The cartographic and the geopolitical: advocating a new agenda in architectural thinking and research.
Jianfei Zhu; in Architectural Review Quarterly.
Today, there is an increasing use of terms such as ‘transnational architecture’, ‘architecture beyond Europe’, ‘architecture of China, Japan and Korea’, ‘China in Africa’ and ‘Socialist architecture in Africa’. This signals a change in the basic outlook in thinking and research around architecture towards a problematic concerning geography and geopolitical relations. Michel Foucault, as early as 1967, had already said that ‘history’ was being replaced by ‘geography’, and a historical outlook on an endless timeline was being replaced by a new awareness of a finite world, of a world geography, of things happening ‘here and there’, of space and place, and of a ‘network’ we were all located within (in a speech published later as ‘Of Other Spaces: Principles of Heterotopia’). My contention is that, due to many factors, today more than any other time, a world-historical paradigm in architectural research is being replaced, or at least radically reformed, by a new one that methodologically privileges local and material happenings as horizontally connected to other sites and happenings, in a networked geographic spread: it involves a cartographic perspective that challenges endogenous, national and formalist categories.
Full article here: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1359135517000537
Rural networks and planned communities: Doxiadis Associates’ plans for rural settlements in post-independence Zambia
Petros Phokaides; in Journal of Architecture
The paper focusses on the planning of rural settlements by the Athens-based firm Doxiadis Associates (DA), a key, even if unrealised, project for Zambia’s nation-building and development efforts in the mid-1960s. In line with post-war discourses of modernisation, DA employed Christaller’s 1933-Central Place Theory and its abstract hexagonal geometrical model to organise different-sized settlements within a single spatial system. By introducing a hierarchical rural network over Zambia, the firm aimed to standardise rural settlement patterns and to formulate a strategy to alleviate rural-urban migration. DA’s top-down, large-scale approach even exceeded the State’s aspirations and the firm’s visions eventually faced two challenges: First, DA’s modernist planning was questioned by the social/ecological considerations as formulated by George Kay’s counterproposal on resettlement policy. Secondly, DA’s ‘urbanising’ visions for rural areas were forestalled by some of the country’s realities, which remained out of the planners’ field of control, and eventually called for more cautious responses to the realities on the ground. By exposing the challenges DA’s rural proposal faced, the paper ultimately contemplates the multiple, and even conflicting reactions towards Zambia’s rural settlement projects, and also adds nuances to the wider histories of rural development in Africa.
Full article here: https://doi.org/10.1080/13602365.2018.1458044