IMAGE Lieven De Boeck©, Fireworks II, Le Bleu du Ciel (2001)

Teresa Stoppani, currently a visiting Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), will be presenting a lecture at RMIT

The Architecture of the Disaster
Teresa Stoppani
University of Technology Sydney / University of Greenwich, London
Friday, May 27
6:30pm in RMIT 8.11.68
Building 8, Level 11, Lecture theatre 68, to the right of the lifts
360 Swanston St, Melbourne

This lecture considers the irruption of the designed destructive event in the order of the project of architecture. The artificial disaster brings onto architecture destructive sudden forces that operate against it with an intensity and a speed that are different from those that are at play in it. It imposes on architecture the man-devised, forceful and violent interference of a project that is alien to that of architecture. The violent orchestrated event in space is interpreted here as a paroxysmal – explicit, sudden, violent – actualisation of the forces that contribute to the shaping of the environment. Design and planning are about space definition and form making, while the destruction inflicted by the disaster concerns the undoing of form, of planned orders, of structures (be they societal, urban, economic, national).

Through a series of examples, this lecture explores those practices which – in architecture and around architecture – work on and with the energy released by the disastrous event. It aims to understand the effects of the planned disaster on the wider questions that the discipline of architecture needs to ask, and suggests that silence – or, the project of silence of architecture – is an act of design too.

TERESA STOPPANI is Reader in Architecture at the University of Greenwich, and Visiting Professor in Architectural History and Theory at the University of Technology Sydney. Her research focuses on re-readings of the city through unorthodox approaches to urbanism and architecture, and includes the book Paradigm Islands: Manhattan and Venice. Discourses on architecture and the city (Routledge 2010). Recent writings include: considerations on Piranesi’s architectural space as open and dynamic, proposing ways of how this may engage with contemporary spatial practices (Footprint, 5, 2009); an exploration of the significance of dust in Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project (The Journal of Architecture, 12:5, 2007), proposing reconsiderations on obsolescence and uncontrollable space; works on the map and the grid which reconsider space as apparently measured and ordered, but subject to new configurations (Architecture Research Quarterly, 12:3-4, 2009). Forthcoming publications include a study of the complex relation of architecture with the artificial disaster (in Space & Culture, ‘Spaces of Terror and Risk’, 2011), and an exploration of the connection between the material and the critical in architectural representation, through a study of lines and erasures in the graphic works of G. B. Piranesi (in I. Wingham (ed.), Mobility of the Line, Birkhauser, forthcoming).


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