March 30, 2021 - Canadian Centre for Architecture - Catching Up With Life
A one-year commitment
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e-flux Architecture
March 30, 2021
March 30, 2021

Canadian Centre for Architecture

Courtesy Canadian Centre for Architecture.

Catching Up With Life
A one-year commitment

www.cca.qc.ca
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If architects want to work at a broader scale beyond just the one-off project for that very special client—do they also need to become activists, social workers, policymakers? Does the job expand to include designing policy, protocols, ways of living, rulebooks, etcetera?

Architecture is late to responding to our societal shifts. The question above is one of many that will emerge from Catching Up With Life, a research project that will unfold over the course of one year. Rather than take a bird’s eye view, we will be at ground level: zooming into the specificities that these topics demand. We have spent a lot of time discussing social norms, current spatial organizations, and the ways in which architecture mediates and represents—or, more pertinently, fails to mediate and represent—individuals and their communities, and see clearly the need for a progressive spatiality born of our contemporary societal relationships. How can architecture and urbanism better respond to contemporary questions related to family, love, friendship, work, labour, governance, ownership, debt, consumerism, fertility, death, time, retirement, automation, and digital omnipresence; to name only a few subjects that must be addressed? 

This research has already begun in our homes, our minds, and our conversations this year. As part of A Social Reset, the first of two thematic web issues within this one-year commitment, we have already released: Cuddling Rooms, Body Banks, and Collab Houses, by CCA Director Giovanna Borasi on new needs for architecture; Solitary and Social, by Yoshikazu Nango on being alone; Shared Worlds, a conversation with Kommers Wender on collective living; and Skin Hunger, a discussion on touch and new spaces for intimacy between curator and writer Melissa Harris and photographer Jamie Diamond. This issue considers the ways in which the gap between architecture and society can be lessened—if not closed altogether.

In parallel to this web release, the project will unfold into an institution-wide set of initiatives that explore the urban and architectural interventions which accommodate, influence, and even preempt our contemporary realities. Specifically, the project will take shape through When We Live Alone, the second in a three-part documentary film series; a publication A Section of Now: Social Norms and Rituals as Sites for Architectural Intervention, co-published with Spector Books and available in July, anticipating the exhibition of the same title opening November 2021; a live online lecture series titled An Extended Family starting this April; an Instagram pilot; and a podcast, among others. These forms will each offer points on an evolving map, outlining a new relationship between the spaces in which we live and the ways we live within them today.

The project’s distinct formats will include many voices, and practices from within as well as outside of architecture will guide these dialogues. Among these voices are architects Andrés Jaque, Karla Rothstein, Mario Gooden, Sam Jacob, SO-IL, Sumaya Vally, Tei Carpenter, Traumnovelle, Anna Puigjaner, and Hilary Sample who we have invited to share a new understanding of the “brief”: projective texts that outline architectural types to address societal needs. Curators Melissa Harris, New York, and Andrea Bellavita, Milan, have joined A Section of Now as consultants, on photography and TV respectively. Folder Studio, based out of Los Angeles, has created the visual identity for this multivalent research, including both publication and exhibition, with exhibition design by Sam Chermayeff Office, Berlin and New York.

We anticipate that Catching Up With Life will have long-term effects on how we approach projects, and we hope not to be the only ones convinced. For more, and to keep in touch, subscribe here.

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