Re-imagining political architecture: settings as political actors
Ignacio Farias (Humboldt University of Berlin)
Gonzalo Correa (Universidad de la República)
Paper short abstract:
Based on a sketch design seminar, we discuss how students' proposals for a parliament of things propose different ways of imagining what political settings could do. We identified five architectural principles that challenge STS and ANT to engage with the question of what a good parliament could be.
Paper long abstract:
This article is based on a sketch design seminar with architecture students, in which we asked them to design a space for hosting a highly heterogeneous set of actors involved in an imaginary socio-environmental controversy, as well all the things that sustained each of their different claims. The controversy involved a factory, a polluted river, dead birds, vegetables with bad taste, mothers concerned about the health of their children, fathers working at the factory, scientists, activists and so on. We argued that whereas parliaments as building types offered a very good architectural solution to an old political problem, namely, the representation of a nation, they were inadequate for our controversy. Students were invited to re-imagine political architecture. Students' propositions were not just very diverse, but also problematic in all sort of ways. Thus, our pedagogical experiment could be read as suggesting that 'parliament of things' or 'hybrid forums' should be primarily thought in procedural terms. Or that, as Marres has advocated, in order to understand techno-scientific issues, we need to explore other non-public sites of material participation, such as the home, the office or the bus. But, and this is the main insight from our experiment, at least in some of the students' projects, we could identify architectural operations that suggested different ways of imagining what political settings could do. We identified five such principles that challenge STS and ANT to engage with the question of what a good parliament could be.
Doing theory by other means: how does architectural production challenge STS and ANT