Critical Grounds

Month: April, 2012

Remaking the Public: CCTV, the Hyperbuilding and the Image of Labour

                                                             CCTV under construction in 2008, photograph by Ana Abram
At the kind invitation of Pier Vittorio Aureli, I am speaking at the Berlage, Rotterdam, to the City as a Project PhD programme. I’m presenting material related to the third chapter of my PhD where I produce a critique of OMA’s turn from Bigness to the Hyperbuilding, and relate this to the context of an emergent model of neoliberal governmentality in China today. This should be timely as OMA are doing a workshop at the Berlage the week before. Details below. Photos of CCTV kindly supplied by students of the AA’s Landscape Urbanism programme: Ana Abram, Daniel Portilla and Jaime Traspaderne.

The Project: the Rise and Fall of a Political and Artistic Paradigm
Friday April 27th from 16.00 to 19.00 – J.J.P. Oud room
Fifth Seminar with Douglas Spencer

Remaking the Public: CCTV, the Hyperbuilding and the Image of Labour

OMA’s CCTV headquarters in Beijing is considered here as emblematic of a reversal of the tenets of Bigness towards a new (proto)typology of the ‘hyperbuilding’. In this reversal the objective of a ‘metropolitan architecture’ is replaced with that of an infrastructural urbanism. This turn, I argue, has significant implications in regard to the production of new urban subjectivities, whilst also bringing Koolhaas remarkably close to what I have termed, elsewhere, ‘architectural Deleuzism’ in both his architectural and his discursive strategies. In order to challenge Koolhaas’s claims to be revisiting in the CCTV project his early interests in communism and communist architecture, I turn to elucidate a number of accounts of the relationship between post-reform China, neoliberalism, and neoliberal governmentality. From this analysis emerges the significance of imperatives within the People’s Republic of China for social ‘stabilisation’, the ‘reengineering’ of the worker, and the ‘remaking’ of the public, as well as the place of the media, and CCTV specifically, within these processes. These imperatives are then used as the optics through which to understand the organisational and semantic operation of the CCTV headquarters, focusing particularly upon its zoned departmental organisation, its use of stacked ‘generic’ floor plates, and the function of the ‘Visitors Loop’ as an instrument of social induction.

                                                                                         CCTV, photograph by Daniel Portilla, 2011
                                                                                  CCTV, photograph by Jaime Traspaderne, 2011

Ross Adams: Circulation and Sovereignty presentation at RIBA

If you’re in London next week I recommend a presentation by Ross Adams at RIBA on Tuesday, 17th April at 6pm. Ross always comes up with insightful  and critical perspectives on architecture, urbanism, biopolitics and their interwoven genealogies, some I’m looking forward to hearing his latest research. From the RIBA website:

“Ross Exo Adams will be presenting his research:Circulation and Sovereignty: a brief history on the politics of movement. His research offers a brief counter-history to the predominantly socio-economic understanding of urbanisation by analyzing the concept of circulation. He will trace this concept throughout Western history to ultimately show how ideas of circulation provided a crucial metaphor for the Absolute State, and played an intimate role in its structure of power, which in turn bequeathed to the nineteenth century the template for the birth of urbanisation itself.

Ross Exo Adams is a PhD candidate at the London Consortium and is examining circulation as a paradigm of urbanism and its relationship to the construction of liberal politics. In 2011 he was awarded the RIBA LKE Ozolins Studentship for this work. He currently teaches at the Architectural Association”

Also speaking is Nicholas Jewell, with what looks to be an interesting presentation on the subject of  ‘Bringing it back home: the Urbanisation of the British Shopping Mall as the West goes East’

Full details, including reservations, at:

See you there.