ARCHITECTS WITHOUT QUALITIES
Master in Architecture Studio, Brussels
Academic year 2020-21, semester 3
Engagement: Mediating Tactics
By Pieterjan Ginckels
Q: What do you get when Aphex Twin Airbnb’s O.M. Ungers’ House?
In this studio, we focus on the complex impact of contemporary visual cultures on working±being. We connect the so-called thorough practice of incremental conceptual work with the seemingly ominous but very pervasive culture of the (scroll)surface. What’s a Snowflake gotta do? PW recognises, embraces and designs millennial ways of enquiry and action, to work in our time. Contributors merge into a collective, and absorb and radiate the complexities of being (anti-)architects, drowning in the surface. Engaging with our surrounding cultures, we will actively explore their underlying strategies and adopt them for our practices. These practices entail the ecologic, societal, political, technologic and economic role of architects, beyond a responsibility and relevance to the built environment.
Paradigms, theories, concepts, positions, ambitions, agendas, beliefs: vape, smoke, smog in the air. As our name suggests, today’s disciplinary cults favor statements above questions, but simultaneously can’t/won’t hold on to these. Paradigm Weekly functions as a cool-critical probe for surrendering to its instabilities:
- Embracing the cultural status quo and its markers and signifiers as a dominant force
- Surrendering to the obsessions, fears, hopes and secrets that come with living and working in a duckfaced caffeinated culture
- Embracing the fact that most of our built environment is not conceived—or hindered—by the proxies of archi-culture
- Surrendering to the vectors of fashion: troika ecology, hypercapitalism, (joy of) fear of missing out
The studio undertakes a deep experiment with strategies of surrender and subversion, in order to devise alternative modes of practice for architects to exist at the surface that is today’s context — and to be able contribute to it. To understand and interact with this new landscape, Paradigm Weekly provides new tools for new times.
One instrument is SPEED TRIP, a field trip-performance that previously has been executed from Los Angeles to Beijing. As a SPEED TRIPPER, you embrace the superficiality you’re investigating, and you take selfies rather than samples. Field research becomes safari. To kick off the studio, we will design and execute such a performative study trip, and use its after-images to design speculative projects around the theme.
Also, we will find accelerating confidence by designing our studio team itself – as a COLLECTIVE. We will learn to operate behind a mask, not to hide, but affording ourselves the flexibility of a persona, to explicitly provoke and explore.
The collective consists of personae, but is also divided into divisions. Three divisions are proposed: Tech, Hype & Bling. The division names stem from the music industry, and loosely refer to the audio engineers, the managers and the producers. Each division invests in a selective field of operations, to boost collective, accelerated productivity. Divisions also serve as auto-critical entities: meta-engineers, meta-managers and meta-producers. The questions that arise from their work will provide triggers for self-imposed studio briefs.
Coinciding with the studio semester, Paradigm Weekly launches its first MISANTHROPOZINE issue: TANTRIC URBANISM. Our studio work – our katalysing SPEED TRIP, our designed collective with its projects – may incite the future MISANTHROPOZINE ‘problem’. In the final phase of our studio, we will work towards its potential publication in close collaboration with Brussels based architecture institute CIVA.
SUPERSTUDIO X PARADIGM WEEKLY
This Fall, Brussels architecture institute CIVA hosts a major retrospective of the work of SUPERSTUDIO. The exhibition concludes with a re-enactment of SUPERSTUDIO and 9999’s infamous Mondial Festival, which took place in 1971 at the Florentine discotheque Space Electronic. Paradigm Weekly students will work towards a final act/work of the collective, which will be executed in public during the three-day event.
PW Studio coincides with the Masters in Art & Architecture elective TUNING (Ghent), its sister from another mother. Both share strategies and convictions, and combined would supercharge your semester.
 “The English dictionary defines “snowflake” as a derogatory term to describe an easily offended person, or someone who believes they are entitled to special treatment on account of their supposedly unique characteristics. Members of the so-called “snowflake generation” are typecast as emotionally weak and lacking resilience.”1 But, setting aside the negative connotations and stigmatising tactics of generalizing and labeling generations, what is possible if we reclaim exactly those characteristics as the driving qualities for agency?
Find the presentation as pdf here.