Decolonizing Architecture: Internal colonization and the countryside

Applications deadline 20 April 2022 !

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 endeavor 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 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 are proposed as a collective project. The articulation of individual and collective research projects constitutes the outcome of the year-long course.

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.

Theme 2022-2023: Internal colonization and the countryside

In a series of texts written at the beginning of the 1920s, Antonio Gramsci depicts the so-called Italian “southern question” as a form of internal colonization, establishing a fundamental link between imperial ambitions and internal forms of colonization. Legitimized by the rhetoric of modernization, “peripheral territories” within Europe have been equally objects of internal colonization via extraction and expropriation (among them Sápmi and Ireland), forcing the local population to emigrate. The abandonment of the countryside was the natural consequence of decades of exploitation, subjugation, and migration. How do those stories of internal colonization force us to rethink contemporary migration and the countryside today?

The students will have the opportunity to travel to Sicily, Borgo Rizza, one of the new towns built by the Entity of Colonization of Sicily in 1940. Since the last year, the course has helped the local municipality to transform the abandoned town into a new civic space for local organizations and international universities. Based on an already established partnership with the local municipality of Carlentini, the students will collectively contribute to a series of interventions and discursive exhibitions with the aim to reinhabit borgo Rizza and to connect the site with other “case studies” around the world.

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 an 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 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. 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.