The End of Architecture? Networked Communities, Urban Transformation and Post-capitalist Landscapes

By Nick Dunn.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Through its commoditization and acquiescence to the demands of the market, architecture has increasingly become marginalized, if not circumvented, from its role as an aid to humanity and society. It is therefore proposed that if we are to consider the future transformation of our cities, then the communities within them must be given priority as stakeholders. The legibility of on-the-ground conditions and the communication of community needs and aspirations through collective intelligence will become ever-pressing concerns as the pressure for space and amenities in our cities increases in favour of late capitalist occupation and mobility rather than as shared resource for all. If, as both Fredric Jameson (1994) and, more recently, Mark Fisher (2009) have suggested, “it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism”, then we need to fundamentally rethink the means through which we may achieve effective, adaptive and contingent political mobilization to positively alter the urban landscape. The potentially reformative power of data, ceded to the masses, may provide the necessary impetus toward a substantial restructuring of the city, but only if its systems are capable of negotiating the attendant issues of governance, antitrust policy and security measures. If we really are living in the end times of Žižek, we need to energetically and openly engage with the provision of a framework to evolve ‘intelligent terrain’ that is participatory and enabling. This paper therefore seeks to respond to the material and immaterial flows that constitute the contemporary urban condition in relation to its governance, communities and the (re)configuration of space.

Keywords: Architecture, Communities, Governance, Local, Material and Immaterial Flows, Post-capitalist Landscapes, Urbanism

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.67-75. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 248.368KB).

Prof. Nick Dunn

Principal Lecturer, Architecture, Manchester School of Architecture, Manchester, Lancashire, UK

Nick Dunn is an Author, Principal Lecturer and Director of Studies for the MArch Master of Architecture programme at the Manchester School of Architecture. He is co-director of the [Re_Map] atelier, whose research is concerned with the mapping and representation of urban networks, data and conditions. His books include, Digital Fabrication in Architecture (Laurence King, 2012) and the co-authored Urban Maps: Instruments of Narrative and Interpretation in the City (Ashgate, 2011). His primary research interests are in the fields of visualization, modelling, mapping, representation in architecture, infrastructure, post-industrial landscapes and urbanism. His work responds to the contemporary city as a series of systems, flows and processes, and is explored through experimentation and discourse addressing the nature of urban space: its perception, demarcation and appropriation.