Archive for April, 2019

Graham Foundation Grant 2019

Windmill Power For City People, cover page of a brochure advocating for reusable energy as an urban future. Courtesy of UHAB.

Nandini Bagchee and Marlise Wise awarded a 2019 Graham Foundation grant for their exhibition curation of Homesteading and Cooperative Housing Movements in NYC, 1970s and 80s at Interference Archive.

Contemporary architectural discourse has primarily focused on commoning as a speculative project, rather than as a historical, spatial, practice developed by marginalized communities. Debates about social housing often focus on state-subsidized public housing, and commoning practices have largely been discussed as a theoretical position or an architectural imaginary, rather than as a tangible architecture with a history that can be studied, analyzed and built upon. The exhibition Homesteading and Cooperative Housing Movements in NYC, 1970s and 80s, tracks the impact of collective, self-organized practices such as squatting, homesteading, and resident mutual aid in New York City and examines the way in which they have shaped the city. By analyzing ownership models, construction methods, spatial techniques, and material practices deployed by the cooperative housing movement, and presenting them through an immersive and interactive environment, the exhibition asks audience members to imagine new models for equitable development and spatial commoning.

The Graham Foundation is pleased to announce the award of 63 new grants to individuals worldwide that support projects on architecture. Grantee projects represent diverse lines of inquiry engaging original ideas that advance our understanding of the designed environment. Selected from over 500 proposals, the funded projects include exhibitions, publications, films, and performances that promote rigorous scholarship, stimulate experimentation, and foster critical discourse in architecture. The individuals leading these projects are based in cities such as Ahmedabad, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Cairo, London, Milan, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. The innovative projects are led by eminent and emerging architects, artists, curators, filmmakers, historians, and photographers, among other professionals.

The new grantees join a worldwide network of individuals and organizations that the Graham Foundation has supported over the past 63 years. In that time, the Foundation has awarded more than 4,500 grants, and has become one of the most significant funders in the field of architecture.

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Unknown New York: The City That Women Built – Panel Discussion

Join NOMAS at CCNY and the CCNY Architecture Alumni Group for a film screening and discussion of female architects, designers and builders. A free screening of this short film directed by Beverly Willis and the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation highlighting contributions by female architects, engineers, and builders in shaping the New York skyline. Panel discussion with Nandini Bagchee, Billie Cohen, Yolande Daniels, Marta Gutman, Samantha Josephat, and Carol Kurth, moderated by Isabella Joseph, to follow film.

Carol Kurth FAIA, alumnus and past board president, is our sponsor. This event is organized by the CCNY Women in Design Committee of the CCNY Architecture Alumni Group in collaboration with the CCNY Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students | NOMASCCNY.

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Urban Dislocations and the Architecture of the Diasporas (1900 – Present) – Association for Art History Annual Conference in Brighton

From – Brighton Conference

The panel “Urban Dislocations and the Architecture of Diasporas (1900 – present)”, is part of the Association for Art History Annual Conference, in Brighton. The panel, chaired by Ralph Ghoche and Ignacio G. Galán, also had the participation of Nandini Bagchee, Paulo Moreira, Ivan L. Munuera, Noam Shoked, Emma Stein Lewis, Yogeeswari Chandsekaran and Abhunad Krishnashankar.

This session brings to light the paradoxical nature and hybridity of cities, drawing attention to both the economic, cultural, and technological connections and exchanges, while also uncovering the ‘disjuncture’ of these urban conditions. It delineates the formal and informal processes by which displaced groups have occupied and reshaped existing structures or territories and those that describe the transglobal networks that have facilitated these transformations. Papers in this session pay special attention to the critical role that individuals, community groups, and activist collectives play in the appropriation, spatial transformation, and re-signification of existing structures and environments.

Postscript from Domeland

Nandini Bagchee (Spitzer School of Architecture, City College, CUNY)

It was 1968 and Buckminster Fuller was flying around spaceship earth lecturing audiences to join a global grassroots movement to eliminate poverty and design a sustainable future. A talk to a Puerto Rican youth collective (CHARAS) in the New York City made a lasting impression on the young people in the audience. Fuller’s call for a new world order outside the established political system fired the imagination of a group whose own experiences of poverty and criminalisation made them mistrustful of city and state. The project of building lightweight geodesic domes in abandoned city lots grew out of these young men’s desire to directly, physically change the environment in which they lived. The incongruous cardboard dome on the desolate edge of a city was a defiant act of grassroots activism to educate, inform and empower the Puerto Rican community. In the 70s, CHARAS began producing these domes through their port-a-dome initiative. For the next 20 years, the domes built by CHARAS appeared on rooftops, gardens, and street fairs in New York City. The domes were adapted as canopies during protests, as aquaponic sheds, and as prefab housing in rural Puerto Rico. Fuller’s domes, typically associated with a disenfranchised suburban white middleclass in the United States, fortuitously found a different constituency in the aspirations of a young, welfare weary, Puerto Rican urban community. The port-a-dome initiative symbolised the self-sufficiency of CHARAS locally and was a sign of their autonomous participation in a larger global-environmental movement.

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