Architecture + Philosophy research seminar, ResArc, Sweden: Dr Hélène Frichot, Critical Studies in Architecture, KTH Stockholm


the concrete frame – a model of economy

by helenawesterlind

diagram copy

If the success of an architectural typology can be defined merely by its reproducibility the concrete structural frame must be regarded as the most successful example of architecture as an industrial process. It is a global phenomena that appears in endless variation based on a few generalised design principles and has become “the most recognisable –the most fundamental –project of twentieth-century”.

Adrian Forty has pointed out that the introduction of concrete as a building material, not only, changed the economics of construction, but that it also has affected the entire composition of the building industry by shifting the balance from skilled craft labour to unskilled labour. As an alternative to traditional construction that was dependent on expensive skilled craft labour, concrete offered the possibility of cheaper construction by sidestepping the traditional trades, and breaking their monopoly over construction. “There are good grounds for saying that the phenomenal success of concrete in advanced economies where wages are high has had as much to do with this aspect of concrete as with any constructional advantages”.

It is against this background of ‘economy of labour’ that the phenomenal success of the concrete frame typology can begin to be understood–as yet another consequence of the capitalist demand for more cost-efficient construction. The execution of reinforced concrete as a structural frame enabled the pursuit of a ‘structural economy’ that promised even greater radical reductions in material, time and labour.

The conceptual basis for the model was provided by Le Corbusier, when he in 1915 tried to patent, but failed, his Domino design for a simple post and slap reinforced concrete structure. The scheme represented a new method of construction that promised a rapid an economical way of producing mass housing as a solution to the post-war rebuilding problem after WW1. The Domino scheme was a continuation and radicalisation of existing standardized reinforced concrete systems such as the Hennebique system. Even though Le Corbusier’s project was never realised in its pure form, and is widely acknowledged to not be fully resolved technically, the project became extremely influential as a concept of an economical model for housing that anticipated the industrialisation of construction.

to be cont…


by hannesfrykholmuma


Heterogenesis is the process in which diversification and unification can happen parallel. Different systems and scales need to be transgressed not reduced in its meaning through homogenization. The process allows different scales in which we exist to be related to each in a committed struggle. To create a space where all of these different aspects can be allowed (without a reduction of meaning) is to engage in a process of heterogenesis. That is for example, to address the environmental crisis of the planet and at the same time consider the emancipation of women on a singular level.

Naive Methodology

by hannesfrykholmuma

Naive Methodology

A naive methodology is the act of forgetting our preconception of what are experiencing. It hopes for an unreading of the world we presume to know. It allows us to become lighter, and float aimlessly on top of existing knowledge. It’s a calculated approach that requires intensive reading prior to happening.



by olasvenle

Philosophical concept developed by Deleuze and Guattari. Grouping of parts in networks, constituting a composite, if only for ever such a short timespan. Assemblages constitute all things around us as well as ourselves. The parts entering into relation with each other can be physical objects, events, signs etc. The relations between the parts of the composite are indefinite and indeterminate.

Moment of Naivete

by helenawesterlind

What is the human fascination (fetishization) with objects?

The concept of “moment of naivete” as described by Bennett seems to suggest that a receptive mood, a “moment of naivete” is useful in the encounter with an object in order to experience materiality beyond humanity. The concept stresses that objects are not solely products of human agency, not merely socially constituted objects but also suggest a separable “force of matter”. It implies a ”flatness” without a set hierarchy and a breaking down of the dichotomy between human and nonhuman actors.


by hannesfrykholmuma

Components of Subjectification

A component is a force that in conjunction with other elements generates subjectivities. Because these components are in a state of constant change, subjectivities are never permanently fixed. Examples of components that create these subjectivities are language, architecture, beliefs, national identities, passing of time, jewelry. To critically reconsider what different components do is also to think about new kinds of subjectivity. For example in what way are different dominating components creating the mode of life within the existing family?


