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anarchist architecture

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vicent
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Jan 31 2014 17:41
anarchist architecture

Are there any examples of anarchist architecture? Perhaps buildings or whole neighbourhoods were created or at least planned in revolutionary barcelona? Or is the very concept of architecture elitist?

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Chilli Sauce
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Jan 31 2014 18:37

Well, there's always Milton Keynes, in part apparently designed (or inspired, I'm not sure) by anarchist Colin Ward

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_Keynes

Although I will warn you, Milton Keynes is pretty soulless as a city. surprised

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Malva
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Jan 31 2014 19:15

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Malva
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Jan 31 2014 19:22

David Harvey in his book on Paris argues that a lot of the utopian socialists simply ended up providing many of the elements that define modern capitalist urban planning. No doubt a large part of this was due to the cult of industry and work (even if these utopians and anarchists critiqued the sphere of exchange they often didn't critique the sphere of production, Proudhon being a good example). Even this image of a Fourierian Phalanstère was the kind of thing that inspired model homes for workers under the Second Empire (according to Harvey, at any rate, though he focuses more on the Saint-Simonians). Looks like Milton Keynes was part of a similar logic then.

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Noah Fence
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Jan 31 2014 19:34
Quote:
Or is the very concept of architecture elitist?

Well, unless we're all going to live in trees, I'd say definitely say not. If you mean architecture as art then I suppose, possibly. My own view is though, that if you're going to build something why not make it as beautiful as possible?
I reckon that most of the beautiful buildings created by capital are beautiful in spite of it rather than because of it.

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Noah Fence
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Jan 31 2014 19:36
Quote:
Milton Keynes is pretty soulless as a city.

Fucking ace for skateboarding though.

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Chilli Sauce
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Jan 31 2014 20:40

You skate, Webby?! Ah man, I miss the old days of shredding.

I used to be shop-sponsored, but anymore* I'm too chubby to even do a decent ollie.

*Note here the use of the positive anymore. Drives my partner up a tree.

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Noah Fence
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Jan 31 2014 20:56

Yep, started in '76, skated solidly till about '81, and then sporradically until stopping completely around '89. Had a go on a mini half pipe about 3 years ago but my body(and my nerve) wasn't up to it. Used to skate the south bank and the Rom skatepark in Essex - now that was my kind of architecture!

BTW, use 'anymore' however you like. I could care less.

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Jan 31 2014 21:14
vicent wrote:
Are there any examples of anarchist architecture? Perhaps buildings or whole neighbourhoods were created or at least planned in revolutionary barcelona? Or is the very concept of architecture elitist?

There is another thread somewhere but anyway. I'd say there can't be anarchist architecture without established libertarian socialism and by then the title would hopefully be gone! With industrial production and large scale buildings the role in some form i probably necessary though. What is called vernacular architecture is probably as close as you get today ie architecture without architects.

The only famous libertarian architect I know of is Giancarlo De Carlo, flickr images Funnily enough I know someone (non anarchist) who went to his Ilaud summer school. The verdict was that the whole thing was... authoritarian! wink
Giancarlo's stuff is context sensitive brutalism and some of it quite interesting. Particularly the really knit in with the existing stuff like some in Urbino.

Walter Segal is another one, active in Britain. He partly grew up in Monte Verita which was a sort of radical commune. What he did for self build social housing in South london was very interesting.

Colin ward discusses many towns in UK that were started by squatting. Jaywick sands, Basildon etc. Nothing left of the "architecture" though.

Le Corbusier was a syndicalist at some point but possibly some dodgy version of it he had some dealings with the Vichy govnment later. All the stuff about cities organised around production fits into some concept of syndicalism I guess.

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Jan 31 2014 21:24
Webby wrote:
Had a go on a mini half pipe about 3 years ago but my body(and my nerve) wasn't up to it.

Hehe, did the same 8 years ago. Unfortunately we were in a state so we had the nerve... luckily someone else bailed badly and started bleeding all over the halfpipe before I had a chance to injure myself.

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Noah Fence
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Jan 31 2014 21:43
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Colin ward discusses many towns in UK that were started by squatting. Jaywick sands, Basildon etc. Nothing left of the "architecture" though.

Wow, I didn't know that. I used to live about 2 miles from Basildon. Funnily enough we used to skate in the Ford car park which was known as the Red Brick Bowl.
I now live, as the crow flies less than a mile from Jaywick. I've never been there though! Apparently, the Brooklands estate is officially the most deprived area of the UK. Anything to do with it's origins I wonder?

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Jan 31 2014 22:13
Webby wrote:
I now live, as the crow flies less than a mile from Jaywick. I've never been there though! Apparently, the Brooklands estate is officially the most deprived area of the UK. Anything to do with it's origins I wonder?

I might misremember (anyone knowing better tell me off!) but I thing jaywick sands was started by east end workers who started squatting summer homes. Then gradually people moved in permanently. This is process happened in a few places including Basildon. If you look at a satellite photo you see the size and layout of plots resemble allotments.

