CRUMBLE has chosen three major themes explored in our upcoming issue ‘Conflict/Resolution’. Our upcoming event, the Crumble Magazine Project, will provide an opportunity to discuss conflicts in architecture within these themes and thinking about potential routes for resolution in our world today. Our editors have provided small teaser summaries of the three themes we will be talking about and reflecting upon; education, migration and revolution.
Education has played a significant role in navigating Conflict and Resolution in architectural issues today. Some of our articles have explored the state of architectural education as it stands, or, more widely how architecture plays a role in the problems we face concerning our own education. Ivy Pottinger-Glass writes from her perspective as a student, in her article ‘Occupy or Avoid?’, where she highlights a particular point of focus; the recent UCU Industrial Action. A conflict between staff and the authoritative institutions, manifesting in strikes, teach-outs, occupations and other forms of protest that aimed to communicate dissatisfaction with the proposed pension cuts for faculty members. In this dispute, we can see how conflict exhibited itself the sphere of education.
The built environment was fundamentally significant in this type of conflict, as lecture theatres and University owned buildings became epicentres of protest. Students occupied educational spaces to prevent their use whilst the industrial action continued. Picket lines surrounded campus buildings as many students and staff alike refused to enter into these contentious sites until the underlying issue was resolved or re-negotiated. Buildings presented a paradox in this dispute, simultaneously occupied and avoided in pursuit of the same ends. This raises the question of how conflict affects our relationship to architecture and the educational spaces that are used by students and staff on a daily basis. How can the built environment play a part in wider disputes and how does architecture become symbolically significant?
Migration dominates the news today and is filled with controversy in contemporary discourse. People migrate for a range of reasons and this leads to conflict on a number of levels. Those forced from their homes face constant obstacles and opposition from those around them on their journeys. As passive viewers we experience conflict too; everyone has a different view on ‘the refugee crisis’ and migration is a constant concern for our politicians.
As Aaron Chan writes in his most recent article ‘Are you one of us?’, migration is not just about problems, and architecture offers an interesting avenue for improving the experience of migrating people. These journeys bring boundaries and borders, and border checkpoints, whether in the form of ports, airports or land crossings, employ architecture to enforce an ‘us vs. them’ attitude. Arrivals are subjected to an environment of investigation and suspicion enforced by a power disparity between those already approved and those seeking entry. The architecture of modern terminals demonstrates this, offering luxury and welcome to those who have been allowed in, and imposing instruction and intimidation on those who have not.
Yet national security is integral to modern borders; can the arrival experience be more positive, a world of gateways and not barriers, without compromising this? How can people moving into an unfamiliar culture be made to feel welcome, and how can the dramatic changes this entails be eased? Architecture is crucial to resolving these problems and reducing conflict surrounding migration in the future.
Revolution’s role in architecture presents a myriad of possibilities. Alongside its dramatic connotations with grand gestures and bloody battles, revolution can present itself in more nuanced, considered way as a powerful tool of dissent. Whether this be revolution in our education or revolution in immigration policies, it is a deep signifier of change and resolution.
In the wake of ‘Conflict/Resolution’, the word revolution presents something unique; to some it represents an immense source of conflict, to others they show a dramatic form of resolution. In both spheres, however, they present a form of resistance, something to go against and often disrupt the norm. In our upcoming issue, Theo Shack explores revolution in a particularly interesting way through his article ‘Play and Resistance’. Revolting doesn’t necessarily have to be violent or radical, but instead a process of making small changes to disrupt common mistakes. The process of experimentation and play is highly important in testing possibilities, and often pave paths to real revolutions in ideas. Whether this manifests itself in our own architectural education, or attempting to solve issues in the wider world around, a strip back to basics and purely playing with ideas is so often needed. So, instead of the grandiose dramatic gestures that we so often see, can the small but important revolutions that we make along the way bring change today?