For the Critical Distance debate, we have invited four architects, practitioners, and thinkers (Lucia Tahan, Fakt Office, Bika Rebek and Léopold Lambert) whose work goes beyond the built object spectrum and whom are working from different fields creating other narratives for the architectural practice, in order to build some necessary counter-imaginaries for the narrow agenda of the present, and use them to provoke different possible futures.
“I’m not afraid of getting the future wrong, as I almost invariably will. I’m actually intent on exploring our very mysterious and unknown present moment.” William Gibson
We’re living in the era of data paranoia —”too much world,” in the words of Hito Steyerl. Twitter bots, alternative facts, blockchains, AI, fake news, DNA hacking, false leaks. What once we recognized as “the real” has been transformed into a set of blurred realities created through digital personas, avatars and social media profiles, generating landscapes of uncertainty where we can say that Lacan’s categories overlap: the imaginary, the symbolic, and the real creating a common ground in which architecture has to play it’s role. It is undeniable that this data flows affects how cities evolve, affecting our social context, the political system, the way we move, consume, dream, and live.
In this context, more and more architecture is becoming a mediated discipline unfolding many different forms of production and circulation — from buildings, to research projects, exhibitions, books, and other media — where communication tools and interfaces can be powerful instruments to provoke a meaningful shift in the way theory and practice are intertwined; while at the same time, they can present a confuse vision of the social and political context where we need to act. Immersed into this massive set of layers, it’s easy to lose the critical distance that is often necessary to envision where are we going as a practice. Although “critical distance” doesn't refer to a physical distance; it refers to the needful time and space to reflect, discuss, and confront the status quo to see things from different perspectives, in order to create new understandings of the role of the architect nowadays.
Having a critical distance to our practice can be enormously consequential for the future of architecture, if there is such. Or at least, to explore in many diverse and active ways our “mysterious and unknown present moment”.
Ethel Baraona Pohl — dpr-barcelona
Critic, writer and curator. Co-founder of the independent research studio and publishing house dpr-barcelona, which operates in the fields of architecture, political theory and the social milieu. Editor of Quaderns d'arquitectura i urbanisme from 2011 to 2016. During the years, Baraona Pohl has contributed to several publications, magazines and books. Her writing appears in Open Source Architecture (Thames and Hudson, 2015), Together! The New Architecture of the Collective (Ruby Press, 2017), and Volume, among others. Associate curator for Adhocracy, initially commissioned for the 2012 Istanbul Design Biennial, the exhibition was at the New Museum, NYC (May 2013) and Lime Wharf, London (summer 2013). Curator of the third Think Space program with the theme Money; Co-curator (with César Reyes and Pelin Tan) of the exhibition Adhocracy ATHENS at the Onassis Cultural Centre, 2015. Director of Foros 2017, the architecture lectures series of the UIC Barcelona School of Architecture. Since 2016, dpr-barcelona is a member of Future Architecture, the first pan-European platform of architecture museums, festivals and producers.
tudied Architecture and Urban Studies at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Polytechnic University of Berlin and Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Since 2015 she is based in Madrid as a member of the architecture collective Leon11. She has created installations in Fukuoka, Lyon and Berlin showcasing political complexities and her work spans UX design, urban research and construction.
This young office situated in Berlin and Zurich was founded by Sebastian Ernst, Sebastian Kern, Martin Tessarz and Jonas Tratz in 2013. As a growing team of architects with the strong will to build houses, objects and ideas, new projects are approached with a consideration of system, reference, place and precedent. FAKT as a name represents the aim of finding a clear, defining answer to each project.
Architect practicing within several formats (writing, research, and installations) that work as catalysts for open-ended thinking about architectural production. She is a partner at SibilaSoon in New York, adjunct professor at Columbia University, and a resident at New Inc, an incubator promoted by the New Museum. In the past, she worked as an exhibition designer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) and a number of architecture offices internationally.
Paris-based architect and editor-in-chief of The Funambulist, a printed and online magazine associated to a podcast and a blog that share an editorial line dedicated to examining the politics of space and bodies. He is the author of Weaponized Architecture: The Impossibility of Innocence (dpr-barcelona, 2012), Topie Impitoyable: The Corporeal Politics of the Cloth, the Wall, and the Street (punctum, 2016) and La politique du Bulldozer: La ruine palestinienne comme projet israélien (B2, 2016).