Conceptual cluster 3: Relations and Agency

by amorru

Conceptual cluster 3: Relations and Agency

The question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from that of what kind of social ties, relationship to nature, lifestyles, technologies and aesthetic values we desire. The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city. (D. Harvey – ‘The right to the city’)

The neoliberal trend of possessive individualism rests in the ethical canvas of architects…… No wait, I don’t want to be an architect, I want to be a spatial agent. Yes, that’s it! An agent that brings back collective forms of action, of relating, of socialization, of ecological welfare, of awareness, of belonging, of urban narratives and dialogues that promote relational space.……. An agent? Is this a type of spokesperson? Someone who speaks on the behalf of space, species and inhabitants? The above parameters cannot be controlled, they cannot be designed directly on paper, but rather, perhaps they emerge through the act of engagement between space and agent. From the ‘spatial agent’s’ involvement which begins as initiator, to user and co-manager, and then to observer and advisor for self-managed projects (D.Petrescu- ‘Relationscapes: mapping agencies of relational practice in architecture’). Empowering entities that have the ability to become self-organising, where all agents gradually take collective responsibility to become co-creators of the cityspace not left only in the hands of ‘professionals’. Is this a utopian vision of active and participatory urban spaces? Tell me. On a side note here, and reference to my project, I envision that ‘foodscapes’ (food-related places in cities where food is produced, consumed, traded, and distributed) could become one such acupuncture satellites. These ‘scapes’ can cater to the needs of the neighbourhood but only through becoming relational. I will hold onto this thought as I progress in the project.
Do I detect a changing role of the ‘architect’, or changing combination of our skills. This role becomes a creative agency in itself, one that requires context and inhabitants as collaborators. I hereby relinquish authority and individual hold onto fixed and certain knowledge which I have gained till now. I lend this beautifully phrased combination of words from authors Awan, Schneider and Till in ‘Spatial Agency-other ways of doing architecture.’
This brings me back to the opening quote; by changing ourselves, we can change the city. We can alter the way in which we use the city by not offering only platters of capitalism and its traps, but empowering inhabitants as co-creators of their urban lifestyles. It seems to be plausible, difficult certainly….. time, patience, delicate relationality, sensitivity to time and space. Under these circumstances we can reach what Harvey refers to as the ‘ideals of urban identity, citizenship and belonging.’
My adventure lies in the design language of such spaces. How will it be taught, practiced, written about, emphasized?