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    Passivism: activism and passivity in contemporary architecture

    Kosec, Milos̆ (2020) Passivism: activism and passivity in contemporary architecture. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    In an age in which the notions of inventiveness and creativity proliferated beyond measure, the decision not to do something has acquired a new, critical and projective relevance. This study examines four architectural projects decisively conditioned by what was not done by the architects rather than what was, what was not designed rather than what was: Léon Aucoc square in Bordeaux by Lacaton & Vassal, Quinta Monroy social housing in Iquique by Alejandro Aravena and Elemental, the Cathedral of Freedom by NSK Collective and Brother Klaus chapel in Mechernich by Peter Zumthor. In order to contextualize the case studies within broader architectural as well as political, economic and art discourse, the four case studies are linked to four contemporary concepts of passivity. These are Giorgio Agamben’s notion of (im)potentiality, interpassivity as defined by Robert Pfaller, over-identification articulated in Slavoj Žižek’s writings and non-human agency in the work of theorists of New Materialism and Object-Oriented Ontology. In identifying both complacent and critical elements of contemporary architectural passivity, the study concludes with addressing the dilemmas of critical engagement of architects in today’s professional and political context. ‘Passivism’ questions constituent dichotomies of modernity, such as activity and passivity; and offers a chance to redefine criticality beyond these dichotomies as a projective as well as dissenting strategy. Building on the legacy of Critical Theory, passivism insists on the centrality of reflective (self)critique as well as on the transformative quality of a projective act.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: This thesis is not currently available for public use. Originally submitted to the department of History of Art.
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2020 11:25
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 14:20


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