Shelter is most immediately associated today with conditions of disaster, displacement and destitution. There is an inherent urgency to the word; it is first and foremost a necessity, a human right even. Yet thought of as the absolute minimum necessary to survive, shelter is an architectural stigma. Shelter is not a thing though; shelter is a verb; if there is such a thing as shelter, it is because whatever it is, shelters. Volume #46: Shelter is dedicated to the question of how shelter can be reformulated as an architectural project.
While education is currently under financial and ideological pressure, learning is flourishing. Learning is not a self-contained period of time and place in which we magically transform into adults, but rather a life-long condition, a process that now permeates everywhere and everything at all times. In this issue of Volume, we’re thinking about what it means to learn: how it happens, where, by what, for whom, and why.
One of architecture's histories is that of the art of display: architecture displaying power, political ambition, economic success, social agendas, or less mundane notions like dreams, convictions and belief. These days architecture has also become subjected to display: the display of architecture — in museums and collections, and in auctions for example. That adds but also distracts meaning; not every aspect of architecture can be displayed as easy. And what does a culture of display (be seen or perish) add to this condition?
In today’s rapidly changing world, the role of real estate has been affected deeply. To such a degree that the Center for Urban Real Estate at Columbia University sees an opportunity to transform the profession from within, stressing its creative potential and introducing an ethical code. This issue of Volume is dedicated to CURE’s ambition to create a continuum between architecture and real estate, as part of the design disciplines.
For the first time, a general theme was given to the national pavilions at this year’s Architecture Biennale in Venice. They were to be historical shows, focused on the impact of modernity on a country’s architecture. What it produced was not just a global survey of twentieth century construction, but also heroic stories of nation-building. Yes, architecture can build nations. Today, we seem far from that notion. The nation-state is either giving up on itself, or exploited through tyrannical regimes. Meanwhile architects are hardly taking up the cause.
Four years ago we published Volume #26: Architecture of Peace to explore the agency of architecture in post-conflict environments. It was clear we had only scratched the surface of a tense and complex issue. So now we’ve tightened our focus and zoomed in on the period directly after peacekeeping forces have arrived. Our goal: to see what a ‘reconstruction mission’ actually is, how peacekeeping can anticipate its legacy, and how different cultures come with quite different solutions to build or maintain peace. Re-building after war, it would seem, is another battle altogether.