JUST ARCHITECTURE implies an attempt to define the scope of architecture: just what is architecture, exactly? Implicit in the title is a twofold answer. On the one hand, it is an independent discipline, operating on its own terms of form, theory, representation, and typology. Just Architecture—that’s all. On the other hand, it is a dependent one, inexorably tied to broader issues of politics, social context, and environmental justice. An architecture that recognizes such ties aims to be just, ethical, truthful.
By collapsing these multiple meanings into one phrase, we aimed to distance our driving question from what is typically seen as a dichotomy. What if there is no dichotomy between “form” and “politics”? What if it’s all just architecture?
Hannah Mayer Baydoun deconstructs this dichotomy and suggests that design justice interventions occur between, not within, disciplinary silos. The “unconventional partnership” of Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman is one model; the pair advocates for a practice that takes on global conflicts through their manifestation at the urban and architectural scale. Dominiq Oti looks with new eyes at this “in-betweenness” within urban landscapes, considering ideas of reciprocity, care, and maintenance. Ben Derlan and Merrell Hambleton speculate on how such values of care might be applied to the architecture of abolition, beginning with the refusal to design prisons and culminating in radical activism.
Turning towards architectural education, Mohamad Hafez and Alex Kim challenge the assumptions that undergird architectural pedagogy; Hafez pushes back against exploitative practices that have their roots in academia, while Kim urges us to reconsider what’s “real” about the “real world” outside of it. Meanwhile, Esther Da Costa Meyer urges us to “keep one foot in the academy”—in her opinion, students do affect real change from within the university.
As current students and future practitioners, we are contending with the scope, definition, and motivation of our architectural work. These authors challenge us to question the limits of architecture and to dismantle disciplinary silos in favor of radical reciprocity.
It might seem speculative. But don’t worry, it’s just architecture.