Critical Practice is an interdisciplinary architectural platform founded by Love Di Marco, Tobias Hentzer Dausgaard and Arya Arabshahi in 2018. It is dedicated to finding common ground among visionary practices, radical pedagogies and external forces that shape the architectural profession today. The collective operates out of London, Brussels and Copenhagen, where the three founders reside after having initiated their collaborations at the Architectural Association in 2015.
A guerilla curation collaboration
By Critical Practice and Unfolding Pavilion
The contribution we ask you to produce is intended to act as a takeaway manifesto, an actionable rulebook that readers can learn from.
— Critical Practice
The Unfolding Pavilion is a curatorial project looking for innovative ways to organise temporary exhibitions inside previously inaccessible but architecturally significant buildings. On each occasion the Unfolding Pavilion features a different theme inspired by the space it occupies, by means of commissioned original works that react to the exhibition space and to its wider cultural-historic background. The Unfolding Pavilion team currently comprises: Daniel Tudor Munteanu, Davide Tommaso Ferrando, Sara Favargiotti, Magda Vieriu and Octavian Hrebenciuc.
Part of the editorial mission of the “Archifutures” field guide series is to put individuals or groups together and ask them to interact and exchange methods and approaches in the hope that their diverse experiences will spark something or lead them onto new and untried paths. So for this volume, the editors asked new FA platform fellows Unfolding Pavilion and Critical Practice to get together and come up with a set of activist guidelines for future architectural practice. We gave them 14 pages in which to curate or create an (ideally hand-drawn) pamphlet within the book in the tradition of the Squatters’ Handbook, which originated in the 1970s; something that could perhaps seed further engagement and grassroots architectural revolution. In response, the two groups, in turn, approached six practices who, in their eyes, are at the forefront when it comes to radical forms of collective engagement with architecture. The result is “Unfolding Practice” in which each practice is given a “wall” in the form of a double-page spread upon which to share strategies and tactics in the form of “takeaway manifestos”. First is a call to action for you, the reader, to contribute to this growing project.
Call for action
This is Unfolding Pavilion and Critical Practice – hello! We are contacting you as curators of Unfolding Practice: an editorial project that officially begins here. In the midst of unprecedented global crises, we are searching for alternative modes of operation for a new world. This is a call to collective action. You are an engaged practitioner.
We are reaching out to you to provide us with an honest, unpolished view of the strategies and tactics adopted by your practice in order to bend existing conventions and overcome standard constraints: the ones that limit the way in which our environments can be transformed. We are keen to hear about your radical business models, trojan horses, creative financing, self-initiated projects, guerrilla actions and the like. And we ask you to translate them into the form of replicable guidelines. The guidelines could either address your mode of practice, or they could be informed by one particular project of yours. In one way or another, the contribution we ask you to produce is intended to act as a takeaway manifesto, an actionable rulebook that readers can learn from, and eventually use to act in their own contexts.
These are some of the questions we would like you to address:
- How have you circumvented financial constraints?
- How have you bent the law to your advantage?
- Do you have a business model that we can learn from?
- What innovative procedures have you come up with to be resilient in the face of crises?
- Which tools and methods have been essential to you when taking a leap of faith while facing risks?
- What are the actionable lessons to re-enact and test in the future?
The rules of the game
- Unfolding Practice is an editorial project curated as a collective, ongoing exhibition.
- All participants have the same amount of space for their contribution.
- The assigned space is a DIN A4 sheet of white printer paper oriented in landscape format (corresponding to a spread of two vertical DIN A5 pages).
- The spread is intended as a white-box empty space, ready to host a site-specific intervention.
- Participants are invited to transform the spread in their own takeaway manifesto, filling it with content relative to the work of their practice, as explained in the call.
- Please note: we are not interested in showcase-like contributions, but in documents that reveal the back office of practices and works: we are interested in the “how” more than in the “what”.
- Besides the size and orientation of the spread, there is no limitation on the format of the contribution: hand-written texts, sketches, diagrams, photo collages, maquettes… participants are free to convey their messages as they please.
- Like in a cadavre-exquis, each contribution is autonomous but also part of a greater sequence, which begins with and will continue to expand after the publication of this chapter into a growing index.
- To join the call, send a 300 dpi scan of your DIN A4 spread to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Critical Practice and Unfolding Pavilion, 2020
A Growing Index
Arturo Franco and Ana Román [ES],
Practicing community (pp. 200–201)
The budget of the XI Bienal Española de Arquitectura y Urbanismo was partly redirected by Arturo and Ana, its curators, towards the realisation of permanent architectural works in the public spaces of a marginal neighbourhood of Asunción (Paraguay), whose inhabitants were involved in the process to the point that part of the exhibition was eventually displayed inside their homes.
Recetas Urbanas [ES],
How to build yourselves your social centre (pp. 202–203)
The realisation of a social centre in a shantytown near Madrid is one of the most recent and complex projects by Recetas Urbanas: a Spanish collective known for its experimental methods of intervention in urban space, based on self-construction processes involving the writing of “social clauses”, the hacking of existing norms, the blurring of boundaries between the legal and the illegal, the design of complex networks of collaboration and the celebration of the community-making power of beer.
Become a planetary gardener (pp. 204–205)
The landscape is a common good uniting us all, without exception. Along this line, Coloco makes the “invitation to work” an essential moment of their design method. In each project or action, Coloco establishes a relationship of continuity between scales and actors: creating favourable conditions of soil fertility, reducing waste, preserving existing biodiversity and actively engaging participants to become landscape gardeners in their own right.
Point Supreme [GR],
The poetics and practice of the marginal (pp. 206–207)
A survivor of the Greek crisis and an active player in a destabilised market, Point Supreme has developed an off-market process. By means of a catalogued collection of abandoned and out-of-fashion building elements, and by exploring forms of non-monetary exchange, the practice operates on the margins of capital.
The Crisis Baking Powder (pp. 208–209)
Crisis is not an opportunity. The Crisis Baking Powder is one from a large set that ateliermob is developing in pandemic times, to question contemporary architecture. Having worked with and represented unprivileged communities with various mediums, Atelier Mob is using recipes as a communication tactic to challenge popular attitudes.
BC Architects and Studies [BE],
Expanding Earth, a Market (pp. 210–211)
BC–AS have had a systematic influence on their peers, clients and contractors. Through an exhaustive series of workshops, lectures, publications, material production and experimentation BC–AS have gradually filled in the missing puzzle pieces of their industry and expanded the market that they are a part of.