In the second issue of Archinect’s print publication Ed, we’re grappling with the myriad disasters afflicting the present, probing the responsibilities and agencies of architecture within them. Here, you will not find tidy solutions to inextricably complex problems. There is little in the way of a heroics of architecture, of the pretense that the discipline’s hands are clean or that it alone can address issues it often helped to create. Instead, we’ve endeavored to compile a variety of texts and projects that can live with uncertainty, that can complicate the necessarily complicated.
Through a visual essay, Design Earth recontextualizes the aquarium for a time in which its referent, the ocean, undergoes radical, human-induced transformation. In an interview with Timothy Morton, the philosopher applies his thinking to the specificities of architecture, contending with a reality in which all buildings are animated by non-human life and haunted by banished ghosts. Cooking Sections explains their efforts to adapt to changing ecosystems through food and architecture. Ariel Caine of Forensic Architecture, in collaboration with the residents of al-Araqib, the NGO Zochrot, and PublicLab, looks at the use of afforestation by the Israeli government to hide traces of Bedouin settlements in the region. In “Building on Unstable Ground,” we speak with Vin Varavarn Architects from Thailand and Yoshihiro Kato Atelier from Japan about their efforts with earthquake-resistant architecture. Meanwhile, José Tomas Perez proposes a strategy of architectural subtraction to address a long-standing territorial dispute between Peru and Chile. A series of flags by a diverse range of international architects and designers, originally from the exhibition Westopia? curated by Parasite 2.0 at the Villa Vertua Masolo in Nova Milanese, probe the resonance of “utopia” as an orienting horizon within the contemporary geopolitical landscape, marred as the concept is by a history of disastrous failure and Western imperialism.
Alongside these projects, a series of essays represent a broad array of readings of the term “disaster.” Alan Ruiz considers the alchemical transformation of place into capital within the financialized city, and speculates on forms of spatial resistance. Colleen Tuite writes a sci-fi fiction imagining a future dystopia with uncanny resonance to contemporary liberal culture. Lluís Casanovas Blanco speaks with Robert M. Hayes, co-founder of Coalition for the Homeless, about the spatial strategies involved in historic responses to homelessness in New York City. We discuss the breakdown of the semantic registers of suburbia through the lens of drone pilots stationed in Nevada. Ross Exo Adams interrogates the political ideologies embedded in the seemingly-neutral discourse around disaster resilience. Joanna Kloppenburg, the newly-appointed Deputy Editor of Ed, investigates the broader politics and complicities of an exhibit at MoMA aimed at addressing rising sea levels. Christine Bjerke looks at the intrusion of technologists into urban design, while Benjamin Busch rethinks “The Right to the City” as the city—and its inhabitants—change alongside technology.
In all honesty, “Architecture of Disaster” might not make you feel much better. But it will, hopefully, expand your understanding of the contemporary geopolitical-technological-ecological-economic situation—and architecture’s many roles within it.