And yes It's in a very bad state but I guess it was always poor.

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Chilli Sauce
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Feb 1 2014 00:25

Libcom aging skaters meet-up anyone?

bastarx
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Feb 1 2014 02:34
Chilli Sauce wrote:
You skate, Webby?! Ah man, I miss the old days of shredding.

I used to be shop-sponsored, but anymore* I'm too chubby to even do a decent ollie.

*Note here the use of the positive anymore. Drives my partner up a tree.

I don't think I've ever heard the positive anymore before. I can see why it drives your partner crazy, it just sounds so wrong.

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Noah Fence
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Feb 1 2014 15:23
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Libcom aging skaters meet-up anyone?

Too right mate. How about on the day after the revolution?
http://libcom.org/forums/general/first-day-after-revolution-31012014#com...

satawal
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Feb 2 2014 14:25

I would say the idea of AN anarchist architecture is highly limiting - but there have been plenty of buildings designed and built by anarchists.

It has been outlined rather well by both Colin Ward and Simon Fairlie, that one of the functions of post first world war British planning controls was (and IS) to constrain working class self organization of housing , food production and escape from the cities and the life of dreary work for the bosses. The plotlands were mentioned above! Onwards to Essex, comrades!

Those who don't live in England are probably unaware of the amazing planning restrictions that enforce a land apartheid where, especially in the South-East, the dominant class are the majority in the countryside (I include farmers, commuters and the wealthy retired) whilst the working class live on the whole in the cities and towns. I am aware of course of rural poverty but the rural picture in much of England is poverty amidst plenty, rather than plenty amidst poverty ala the cities...

The best book on the plotlands - one of our classes most successful attempts at building autonomy, at least here in the British Isles is: Hardy, D. and Ward, C. 'Arcadia for All: The Legacy of a Makeshift Landscape'. My gran lives in what remains of a plotland, and all the better for it.

Folks might also like to read in parallel about allotments, ours in large part thanks to our insurrectionary (Swing Riot) forbears:
Crouch, D. and Ward, C. 'The Allotment: Its Landscape and Culture'

I hasten to add this stuff is all about the British Isles, and for readers abroad will seem somewhat parochial, but to large extent that is the value of these books. The story of very particular places and people rather than attempts at overarching theory.

For those of you who live within striking distance of Brighton, you can borrow the above books from The Cowley Club Library which has a housing section and is housed itself in a purpose built anarchist building…

http://www.cowleyclub.org.uk/?Library

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Croy
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Feb 3 2014 12:21

Don't really think there can be such thing as an anarchist architecture? I mean, to build shit that looks good, fulfills the needs it needs to fulfill and generally being functional is basically the same as architecture is today, except the needs are needs borne of capitalism, i.e. keep people penned in and all the stuff mentioned above. After a revolution it wouldn't have any of those needs, and the remaining needs, like actually the humane ones (disabled facilities for example), exist today, they just aren't the dominant ones. And as for anarchist architecture being just buildings made by anarchists, well, after a revolution we would all be anarchists, so that distinction becomes non existent.

It's tempting to try and have an alternative for everything, anarchist this, anarchist that, but its just an exercise in abstraction and theory wank imo. Anarchist music already exists, in the sense that music is made for people by people. It's just that music under capitalism, as well as that, becomes about selling a commodity for profit, marketing, etc etc etc.

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cresspot
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Feb 7 2014 00:43

Shantytowns

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Cooked
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Feb 7 2014 23:26
cresspot wrote:
Shantytowns

I'm not sure if you are joking or not. I choose to read it sarcastically and then it's a good critique of Colin Ward Thinking. As mentioned the UK examples are not great places to live. The self organisation creates communities but the material reality of all these places is appalling. In the case of some shanty towns the community aspect is also problematic as it does play a part in brutal gang warfare.

There are lessons to be learned from these places and if you have a very keen anarchonoid filter and a tight framing you will find evidence of the positive aspects of self organised built communities. Thing is though that you will find better living conditions, and if you are talking architecture, more enjoyable and more functional buildings almost anywhere else geographically and historically.

omen
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Feb 16 2014 22:16

(I wasn't sure where to post this, and here seems as good as anywhere.)

I'm currently watching the first part of a two-part documentary on BBC Four about brutalist architecture called "Bunkers, Brutalism and Bloodymindedness" which seemed like it might be interesting. Unfortunately it is presented by some twat called Jonathan Meades who insists on looking like Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black and talking complete bollocks, deadpan, whilst doing something edgy and arty, like peering through a portrait with the face cut out or wearing a silly hat. I wouldn't mind if it was funny or interesting. He kind of reminds me of someone who's unintentionally channelling Victor Lewis Smith, but without the wit.

ETA: Now that it's finished, all I actually learned was that I now have an irrational hatred of Tommy Lee Jones. I suspect Meades may have used a neuralizer on me, as I have no recollection of even watching the show at all. Roll-on part two!