7 November 2023

A Silent Manifesto:
Japan Reconciling Disaster
in the Field

Tokyo Institute of Technology

Respondent: Tamotsu Ito, Nagoya Zokei University

Cases of Post-Crisis Architectural Fieldwork - Guidebooks (1910s-1990s)
Usually, surveying the site where an architectural project will take place is part of standard practice in architectural education. Nonetheless it serves as a means to an end - the understanding of the site conditions and surrounding contexts to consider towards architectural design decisions.
This presentation shows the potential of architectural fieldwork as discourse in dynamically changing urban contexts. Tokyo in particular, due to it being an exemplary case of urban transformations due to social, cultural and economic restructuring on the one hand, and natural disaster on the other, has provided the foreground for architectural fieldwork to evolve to be a vigorous practice - a standalone project. I trace cases of 20th century fieldwork that emerged directly after such ‘transformative stressors’.
        - Firstly, my research looks into how Architects paired their technical skills such as drawing and model making with urban ethnography and critical commentary.
        - Secondly, I explore the distinct character of such architectural fieldworks through the lens of ‘curation as care’: The fieldworks’ providing ‘curations of Tokyo’ - selected urban artifacts - as important ‘guides’ in helping navigate the otherwise chaotic aspects of the emerging metropolis.
        - Thirdly, I investigate the role of such works as social practices: how Japanese architects have used architectural media to talk about the emergence of new relationships between architectural values and what I term the ‘contemporary vernacular’ during social change, to inform the adopting of a moral stance for architects in times of societal shifts.
        In conclusion, by examining Japan’s unique methodology of fieldwork in the interplay between architecture and societal shifts, especially post-crisis, I speculate on expanded ‘response-abilities’ of the architect's role in the Anthropocene that call for architectural knowledge production coming from observation of real-world needs.


‘The Battle for Wheat’:
A Process of Reordering and Intensification
in Spanish Grain Agriculture

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Respondent: María González Pendás, Cornell University

  From 1939 onwards, during the Francoist autarchic period, a major industrialization process was developed in Spain. The main objective was to exploit the territory through the location, extraction, reorganization, optimization, and exploitation of the country’s natural resources, trying to ensure their maximum performance to produce goods and energy. As a result, the landscape was subject to a series of radical transformations defining vast territorial structures and configuring functional and social environments. Energy, water, mining, quarrying, oil extraction, agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing, are some of the sectors in which important exploitations were carried out, along with a full constructions and associated services chain that gave rise to the configuration of large multi-scale productive territorial systems.
        In this context, the case of the reorganization and intensification of the grain sector is particularly significant. In a period of barely 20 years, Spain underwent a process of reordering and intensification associated with this sector, which resulted in the total transformation of the physical, sociocultural and administrative structure of its producing landscape. Considering this process as a practice of design and spatial re-planning of the territory, the first stage of this contribution will delve on the reordering of the sector carried out through an intense state intervention in the whole process of production, distribution and consumption of grains. This analysis will be followed by the one referring to a second stage of intervention based on the implementation of multiple measures for the intensification of production. Approached from an anthropogenic perspective of instrumentalisation of the natural environment, this whole process would lead to the total transformation of the biophysical and socio-economic components of its cereal producing landscape.

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