To grasp what is exactly at stake in current debates, we believe the notion of agency is paramount. In discussions about the architect’s societal position - as autonomous creator, self-interested professional, victim to market forces, resistive agent, ’enabler,’ or ’urban catalyst‘- as much as about the role of the user - as empowered citizen, producer of urban space, ’self-organizing‘ entity or ’everyday bricoleur‘ - the notion of agency is often as fundamental as it is taken for granted. At the same time, recent preoccupations with the material and performative dimension of architecture have led to new ways of understanding agency in architecture.
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FOOTPRINT Delt School of Design Journal
Issue # 4 | Spring 2009 | Agency in Architecture: Reframing Criticality in Theory and Practice
Whether critiquing the architect’s societal position and the role of the user, conceptualising the performative dimension of the architectural object, or considering the effects of theory for architecture at large, current debates in architecture intersect in the notion of agency. As fundamental as it is often taken for granted, this notion forms the keystone of this issue, inviting contributors to rethink architecture’s specificity, its performance, and its social and political relevance. Agency in architecture inevitably entails questioning the relation between theory and practice, and what it might mean to be critical - both inside and outside architecture - today. The main proposal is to rethink contemporary criticality in architecture, by explicating the notion of agency in three major directions: first, ‘the agency of what?’ or the question of multiplicity and relationality; second, ‘how does it work?’, a question referring to location, mode and vehicle; and third, ‘to what effect?’, bringing up the notion of intentionality.
accessed 08.11.09 by Tricia
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