Atelier 3

Infrastructures of Autonomy

Dr Sam Vardy and Dr Cristina Cerulli

Atelier 3 will, this year, explore the notion of infrastructure – critiquing dominant forms while extending and reimagining various different readings of them. Infrastructure, as Keller Easterling argues, is not hidden, but is “now the overt point of contact and access between us all – the rules governing the space of everyday life.” (ESC p11) This ubiquity makes infrastructure not simply a framework or intermediary, but one of the most powerful forces in the production, use and imaginaries of contemporary urban space.
Through our collective research and propositions, we will expand what we might understand as infrastructure, to explore its possible manifestations, implications and affects – spatially, socially and politically. We will therefore, look beyond the pipes, roads and communications systems that we might start with to see the mechanics of a vast range of alternate kinds of infrastructure, since “[s]ocial infrastructures are also built, material, and lasting. Even intimacy is increasingly understood as infrastructural.” (Cowan p. 3)
We are interested in ecological approaches to understanding the city and intervening in it. We see the design of the socio-technical and spatial infrastructures that enable the emergence of self-organised, collective, endeavours one of the most exciting and meaningful potential roles for architecture. This position demands then new imaginaries of what constitutes architecture, and of possible roles of the architect in society; it demands a reading of infrastructure and of architecture that acknowledges both their repressive and at the same time emancipatory potentials.

…infrastructure space is doing something. Like an operating system, the medium of infrastructure space makes certain things possible and other things impossible.
(ESC p14)

Through your Design Studio projects, you will therefore be developing scenarios and interventions that involve the design of new kinds of infrastructures and what we could call infrastructural architectures, that will establish, support, enable and reinforce autonomous initiatives in different ways.

You can see the 2016-17 page for Atelier 3 here