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Architecture and Race: The Latest Architecture and News

How the Black Females in Architecture Network is Changing Industry Standards

In early 2018, spatial practitioner and Bartlett lecturer Neba Sere hosted a panel discussion at London's Architecture Foundation, where she was one of six young trustees. The topic: beginnings. How to go about them, move ahead, and transform them into something that lasts. Six years later, she looks back on the event as a beginning in itself: that day marked the creation of a WhatsApp group that would turn into Black Females in Architecture (BFA). BFA is now a 500-strong global membership network co-directed by Sere and fellow architects Selasi Setufe and Akua Danso.

BFA was initiated in response to the need for visibility of black women and female-identifying people with black heritage in architecture and the built environment. Last year, the group celebrated its fifth anniversary with the showing of a short film and a panel discussion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Now, after putting in the groundwork of spreading information about the lack of diversity and equality in the industry and increasing their numbers, BFA is gearing up to drive physical change.

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How Environmental and Climate Racism Manifests in Cities

A few days before the end of November, Gramado, a city known as one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in southern Brazil, grabbed the attention of national and international media. Unfortunately, it wasn't due to its film festival or the traditional lavish Christmas festivities. The city, already suffering from weeks of persistent rain, witnessed the emergence of massive geological rifts tearing through its streets, creating a post-apocalyptic movie-like scenario.

The imminent danger of ground movement alerted the population and the authorities, who promptly evacuated the buildings on the hills of the condemned neighborhood. This course of action proved entirely effective and responsible, as one of the buildings within the designated area did indeed collapse three days after the evacuation. However, it is worth noting a detail: the affected neighborhood consisted of upscale residences and luxury hotels and inns, which raises a question: would the efforts have been the same if the situation occurred in lower-income peripheral neighborhoods?

Technology, Nature, and Diversity in Architecture: An Interview with Guto Requena

During July, we delved into the Design Process as our monthly topic. Inspired by practices that intersect various uncommon layers in their creations, we talked with architect Guto Requena. When designing, his studio experiments with different digital technologies through a sustainable lens and with a keen eye on social issues, aiming to deliver innovative and emotional experiences. Today, the architect boasts numerous national and international awards, including the ArchDaily Building of the Year and the UNESCO Prix Versailles.

In the interview, Requena shares his journey, highlighting the diversity of his team as a critical innovation point in his firm. He also addresses crucial questions about fostering innovation and creativity with new materials in architecture, among other topics.

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The Landscapes of the Black Atlantic World

The institution of slavery shaped landscapes on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. And in turn enslaved and free Africans and their descendants created new landscapes in the United States, the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa. African people had their own intimate relationships with the land, which enabled them to carve out their own agency and culture.

At Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., a symposium — Environmental Histories of the Black Atlantic World: Landscape Histories of the African Diaspora — organized by N. D. B. Connolly, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, and Oscar de la Torre, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, sought to highlight those forgotten relationships between people and their environment.

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Brazil Pavilion at the 2023 Venice Biennale Reveals Details About the Exhibition “Terra”

The São Paulo Biennial Foundation has just announced details of the Terra project that will occupy the Brazil Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. With a curatorial effort by Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares, the Brazilian exhibition will feature a diverse group of collaborators, comprising Mbya-Guarani indigenous peoples, Tukano, Arawak and Maku indigenous peoples, weavers from Alaká (Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá), Iyá Nassô Oká (Casa Branca do Engenho Velho), Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto, Ayrson Heráclito, Day Rodrigues with collaboration from Vilma Patrícia Santana Silva (Etnicidades Group FAU-UFBA), Fissura Collective, Juliana Vicente, Thierry Oussou, and Vídeo nas Aldeias.

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Urbanism with a Gender Perspective: 7 Guidelines for the Design of Public Spaces in Buenos Aires

Understanding the diversity and plurality of people who inhabit and pass through cities on a daily basis, gender-responsive urban planning aims to incorporate all those identities, perspectives and activities that have been invisible for years. Understanding the complexities that surround cities and getting involved in the urban experiences of their inhabitants, public spaces turn out to be the scenario for the development of urban life and, as such, should bring together a series of guidelines and considerations in accordance with this new paradigm that act as planning tools, composing this network of spaces and contemplating all the users of the city.

