IoA Institute of Architecture

University of Applied Arts Vienna

2016/17 Architecture or Revolution

2016/17 Architecture or Revolution

"Architecture or Revolution"

“It is a question of building which is at the root of the social unrest of today: architecture or revolution” - Le Corbusier / Vers un Architecture 1923

This year’s SLIVER lecture series “Architecture or Revolution” depicts positions to the instantiated power structures inherent to the discipline of architecture and its potentials, or its inability to respond to the ongoing global oppositional ideological developments and resulting humanitarian crisis, shifting frontiers and crisis which expresses itself within our immediate built environments.

At the beginning of the 20th century with the rise of modernism, architects were led by the optimistic belief that it was their mandate to build a better life for all humankind. In 1922 Le Corbusier wrote in “Vers un Architecture” one must invent and build an environment to prevent social and global unrest: Architecture or Revolution. Today nearly a hundred years later we must ask if the discipline has failed to engage in its power structures, and has given way to becoming a mere cog in the service industry at large. Has architecture given up on its ideological potentials for change? At the tip of global unrests, opposing ideologies, humanitarian crises, shifting frontiers we must ask what the role of the architect can be, what positions in the future we must take - in relation to the unsettled terrain of social and political domains and within the multiplicity of today’s cultural contexts.

This term sliver lecture series seeks to explore the instrumental power structure of architecture in relation to the increasingly moribund myths of the modernist instrumentalist optimism that used to drive it. In the light of recent global “revolutions” and impending catastrophes, architecture has no choice but take a position, to intervene and to act.  What instruments and modalities are available to the architect to seize the right to influence the social and political sphere?  Is this even a desired or legitimate goal at all? What are the links, either existing or to be invented, between the architect’s instruments and her politics? Has architecture ever been, and can it now become revolutionary at all?