Sites of Consumption: Case Studies on the Commodification of Architecture, Urban Space, and Culture

Now we are left in a world without urbanism, only architecture. The neatness of architecture is its seduction; it defines, excludes, limits, separates from the \”rest\”. (Rem Koolhaas, Whatever happened to Urbanism? 1994)What is the \”rest\”? Architecture can neither be separated from the city nor from the economic cycles shaping urban development under capitalism. Capitalism has inflicted a series of \”shocks\” upon the urban condition. These forces influence both the architectural object and the architectural profession. Metropolitan architecture can thus be read in terms of subjectivities and narratives stimulated by capitalism. The shock moment of the urban condition can be discussed both in contemporary and in historical terms: In an attempt to systematize urban space by embracing the logics of classic Taylorization, modernist avantgardes situated design in a political, economic and technological infrastructure. In advanced capitalism however, urban development cycles, modes of production and patterns of consumption have eschewed the logic of planning. This shift has led recent architectural practises to conceptionally register the fluid dynamics of postfordist accumulation that now condition the urban condition as well as the contemporary experience economy.objectives:Sites of Consumption frames architecture as a practice and discourse that is inscribed in a cultural, political and economic framework. In order to understand the interaction of the architectural profession and the urban condition, the course addresses the relationships between cities and architectural objects and, in particular, the \”seduction\” of changing publics by designers. Crucial for the seminar\’s discursive setting is the engagement with the perspective offered by authors from the fields of urban/cultural sociology and cultural history/theory.In order to articulate concepts of \”modern\” and \”postmodern\” space, Sites of Consumption situates architecture in the force-field of consumption, hypertrophy and obsolescence. We will discuss the fascination, opportunism, love-hate relationships developed by architectural avantgardes toward the institutional and corporate forces that shape cities. We will also ask in how far avantgarde rhetoric has itself become a commodity within the contemporary urban condition. We will do this by critically expanding the term of consumption in its metaphorical sense. In turn, this allows us to investigate the commodification of architecture, urban space and culture as a system of production.requirements/structure: Basic knowledge of history of urbanism and of 20th century/contemporary architecture are required. Lectures and assigned readings will constitute guideline throughout semester. Assigned texts will be starting point for discussions. Student involvement consists in presentation of case studies investigating urban sites and typologies of consumption. Case studies will draw from theoretical-critical readings, lectures and film screenings as an active critical framework. Based upon each presentation, and taking seminar readings and discussions into account, participants will submit a term paper.