Radical Praxis: Activism Within and Beyond Architecture

Keefer Dunn

November 13, 2016


“I started writing this before the election. But, given everything that has happened in the last few days the question of what architects can do to build a more progressive society has taken on a new urgency. Many people I went to architecture school with participated in their first protests yesterday and have started using the word resistance in a serious way. It’s great that people are getting more involved in activism and are talking about organizing even if it took such a grave turn of events to light a fire under everyone’s collective ass. Perhaps if there had been similar mobilizations over the last eight years, we could have pushed the Democratic Party toward a left-wing populism that addressed the issues of precarity and economic inequity at the core of the Trump phenomenon. Nevertheless, here we are now, facing a president whose government will be judged by history on a scale of Bush to Hitler. In that context, I think it is worth reopening some of the dogmas of radical architecture and reflecting on the failure of architects to produce meaningful change over the last decades. My aim is not to browbeat. Rather, I want to delve into the failed thinking about the ways in which architecture creates change in order to unpack some of the lessons valuable to architects who are becoming activists and wondering what to do now…”