The Grand Domestic Revolution (GDR) is an ongoing ‘living research’ project initiated by Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht as a multi-faceted exploration of the domestic sphere to imagine new forms of living and working in common.
Inspired by US late nineteenth-century ‘material feminist’ movements that experimented with communal solutions to isolated domestic life and work, GDR involved artists, designers, domestic workers, architects, gardeners, activists and others to collaboratively experiment with and re-articulate the domestic sphere challenging traditional and contemporary divisions of private and public. Now GDR goes on, evolving in different scales and extensions, taken up and transformed in different cities, sites and neighborhoods by those who desire to carry on the GDR from their own home base or by those already engaged with it in their local languages and practices.
Text and Images via The Show Room
“At certain points in the history of architecture and urban planning, the disciplinary debate on how to apply new technologies surpasses the boundaries of the professions involved. At those times, the hopes and fears found in the disputes between architects, policy makers, engineers and planners are extended to a broader discussion about urban and societal change. Then, the central issue is not merely how to solve a specific spatial problem or improve a construction method with the help of a new technology. Rather, the debate revolves around its possible impact on urban society at large. What does this new technology mean for urban culture, what impact does it have on how we shape our identities and live together in the city? When those questions surface, Dutch philosopher René Boomkens argues, the professional debate has turned ‘philosophical’. 
The discourse on ‘Sentient Cities’, that has arisen over the last few years can be understood as such a philosophical enterprise.  What is at stake in the debate is not so much the issue of how to engineer smarter buildings that sense — and adapt to — our daily routines or idiosyncratic preferences. Rather, our in-car navigators, friend finding ‘solutions’, location based information systems and other urban sensing technologies may very well force us to rethink some of the core concepts through which we understand and value urban life.
Here I will show that the debate about the Sentient City can be understood as a dispute concerning the urban public sphere. On the one hand, the rise of sentient technologies is said to contribute to the (already on-going) demise of urban public spaces such as town squares, multifunctional streets and public parks. On the other hand, there is a hope that those same sentient technologies could enable new forms of publicness and exchange. These are no longer based on bringing people with different backgrounds and opinions spatially together (as in coffeehouses or town squares), but on the organization of publics around particular issues of concern.”
Excerpt of a paper written by Martijn de Waal. Continue HERE
Synopsis: This conference aims to reflect on the relevance of the concept of dissidence for architectural practice today. Although dissidence has been primarily associated with architectural practices in the Eastern Bloc at the end of the Cold War period, contemporary architectural and other aesthetic practices have in recent years developed a host of new methodologies and techniques for articulating their distance from and critique of dominant political and financial structures. Architecture and the Paradox of Dissidence asks how we can conceive of the contemporary political problems and paradoxes of architecture in relation to their precedents? Devoid of the agency of action, Cold War dissidents articulated their positions in drawings of fantasy-like paper architecture, while contemporary forms of architectural practice seem to gravitate towards activism and direct-action in the world. The political issues – from interventions in charged areas worldwide to research in conflict zones and areas undergoing transformations – currently stimulate a field of abundant invention in contemporary architecture. Both, Cold War dissidents and contemporary activists encounter problems and paradoxes and must navigate complex political force fields within which possible complicities are inherent risks.
New forms of critical practice, and political and spatial dissent are manifold, appearing in stark contrast to contemporary architectural practice in which professional courage seems to have been translated into structural “virtuosity” of surfaces. This conference seeks to map out and expand on the methodologies of architectural action and reinvigorate the concept of dissent within the architectural/spatial field of the possible. A more historical thread that runs through the programme will seek to weave the genealogy of political/spatial practices from the Cold War dissidents of the Soviet Bloc to the activists of South American favelas.
Dissidents in the former communist countries used a specific set of codes to question the ideological doctrine of the state party. Architects who were otherwise employed in state run architectural collectives, or as staff in architecture schools met to produce writings, private lectures, secret installations and architectural articulations of allegories and legends – activities that challenged the ’stifling’ standardized language of Soviet architecture. Many of these ‘paper architects’ questioned the relationship between art, architecture and politics, but also, and significantly so, the ideological, and thus also ethical function of various forms of ‘creative practices’. The political melt-down of the Soviet Bloc reconfigured this complex field of political codes, architectural gestures and references. The withdrawal of the architect from large ideological concepts regarding social utopias mirrored that fragmentation and dissemination of (neo)liberal market structures. Large ideological battles were replaced with a multiplicity of local, or issue-specific conflicts within which forms of activism have been integrated. Dissent against large integrated and complex networks is no longer possible. All that is left is to navigate the complex fields of forces in a reflective and innovative manner. But can the assemblage of gestures and techniques of past struggles and ‘dilemmas’ of working in politically suppressive regimes help to inform those of today?
The conference thus seeks to attract contemporary spatial practitioners, architects, urbanists, journalists, activists, filmmakers and curators, asking them to reflect upon contemporary forms and conditions of dissent and their potential problems and inevitable paradoxes. It welcomes, too, the reflections of architects and architectural historians to reflect upon previous articulations of political dissent through architectural practice.
Text taken from http://dissidence.org.uk
Welcome to Designing Civic Encounter an initiative by ArtTerritories, engaging in existing and potential forms of urban development and public culture in Palestine. The event which took place between July 21-24, 2011, unfolded through an URBAN BUS TOUR traversing urban locations within and around Ramallah city enabling debates and conversations at different stations, a two-day SYMPOSIUM on questions of urban transformations in Palestinian and Arab cities, and a full day WORKSHOP with visionary social architect Teddy Cruz.
Designing Civic Encounter opened a forum in the real for the inquiry and discussion of the public urban experience under the current trends in planning, financing and building practices. Attracting an active local and international roster of architects, artists, educators, environmentalists, community activists and politicians, this online publication compiles video documentations generated from the events and also features art works and newly commissioned texts and photographs.
You can navigate the web publication through the names of the contributors listed on the right hand column and the listed summaries on the left hand column.