Decolonizing Architecture at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm is a yearlong postmaster research-based course. The topic of this year aims to reflect and intervene in the debate regarding the architectural heritage associated with painful and violent memories. The course will focus on the rural towns built in the 1940s by the “Entity of Colonization of Sicily” during the fascist regime. These rural towns were built by the regime to “reclaim,” “modernize,” and “repopulate” the south of Italy considered “empty,” “underdeveloped,” and “backward”. The analysis of these towns will offer course participants the opportunity to problematize the persistence of today’s colonial relationship with the countryside, especially after the renewed interest in the countryside as a solution for the pandemic. Parallel to the collective research, every student is asked to research an individual case study of difficult heritage. The intersection between individual and collective research is shared with a larger public at the end of the year in a discursive exhibition. The course is organized in collaboration with the Critical Urbanism course at the University of Basel (Switzerland) and will take place in Stockholm, online, and in the former building of the “Entity of Colonization of Sicilian Latifundia” in Borgo
Rizza, Municipality of Carlentini in Sicily.
The course uses the term decolonization as a critical position and conceptual frame for an architectural and artistic research practice engaged in social and political struggles. In the Decolonizing Architecture Advanced Course, we engage in a collective endeavour in experimenting with decolonial approaches. We do this work in dialogues with guests, sites, concepts, texts, and, most importantly, with each other. Course participants are eager to experiment to find a community of peers and a create a space to think together, to radically rethink trajectories and how to practice; or simply to find a way out of the non (or anti-)critical and commercial dimensions of the architectural profession.
The fundamental pedagogical approach of the course is based on the articulation of sites, concepts, and people. Each participant is asked to choose a particular site understood as a site of action and a site of knowledge. Concepts emerging from the site provide a grounded theoretical approach to the practice. Every year, a new theme and collective site is proposed as collective project. The articulation of individual and collective research project constitutes the outcome of the year long course.
The courses are led by Alessandro Petti, professor in Architecture and Social Justice in collaboration with Marie-Louise Richards, lecturer in Architecture and enriched by the contribution of advisors and invited guests.
Ideal candidates should be interested in the ideological and social dimensions of Architecture, and in conceptual speculations that are grounded and emerge from artistic and architectural practice. Candidates should be open to experimental forms of collective production which challenge individual authorship, and to an open-ended process oriented towards material and immaterial outcomes. Decolonizing Architecture Advanced Course offers a unique opportunity for participants to join a collective international community of practitioners interested in the social and political dimension of architecture and to receive the necessary material and intellectual support for developing a self-driven artistic and architectural practice.