The biennial Papanek Lecture invites speakers engaged in the dissemination of interdisciplinary, critical design discourse to offer their expert insights to practitioners, academics, policy makers and the general public. Ranging from sustainable futures theorists, human rights activists engaged in architectural and digital research, to low-tech innovators for the Global South, the speakers address the crucial questions of how design might better serve humanity in the twenty-first century.
Eyal Weizman MBE FBA is a British Israeli architect. He is the director of the research agency Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London where he is Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures and a founding director of the Centre for Research Architecture at the department of Visual Cultures. In 2019 he was elected Fellow of the British Academy. The work of the agency is documented in the exhibition and book FORENSIS (Sternberg, 2014), as well as in Forensic Architecture: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability (Zone/MIT, 2017) and in numerous exhibitions worldwide. His other books include The Conflict Shoreline (Steidl and Cabinet, 2015), Mengele’s Skull (Sternberg, 2012), The Least of all Possible Evils (Verso, 2011), Hollow Land (Verso, 2007), A Civilian Occupation (Verso, 2003). Weizman is on the editorial board of Third Text, Humanity, Cabinet and Political Concepts and is on the board of directors of the Centre for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) and on the Technology Advisory Board of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. He previously sat on the advisory boards of the ICA in London and B’Tselem in Jerusalem, among others. He graduated in architecture in 1998 from the Architectural Association in London and completed his PhD at the London Consortium/Birkbeck College in 2006.
In recent years Forensic Architecture began using novel research methods to undertake a series of investigations into human rights abuses. Today, the group provides crucial evidence for international courts and works with a wide range of activist groups, NGOs, Amnesty International, and the UN. Beyond shedding new light on human rights violations and state crimes across the globe, Forensic Architecture has also created a new form of investigative practice that bears its name. The group uses architecture as an optical device to investigate armed conflicts and environmental destruction, as well as to cross-reference a variety of evidence sources, such as new media, remote sensing, material analysis, witness testimony, and crowd sourcing. In this lecture Eyal Weizman, the group’s founder, provides an in-depth introduction to the history, practice, assumptions, potentials, and double blinds of this practice.
Felicity D. Scott is Professor of Architecture, Director of the PhD program in Architecture (History and Theory), and Co-Director of the program in Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture (CCCP) at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University. Her work as a historian and theorist focuses on articulating genealogies of political and theoretical engagement with questions of techno-scientific, environmental, and geopolitical transformation within modern and contemporary architecture, art, and media, as well as upon the discourses, institutions and social movements that have shaped and defined these disciplines, sometimes evidently, sometimes less so. Continuing to work at the nexus of architecture, media, politics, and environment, and still focused on institutional frameworks, emergent techno-scientific forces, and social movements, Scott’s research has turned to address mechanisms of global and trans-national governance and the developmental regimes that inform the shifting topology of the so-called Global North and Global South. Her research traces colonial and neocolonial exploitation and violence in its many forms, including war, resource extraction, racism, and gender inequities. Following her recent book, Outlaw Territories: Environments of Insecurity/Architectures of Counterinsurgency, current research addresses: the environment and video works of Chilean artist and architect Juan Downey; space colonization during the 1970s and the haunting return of attendant ideologies today; a “global” film program affiliated with the UN’s Habitat conference in 1976, and claiming to produce “documents of reality,” “visual statements,” or even a “world picture” under the rubric of “communications development aid”; and (in conjunction with Mark Wasiuta) a research/exhibition project on Cambodia’s “post-colonial” modernization and its violent reversals from the mid-1950s to the late-1980s entitled “Absent Archives, Media Afterlives: New Khmer Environments.”
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of “Habitat: The United Nations Conference on Human Settlements,” which took place in Vancouver from May 31 to June 11, 1976, this lecture will return to look at the competing ideas about how to house the planet’s rapidly escalating urban populations and its new patterns of migration. Focusing on the Alternative Technology village at Habitat Forum, it will excavate some fascinating and at times peculiar design propositions for addressing both environmental and social concerns, as millions of people became increasingly “unsettled.”
Vinay Venkatraman is one of the co-founders of CIID (Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design). He helped shape the strategy and content for CIID through consulting, teaching and research lead initiatives. His works in the past have spanned design of consumer products, software and film visual effects. He currently spends his time between creating new education curriculums, shaping policy initiatives for the Danish government, and consulting large global companies on innovation around new product experiences and design strategy. He has helped shape product strategy for companies like Nokia, Intel, Novo Nordisk, Maersk Line, Lufthansa Technik, Philips lighting, and others. His passion lies in incubating new technology ideas and finding new models of sustainable socio-economic development using appropriate technologies. He has assisted in teaching courses at the University of Aarhus, IUAV University in Venice, and the IT university in Copenhagen. His current interests include tangible user interfaces, service design and finding new models of sustainable economic development using emerging technologies. As part of this, Venkatraman has initiated a global research track for emerging economies called Frugal Digital to help empower small business using innovation based on simple and inexpensive technologies.
John Thackara curated the celebrated Doors of Perception conference for 20 years – first in Amsterdam, later across India – and was commissioner of the UK social innovation biennial Dott 07 and the French design biennial City Eco Lab. With a focus on social, ecological, and relational design, Thackara has curated place-based xskool workshops in 20 countries. He studied philosophy before working for ten years as a book publisher and magazine editor. He was the first director (1993—99) of the Netherlands Design Institute. He is a senior fellow at the Royal College of Art, and visiting professor at School of Visual Arts in New York and at Pontio Innovation in Wales. His most recent book – How To Thrive In the Next Economy: Designing Tomorrow’s World Today – has just been published in China where, since 2019, he is a visiting professor at Tongji University with a focus on urban-rural reconnection.
Drawing on a lifetime of travel in search of real-world alternatives that work, Thackara describes how communities the world over are creating a replacement, leave-things-better economy from the ground up, focusing on the inspiring ways people are restoring the land, sharing water, making homes, growing food, designing clothes, journeying, and caring for each other. In this new economy, care–for the wellbeing of social and ecological systems–replaces money as the ultimate measure of value. Growth takes on new meaning as the improved health of soils, plants, animals–and future generations. Transformative economic models–also emerging from below the radar–share value in new ways: Commoning, Transition Towns, Peer-to-Peer, Platform Cooperativism, Bioregionalism, High Nature Value farming, the Maker Movement, Food and Fibersheds, and the Care Economy.