Introduction: We Construct Collective Life By Constructing Our Environment

McEwan, Cameron orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0683-1708 and Holm, Lorens (2021) Introduction: We Construct Collective Life By Constructing Our Environment. Architecture and Culture, 8 (3-4). pp. 529-548. ISSN 2050-7828

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Editors introduction to special double issue of Architecture and Culture on Architecture and Collective Life.

Architecture & Collective Life is committed to the proposition that we use architecture to construct collective life. Collective life is not the default condition of the many. It is a construct of human agency. It is indirect: we do it by doing other things. We construct collective life by constructing our environment: a continuous and incremental process of constructing housing, places of assembly, accidental stopping places, whether intentionally or not, as expressions of power or as acts of resistance to power. If it is true to say that much of our environment is not constructed by architects, it is nevertheless architecture where we understand it and theorise it. The city is not only our single largest cultural artefact, but it is – or has been until recently – our single largest interactive environment. And at risk of overreaching our case, we assert that there is nothing outside collective life. All individuals are connected, even their alienation from others is articulated with respect to others. The life of humans is collective or it is not life. If it is not collective, it is simply biological. Like the city, it is everywhere where there is an individual. There is no outside of the city. The city is everywhere. There is no outside to the artefactual world of human creation. And not simply because we have entered the Anthropocene Epoch, the final human stage of geological time, it has always been so.

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