Onto-story, naiveté, thing power

by bojanboric

“A materialism like mine… fleshes out an ontological imaginary of things and their powers”. Jane Bennett


 “It’s a type of writing….that models the world as actor networks, assemblages or ecologies.” (Cloud/land – An Onto-story, Julian Yates)

 Is the ANT and onto-story purely conceptualizing things that we encounter through projecting categories, relations, labels, concepts onto reality in order to make sense of the world?

Naive realism

“I argue that projecting a moment of naive realism into one’s political theory may foster greater ethical appreciation of thing power.” (does this relate to the notion of “methodological naivité”?)

Lack of preconceived notion opens possibilities beyond determinism.

Naiveté according dictionary also has negative connotations such as lack of wisdom and judgment

Is the aim of naïve realism to counteract the ontological determinism?


 ‘Picture an ontological field without any unequivocal demarcations between human, animal, vegetable, and mineral,’ she writes, ‘all forces and flows (materialities) are or can become lively, affective, and signaling.” (thing-power)

“Thing power materialism is a speculative onto-story, a rather presumptions attempt to depict non-humanity that flows around but also through humans.”

 Artificial Intelligence? The Turing test is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human.

What is the line between human and non-human? Is this question even relevant if we accept that “all forces and flows (materialities) are or can become lively, affective, and signaling”.


“The Skin I live In” Human body imprisoned by an artificial skin

“Ex_Machina” (The Turing Test) Almost looks like human but also interacts as human.

“Her” Technological Devices that have emotions, they look like machines but you feel the sense of humanity through interaction with them.

Thanks!   Eva and Bojan

Sarah and Bob give advice; the sun gets too much

by helenjrr

I open my eyes. An hour has passed and I’m still on the lawn, but now right in the middle of triangular patch of shadow – the errant turret of a faux-Gothic university building has come between the late summer sun and the page of my book, which I am only pretending to read anyway. I rouse myself to move out of the shade, spotting a few familiar faces on the western side of the lawn. As usual, Sarah and Bob preside over a gathering of architecture students, their latest batch of second-year groupies. Sarah and Bob have a band, called The Doppler Effect, which has somehow managed to bridge the otherwise impossible rift between the digital design kids’ penchant for electronica and the depressed hipster ballads of the “politically engaged” clique. At the feet of Sarah and Bob, an unofficial truce reigns and the otherwise oppressive mood of the heavily factionalized architecture school lifts considerably. The duo exude a different atmosphere, a disinterested brand of conviviality that rubs off on everyone in their vicinity and gently blunts even the sharpest of daggers.

“Hey, Sarah,” I say, throwing my bag down next to them. As a doctoral student, I have some privileges when it comes to seating arrangements on the lawn. “What’s up?”

“Not much,” she answers nonchalantly. Bob nods in greeting.

“Just had to get out of there” – she gestures at the steel-clad building behind us – “for a bit. I mean, seriously, do you ever feel like you’ve already heard the same opinions expressed by the same people somewhere or other, in the same way, with the same words, turn of phrases and gestures? I’m over it. You know: this nascent mix of a critical, neo-Marxism with a celebration of the vernacular or everyday? What is this, 1984?”

Bob murmurs in agreement, and checks his phone, an object adorned with glittery stickers that somehow impress me despite their deliberate irony. It’s always like that with him.

“1984 was probably worse, Sass,” Bob mutters.

“Bullshit. 1984, like Perspecta 21-1984, has got nothing on this! Now, they’re” – again, Sarah waves at the architecture building – “basically implying that all architecture automatically occupies a de facto critical position. That our work is always situated in some kind of in-between.” The last word is extended disdainfully. “Culture and form. Kitsch and avant-garde. Objecthood and art…”

“… Capitalist development and design,” Bob finishes for her, pointing with a yet unlit cigarette towards the copy of Architecture and Utopia that I realise I’m still holding. I shove it back in my bag, secretly glad that I won’t have to discuss that with these guys, after the tussle with Isabelle earlier.

