The Radical Pedagogies Project

20Apr16

Radical Pedagogies explores a series of intense but short-lived experiments in architectural education that profoundly transformed the landscape, methods and politics of the discipline in the post-WWII years. In fact, these experiments can be understood as radical architectural practices in their own right. Radical pedagogies shook foundations and disturbed assumptions rather than reinforce and disseminate them. Defiantly questioning the dominant modes of architectural education of both the Polytechnique and the Beaux Arts systems, they rejected and reshaped the field of architecture. At the same time these experiments became tools for political destabilization or alternative models of collectivity. Progressive pedagogical initiatives aimed to redefine architecture’s inherited relation to social, political, and economic processes and sometimes culminated in radical upheavals that clashed with the inertia of ‘traditional’ institutions.

This was a period of collective defiance against the authority of institutional, bureaucratic, and capitalist structures. The world as it was known underwent drastic transformations on all scales – from the geopolitical landscape to the materials populating the new domestic environments – and utopian technological prophecies now manifested in a brave new world of computation, gadgets and spaceships. Architecture was not impervious to such shifts. Highly self-conscious, the architectural radicalism of this era exposed the anxieties about the discipline’s identity in a transformed world. A new generation refused to take architecture or its training as granted. They constructed a new space for redefinition of the discipline, launching a series of pedagogical experiments that shared a strong belief in architectural education as a tool towards political change.

POSTWAR MODERNIZATION LABS IN THE EAST: Hiroshi Hara’s students, Kengo Kuma in back, with equipment for village surveys in Africa. Courtesy of Kengo Kuma.

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