this reading is no longer possible. It is therefore necessary to investigate the kinds of future transformations we will see in urban space, considering the current forms of programmed consumption, the shifting role of the state and of systems of political representation, and methods of discipline and social control that may lead to a significant decline of the urban (public) space and to a dismantling of the foundations of the city and democracy. If we previously considered inclusiveness as the cornerstone of the equitable city and the condition for an egalitarian urban environment, we should now move towards the notion of urban equity. In the city of gentrification processes caused by privately driven urban renewal projects, we observe the emergence of temporary public spaces and flexible space-time contexts designed for the client rather than for the citizen. Failing to consider these emerging aspects will lead to further human alienation in a time of estrangement from the world, an alienation based on the individual experience of dislocation and detachment.
  •  12 November 2020, 12.00
    SOPHIE LEEMANS (introduction by Erik Van Daele)
    Rethinking the dispersed city paradigm by exploring its networks. Insights on the way strategical nodes can shape the next urban constellation (zoom link)
    In the binary opposition of city and land, spatial dispersion is often considered the unwanted “spillover” effect of urbanisation. However, the dispersed spatial condition of the area stretching from Lille (France) to Rotterdam (The Netherlands), coined as All City/All Land (AC/AL), cannot be categorised as a “peri-urban”. It is an alternative condition of urbanity enabled by an underlying support system of polycentric networks. Although showing interesting relational configurations, AC/AL is reaching a tipping point. In the light of the contemporary sustainability debate, the demand for alternatives to the current approach of symptom management in AC/AL is pressing. The formulation of alternative futures requires rethinking the reciprocal relations between man and land. This doctoral research aims to valorise the inherent potential of dispersed territories by generating insights on the design potential of networks and nodes to shape the next urban constellation. To date, little is known about the architectural and urban design potential of the underlying supportive structures, i.e. the finely meshed physical networks and their nodes. Crossings or nodes serve as a link, addressing both regional logics and local realities. It is at the intermediate scale both the complexity and potential of these physical networks become tangible.
  • 26 November 2020, 12.00
    Dialogues of mapping / mapping of dialogues : Towards critical design approaches for Flemish low-density residential neighbourhoods
    (zoom link)
    This presentation sets attention to relationships between dialogues and mapping when working and designing for sustainable change in the specific context of Flemish slow-density residential neighbourhoods. Sustainable transition of these neighbourhoods is high on the planning and design agenda, however little happens in practice. One of the reasons can be found in the  distance between different (and often conflicting) perspectives of inhabitants, authorities, organisations, architects, planners and urbanists. Through the production of  a critical design atlas in two Flemish cases, this research wanted to set up design dialogues between these perspectives. We present how atlas-making  together with different professional and nonprofessional  actors involved in these two cases, offered a critical design tool that created a scene for revealing latent possibilities for durable change and developing design principles that seek productive connections between between various everyday life (individual) concerns and broader (collective) societal concerns and challenges.
  •  3 December 2020, 12.00
    New York City’s hybrid post-industrial waterfronts
    (zoom link)

    New York is a city that is under constant pressure of transformation, resulting from the impact of numerous shocks and stresses. Especially the city’s waterfronts are very susceptible to these impacts because of their location and industrial history. Simultaneously, these post-industrial waterfronts are interesting hybrid transition areas between the water and the city. Areas that embody rationalities of both conditions, with a conglomerate of numerous different urban profiles. Following this hybridity and complexity, these areas are highly condensed representations of urbanity. Understanding these areas allows us to gain insights on resilience, shock-impact, cooperation, transformation and socio-economic conditions. This presentation will explore the post-industrial nature of New York City’s waterfronts, and go into a detailed analysis of the area of the Coney Island Creek, an interesting hybrid and post-industrial landscape that is at a crucial momentum before redevelopment.
  •  10 December 2020, 11.00

