This is the first Research Conference of the academic year 2022/23. All students and staff of the RCA and candidates interested in the Postgraduate Research Programme are warmly invited to join in person and online.
The cultural and social history of autonomous vehicles (AV) has created expectations of the technology that extend beyond mere automation to a magical system capable of relieving today’s congested, accident-prone system. Connected autonomous renewable energy vehicles (CAREV) should be designed to integrate with a city and its inhabitants as a choreographed logistical and designed system. Such an approach requires a systemic environmental framework to set the principles along which all stakeholders in the transport and urban sectors can respond systemically to benefit the city and its inhabitants. My research argues that changing fleets to autonomous vehicles creates opportunities for a more spatially just outcome in the use of the public realm through various means, including vehicle redesign. A change in the fleet to narrower vehicles is demonstrated in this research to improve environmental justice by redistributing lane width uses. The benefits of narrower vehicles multiply the environmental benefits and increase active transport networks within a flexible system that is resilient.
Recording traces of interior spatiality and observing daily routines raises the question of where this documentation belongs among archival materials. Bruno Queysanne argued that only buildings (and not drawings) can adequately document the history of the experience of built space, while Edward Robbins states that architectural drawings have a social use.
Architecture is a discipline that employs a range of creative practice-based methods, starting with drawings, which can be used to map how domesticity has been represented and organised and continues to be experienced. There have been advancements in research-driven design in all sectors of interior design, but residential design is an under-considered area. As C. J. Hewlett wrote in 1985, interior design is more than the arrangement of objects; it also includes aspirations, identities and experiences. These are unmeasurable factors. The idea of home transcends familiar academic boundaries, in order to do justice to its significance (Hollows 2008).
So what does this material look like, and how can it be accessed? The collection would negotiate between one that validates collective culture and a subjective version of Emirati culture through everyday life and lived experience. This presentation discusses the role of the collection for its various stakeholders.
This project puts forward the representation of the Zoige plateau under constant interventions from the Chinese government and the indigenous. The Zoige plateau stores 45% of the Yellow River's water during the dry season, and the Zoige Marsh is China's largest plateau marsh area, covering nearly 3 million hectares, and containing 3 billion cubic meters of peat. Beginning in the 1950s, the Zoige Plateau was constantly transformed.
The plateau itself imposed tremendous reforms that are totally different from the traditions of the indigenous, such as a series of land reforms from the 1950s, digging ditches from the 1960s, large-scale infrastructure construction and livestock industry of the ‘Open up the West’ campaign from 2000, Ecological Compensation from 2008, the Housing Project for herders from 2009 and so forth. All these political-based changes not only show effects produced by the government but also imply and strengthen the changeless sovereignty and hierarchy. Whether the government's goal is to control the locals and their territory or otherwise, all of these interventions are around the land, more precisely, are reflected in the reconstruction of the plateau through representations (semantics, textbooks, slogan, propaganda, advertisement of online store, definition and symbol of the modern and the backward, consumerism and market, and so on).
Changing the representation of the plateau from the ‘home’, less-developed region, and now to the resource and commodity, the discourse of the plateau is not taken hold by itself or its ‘children’ – the local residents, but was manipulated by politics. It is certain that the environment is deteriorating although the government informs people of the opposite result through the media or ‘reasonable’ research. Through representations, such as propaganda and scientific evidence, they disaggregate responsibility and convince people that the cause of environmental issues is climate change and local production methods. And then they adopt a series of policies to deal with those problems to shape their responsible figure, engendering loyalty and appreciation.
The plateau is always represented by ‘others’, but who speaks for the plateau? What role can representation play in speaking for the plateau and confronting the mainstream development theory? This project will around the representation of the Zoige plateau which is always entangled by politics, economy, social relations, ecology and cultures, and this process also constructs changing modes of coexistence.
This paper considers the entanglements between the surface of the image and the depths of the Earth. In the face of ecological disaster and extractive ruination, a heightened attention to that which is underground finds a parallel in the centrality of the ‘deep’ in relation to AI systems and processes of automated perception such as deep learning, machine vision and data mining. The paradigm of depth extends from geology to the domain of machine cognition, yet this extension is not purely metaphorical: it is precisely through ‘deep’ ways of sensing and knowing that humans can see, and further excavate, the depths of the Earth.
