Infrastructure

Annual theme of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation in 2021

Modernism and its aesthetics are closely linked to images of power lines, airplanes, railroad bridges, and highways. While these infrastructure elements are given center stage as models of a new built environment in a variety of manifestos of modern architecture, their functional logics, their structures, resources, and interconnections remain obscure. In this respect, infrastructures constitute the fragile pillars of modernity that become visible and problematic only when there’s a power outage, when a gas pipeline explodes, etc. The relational fabric between infrastructure and modernity, however, is also based on the promise of inclusion, provision, and integration—a double-edged sword given its foundation on the exploitation of resources in the global South under the logic of development, perpetuating the colonial legacy.

Pipelines, highways, and electricity grids convey visions of progress. Far from being neutral, they are embedded in power relations and geopolitical interests. Infrastructures are instrumental in producing global geographies of inequality and segregation. At the same time, a radical rethinking of infrastructures is needed: no longer conceivable as something to be outsourced, infrastructures need to be as understood as an interconnected system of material cycles in which both human and non-human actors are involved on an equal footing.

What are the specific contributions that the field of design studies has to offer to a critical examination of these complex infrastructural interconnections which make everyday life in the 21st century so vulnerable? What imaginaries of a different nature-culture can emerge from ecologically oriented design research on infrastructure? What new forms of post-disciplinary collaborations and collective design activities with varied human and non-human actors are emerging in the field of infrastructure design?

The event will be conducted as a Zoom webinar. To register, click here.

The workshop “Metabolic Pathways – Suspended Infrastructures" with Clemens Winkler will take place as a closed session on Thursday, 17 June from 12:00 to 13:00; the presentation of the workshop results at 18:30 will be open to the public. To participate in the closed session, an additional registration is required.

Please mined that the number of participants is limited to 23.


Programme 
Thursday June 17th

Workshop “Metabolic Pathways – Suspended Infrastructures“
Clemens Winkler

In the online workshop "Metabolic Pathways – Suspended Infrastructures" the participants are
going to walk through invisible infrastructures in atmospheres, clouds, and weather conditions, that
we often describe as environmental or external factors. We will collectively work and reflect on
literacies between thoughts and materialities in the form of short narratives, metaphors, analogies.
What language do we use, and how do current fields of geoengineering, atmospheric research or
aerobiology reference these fields to describe hidden qualities of various actors? Thus, the
workshop is aiming towards rewriting histories of invisible metabolisms related to activity, weather,
pollution or growth.

Talk “No Infrastructure at all“
Joachim Krausse, Sandra Bartoli and Silvan Linden

Infrastructure is more than a bundle of deployment functions, communication networks and media.
Infrastructure constitutes the environment we are living in. Therefore it is right at the heart of what
we call "modernity". In order to analyze the more or less unconcious existence of infrastructure as
the "othe half of architecture" we discuss the topic fram an alienated point of view: the concept of
the "autonomous house". Over and over again architects, designers and intellectuals felt the need
of getting rid of the constrains imlied in the daily use of modern infrastructure aiming at a more
"natural" or "primitive" way of life that stimulates the awereness of what people really need. The
architects Sandra Bartoli and Silvan Linden with their office "büro für konstruktivismus" give
insights in their research that culminated in their 2019 exhibition "Licht, Luft, Scheisse. Archeology
of sustainability.“

Talk “Conversations shape our tomorrow“
Michael Hohl (Moderator), Gabriela Aquije, Brigitte Hartwig

When the global pandemic struck in 2020, it demonstrated that a smaller, more local, open and
connected lifestyle was indeed possible. For many commuters home office work became the new
norm and a future with fewer commutes came within grasp. Perhaps it also showed that our digital
infrastructures and friendly local connections were just as important as our large-scale physical
infrastructures. Cooking at home instead of going out, urban gardening and urban farming gained
importance and a more simple, less consumption driven lifestyle became a reality, although an
involuntary one. A first step into a transition into a more sustainable future, by design. In the two
talks and the following conversation we will talk about creating resilient and cooperative social
networks, food systems, and how to creatively use neglected urban infrastructure for the common
good.

