Toward an Architectural Vocabulary
Forecasts: Perspectives on the Prospective
October 27, 2016
G LASTER (BA ’18)
I increasingly believe that all things are related. Objects/ideas/beings that may be seemingly disparate can be understood through some shared frame, with scales varying from the interpersonal to the societal to the universal. Often, these elements are constructed as existing in binary relations to one another. Student-teacher roles, for example, perform relationships of power that are simultaneously artificial, genuine, enacted through bodies, enacted on bodies, distinct, and connected to existing performances of power/gender/race/
It has been painful to digest, as both a newcomer to architecture and as someone who searches for all layers of meaning in everything – “Be leery ‘bout your place in the world / you’re feeling like you’re chasing the world / you’re leaving not a trace in the world / but you’re facing the world” (wow, Solange, thank you) – to hear this violent vocabulary employed daily in Rudolph Hall. Lest we forget who this school was made for. Students, especially those with increasingly Other/non-white/non-cis/
In order for this to be constructive I would like to propose some alternative vocabularies and paradigms for describing architecture.
1) We must always acknowledge where the architecture came from, how it has changed and how it remains the same. We must always acknowledge that we, in the United States, inhabit land stolen from disrespected indigenous peoples. Alternative architectural languages will intersect with vocabularies from gender, ethnic and postcolonial studies; read up on Audre Lorde, Judith Butler, Paul Preciado, Michelle Alexander, Michael Omi, Vine Deloria, Gloria Anzaldua, Gayatri Spivak, Ta-Nehisi Coates, etc.
2) Don’t employ violent language; whether you intend to or not, you will cause and compound generational pain. We were never modern; America has never been great.
3) Think to seek out voices of architects like Freddy Mamani, Rural Studio, Auroville Earth Institute. Think to reframe the act of adding to the built environment, already rife with racist zoning and housing policies. Think to reframe indigenous architectures as being astute responses to landscapes and lifeways. Uplift the voices of people of color (ALWAYS) and, especially, non-cis architects and architectural thinkers of color.