Departing from an analysis of the colonial genealogies of geology and image-making, I argue that the contemporary entanglement of extraction and vision processes cannot be understood without a critical examination of the historical co-production of the imperial scopic and geological imaginations. To this aim, this paper discusses the entwinement between two paradigmatic cases corresponding, respectively, to the beginning and the end of the Spanish Empire: i) the chief moment of primitive accumulation around the imperial mass-scale extraction of silver in Potosí in present-day Bolivia, and ii) the technological and aesthetic apparatus supporting the contemporary civic efforts to render visible and excavate the mass graves of tens of thousands victims of Francoist repression in the Spanish state. Through a series of methodological considerations and notes from ongoing fieldwork, this paper explores the ways in which an entangled understanding of vision and extraction contributes to resolving the dichotomies of surface and depth, representation and operation, visibility and invisibility.
This paper will reflect on my recent installation “IUSTITIA REGNORUM FUNDAMENTUM, or: Justice Is the Foundation of Reign/Power/Control”, currently being exhibited at the 59th October Salon in Belgrade (20 October – 4 December 2022). It is conceived as part of the artist-in-focus section of the Salon, titled “How on Earth?”, presenting recent archival research and artistic experiments in relation to the role of power and representation in the constitution of a state after an upheaval caused by war. Following the ideas of Gottfried Semper on the attempted mathematisation of architecture, the urban plans for the unfinished Imperial Forum in Vienna provide the framework for an exploration of layers of historical events that manifest themselves in relation to the architectural objects encountered on the site. Starting from a series of photographs that show a part of Heldenplatz, the main square of the imperial Hofburg complex in Vienna, at the end of World War II, this talk will follow the figure of Prince Eugene of Savoy. Enshrined in a statue on Heldenplatz as one of two heroes on horseback, the interpretation and recasting of the mythology of Prince Eugene from the Habsburg Empire to the era of National Socialism and into the 1990s reveals a changing ideology of representation. This talk traces the violence that has shaped post-war Austria from its imperial, colonial and fascist past to the present.
This paper looks into three physical layers of the native Valdivian Temperate Forest in southern Chile between latitudes 37° and 48° and the monoculture plantations of Pinus radiata and Eucalyptus globulus and nitens that have been transforming that landscape between the Andes and the western coastal mountain ranges, as a comment on ways of representing and understanding virgin and productive landscapes.
The first of three layers is the mineral substrate beneath the soil that is shared by both the native forest and the monoculture plantations. Here, a look is given into the voyage of the fossilised tree specimens that Charles Darwin brought from Chile to the UK on the HMS Beagle in 1836 on the one hand, and the silica-based minerals here that allow for the tree to photosynthesise on the other.
The second layer is a comparative observation of the soil in native forests and in monoculture plantations, with an inspection of the visible states of each. This includes the condition visible with the naked eye, including the mineral, vegetal and animal components that make up the soil beneath the forest understorey, and their chemical condition as seen in microscopic images, as analysed in current scientific research into the long-term effects of monoculture plantations on the soil, mycelium and fungi that form the basic network of the forest.
The third layer considers the forest and the plantation at eye level, looking into the trunk of the tree. The Pinus radiata and Eucalyptus globulus and nitens follow a heavily mechanised production regime in which the species are genetically modified, periodically stripped and managed in order to comply with the logic of efficiency in demand satisfaction, packaging and exportation within an international market. By comparison, there is a study of the notebooks kept by the explorer and painter Marianne North on her visit to Chile in 1885 and by naturalist John Muir on his visit in 1911, and their effect on the valuing of the ancient species of this forest.
Saloua Raouda Choucair was an artist born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1916, where she passed away in 2017, aged 101. Studies in the natural sciences, early experiences working in the humanities, and mentorship by the Egyptian artist Mustafa Farrukh established a progressive, outspokenly intellectual and creative perspective expressed through the making of objects and writing. During a formal study of art in Paris in 1948–1951, she experimented with geometric abstraction through the fracturing of space.
In 1951 Choucair returned to Beirut and transitioned from painting to sculpture. She continued to work there for the duration of her active career until the mid-1990s. She experimented in making tangible domestic and sculptural forms for individual and collective engagement, working in painting, textiles, furniture, jewellery, architecture and landscape design. Her long-term commitment to sculpture produced a generative series of abstract, modernist forms in stone, wood, bronze, aluminium, brass and Plexiglas.
