Architectural Strategies against Consumerism

Consumerism, the artificially accelerated cycle of production and consumption, leads to a generation of waste that is both economically and ecologically unacceptable; moreover, consumerism erodes personal freedom and social responsibility by conditioning choices and suspending value judgements. The seminar investigates how architecture and the city have become part of this destructive phenomenon and identifies strategies that oppose it: not producing mere representations or commentaries, but real, practical, positive projects which specifically resist consumerism.

After a discussion of consumerism and its criticism, in society as a whole and specifically in architecture, each student will choose and research an example of how consumerism is successfully resisted by a – preferably constructed, but possibly also still in only drawn form – architectural project. The student may also design one himself or herself – on a conceptual level, but with a definite form. The case studies will be organised following a structure of topics addressing the ecological, social, and cultural dimension of this resistance. They will be located anywhere in the world, since consumerism is an exquisitely global phenomenon. Each case will present itself differently, depending on its different political, economical, and cultural context. They will be shown, analysed and critically discussed during class.

From this analysis and critical discussion general architectural strategies will be extrapolated that are capable of resisting consumerism – and thus globalisation, exploitation, the destruction of the earth’s resources, the erosion of social cohesion and the erasure of identity.

The seminar will constitute a collaborative space of common research and depend on the initiative, knowledge, and creativity of the students as well as on those of the teacher. Like every true research, it is an intellectual adventure with an open end. Evaluation will be based on the individual research and presentations as well as on the student’s contribution to the class discussions.