The Berlage

Session Room K

The Other Architect

Giovanna Borasi

For as long as architecture has been reduced to a service to society or an “industry” whose ultimate goal is only to build, there have been others who imagine it instead as a field of intellectual research: energetic, critical, and radical.How then can architects shape the important questions of their time without their success being solely qualified by the built form? Entitled The Other Architect, this talk will present and explore key case studies that showcase missed opportunities and alternative outputs from the past, to reflect on today’s architectural practices. Historically, architects have sought to critically and thoroughly rethink the profession and challenge their roles. Research was conducted to advance their work and thinking, which questioned preconceived notions of the discipline. These case studies raise a series of questions: What is research in architecture when many practices claim to be research-based? How could we understand and challenge an architect’s role and contribution to a broader cultural agenda? What is the impact of speculative projects, which are not intended to be built? And what role does an architectural archive play, whose objective is to document the birth of new ideas and processes, rather than privileging the finished artifact? The Other Architect will explore how architecture is no longer understood as a discipline that will inevitably produce buildings, but as a way of thinking, observing, and capturing the contemporary moment; identify and ask new questions both within and outside the discipline, but through the lens of architecture; mark new areas where architecture can operate within; and look for or invent suitable tools. And finally responding generously and concisely.

This is the sixth in a seven-part lecture thematic series entitled “The Architect as Generalist.” Scholars and practitioners will explore how architecture practice is inherently expansive and cross-disciplinary, from the Renaissance to the present. Lectures in the series will examine how architects are not only comfortable designing buildings and cities but also furniture, exhibitions, books, films, fashion, amongst other things. The series will start with an examination of the architect as the Renaissance Man through the lens of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, followed by lectures by Carlo Mollino’s conceptual Mannerism, the intersections between architecture and fashion in the work of Prada+OMA/AMO, the designs of Luigi Caccia Dominioni’s from the spoon to the city, the architecture of book design, architectural practice as a field of research, and new forms of professional practice.

Giovanna Borasi is Chief Curator at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal. She studied architecture at the Politecnico di Milano. Her exhibitions and publications have drawn particular attention to alternative ways of practicing and evaluating architecture, and the influence of social and political issues on urbanism and the built environment. After working as an editor for Lotus International (1998–2005) and Lotus Navigator (2000–04), Borasi was appointed Deputy Editor in Chief of Abitare (2011–13). Before joining the CCA, she co-curated House Sweet Home, Different Ways to Live at Spazio Ventisette, Milan (2000), and collaborated with Mirko Zardini on two others: Asfalto: Il carattere della città at the Milan Triennale (2003) and Notizie dall’Interno for the Italian Pavilion in the 9th Architecture Biennale in Venice (2004). Borasi worked as Curator for Contemporary Architecture at the CCA (2005–10), and in 2014 was named the institution’s Chief Curator. She will assume the role of Director of the CCA in January 2020.

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