Decolonizing Architecture: Difficult Heritage

Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti (DAAR), Towards an entity of decolonization. Photo: Luca Capuano, 2020.

Application deadline: April 15th, 2021

Decolonizing Architecture at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm is a yearlong postmaster research-based course. The course uses the term decolonization as a critical position and conceptual frame for an architectural and artistic research practice engaged in social and political struggles. In the Decolonizing Architecture Advanced Course, we engage in a collective endeavour in experimenting with decolonial approaches. We do this work in dialogues with guests, sites, concepts, texts, and, most importantly, with each other. Course participants are eager to experiment to find a community of peers and a create a space to think together, to radically rethink trajectories and how to practice; or simply to find a way out of the non (or anti-)critical and commercial dimensions of the architectural profession.

The fundamental pedagogical approach of the course is based on the articulation of sites, concepts, and people. Each participant is asked to choose a particular site understood as a site of action and a site of knowledge. Concepts emerging from the site provide a grounded theoretical approach to the practice. Every year, a new theme and collective site is proposed as collective project. The articulation of individual and collective research project constitutes the outcome of the year long course.

The topic of this year aims to reflect and intervene in the debate regarding the architectural heritage associated with painful and violent memories. The course will focus on the rural towns built in the 1940s by the “Entity of Colonization of Sicily” during the fascist regime. These rural towns were built by the regime to “reclaim,” “modernize,” and “repopulate” the south of Italy considered “empty,” “underdeveloped,” and “backward”. The analysis of these towns will offer course participants the opportunity to problematize the persistence of today’s colonial relationship with the countryside, especially after the renewed interest in the countryside as a solution for the pandemic. Parallel to the collective research, every student is asked to research an individual case study of difficult heritage. The intersection between individual and collective research is shared with a larger public at the end of the year in a discursive exhibition. The course is organized in collaboration with the Critical Urbanism course at the University of Basel (Switzerland) and will take place in Stockholm, online, and in the former building of the “Entity of Colonization of Sicilian Latifundia” in Borgo Rizza, Municipality of Carlentini in Sicily.

Ideal candidates should be interested in the ideological and social dimensions of Architecture, and in conceptual speculations that are grounded and emerge from artistic and architectural practice. Candidates should be open to experimental forms of collective production which challenge individual authorship, and to an open-ended process oriented towards material and immaterial outcomes. Decolonizing Architecture Advanced Course offers a unique opportunity for participants to join a collective international community of practitioners interested in the social and political dimension of architecture and to receive the necessary material and intellectual support for developing a self-driven artistic and architectural practice.

The courses are led by Alessandro Petti, professor in Architecture and Social Justice in collaboration with Marie-Louise Richards, lecturer in Architecture and enriched by the contribution of advisors and invited guests.

 

Course Structure
The course is divided into two modules during one academic year. The Fall semester is divided into three mandatory blocks and the Spring semester in four mandatory blocks consisting of intensive program of seminars, lectures, studios, mentorships, collective readings, site visits and walks. Between blocks, participants are expected to independently develop their research. During the spring semester, more emphasis will be put on the production of a collective intervention and/or a discursive-exhibition.

The course benefits from being located at an art institution of higher learning with an experimental artistic research environment. The Royal The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm is a leading art institution of higher education located in Stockholm with a long artistic tradition dating back to the beginning of the 18th century. The education offers both undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Fine Arts and postgraduate studies in Architecture. At the end of the first semester it is possible for course participants to apply for university funding in order to develop their research projects and present it to a wider public during the research week. The course culminates with a discursive exhibition at the end of the year, where the artistic and architectural research developed is used as a support structure for public discussions, seminars, lectures and performances.

In order to fully benefit from the collective research atmosphere we strongly urge participants to reside in Stockholm, however if for some reason this is not possible, we ask non-resident students to attend a minimum of seven blocks and submit substitute assignments. The course will also offer field trips in Sweden and abroad. Course participants are expected to pay for part of the costs. The field trips are not mandatory and for those who are unable to take part a substitute assignment will be given.

2nd year continuation course
After the successful completion of the course, students have the opportunity to enroll in a second-year course that allows them to further develop the research project that emerged during the first year. Decolonizing Architecture Advanced Course offers a unique opportunity for participants to join a collective international community of practitioners interested in the social and political dimension of architecture and to receive the necessary material and intellectual support for developing a self-driven artistic and architectural practice.

Admission
Applicants should hold a Master Degree in art, architecture or relevant field, or else have equivalent and documented knowledge and experience. Admission is assessed on previous projects and experiences as well as a letter of motivation, that together forms the application. The letter should clearly state why the conceptual frame of the course is relevant for the applicant’s study. Ideal candidates should be interested in the ideological and social dimensions of Architecture, and in conceptual speculations and theories that are grounded and emerge from artistic and architectural practice. Candidates should be open to experimental forms of collective production which challenge individual authorship, and to an open-ended process oriented towards material and immaterial outcomes. The course requires that participants can efficiently manage independent study and production time between course blocks.

Tuition
EU/EEA citizens, Swedish residence permit holders and exchange students do not pay tuition. Scholarships are available for participants from outside the European Union. For more information contact: Anneli Hovberger Anneli.Hovberger@kkh.se.

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The Afterlife of Fascist Colonial Architecture. A Critical Manifesto
by Emilio Distretti and Alessandro Petti

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Deadline application is April 15th, 2021

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