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The new 2019/20 Critical Practice Reader is now online

As part of the Critical Practice Placement module for this year, Director of Critical Practice at the LSA, James Soane, has compiled a list of texts for students to read. The document includes excerpts and articles from world leading thinkers, commentators and academics, including staff at the LSA, all of which has been put together using open source material gathered online.

Find Soane’s introduction to the reader below:

When the LSA was set up five years ago there was a keen focus on how climate change was adversely affecting the world we inhabit and the role architecture can play in mitigation. However, over the past year we have seen an acceleration of events both in the ‘natural’ world and in our own political sphere that pushes us further into an unstable future. The debate is no longer about whether climate change is real, nor about the medium to long term implications; we are now in a climate emergency. This means that ‘business as usual’ is not an option if the catastrophic consequences of global warming, climate chaos, ecological collapse and human tragedy are to be addressed. The idea that advanced technology and geo-engineering will save the planet are neither realistic nor sustainable. Rather this reliance on progress and the project of ‘the modern’ is the root of the problem in the first place, continuing to endorse a narrative of unassailable human dominance over nature. This year we are asking very difficult and often destabilising questions which point towards a need for massive change as our political system fails to engage in the scale of the problem. Writer Tim Morton describes the issue as a hyperobject – something so big it is almost impossible to comprehend: it is imperative we try to.

Our reader therefore reflects current thinking that is not concerned about individual buildings but rather our global status. The pieces by Rupert Read, Jem Bendell and David Wallace-Wells make for tough reading as they attempt to describe the dimensions of the problem. It can make us feel inert and powerless. Yet there is also a call for us to empathise and connect with the enormity of the near-future, and to embrace radical hope. The ‘deep adaption’ needed, as outlined by Bendell, attempts to offer transformational thinking that may equip and ready us to believe that we can make a difference. If the project of architecture and city-making is to create a better world, then there is an extraordinary design challenge to embrace. In the past year we have seen how the voices of school children, Extinction Rebellion and many other activists have challenged the current political and neoliberal status quo as they demand action. At the LSA we are part of this movement and we look to test transformational strategies that offer hope and a future.

You can find the Critical Practice Reader in full here.