ARCH 3308/6308/4408/6408
Special Topics in Theory: The Everyday City: Tactics of Spatial Appropriation

A person sweeping the floor with a broom.

Woman's Building Los Angeles, 1973. Woman sweeps floor in empty room. Photographer unknown, Otis College of Art and Design.

  • Instructor: Gesa Büttner Dias
  • Time: T 7:30–9:25 p.m.
  • Location: OL
  • Credits: 3
  • Territory of Investigation: Architecture and Ecology, Architecture and Urbanism

In the everyday city, buildings hide in plain sight, echoing off unwritten everyday stories. It is a city of absence, of gaps, of in-between. In the everyday city, system and subversion go hand in hand. It's a city of minimally authored structures. The structures form a functionalist opera, to be spoken by everybody. And yet, not everybody gets to speak.

In this seminar, we will listen. We will think about the unrecorded and the erased. We will find stories and amplify them. We will train to read a place, to understand the guiding regulations, and to identify the gap, the absence of authority. Los Angeles, as the oldest of the postmodern metropolis, and with its fraught history of colonialism and racism, and its overproduction of imagery and sunshine, will serve as our case study.

Part I of the seminar is theory and research:

  • postmodern theories of the everyday (theory)
  • Los Angeles histories, and their translation into the postmodern vernacular (material)
  • Art, architecture, and landscape practices from the 1970s (tactics I)
  • emergent spatial appropriations in underserved communities (tactics II)

Part II is the production of a tactical manual for spatial appropriations, from the material level to the urban scale.

The seminar is a precursor for an option studio in spring 2021, which will build on/translate/expand the research. Participating students will be given priority in the option studio selection.

Proficiency in writing is expected.

Instructor permission required:

Students need to email the instructor for a copy of the assignment for the first class. The completion of the assignment is mandatory for enrollment. The assignments will be presented during the first class. If necessary, a selection will be made based on the quality of the work and the seniority of the students.

View a PDF of this class description.


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