Making Architecture Politically
Public Lectures Spring 2013

Making Architecture Politically

The problem is not to make political architecture,
but to make architecture politically.

Roemer van Toorn

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of Eastern European communism, the emergence of Third Way politics, and the subsequent rise of neo-liberalism, society became post-political. Discourses and practices of architecture not only suffered, but also enhanced this culture of de-politicization. The problem today is clearly not to make political architecture - neoliberal architecture is everywhere today -, but to make architecture politically.

Now that the current economic crisis acts as late-capitalism's moment of truth architects should develop new visions, and help create projects that activate emancipation, surpassing the failure of neoliberalism. What we look for is a new beginning, an optimism - not another pessimism - of the architect as public intellectual that engages the optimism of the will and opens doors towards new social practices.

Architecture cannot, of course, conduct parliamentary politics. Spatial constellations can deliver no advice on how to vote or convey messages about social and political problems, but architecture is political precisely because of the distance it takes from these functions. Architecture is political in the way in which, as a space-time sensorium, it organizes being together or apart, and the way it defines outside or inside. Architecture is political also in the manner in which it makes the many controversies of reality visible by means of its own spatial and aesthetic syntax, and can enacts new spatial and aesthetic formations of sociability from within.

What we need in order to make room for the civil in our society is, according to Ariella Azoulay, "the capacity known as political imagination, that is to say, the ability to imagine a political state of being that devates significantly from the previaling state of affairs"[1] What kind of political imagination - rethinking the political - can the practice and theory of architecture mobilize when it makes architecture politically is the focus of the UMA Spring lecture series of 2013.

Agenda & Lecturers

Roemer van Toorn, Professor Architectural Theory, organized this lecture series in collaboration with Peter Kjaer, Rektor of the school of Architecture, the Laboratory of Immediate Architectural Intervention run by Professors Oren Lieberman & Alberto Altes Arlandis, and curator Cecilia Andersson of the Bildmuseet.


[1] Ariella Azoullay in Civil Imagination. A Political Ontology of Photography, Verso 2012, London.


Public lectures by:  


Eyal WeizmanEyal Weizman

The Roundabout Revolution
Great Britain
31 January 2013


Iain BordenIain Borden

The Politics of Speed
Great Britain
14  February 2013


Jon GoodbunJon Goodbun

Radical Theatre: Staging the Dialectic of Emergence and Planning
Great Britain
 7 March 2013

Bart LootsmaBart Lootsma

Out of the Wild: From Mapping to Operating System
25  March 2013

Per NilssonPer Nilsson

The Amphibian Relations Between Art, Architecture and Philosophy
16  April 2013

51N4E Architects51N4E Architects

Public + Intimate
25  April 2013 


Jeremy TillJeremy Till

Architecture and the Politics of Scarcity
Great Britain
2 May 2013


Roemer van ToornRoemer van Toorn

Making Architecture Politically
23 May 2013



Photo: Beijing, June 2012. Roemer van Toorn