Bench is a public artwork first conceived by Choucair in 1969–1971. It is installed in two locations: Beirut, Lebanon, and Doha, Qatar. This presentation shares an analysis of both works, looking at how the social, political and cultural context of production and installation implicated each of these sculptures’ form, function and historical legacy within Choucair’s oeuvre.
In this presentation, Maria will briefly introduce the first chapter of her thesis, which constructs a historical genealogy of two a priori conceptions of how production and life are orchestrated in space, in the context of California and its early colonial history. These spatial models are put forward as critical mechanisms to explore the connection between architecture and contemporary forms of labour whose relation, the thesis argues, finds a critical paradigm in the recently completed headquarters of three of the dominant high-tech corporations of our time, Apple, Google (now under parent company Alphabet) and Facebook (recently rebranded as Meta).
These two spatial models seem spatially opposed. On the one hand, buildings that are designed around a centralised internal void – patios, quads and courtyards, but also atria and lawns – have been central to the organisation of the most ancient domestic, religious, civic and military compounds, as well as the most exclusive corporate architectures of our time. On the other hand, there lies the possibility of an open vacant field to colonise, whose spatial index is not easily recognised as architectural, but is rather an endless interior, all floor and ceilings, whose foremost index is the ‘platform’ of a placer mining site, the generic expanse of a city of garages, strip malls and office parks, but also the reconfigurable open plan of the projects we study.
What is at stake in their tension and articulation is the constitution, stoking and capturing of a highly productive labour subjectivity which, although it is given many names, the thesis describes as a pioneer, as a seemingly independent individual who continually strives to be the ‘founder’ of a new world, but who instead is the primary agent ensuring that ultimately no new worlds emerge.
In 1938, the Turkish government sent a young architect, Ali Saim Ülgen, to Germany with the aim of bringing knowledge about conservation techniques to Turkey, which was undergoing modernisation. After spending a year in Germany, Ülgen moved to France and participated in many restorations, including that of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Due to the outbreak of World War II in 1940, he returned to Turkey, where he became one of the central figures applying new conservation policies to cultural institutions.
Prior to having extensive responsibilities in government departments, Ülgen wrote the first book on historic preservation in republican Turkey, namely Conservation and Restoration of Monuments [Anıtların Korunması ve Onarılması]. In this book, Ülgen gave a detailed explanation of the norms, laws and implementation of conservation in European countries (France, Germany, Austria, England, Italy and Spain), thanks to his experience abroad. He presented a lengthy to-do list in order to improve the field of conservation in Turkey as well as to criticise existing approaches and restorations. He not only drew a holistic understanding of what conservation was in those countries, but also raised outdated and controversial arguments regarding the spirit of the times.
This paper addresses Ülgen’s book as it demonstrates how Eurocentric knowledge about conservation was being transported to Turkey. In this regard, the arguments in the book are analysed by making comparisons between European knowledge and Ülgen’s understanding in order to discuss reshaping the discourse around conservation in Turkey. This paper focuses on archival materials that were part of his professional life.
This paper opens up the root of my urgent research. Its core of auto-ethnographic histories of predominately working-class female voices and alternative masculinities aims to reimagine identities through object-making and storytelling in predominately masculine and patriarchal spaces.
It is through understanding these entangled histories and by viewing object-making as a vessel of memory that this first paper explores a key question in my work on the role of the mother as the original artist: documenting the domestic production of working-class female migrants and reimagining it as occupying space in cultural institutions, in order to open up a new understanding of migrants’ lives. This research is urgent activism, telling hidden stories that are not told.
I start with the case study of my mother’s practice to explore the dualities and the search for purpose and belonging in migrants’ lives. Our Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, recently said we are flooded with migrants; nearly 40,000 have arrived at our borders this year. My mother came to the UK in the 1970s, a decade after Braverman’s parents, in the same decade that Priti Patel’s parents migrated here. It’s these class-based neoliberal trajectories of those who become guardians of the system that wouldn’t recognise such storytelling as artistic production. The question is: Can an illiterate working-class woman be recognised as an artist?
The Programme's Elevator Pitch!
Please view the programme's elevator pitch for an overview.
Please find information on the programme curriculum, application rounds and fees.
Please consult the Royal College of Art's application portal:
Dr. Ines Weizman
Head of PhD Programme
School of Architecture
Royal College of Art
Kensington Gore, London
School of Architecture, Royal College of Art
Postgraduate Research (PGR) Programme