Rencontre avec un chargé d’entretien du World Trade Center, Bruxelles
©Koen Berghmans
IN Exhibition

Architecture as a Political Practice

Architecture as a Political Practice: Labor

Architecture is a human occupation that is usually associated with the "production of buildings". However, the exponential accumulation of complex and massive problems in human societies requires us to reconsider this presupposition. It is relatively recently that the figure of the architect has seen the object of his occupations restricted to the production of just buildings. Vitruvius wrote many pages about the construction of machines, Palladio used architectural thinking to reform the art of war and the AMO de Koolhaas firm has recently been commissioned to work on a roadmap to reshape the European Union by 2050. This exhibition begins with the moment when architecture is considered as a discipline that can be applied to any complex problem in the construction of reality.
2016 marks the 130th anniversary of the Haymarket massacre in Chicago. What was a fight for the eight-hour working day has since turned into a sight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage in the USA or demonstrations against the recent Work law in France. The question of work and its role in the construction of reality is far from closed. This exposition will present the work produced by an annual programme of workshops/seminars for masters students organised by the ENSASE (Saint-Etienne architecture school) and Archeworks in Chicago in partnership with the EnsapBx, the Indian Institute of Management and the Georgia Institute of Technology. The idea is to apply architectural thinking to the transformation of the world order this year by working on the issue of work.

Curators: Xavier Wrona / En collaboration avec Manuel Bello Marcano, architecte, sociologue, enseignant à l'École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Saint-Étienne (ENSASE).

Maintenance As Architecture

Everything has turned into work. If artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles could declare (forty years ago) that doing housework is art, then we can declare today that professional maintenance is architecture!
The current context means we are confronted with a slowdown in the construction of new buildings and new emphasis and value being placed on renovation procedures. Accordingly, perhaps now is the time for us to question the role of the practices and trades involved in maintenance. Instead of concentrating on design and innovation, current architectural practice could be conceived as managing and "taking care" of what already exists. Architects would then become sorts of "curators" of space, and their skills would fall somewhere between the (re)discovery of craftsmanship and relations with the new technologies. The idea is to rewrite the history of architecture, viewing it through the prism of the influences exerted by professional maintenance practices and their evolution, whilst at the same time needing to examine the transformation of the trades and tools of maintenance via the evolution of architecture and society in general.
The Maintenance as Architecture exhibition, the fruit of a workshop with the masters students at the ENSASE, proposes a reflection on these issues starting with the city of Saint-Etienne: a working class city from the first generation of the Industrial Revolution; a district whose history and heritage embody major technical and at the same time socio-economic changes, as we are reminded by the epigraph on the monument dedicated to Jacquard on the square of the same name in front of Saint-Etienne's architecture school: "Jaquard's invention temporarily led to unemployment. The workers rebelled".

Koen Berghmans et Bernardo Robles Hidalgo (Architectes, Belgique) en collaboration avec Maria Anita Palumbo, Marie Clément, Pierre-Albert Perrillat, Evelyne Chalaye, enseignants à l'ENSASE.
Site : Bâtiment H – Site Cité du design
3 Rue Javelin Pagnon 42000 Saint-Étienne