Talk “Spacial Systems and Urban Artefacts“
Gernot Weckherlin (Moderator), Chris Dähne, Christian Holl

In 1923 Erich Mendelsohn described the street as the “horizontal routing guiding from balance
point to balance point”, in fact it was to him the “actual spatial system.“ Consequently as material
structures of transport streets provoked the dynamic experiences of urban spaces of his time.
These experiences have been inscribed since the 1920ties into artefacts like film or architecture.
But how has the character of such dynamic experiences changed and in relation to which artefacts
in the contemporary digital age? Which objects are emerging today through real and virtual events
and in which way? A critical review of and outlook into the current situation of infrastructure and
urban development, from processes of mobility to processes of infrastructures seen a from a
bottom-up perspective are going to be analyzed and discussed, to further elaborate these mutual
interdependencies.

Exercise: Visual Essay Readings “Approaching Infrastructure“
Lilo Viehweg (Moderator), Charlie-Anne Côté, Anastasiia Formina, Kristine Pace and Nilra
Zoraloğlu

How to approach infrastructures of modern heritage, taste making in architecture, olive tree
plantations and public toilets through lenses of decoloniality, inclusivity and sensitive observation?
In the form of visual essays, COOP Design Research students give insights into their current
research not only thematically but also epistemologically to make their approaches tangible. In the
course of this process multiple perspectives and poetic experimentations emerge that reveal the
complexity of supposedly mundane issues in and through design.

Book launch and presentation “A concrete for the ‘other half’?”
Regina Bittner and Participants Bauhaus Lab 2020 Mya Berger, Leticia M. Brown, David Davalos
Sanchez, Ines Glowania, Denisa Kollarová, Maryia Russak, Martha Schwindling, Léonie Thiroux


Programme
Friday June 18th

Workshops Gudskul
farid rakun, Rifandi Nugroho, Rifqi Fajri

For this edition of Bauhaus Dessau’s Study Room, Gudskul—through its Praktik Spasial subject matter—is contributing through three separate but related presentations. The presentations, although they can stand by their own respectively, can be read as a critical attempt to understand the collectivities Gudskul is campaigning for through the on-going architecture and design it has utilised and assembled up until recently.

1) “Sharing 1: We were young once”
farid rakun

Through two of Gudskul’s founding collectives’—Serrum and ruangrupa—history of space-usages, an introduction to Gudskul, its values and sensibilities can be made. Categorised archival diagrams, sketches and mainly photographs will be shown while farid reminisces on the time it used to be.

2) “Sharing 2: Form Follows Complaints: On Architecture of Gudskul”
Rifandi Nugroho

Jumping to the present, Fandi will ponder on the architecture of Gudskul as the embodiment of collective spatial practice within its uncertainty and speculation. Occupying a former mini soccer building in South Jakarta and initially built using recycled structure, the Gudskul building was intended to accommodate supporting functions for its occupants. In the reality of our daily lives nevertheless, this structure of space (physical and non-physical) continuously change according to the habits, needs, and (often) complaints from its inhabitants.

3) “Sharing 3: Unconditional design: Gudskul Citizens' Intellectual Practices”
Rifqi Fajri

Difficult to be understood as proper design by the discipline of product design, ngakalin (outsmarting) processes done by any users is an everyday practice in Indonesia. Designs in and around Gudskul can function as traces of these ngakalin processes, adding some new functions from those already available. It indicates that in reality, (product) design results are often not in accordance with the needs of their users.

Roundtable 1 “Nervous Systems: Infrastructures as assemblages”
Sabine Hansmann (Moderator), Daniel Springer, Maryia Rusak, Irma del Valle Nachón

Infrastructures are largely invisible in everyday life; their materiality only comes to light when
disruptions, accidents and catastrophes occur. A giant Golden-class container ship blocking the
Suez canal, nuclear accidents and incidents, and power outages – it is in situations like these that
the vulnerability and fragility of modern comfort becomes apparent. It is here, at the latest, that the
relational character of infrastructures emerges as systems and networks of large geographical
scope, as materializations of social standards and institutions, as networks of actors, of resource
flows and land grabs, of geopolitics and economic interests. With the concept of assemblage,
which addresses the fabric of institutional, material, spatial, and economic conditions of
infrastructures, the fluid, unfinished aspects of these structures also come into view. Thusly, the
field of urban studies examines cities as assemblages of networks between people, organizations,
and a variety of infrastructural components, ranging from buildings or roads to conduits for material
and energy flows. This perspective foregrounds the urban in its ongoing process of becoming: as
an interplay of technologies, materials, social practices, and norms. How can designers begin to
think of infrastructures as assemblages of human and non-human actors in a constant process?
And how can infrastructures be designed as models of a new natureculture?

