Cover Image for From the Ground Up: Building Solidarity in Somerville MA through Aspirational Design

From the Ground Up: Building Solidarity in Somerville MA through Aspirational Design

Past Event
Welcome! To join the event, please register below.
About Event

the deal:

In this workshop, we’re gonna talk about anti-capitalist pedagogy and architecture’s compromised role in envisioning the future.

I’m sharing two years of radical research and design work at RISD Architecture on a live public process in Somerville MA, what it means to run an anti-capitalist design studio, architecture’s positionality if we’re going to really do ethical community engagement, and relational over hierarchical frameworks of action. We’re gonna talk about it.

what to expect:

This is going to be a pretty low-key session. I want to:

  • Share with y’all the pedagogy of the studio and the positionality of the discipline of architecture when approaching community entanglement

  • Share what we did, the research, community interviews, public panel discussions, etc.

  • Share the incredible work that came out of the studio

  • Have a discussion about what this work and methodology means!

Please be prepared to:

  • Show up ready to get into it!

  • Check out the (fun, short) prep materials below

the abstract:

What does it mean to construct a truly anti-capitalist pedagogy? Beyond utopias or “alternate futures”, what can we do within the academy to engage with the rampages of an inhumane system while still carrying hope? Is it possible to deconstruct the imperialist institution of academia and ethically engage research work in the real world? Central to this question is our potential as academics to build relationships of solidarity and trust with communities, while recognizing the potential intellectual extraction and academic colonization of that effort.

When the production of architectural discourse itself is commodified in a never-ending cycle of meaningless publication and production, is there room to use academic frameworks for real community change? Endemic to the “professionalism” saturating architectural education is a bourgeois ideology of “prettification” and intellectual dissociation that reproduces class divides, perpetuates intellectual elitism, and produces wave after wave of young designers unconsciously wielding technocratic professionalism as a crude club to undermine community voices and uphold self-perpetuating systems of predatory capital.

Through a series of two advanced studios taught at RISD Architecture, I’ve had the privilege of working with a cohort of 25 young designers seeking to tackle these questions. We're gonna talk about it.

check this stuff out first pls:

To prep for this workshop, please check out the following material. It’s all optional BUT also fun, short, and pretty digestible:

Get your jam on with the course intro video for Common Ground, RISD Architecture, 2023

Check out the pedagogy with the syllabus for Common Ground, RISD Architecture, 2023:

Black Socialists in America on creative practice twitter thread (2019)

Design Thinking is a Rebrand for White Supremacy

bell hooks writes incredible things on teaching:

Honestly this whole linktree:

the people involved:

kai andrews [he/them] is a young artist + designer who recently graduated with their M.Arch from the Rhode Island School of Design. Originally from Boston, MA, Kai currently resides in New York looking to improve the built environment for all.

tia miller [she/her] is an interior and architectural designer and 2023 RISD M.Arch grad based in Providence, RI. She is passionate about practices of care in design, community storytelling, and bridging the pedagogical gap between interior design & architecture.

lauren cochran [they/them] is an emerging artist and designer, currently pursuing a Bachelor of Architecture at RISD. They have a strong interest in imaginative and and celebratory design that asks simple, but thought provoking questions.

viola tan [she/her] is a fifth-year student at RISD Architecture. Previously a Housing Innovation Lab fellow at the City of Boston and a research assistant at MIT DUSP, she is passionate about affordable housing and harnessing the power of technology to improve communication and trust.

lauren blonde [she/her] is a graduate student in architecture at RISD, her area of research is on residential architecture and the future of salvage/waste streams in remote areas as solutions to the housing crisis. She’s originally from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and has spent the last 11 years in New England.

camila gutierrez plata [she/them] is a reformed architect and community organizer living and working in Somerville, MA

w gavin robb [he/him] is an educator, activist, instigator, architect, and advocate. He is studio lead at Kin Design Studio, a radical design practice focusing on transformative social justice through policy, building solidarity, and constructing the civic commons. He teaches at RISD and Northeastern, where he is severely underpaid for his labor.

Viola Tan, John Lewtas, Yupeng (Terry) Chen, Jack Schildge, Victoria Goodisman, Lauren Blonde, Ruyue (July) Qi, Fiona Libby, Emily Lo, Jenny Zhang, Andrew Song, Chae Yeon Woo, Lauren Cochran, Uthman Olowa, Mackenzie Luke, Tia Miller, Lily Gucfa, Yuqi Tang, Abena Danquah, Phillip Schroeder, Jack Kostyshen, Abigail Zola, Shane Su, Elijah Trice, and Kai Andrews are current and former students at RISD Architecture who created the work of the studio.

k thx see ya there!