“Actually, I just had coffee with Isabelle.” I throw the statement into the ring, hoping that the two of them might be able to shed some light on my inner confusion. Their discussions were seductive in that way: as if just by talking to them, torturous ethical dilemmas could be sucked up and then spat out, like poison from a snake-bite. And after such operations, it almost felt like – here, I catch myself mimicking the Dutch accent of their all-time hero, the inimitable Koolhaas himself – we could all just live happily ever after, making fantastic architecture. I needed a bit of that right now.

“Oh yeah?” Sarah seems interested in the fact that Isabelle had finally surfaced on campus. We’d heard rumours for weeks that she would be guesting in one of the studios.

“Yeah. I mean, I know you guys think the critical has hit a dead end, and I can agree with you to some extent, but this ecology of practices stuff? I’m not so sure about it.” The two of them seem less bored than usual, so I continue.

“The idea that rather than illuminating a situation, rather than emancipating people, we’re rather to dedicate our time to constructing (inevitably partial) relations between practices, and then that we are to celebrate those relations as a ‘cosmic event’? I don’t know, it’s pretty damn close to relational aesthetics for me, and you both know my views about,” I drop my voice to a whisper so as not to be overheard by the French contingent of The Doppler Effect’s fanbase, “Nicolas.”

“Oh God, not the Nicolas thing again! You should never have become friends with Claire, babe. I told you.” I consider myself reprimanded. “But seriously,” Bob continues, “I don’t understand why you should have a problem with Isabelle or Nicolas – I mean, you all pretty much agree that disciplinarity needs to be directed against the negative reduction of qualitative experience to quantification, right?” I want to refute this, because I’ve never really been into the whole Situationist-inspired argument for altering practices. But I save it, wanting to hear his conclusion.

“What Sarah and I are saying is forget reification: disciplinarity needs to be directed towards the possibility of emergence. If that happens, serial accumulation can itself result in the production of new qualities. The Doppler.”

Sarah, adopting a more conciliatory tone, finishes. “Ultimately, we’re all in the game of eliciting particular forms of behavior in particular multiplicities, right? We’re all into multiplying contingencies, projecting forward alternative arrangements and scenarios? I mean, in that sense, we’re all post-critical.”

“Exactly!” I yell, frustrated now and speaking far too loudly for the languid atmosphere of the western part of the lawn.

I love these guys, but I really have to get out of the sun.


by evaminoura


Human limits?

by annabraideeriksson

Spatiality / Cluster 7


Distance is a major variable in society’s development


Small distances

In the first half of 20th century the city was a cluster of individuals mostly living and working within a limited area, developing a network of social relations also within this limited area. Daily life was often characterized of short distances both for work and purchase. Social network, relatives and friends often lived nearby. The near neighborhood was practicing social control; modeling values, norms and regulations. Meaning the closest district being a controlled, physical space. The physically lived world was a fairly concentrated district/city practicing social control.




Larger distances

Urbanisation of today means people moving to live and work in the larger cities or metropoles. This means that more people live in the cities. Today also people socialising not necessarily lives in the same area, people are more spread out, commuting can mean travelling or contacts via networks. Social control, meaning knowing Your closest neighbors, is reduced. The social network, relatives and friends, place for work and the service we employ, conducts a number of physically spread out islands requiring travelling. The physically lived world is a spread out archipelago with little social control.



Unlimited distances?

With network techniques continues developing, daily life’s of many people are depending on contacts through network devices. In work it dominates the communication with colleagues or consultants. In leisure time it keeps contact with friends and relatives. It sometimes is a life-style conveyer (for ex. Face book) and it also is engaged for numerous services as queries and different type of entertainment. The network, providing possibilities of an almost limitless range in many aspects also presents entries into a larger world. Through media such as films, computer games and network-groups, possibilities of another reality can come closer and even sometimes dominate over what is the real, lived situation. Are we passing into hyperreality? The physically lived world might be without attendance, lacking social control.

Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins.



Reflection: The further distance we can span the more fractionate becomes our physically lived space and control is no longer on a local bases but maintained elsewhere.