Roundtable 2 “From Infrastructures to Infrastructuring”
Friederike Schäfer (Moderator), Amarjeet Singh, Tertia Tay, Zainab Marvi

Infrastructures are not passive systems only functioning as the backbone of a society. In the
context of ecological crisis awareness, the idea of infrastructures as homogeneous technical
artifacts becomes just as obsolete as the idea of their smooth and maintenance-free functioning,
dear to many engineers and architects. Rather, they are fluid technologies that are subject to
constant change between planning, implementation, and everyday use in a wide variety of
environments and material cycles. Infrastructure studies therefore propose a change of
perspective: away from the substantivizing view that hides the multitude of material and nonmaterial
components constituting them, as well as the complex and diverse processes of their
integration, functioning, and maintenance. They aim at the analysis of infrastructure in the making.
The notion of "infrastructuring" implies an epistemological turn for design thinking: towards
infrastructuring as a complex process of entanglement of actors, technologies, material flows and
moral orders. Does "infrastructuring" assign a new role to designers? What does this mean for the
understanding of infrastructure design, if designers as mediators, integrated in local conditions,
ecologies and communities, are equally committed to the formative forces of evolution and to
traditional communities? Which imaginaries of an ecological co-design could be articulated in
infrastructures of a new nature-culture of care and preservation?

Roundtable 3 “Monuments versus Instruments – From Objects to socio-spatial relations”
Michael Zinganel (Moderator), Divya R, Ezgi İşbilen, Natália Kvítková

Modernist architects and designers had take infrastructures into account as technical artifacts.
Already in the first decades of the twentieth century, the debates on infrastructure could all be
located on a spectrum that ranged from the notion of “monuments” to that of “instruments". Postwar
modernist architects made infrastructures the aesthetical and functional principle of their
designs for town centers, modern campuses, airports, and cultural centers; an attitude that
reached its climax in Brutalism. The focus was on technical supply structures as objects, but not as
relational systems that have a lasting impact on social practices and the organization of society. To
what extent do infrastructures produce historically and materially situated forms of biopolitical
government and citizenship? To what extent do postcolonial critiques of the fatal link between
"development" and modernity also give rise to imaginaries for alternative infrastructures of
decolonization? How can infrastructures that are inextricably linked to the development of
modernity also become platforms for a politics of planetary redistribution and collective
responsibility?

Roundtable 4 “Book of Hitze“
Book presentation by Angelika Schnell (Moderator), Pia Bauer, Philipp Behawy, Daron Chiu,
Chiara Desbordes, Dilâ Kırmızıtoprak, Stepan Nesterenko, Ruben Stadler and Sophia Stemshorn

HITZE TAKES COMMAND was the title of the 2019/2020 annual theme at the Institute of Art and
Architecture (IKA) at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Ten design studios dealt with the increasing
heat in the city of Vienna. A master's studio at the HTC platform (History | Theory | Criticism) has
produced the Book of Hitze, which will be presented in Dessau.
The book is not a summary of the approximately 130 works by students. Instead, it comprises eight
individual essays that often do not look at the heterogeneous works of their fellow students from
the classic standpoint of interpretation or critique. After all, Pia Bauer, Philipp Behawy, Daron Chiu,
Chiara Desbordes, Dilâ Kırmızıtoprak, Stepan Nesterenko, Ruben Stadler and Sophia Stemshorn
were themselves part of the "heat year" at the IKA. This affects the way they approach the topic:
through a personal lens, more from the sidelines or inspired by the observation of a specific
phenomenon that allows the discussion of only a small number of projects.