Dr. Anthony Fontenot has been invited to develop the theme and co-author, with Minsuk Cho of Mass Studies, The 34th Space Prize for International Students of Architecture Design competition sponsored by SPACE magazine, the premier Korean design journal. Their call, “Architecture in a Precarious World”, is carried out in partnership with the 2021 Venice Biennale Korean Pavilion’s “Future School,” directed by Haewon Shin.
The competition theme, titled ‘Architecture in a Precarious World’, is a call to broadly survey and identify various fragile sites, precarious social and ecological conditions, that urgently need to be addressed and cared for while seeking alternative approaches to resilience through design. It is also an appeal to imagine new forms of commons that, in turn, could inspire a hopeful and bold new path for future architects.
The global pandemic has exacerbated the ongoing social, economic, and ecological crisis; a world of extreme precariousness that has grown increasingly widespread over the last few decades. Its effects are well-known, from massive income and social inequality to sea level rise, catastrophic flooding, and increasingly powerful hurricanes and wildfires. The early 21st century is defined by omnipresent fragility. More recently, economic and social changes are becoming increasingly apparent. The term “precariat” (precarious proletariat) has been coined to describe the urgent problem of the unstable conditions of a new class of workers lacking predictability and security. This accumulation of crisis, with its magnitude so vast, complex, and varied, demands definitive action and change. Perhaps one positive aspect of this pervasive condition is that we are confronted with endless numbers of issues and compromised sites all around us which we can immediately reassess and upon which we can begin to develop strategies of intervention. In response to these acute changes, we are forced to grapple with fundamental questions: Is architecture a relevant tool for addressing such a precarious world? If so, how might it be used to respond to these overwhelming challenges?