The Field as a Critical Project

McEwan, Cameron orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0683-1708 (2020) The Field as a Critical Project. Building Material, 23 . pp. 149-172.

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This article puts forward a framework for the field as a critical project by close-reading three projects which, explicitly or implicitly, discuss the notion of field in architecture and the city. In each example a different field, formal condition and subject position is articulated. The aim is to draw out the multidimensionality and criticality of the field and a potential agency. The first part addresses Stan Allen’s research on field conditions to argue the field is in dialogue with the frame, which organises the materiality of the crowd. The second part focuses on Mario Gandelsonas’ drawings and reading of the city as a field of projection, which relates the field of thought and the urban grid. The third part interprets Aldo Rossi’s analogical city as a field of the other, which connected architecture and collective memory. The text operates in dialogue with a suite of montages that explore formal strategies at stake in the field as a critical project. At a time when intellectual culture and the culture of critique is threatened by neoliberal capitalism, the cult of personality, and where architecture is too often commodified as an instrument of free-market urbanism, the need for a critical project is urgent.

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