    Provoking public architecture
    (update: new link)
    This practice-based research is founded on 25 years of concrete, i.e. personal architectural practice (1995-2020), executed both in public and private capacity. Hence, the knowledge it wishes to produce is clearly linked to and aiming at critically informing (near) future architectural practice. The general stance for the underlying research is the assumption that architecture – if it wishes to produce any relevant societal effect – should be conceived, developed and performed in a pro- active and unsolicited manner. Architectural practice – in my understanding – revolves around finding freedoms; detecting cracks in the system(s) and operating within these political rifts accordingly. The original knowledge produced by this research stems from the critical (re- )reading and bundling of four ‘recalcitrant’ European architectural practices (René Heyvaert, Luc Deleu & T.O.P. office, Willy Van Der Meeren, Lode Janssens). An auto-critical rereading of my personal practice through the project ‘Le Musée et Son Double / S.M.A.K.’ will operate as a fifth instalment. Though not to be further developed as a conceptual trope in itself, all five practices are intimately linked to the former Sint-Lucas School of Architecture educational training (Brussels/Ghent), more specifically the period delimited by the second part of the 20th century (1950-1995). This educational era was characterised by unrestricted (perhaps even uncontrolled) pro-active architectural thinking and subsequent societal positioning. The architects and practices analysed in this research have deliberately taken on a clear and necessary variety of architectural roles: creator, builder, educator, producer, activist, policy whisperer, … the 4 + 1 practices have been developers of an unsolicited architectural production. In this research, they are grouped for the very first time, though in an open manner. Moreover, this grouping attempt is equally informed by my personal practice development and the relationships I still have or had with them.

  •  10 December 2020, 12.00

    Learning from Sonic Urbanism as Critical Spatial Practice: Experiences from two design studios
    (zoom link)
    In this presentation we reflect on preliminary findings of a PhD research on the spatial politics and potentials of sonic vibrations for urban planning and architecture practice. In the research we focus on the open space of a Brussels railway area in transformation, where sonic conflicts are prevalent. To explore the affordances of a sonic urbanism as critical spatial practice and thus to break free from prevailing modes of urbanism which focus on sonic risk and vibrational nuisance − we constitute a working practice exploiting and nurturing the productive encounters between disciplines such as sound art, urbanism and urban planning and architecture. By setting up an experimental design studio at the KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture (2018-19 and 2019-20), embedded in networks of sonic and social practice, and in connection to ongoing planning processes, we aimed at facilitating an open learning ground for sonic design experimentation in the development of innovative sonic spatial tools and approaches. The studio was oriented to students of the International Master in Architecture summoned to research the multiple (sonic) vibrations of the L28 railway area, to exploit and contrast these vibrational forces, transforming them to into actions and opportunities. From a critical sonic understanding of urban space, students played and explored a contradictory role compared to the widespread noise control practices, reformulated environments, perimeters and relations of urban phenomena and searched for interactivity with vibrational dynamics that already exist in the territory.
    Acknowledgements: KU Leuven Masterstudio_L28 is part of the ongoing PhD project: The Vibrational Nexus of a Brussels Railfield in Transition by Caroline Claus with Burak Pak as supervisor and Peter Cusack as co-supervisor. Participating students in the Masterstudio of 2018-19 were Vilius Balčiūnas, Afanen Eman, Thorisaen Sarah, Ince Melisa, Modzelewski Mateusz, Vasudeo Doyel, Asa Pelin, Yin QI, Auris Alexander, Van Bellingen Leonie, and Daniel Dent Murgui. Participating students in 2019-20 were Joyce Jamal, Moujan Mahdian, Pareli Akelian, Pavlos Kalyfommatos, Ranay Utkelbayeva, Yvonne Catalina Neira Rivera and Zeliha Ozturk.

The GOING PUBLIC program of the Faculty of Architecture is a series of lectures, exhibitions and publications organized throughout the year highlighting certain themes and topics that are important within each of the 4+1 Engagements: Urban Cultures, Mediating Tactics, Craftsmanship, Legacy and The Brussels Way.