Architecture's Scales: The Environment

Lecture series in summer semester 2022

The lecture series, organized as part of the seminar by Anna-Maria Meister and Alla Vronskaya (University of Kassel), will focus on the scales of architecture. Leading contemporary scholar or theorist of architecture will be invited to speak about their work and discuss it with the participants.

Start: 6:30 pm CETvia Zoom.

Architecture’s scales are not limited to buildings. Rather, the impacts and effects of built environments range from molecular particles to global logistics of extraction, from human bodies constructing and maintaining it to regional effects of demographic shifts or cultural appropriations. In this lecture series, we will approach these impacts and effects from the environmental perspective, focusing on material, physical scales of architecture.


6 pm CET

May 10 Design Earth (Rania Ghosn, MIT and El Hadi Jazairy, University of Michigan): The Planetary

Away from the national, the regional, and the global, the planetary has become the new dimension for architectural theory that accounts for the physical reality of the planet Earth, which humans cohabit with other species, and which they have geologically transformed within historically miniscule time.

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May 24 Ateya Khorakiwala (Columbia University): The Material

Stone, steel, concrete, bamboo, mud—architecture is made of building materials. A study of materiality can reveal the deep, geological history of the stones the building is made of or of the fossils burned during its production; technologies used at the production of building materials and the construction of the buildings, alongside their history and politics; the global networks of extraction, supply, labor, and finance that enable construction; and sometimes conflicts between the building’s image and its construction technique.

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June 7 Ayala Levin (UCLA): The Global

Building is no longer—and has never been—a purely local endeavor. From supply chains to resource extraction, from colonial settlers to cultural appropriation, creating built structures is always embedded in global economic and ecological sets of practices and consequences.

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June 21 Andres Jacque (Columbia University and Office for Political Innovation): The Object

Objects not only make up what we might call architecture, they re-calibrate how we see the built environments—quite literally. In Andres Jacque’s work on ultra-clear glass and its use in luxury apartment buildings, he untangles the connections between a material object, financial networks and the city.

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June 28 Meredith Tenhoor (Pratt Institute) and Jessica Varner (USC): The Molecular

The built environment is made of stuff, and that stuff is again made of smaller stuff: particles, chemical compounds, and molecules. Be it paints, treatments, coatings or toxic ingredients of building material, the molecular scale is by no means innocent; in fact, the chain events triggered by toxics cross all scales from environmental pollution to reconstruction.

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July 5 Dalal Alsayer (Kuwait University) and Megan Eardley (Princeton University): The Urban

The Anthropocene has changed our relationship with cities. It subverted traditional, human-centric notions of time and scale, juxtaposing them to geological, infinitely greater ways of understanding the city and of the relationship between the city and the planet.

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