January 31, 2023
Lightning Session

DocTalks Chairs:
Linda Stagni, ETH &
Silvia Balzan, USI Accademia di Architettura
Nina Zschocke, ETH/gta

Critical Raw Materials Unsung

Francisco Gallardo and Audrey Samson
Artists Duo

EURO⁠—VISION: Critical Raw Materials Unsung, FRAUD (Audrey Samson & Francisco Gallardo), 2021. Design and development: Liebermann Kiepe Reddemann.

FRAUD proposes a performative talk around their project EURO⁠—VISION; an inquiry into the extractive gaze of European institutions and policies. Initiated in 2018 in collaboration with Btihaj Ajana as an investigation into the collusion between border securitisation and resource management, the project examines the many entangled modes of extraction that Europe enacts on "third countries" with its Critical Raw Materials Initiative. This initiative brings into focus the covalence among international relations, trade, economic policy and border security, and forces us to understand extraction beyond the removal and displacement of minerals – to encompass policies, international treaties and regulations that impose controversial forms of stewardship of natural resources on communities. FRAUD will introduce some of the strands of research which have stemmed from resource categories such as phosphate, fish(eries), sand and carbon. Challenging how architecture modulates what is now considered a critical material with such categories helps to elucidate how these are managed as resources to be extracted, as well as how their plunder is mobilised and institutionalised. More importantly, this framework aims to enable looking beyond these practices to the possibility of thinking and doing otherwise.


A Plea for Patchy Architecture


Architecture has a modernist tradition of world-building visions that seeks to imagine the future of the planet through world-scale projects. Naturally being dependent on building materials, architectural practice is deeply entangled with industries that live from the extraction and exploitation of natural resources themselves entwined and framed by capitalist urbanization processes. “Progress felt great.... The problem is that progress stopped making sense,” writes the anthropologist Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing. Without the belief in progress, we can no longer project into a future with straightforward trajectories. In the era of the Anthropocene, the grand narratives of ceaseless progress and growth are being replaced by marginal yet multiple narratives still to be told. Subsequently, the relationship between the built and natural environment and the role of architectural practice have to be questioned.
Borrowing the term “Patchy Anthropocene” from Feral Atlas, this paper seeks to develop a concept for patchy architecture. The paper argues that the debate over the Anthropocene is able to push the field of architecture in new directions—an opportunity that should be fully embraced. Patchy architecture is about identifying uneven conditions without distinction within increasingly contaminated landscapes that have been modified by industries.
Architecture as a discipline is well equipped to analyze damaged landscapes and their structures, if it permits transdisciplinary approaches to be involved in the process. The paper looks at projects such as Devenir Universidad (Becoming University), an indigenous university in Columbia’s rainforest initiated by the artist Ursula Biemann, and the Floating University established by raumlabor, as potential alternatives in architectural building processes.


Ordinary Architecture:
Learning from the Existing


The Big Duck Ranch, Flanders, NY, US. Photo by Helena Cavalheiro, 2022

Ordinary Architecture: Learning from the Existing”is a research that began as a teaching activity and became, in 2022, my PhD research. The term “ordinary” in the title is used in the sense of “common”, “everyday”. In other words, “ordinary architecture” is that which is responsible for the very feature of our cities, and which the discipline of Architecture often proclaims as something outside its limits. This is a particularly fertile field of study in Brazil, since academic discussions are still largely focused on Modern Architecture.
In the research I have been carrying out a theoretical and practical approach to the theme, interconnecting the fields of architecture, art and anthropology.
I have been studying bibliography from the fields of theory and history of architecture, as well as art researches that approach the theme of the “ordinary” in architecture.
In the practical sphere, I have been conducting experimental field research related to the theme. Among the activities already carried out, in 2021 I taught a course at Escola da Cidade (School of Architecture and Urbanism, São Paulo), whose results are currently being edited as a publication. Another activity was a solo walk of about 40 kilometers, in which I crossed the city of Berlin from west to east, making photographic and written records. An essay on this work will be published soon in the magazine Acto & Forma, edited by the Escuela de Diseño y Arquitectura of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, and also presented in an exhibition format in the 3rd International Seminar of Architecture and Ethnography, promoted by the Universidad de Las Americas, next October, in Santiago, both in Chile.January 24, 2023
Lighting Session
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