Fantasies of Whiteness

At the inauguration of the First Brazilian Congress of Eugenics in July of 1929, the physician and anthropologist Edgar Roquette-Pinto addressed an audience preoccupied with the question of how a country as vast as Brazil could best increase and improve its population. To accomplish this, Roquette-Pinto exalted “eugenia” as the new science that, together with medicine and hygiene, would guarantee the efficiency and perfection of the race. With the following words, the Brazilian scientist underscored a positivist agenda that brought architecture to the very core of the eugenics—the so-called science of race “improvement”—movement: “It is critical to emphasize that the influence [on our race] does not stem from the natural environment but rather from the artificial environment, created by man.” With these opening remarks to the Congress, Roquette-Pinto called attention to the crucial role that the man-made environment plays in the “amelioration” of what he called “the biological patrimony” of Brazil’s diverse population. In his invitation to social engineering, Roquette Pinto pointed to the environmental-genetic collusion that they hoped would bring with it the very possibility of progress.

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"I Grew Up Where Architecture Was Designed to Oppress": Wandile Mthiyane on Social Impact and Learning from South Africa

Design justice is grounded in personal experience and built through everyday actions. Wandile Mthiyane is an architectural designer that embodies this idea, an activist that grew up in Durban, South Africa during the Apartheid. From an early age he was drawn to building and design, a background directly tied to his childhood. He realized he wanted to build a better future by working to undo the architectural effects of institutionalized racial segregation. Today, Wandile has become recognized for creating social impact, including his work to transform his hometown of Durban.

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Femingas: Participatory Construction with a Gender Perspective in Ecuador

In the field of design and construction, the question of gender is a point of conflict: who has the possibility of building? What are the alternatives for us architecture professionals? These are the questions that Taller General (re)think about. It is from these questions that Femingas, a participatory construction conference with a gender perspective, arose. These are manifested as an alternative to the construction of "mingas", days of joint work between the members of a community to achieve a common good.

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What is Design Justice?

What is Design Justice? - Featured Image
Asentamiento de Kya Sands en Johannesburgo, Sudáfrica. Photo © Johnny Miller Fotografía

Design Justice is a branch of architecture and design focused on redesigning cities, products, services and environments with historic reparations in mind.

The term emerged about 7 years ago when debates and dialogues about inclusion and diversity in spaces started to get stronger, creating movements that fought for the rights of people who had their roots and choices denied in society.

Spatial Education and the Future of African Cities: An Interview with Matri-Archi

Led by architectural designers Khensani de Klerk and Solange Mbanefo, Matri-Archi is a collective based between Switzerland and South Africa that aims to bring African women together for the development of spatial education in African cities. Through design practice, writing, podcasts, and other initiatives, Matri-Archi — one of ArchDaily's Best New Practices of 2021 — focuses on the recognition and empowerment of women in the spatial field and architectural industry.

ArchDaily had the opportunity to talk to the co-directors of the collective on hegemonic space, informal architecture, technology, local idiosyncrasies, and the future of African and global cities. Read the full interview below.

Mapping Improvisation: The Role of Call and Response in Urban Planning

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Congo Square, E.W. Kemble. Image

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

New Orleans was designed by its early settlers in 1721 as a Cartesian grid. You know it as the famous French Quarter or Vieux Carré. Such grids are named for the Cartesian coordinate system we learned to use in algebra or geometry class, perpendicular X and Y axes, used to measure units of distance on a plane. The invention of René Descartes (1596–1650), these grids reflect his rationalism, the view that reason, not embodied or empirical experience, is the only source and certain test of knowledge. William Penn used a similar grid in 1682 in selling Philadelphia as an urban paradise where industry would thrive in the newly settled wilderness. And just as the massive buildings of Italian Rationalist (i.e., Fascist) architecture express authoritarian control, so, too, Cartesian grids implicitly say: Someone is in charge here. We’ve got this. Trust us.