“Anti Modus Operandi – radical strategies for social engagement in architecture and design in the 60’s and 70’s Italy”

Wednesday August 23rd 2017 by Peter Thomas Lang

collage, Ugo La Pietra, Virtuale reale. 1972.


“An informal lecture/seminar on how social engagement in design and architecture could develop and manifest in relation to the social and political situation in Italy during the 1960s and 1970s.”


organising platforms for socially engaged design and architecture
What are the issues and contexts for social engagement and how can design and architecture practice contribute to transformation? How and where can one organise and operate and what does it take?
This postgraduate course is exploring and experimenting in how to organise platforms for practice and discourse within socially engaged design and architecture. With a focus on experimental, investigative and critical practice the course will look into how design and architecture can engage in societal issues beyond or within its traditional role as service orientated disciplines.
Sites and Situations will inquiry and discuss this field through examples of issues, contexts and practice – spanning from self- organised platforms for activism to curatorial practice – and finally develop a series of experimental projects. The course is intended to function as a cross-disciplinary platform for inquiry, experiments and sharing knowledge and experience and set up to offer the course participants the possibility to combine with professional practice.
Sites and Situations aims at exploring the potential for investigative and critical design and architecture practice
engage socially and contribute to various forms of societal transformation. It will inquiry and discuss what’s at stake
what issues and contexts these practices really may play an important role, how this may happen and what impact it may have. It will look at different forms of practice, including other artistic practices, social organisations and activist initiatives, and how these operate and what it takes in form of organisation and support.
In this first edition, the course will look at this vast field of socially engaged practice through focusing on the city and the issue of ‘the right to the city’ – how access to urban life can be contested and transformed through various forms of practice. As an urgent question in times when public space is shrinking and the city has become increasingly segregated this may include questions around organisation of space through the designed and built environment but also less visible social and political structures that influence and control access and social interaction. Practices to explore may range from the critical and confrontational to the speculative and actively transformative, radically questioning and proposing alternatives.
Course structure
The one-year course is organised in two parts over two semesters. The first part intends to give an overview of socially and politically engaged design and architecture practice, issues and contexts for engagement and insights in various forms of organising
and in
platforms for practice and discourse. It will include research and discussions, mapping, collecting, analysing and documenting examples of practice. In the second part of the course knowledge and experience from the first part will form the basis for developing and realizing a small series of experimental projects as examples of platforms.
The first part of the course is organised around a series of work sessions with invited Swedish and international guest representing different practices, historical and present, ranging from civil society organisations and activist initiatives to socially engaged design and architecture practices to curatorial practice and platforms. These work session will involve one or more guests and include lectures, seminars, practical and theoretical workshops and study visits. In relation to each session the course participants will engage both in preparatory reading as well as follow-up work with research, writing and documentation.
In the second part the projects will be developed, planned and executed collectively in groups together with the course leader and invited external guests and/or partnering organisations and institutions. This will include identifying a subject and context, developing a concept, planning and finally realization and documentation.
Through out the course work will be compiled and presented through an emerging collective publication. This will finally function as a tool for presenting, sharing and distributing knowledge and experience achieved during the course.
SITES AND SITUATIONS is an independent post degree course at Konstfack 2017/18. It is organised through the Department of Design, Interior Architecture and Visual Communication, developed and held by Magnus Ericson. More information about the course at www.konstfack.se