The Architecture of the Counter-Measure

author: Andrew Benjamin, Kingston University
published: Jan. 22, 2019,   recorded: September 2018,   views: 249

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Power in architecture has a number of registrations. In this instance, the operation of power cannot be separated from the conceptualisation of space. Space is constituted by the operative presence of power relations. However, the conceptualisation of space remains merely sociological, and not architectural, unless it is linked to strategies for design. Such strategies need to be evaluative as much as they are creative. What then opens up the possibilities for design? From one position, power is either reinforced, from another, there can be attempts to distance its hold. The former links creation to iterative processes in which what are repeated are the pre-existing orders of power. New Urbanism and Parametricism coincide at this precise point. As a result, the deferral of power’s repetition demands another thinking of repetition. The argument is that this deferral involves what Walter Benjamin names the “destructive character”. The “destructive character” is the oppositional architect. Another measure is present. Hence there can be an architecture of the counter-measure. Within the creations prompted by “destruction”, there is a reiteration of the architectural. Building and designing continue. And yet, for there to be an undoing of power, there has to be an inter articulation of repetition and autonomy. The latter will be addressed in terms of autonomy-within-relationality; this conception of autonomy allows for a different outcome to processes of judgement and possibilities for design. What might be occasioned is an architecture beyond nihilism.

Andrew Benjamin is a professor of philosophy and humanities at Kingston University in London. For the last 14 years, he has taught at the University of Technology in Sydney were he currently holds the position of Distinguished Professor of Architectural Theory. Prior to that he taught for almost 20 years at the Architectural Association in London. His publications which touch on architecture, art history and philosophy include: Architectural Philosophy (Continuum, 2001); Style and Time (North Western University Press, 2006); Writing Art and Architecture (Re:press Books, 2010); Architectural Projections (RMIT Press, 2012); Art’s Philosophical Work (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2015). He is currently working with Gerard Reinmuth in an ongoing studio investigation of relational architecture.

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