Accepted paper:

Worlds pre-broken


Alberto Corsin Jimenez (Spanish National Research Council (CSIC))

Paper short abstract:

An ethnographic exploration of the experimental and infra-ontological dimensions of open-source architectural work.

Paper long abstract:

In their recent manifesto for open-source architecture, Matthew Fuller and Usman Haque have observed that open-source designs are always already 'pre-broken' (Urban Versioning System 1.0, 2008, 30) because they must incorporate at the very root of their design a permanent capacity for deconstruction and re-assembling. These designs are therefore never quite objects, nor models or exemplars, nor representations. They fare rather as 'prototypes' whose very condition is to hold the world open as a provisional and experimental infra-ontology: where the immanent sources of materiality, symbolism and sociality are scrutinized and opened such that they may permanently de-sign and dis-place the semiosis of world-making. In this paper I present work I have been carrying out with open-source architectural collectives in Madrid. Unlike traditional infrastructural projects, where design and standardisation are generally 'black-bloxed', here architects confront head-on the challenge of 'white-boxing' their interventions: from the moment of sourcing the project's materials, to their visual and technical documentation, or the process of auto-construction with user-communities, these projects inscribe architecture with ontological instability. They are infrastructures that make room for fragility, ephemerality and intimacy within. The paper offers an ethnographic account of some of these projects, and explores the conceptual and political challenges that open up when inhabiting worlds pre-broken.

panel IP02
Intimacies of infrastructure