Seminar (052-0840-23)
Organizer: Visiting Professor Hannah le Roux
Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Hannah le Roux
Time: Mondays 12:00-14:00
Location: HIL C 10.2

This seminar, subtitled how to be Interdependent - architectural and urban histories of north and south duos, discusses and creates (hi)stories in architecture and urbanism that take into account the cross-site and interdependent relations of dominant and dependent duos. We will theorise and practice methods of research that could make extractive, interdependent and reparative relations between places visible.

The seminar is aimed at students whose research interests and design ambitions encompass global sites. It will introduce perspectives from world systems, postcolonial, and Anthropocenic theory. Following student- and site-led research paths, it will create opportunities to challenge singular readings of architectural and urban places by finding the alterity within them. This representation will develop in the form of a multimedia work or text.

Seminar 01 - Introduction: Stories of Interdependence (20/02)

cCourse introduction, aims and method:
  • Being mindful of the contaminating impacts of modernism, both material and conceptual, as the circulation of things and ideas becomes exponentially greater.
  • Confronting Anthropenic scales and time as conditions for practice.
  • Methods of the course: linking historical texts, critical theory, research-led and artistic activism that mediate them.
  • Cross geographical and temporal borders.
  • Revisiting the ambition of architecture to tell both global and local stories, and considering how these have increasingly been seen to be stories of unequal relations.
  • Understanding the limitations of points of view that are too distant or too close, and working towards praxes and representations that cross scales.
  • Applying this work in reflections on other work in progress: design, material choices, essays and visual media through intentional, staged projects.

  • Iñárritu, Alejandro González. Babel. (2006)

Slides Lecture 1 

Seminar 02 - Material connections 1: Quarry (27/02)

The quarry as global trace of interdependence. Mineral extraction is documented at the earliest human sites; what has changed is the extent to which it devastates land and other communities.



Slides Lecture 2 

Seminar 03 - Material connections 2: Land, Plants & Textile (06/03)

The interdependence of land, plants and textiles allows us to understand how production is kept in balance in other times and places, but also the impact of distant transfers. We will look at anti-colonial cloth making in India under British occupation, an activist text by Eddie Roux and its impact on Zulu basketry, recent mapping of the clothing paths that European chains use, and de-colonial art praxis based on plants.


Slides Lecture 3 

Seminar 04 - Material connections 3: Land, Water & Food (13/03)

Land carries the trace of ecological extraction for food. Considering a direct instance of European introduction outside of colonial extractivism in the form of mission-sponsored fruit trees, as well as the use of soil conservation as a counter project in Africa, we will see how political the production of food can be. Closing with an examination of art projects that work with food as a community making practice.


Seminar 05 - Media of Decontamination 1: Aerial Views (27/03)

The dream of flight is found across species, time and space. We consider how the aerial view offers insight, while detaching us from immediate place and even temporal moorings. How were aerial views used outside of modernism, in its formation, and today? Who gets to see from above? How are our positions changed in coming back to earth from that place?


Seminar 06 - Media of Decontamination 2: Subsurface Knowledge (03/04)

Even though architecture and allied disciplines break the surface, and use underground supports, we know little about soil today. We consider how soil can become exhausted from overuse, its nutrients transferred, but also how it can be an actant with some capacity to remediate or be remediated.


Seminar 07 - Landsites of Practice: Site Visit (24/04)

We will make some time for soil and the people who care for it.

Seminar 08 - Doing Surface Work 1: Rebalancing (08/05)

Even while extractivism is extensive, there are many ways in which its counterproject of care is manifest at local scales. We consider these practices and the different kinds of knowledge behind them.


Seminar 09 - Doing Surface Work 2: Representing (15/05)

Coming to see the entanglements that our work in architecture and design relies on and creates, we close this seminar by reflecting on the act of representation of worlds that is part of our set of skills. How can we make richer interdependencies visible?



Symposium: earth, water, tree: visualising elements of a Swiss/Witwatersrand Commons. (16/06)

Collegium Helveticum presentation:

This symposium will introduce the outcome of a project mapping relations between Switzerland and an impoverished, damaged township on South Africa. Invited speakers will add to the thematics of material connections, damage, and repair, that the seminar has explored.
Attendance is not compulsory but free and welcome.


Pierre Eichmeyer